Here I go again
It's my name. It's me. I have to be free, to travel
June 21, 2001
I guess it all started when I was born.
I was named Banafsheh for the first three weeks of this precious life.
Then my father decided that it did not suite me whatsoever. Banafsheh was
a flower and all flowers wilt at some stage and that's not what he wanted
me to be associated with. A wilting flower I was not to be.
After discussions with my mother, it was obvious to both that I was to
have a name change. Mina? Nina? Sadaf? Shabnam? No no no. Azadeh! Yes indeed.
It was unanimous. It was the best name they could have chosen for me given
the uncertainties in Iran. And as years went by it became obvious to them
that it fit my personality too. I love my freedom and I enjoy it best when
I travel for business or pleasure.
My first trip was leaving Iran at age six. I'm sure a lot of readers
understand what it was like to literally escape Iran. We arrived in Pakistan
with two suitcases and very little money. We left behind everything. The
houses. The family. Friends. Grandma's backyard. Dad's car. And my "doosteh-pesar"
Of course at the time I had no idea what was going on. As far as I knew
I was going to visit my grandmother in Mashhad. But in fact we ended up
in a tiny little room on a dirty street in Pakistan. It was to be our home
for eight months as we waited for our refugee status.
Finally both Canada and Australia came through with an invitation for
our family. Since we had no relatives outside of Iran, it did not seem important
where we went. So I guess a toss of a coin was the only way to decide. Within
a few days we were on a plane to Adelaide, Australia. Freedom at last.
I was 15 when I went on my first cross country trip with a group of friends.
MY GOD! An Iranian girl. Traveling by herself. What were her parents thinking?
I remember asking my parents if I could go. Their answer was an immediate
NO! I cried. I winged. I stopped talking to everyone. But my parents were
still not shifting.
So I had to think and think quick. What could I say or do to make them
say yes? Ahha!
Me -- "Mamaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan why can't I go?"
Mum -- "Because I said so."
Me -- "That's not a reason."
Mum -- "Yes it is."
Me -- "Babaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa... daddy joonam, why can't I go?"
Dad -- "Baba joon, behet goftam.. you're too young."
Me -- "Young? YOUNG? Define young?"
*Dad rolled his eyes*
Mum -- "Azadeh... basskon!"
Me -- "I can't believe this! You're hypocrites!"
Mum -- "Fosh nadeh."
Me -- "It's not a fosh! Your liars!"
Mum -- "Bebin toro khodaa.... Haalaa dooroogh goo ham shodim."
Dad -- "Azadeh joon... you're not going!"
Me -- "Then why the hell did you name me Azadeh if I have no freedom?"
I saw my father's eyes swelling with tears. No one said anything. I stormed
off, being the typical teenager. But I felt so guilty when I slammed the
door to my bedroom. That night at dinner, they finally gave in. I got the
approval from both parents to go on the trip I so longed. With worried faces
and constant prayers for my safety, they let me go.
I don't think I felt anything but excitement. I didn't miss anyone while
I was away. Although it was only for a week, it felt like a year. It was
great. This was my first step towards independence, and into the world.
And I never turned back.
For the next six years I traveled to a different destination in Australia
every six months. I saved my money and went to see this great land of ours.
Each time learning more, seeing more and meeting more people. Amidst the
fun and adventure, there was also pain. The people I met, I got attached
to. It became hard leaving the places I visited.
At 21, I accepted a job in the U.S. I knew I was going to be back in
a year, two years maximum. But I was anxious. I had never left my family
for that long before. I had to be on my own. I was freaking out. I cried
many nights, missing my parents and brother. But my greatest adventures
were just around the corner.
I began to travel the world. No longer was I confined to Australia or
America. I had the world at my feet, and I walked all over it. Paris was
nothing spectacular but I loved this one cafe there and thought I could
stay there for years. But I moved on. New York was always alive; something
happening there all the time. But I left. Milan was fabulous for shopping
but I wasn't there long enough to want to stay. So I left.
Prague..... oh Prague, the city of true romance. I sat on my balcony
of my hotel room and just watched that beautiful fairy tale of a city.
I knew I wanted to be go back there one day. Then on to Amsterdam. Who wouldn't
love that city? I learned so much there and there was so much more to be
learned. But I left for London, which I HATED... and gladly left.
I fell in love in Canada. He was everything I wanted, or so I thought.
But I left. Tel Aviv I loved. Really really loved. I thought to myself,
"Yup, I could live here". I left. Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington,
Hong Kong, Taiwan and Athens, all have a common story. After a while, I
had had enough! I would miss my family, quit my job and move back home to
Yes. Me thinks I'm a very lucky 24-year-old Iranian-born woman. I have
been living in lovely Sydney for the past six months. I've fallen in love
again and finally settled down to a life in my favorite country in the world.
As happy as Larry.
I called my father a few nights ago and told him about a job offer I
had gotten. I asked what I should do. Everything that was going through
my head. The ups and downs of accepting the job. I was truly confused. I
had had so many broken hearts over the years, broken many too, and I didn't
think I could take it again.
"Baba joon, boro! Maa esmeto beedaleel Azadeh nazaashteem,"
(we didn't name you Azadeh for no reason) my father said.
So here I go again. Before writing this article, I finished my resignation
letter to my boss. I accepted a job in Israel. One more week and I'm away!
Am I blessed? I think so... through all this I wouldn't change a thing.
Be careful what you name your children. It may affect them in more ways