Happy Halloween to all!
This is going to be a particularly exciting Halloween here in America, 4 days before the presidential elections. I suspect many will dress as one of the candidates. The talk of the town is who to vote for and what to do if the other gets elected. Here in California, many are wondering if they want to vote for legalizing gay marriage in the state and argue about details of the existing abortion laws. We are going to have a highly political Halloween this year as we fasten our seatbelts and impatiently wait for the outcome on November 4th.
Photo courtesy of happyhalloween
We had a football game between UC Berkeley and UCLA today. Typically, these games have quite an impact on everything in town, most importantly transportation and parking become almost impossible. How lively it is to fight for winning, to have a favorite team, and to show your support for something you relate to. Today, while I work at a café next to the football stadium in Berkeley, I am witnessing hundreds of students and alumni from both universities walk by wearing UCLA or Berkeley shirts, hats, or shorts. Many have brought their children, and of course the children are wearing shirts with the name and colors of their parents’ favorite school. As I write, Berkeley’s marching band passes by with the loudest drums and a few hundred uniformed students marching Bancroft Avenue while the crowd waves at them with open smiles. I am automatically a part of the excitement as I hear that Berkeley has won the game: 41 by 22. Why do I care? What is it that is so exciting about being a part of a community united for a purpose, a community that has a team and is relating to that team to feel better or to fight against something in common? Would I be disappointed in Berkeley if she had lost the game? Perhaps but I think not for long; I would probably continue smiling and congratulate the UCLA folks passing by.
Photo courtesy of nybox6
I recently had a job interview in England and did not get the job. When I was invited to interview for a faculty position that seemed to be a dream job at the time, I remember getting extremely nervous to even attend the interview fearing for the outcome. I wished I had not applied for the job at all and thought it was too early for me to do this as I was not prepared and not even close to graduating. My father told me something that completely changed my attitude, which is why I want to talk about sports. He said: “this interview is like a football match of your dream. You are invited to play in your national team against another excellent team. What matters is that you play for the sake of playing, the excitement, the glory of the game in itself – pay no attention to the results. Life is not about the outcome, it’s about the game. You will go and you will play your best and will enjoy the game regardless of the results. Do not pre-judge, judge, or post-judge the outcome. Just play…”
I spent a week in the UK and returned a few days ago. I got to travel around a bit and see London, Cambridge, and Oxford. It was a lovely trip and I had a wonderful time, ignoring the incredibly high cost of everything in Europe. London is a crowded city which reminded me of some areas of New York City but much older. It was nice to see so many old structures throughout the country and not fear what would happen to them in the case of an earthquake. Earthquakes are not a big threat to England and you can see many old (as old as about 600-800 years) structures everywhere.
The architecture was breathtaking in many areas. I can say confidently that Cambridge is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to. While walking in narrow streets with old buildings, restaurants, and coffee shops you might see a door open to something that looks like a regular building. But once you look through the opened door, you see a beautiful garden behind the wall and a huge castle-like structure far away, all hidden when you walk through these lovely streets. Another amazing part of this trip was the opportunity to dine at one of the colleges in Cambridge with the department of engineering. Harry Potter is real in Cambridge and Oxford. They have kept most of the traditions alive, dining in gowns, a drum to start, words in Latin by the master to start the feast, professors sitting higher than the students, it’s all real.
Cambridge, UK — Photo courtesy of bugbog.com
Playing ping-pong in South Tehran. All rights reserved.
“Manata, tell me, where do you like more, Iran or America?”
“I like both the same.”
“Yes, but where would you rather live?”
As an Iranian who has lived the majority of her life in America, I have been asked this question more times than I can recount by family and friends in Iran. It is not a simple question and the answer entails a deeper understanding of the concepts of home, location, and identity. These motifs are interwoven in the daily lives of those Iranian émigrés too assimilated in the host country to return to the land of their birth, too “foreign” to ever feel at “home”. Further embedded in this question are the intricacies associated with a life in exile. Feelings of nostalgia, marginality, and longing for return often characterize such persons who leave their homelands by force, voluntarily, or by necessity of circumstance.
Eid ul-Fitr mubarak to those of you who observe Ramadan. Happy Rosh Hashanah to those starting the Jewish New Year today. Happy Navratri to those of you who are Hindu. And a blessed and happy Wednesday to everyone. Please take today to observe the common threads that runs through us all.