Me, Myself and Somaye #1: Pub Crawl

Me, Myself and Somaye chronicles the experiences of an international student coming directly from Iran, who had never been to another country, started college a few years later than average, and was raised in a culture diametrically opposed to most of the trends and behaviours practiced in the Netherlands and at University College Utrecht. Funky banner inspiration courtesy of De La Soul.

By Somaye Dehban (’07)

–          “But what does that mean?
–          Well…‘crawl’ means moving slowly on hands and knees or dragging the body along the ground, like during military service as one of the exercises; and ‘pub’ I guess is where they serve alcohol!?
–          Yeah! But what does it mean in your introduction week?”

He asked the last question without really expecting an answer; he was just restating his disagreement in another way. I knew him well after all, he was my father and I knew all his moves when he wanted to disagree with what I wanted to do, without directly saying that he disagrees. It was his usual tactic!

But what did it really mean: pub crawl? That was a valid question for everyone sitting in the living room of my in-laws house in the middle of Tehran, two days after receiving the booklet for my introduction week at UCU. Was it really ‘crawling’ from one ‘pub’ to the other? Was it one of those behaviors and acts that you have to do in order to be part of the student group, like I had seen in American movies about college life; I was going to start studying in an American-style college after all.

My mother-in-law moved in her chair, changed the way she crossed her legs, sorted her dress and took a glance at me, putting forward another question, and not really looking for an answer, just restating a disagreement:

“So in the pubs that you are going to go, everybody is going to drink, right? What are you going to do then?”

She didn’t even look at me while finishing her question, instead she looked at my mother and my father sitting across the living room to see their reaction to her question and the point that she tried to make.

I couldn’t actually answer her because I didn’t know what a pub crawl was in the first place, let alone being able to decide what I wanted to do there. I had never been in a situation before where someone offered me an alcoholic drink that I needed to refuse. It was actually considered wrong, inappropriate and misbehavior to offer someone, especially a woman, an alcoholic drink.  I looked at Bamshad and my brother who were sitting next to each other and I guess Bamshad could easily read in my eyes again that I was baffled and could not give an answer to his mother’s question; it was not the first time I was caught in such a situation. He smiled, winked at me, turned to his mother and reassured her that he would be with me in that pub crawl so there was no need to be worried!

It was somewhere in the week of the 17th of January, 2005 that I was ready to go on my first ever pub crawl, as it was scheduled in my introduction week booklet. Everybody gathered at the gate: the USCA board, dads and moms and many others I didn’t know at all. I was standing there in three layers of trousers, two jackets, a hat, and a scarf and I was still shivering from the cold and wind. There were many questions and worries going through my mind: are they going to get drunk? Are they going to misbehave? Are they going to throw up? Are they going to offer me alcohol as well? How should I say no in a way that doesn’t sound inappropriate and conservative? They have orange juice at the pubs as well, but how much does that cost? Wouldn’t that be above our budget?

I looked at Bamshad who was standing next to me and said:

–          “I don’t wanna go, it’s bloody cold!
–          It’s your call; we are not going to drink anyway! Shall we get back to our room?”

I just shook my head, turned and headed to our room. I didn’t tell anyone that I wasn’t joining the group for the pub crawl and I bet nobody noticed I wasn’t there.