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Life as a Scot in California

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Our Personal Columbus Day

Posted by berkeleyscot on October 8, 2007

Richard and I arrived in Berkeley on October 12 1978. Richard had recently gained his Ph.D. in Cambridge, England and had been awarded a NATO fellowship to study for two years in the EECS department of UC Berkeley.
We arrived at SFO on a balmy evening, a huge contrast to the cold wind and rain we had left behind as we took off from Heathrow. But it couldn’t have been only the weather that made me fall in love with the Bay Area immediately the plane taxied to the gate.
Perhaps it was because I am prone to fall in love at first sight. I fell in love with Richard as soon as I saw him and we’ve been married 34 years. So I fell in love before we collected our luggage and I simply knew that I had come home.
The following day was Columbus Day and we had no idea that it was a holiday. We wanted to notify our parents that we had arrived safely, but neither set had a telephone so we decided to send a telegram. The Post Office was closed, of course, but someone directed us to the Western Union office on University Avenue.
We walked there from the Durant Hotel to send “Arrived Safely. STOP Weather nice. STOP,” or something similarly absurd!
We walked all the way back to meet Richard’s mentor, Professor Lotfi Zadeh, for lunch on the campus.
When I walked onto the UC Berkeley campus, I felt as if I’d run away to join the circus! There was the spotted man with a gas mask, performing tai chi movements; there was the man who couldn’t sing, standing on a box, with a microphone, singing off key.
Nothing made sense. It still doesn’t, but it’s home


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