Letter to My California Dreamer: How My Parents Found a Place to Love in L.A.

3 min
Sasha's parents, Anand and Ellen Khokha, welcoming newborn Sasha to their home in Los Angeles.  (Courtesy of Sasha Khokha/KQED)

For a series we’re calling “Letters To My California Dreamer,” we’re asking Californians from all walks of life to write a short letter to one of the first people in their family who came to the Golden State. The letter should explain:

What was their California Dream?
What happened to it?
Is that California Dream still alive for you?

Here's my letter to my parents, on their 50th anniversary of moving to California:

 

Dear Mom and Papa,

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I know you came to California with a dream: You both wanted to go to UCLA and also wanted to live in a place where your relationship would be accepted.

You met at Purdue, surrounded by corn fields in Indiana. It was 1965. Mom, you were a rebellious Irish Catholic girl who had gotten kicked out of an all-girls college and wanted to go to a coed school. Papa, you were a skinny Indian engineer whose entire family had taken the train from Delhi to Bombay to wave goodbye as your ship sailed away.

Anand and Ellen Khokha, soon after meeting in the 1960s (Courtesy of Sasha Khokha)

When you two met, interracial marriage was still illegal in Virginia, where Mom’s parents lived. Los Angeles was a place where people wouldn’t raise eyebrows if you lived together -- especially before you were married. Later, you could nurture us kids in an open-minded, multicultural city. Far away from cold winters, and attitudes.

When you came to L.A. in August 1968, you both attended UCLA. Many years later, you would drive me and my brother past an old pink apartment building in Culver City to show us where you got your start in California.

Sasha and her father, Anand, on the beach in Los Angeles. (Courtesy of Sasha Khokha)

You raised us to be California kids – sledding on the sand dunes at the beach in December, pushing us to learn Spanish early on. Sending us to an arts high school where, even though we didn’t have money like my classmates with Hollywood pedigrees, we learned to think and question and be open to new ideas.

Anand and Ellen Khokha, their kids, grandkids, and extended family, in December 2015. (Anand Khokha)

The California melting pot lives on in our family. I married a fellow Californian, whose parents are Japanese and Mexican. And we’re raising our kids in a multicultural stew, exposing them to new ideas and sledding on the beach. That was your California dream for us 50 years ago. And we’re still living it.

Thank you!

Love, Sasha

We’d love to  see your letter to your family’s California Dreamer. Maybe it was a parent, a great-great grandparent or maybe even you were the first in your family to come to California with a dream. Fill out the form here and share your story with us!