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Stunning Armenia, a fascinating glimpse into Noah’s land

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#141 gamavor


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Posted 20 July 2019 - 08:51 AM

#142 gamavor


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Posted 23 July 2019 - 12:32 PM

Edited by gamavor, 23 July 2019 - 12:37 PM.

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#143 Yervant1


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Posted 11 August 2019 - 08:23 AM

Khaleej Times, UAE
Aug 9 2019
The kindness of strangers
Tirtho Banerjee
Filed on August 9, 2019

A recent trip to Armenia revealed its true beauty lay not just in its lovely landscapes - but in the unflagging generosity of its people

The present world has empathy in short supply. But I found it in abundance while travelling across Armenia recently. The spontaneity and propensity of the locals to extend a helping hand to total strangers left me enamoured. The Armenians' friendly disposition came through naturally wherever I went - in shops, in malls, on roads. and it reaffirmed my hope in humanity. It was the selflessness of these acts that made me fall in love with Armenia's true beauty - its people.
A lesson in hospitality
Indian food is what my wife and I were looking for on Day One in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Even though we had the restaurant's number and location, it wasn't of much help, as we were not familiar with the city's streets. Despite making repeated calls to the venue as we struggled to figure out the place, the directions offered by the operator proved absolutely futile. To add to our distress, I ran out of data and couldn't access Google search. Not a single passer-by we encountered had the faintest idea about the Indian eatery and all our enquiries came to naught. Exasperated, we were about to give up our pursuit, when suddenly a middle-aged man - who must have been watching our desperate moves for some time - came to us and politely asked: "May I know what you guys are trying to find out?"
Nursing a vain hope, we told him about our frustration and gave him the restaurant's name. His eyes lit up and, to our utter surprise and relief, he said: "Ya, ya, I know it... Indian restaurant, right?" Before we knew it, we were following him through Republic Square, parks and many other roads. The gentleman even gave us a brief outline and related backstories about some of the buildings we were passing - just like a seasoned guide. He ensured we reached our destination, before shaking my hand with a broad smile. I could only manage a feeble "Thank you", to which he quickly responded: "No, I should say thank you, because you spent so much money to visit my country. I am thankful you are in Armenia." Those words remain engraved in the recesses of my mind.
Making a friend
Armenia's rich heritage abounds everywhere - mostly in its famed monuments, many of which date back to the 3rd and 4th century. One of them is Geghard Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Nestled in a serene environment flanked by green mountains, the place is approached through a picturesque cobblestone walkway. I was fascinated by the pine cones that had fallen to the ground from a towering tree that was gazing vacantly at the monastery. They were scattered all around and I collected a handful of different varieties. My hands could only hold a few and while I was busy in a kind of juggling act, I heard a shout.
A woman - she must have been in her early 60s - was waving at me from her makeshift shop with a packet in her hand. I thought she was flagging me down to buy her wares and so, pretended I hadn't seen her. But I soon realised she was offering me a bag in which to carry the pine cones. Afterwards, I requested her for a snap; she accepted with alacrity. I will forever cherish her pure, unadulterated spirit to reach out.
Baked with love
After taking a round of Garni Temple, a Greco-Roman structure built around 1,800 years ago, and the ruins around it, we were dead tired and felt famished. It was at a restaurant serving authentic Armenian cuisine that we ordered our lunch. What's more, the food was made from organically grown grains and vegetables. It felt good to have our meal in a natural setting, seated on wooden chairs with a whiff of boiled rice wafting on the gentle, nippy breeze.
An elderly lady was baking cookies nearby. Despite the heat from the oven, she went about her job with obvious skill. Our meal done, my wife and I were now in a quandary: we couldn't decide on dessert. The woman must have sensed our predicament, for she dished out a bunch of cookies from the oven for us that really satiated our intense craving for something sweet. Before leaving, she gave my wife a  warm embrace. That sweet moment is frozen in my frame.    
Word to the wise
We wanted to ride the Yerevan Metro to experience the city 'on the move' - and to cover those pockets we couldn't on foot. A 'Metro' sign on the side of a road led us towards the stairs that took us to an underground hall. We were unable to decide what type of tickets to buy. As we hesitated at a distance from the ticket counter, a man who'd just bought a ticket initiated a conversation with us. "Do you want ticket?" he asked, adding with a soft chuckle in the same breath: "Don't worry, it is only 200 dram. anywhere you go."
That crucial bit of info dispelled all our doubts and help us shed our inhibitions. With a newfound confidence, I approached the ticket counter and said: "Two tickets, please." I turned around to thank the man, but he was nowhere to be found. True kindness never waits for acknowledgment, I realised.

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#144 gamavor


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Posted 01 September 2019 - 10:57 AM

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#145 MosJan


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Posted 27 September 2019 - 01:24 PM

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#146 Yervant1


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Posted 22 January 2020 - 09:13 AM

BW Business World, India
Jan 21 2020
The country of unforgettable emotions: Armenia
With over 25000 historical monuments throughout the country, Armenia is often referred to as an open-air museum. Read on to know about the country's heritage, food, wildlife and traditions.

Armenia is a land of mysticism that will at once capture your imagination, evoking past centuries while awakening your senses to the present. It has a rich and colorful history, interwoven with legends and lore such as the landing of Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat and Marco Polo’s voyages along the Silk Road. Armenians are an ancient people with a strong sense of cultural identity. As the nation who first adopted Christianity, we have preserved our unique culture throughout the centuries, keeping Old World traditions alive by integrating them into a modern way of life, so that the two complement and enrich each other. With over 25000 historical monuments throughout the country dating from prehistoric to Hellenistic and early Christian eras – three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Armenia is often referred to as an open air museum. Yerevan alone hosts 40 art museums and galleries. Armenia can kick up your adrenaline with steep routes and off-road rides along its valleys.

Armenia is about mouth-watering flavors. Whether in gourmet restaurants or authentic rural homes, Armenian hospitality, its rich cuisine and bountiful harvest will always welcome you to the table. Lavash, freshly baked in a fiery tonir will satisfy your stomach. The country will also embrace you in the vine of Areni Noir – a local grape variety first planted by Noah after the Biblical Flood. The spirit culture flows through Armenia from cozy wineries in Yerevan to the most ancient “wine factory” in a terroir cave of Vayots Dzor over 6100 years old. Let us not forget the cellars of the Yerevan Brandy Factory. Parting with its fragrant walls is more difficult than climbing Mount Ararat. Armenia is about fashion boutiques by local designers and jewelers. It is about high quality shoemaking that continues the traditions of the most ancient cobblers, with one such shoe, made millennia ago, now exhibited at the Museum of History. Armenia is all about interesting people and witty local humor. It is a country of unforgettable experiences that will always have you coming back for more.


Geghard (Armenian: Գեղարդ, meaning “spear”) is a medieval monastery in the Kotayk province of Armenia, being partially carved out of the adjacent mountain, surrounded by cliffs. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin, listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites as an outstanding universal value, created by humanity. The name Sanahin is interpreted as "This one is older than that", which emphasizes the supremacy of age this monastery has over its counterpart in Haghpat, the oldest temple of which was built in 976-991. In the XVIII century, a prominent bard or ashugh at the court of the Georgian king, spent part of his life as a recluse in Haghpat. As the legend goes, this famous Armenian composer underwent tonsure after falling in love with a beautiful princess.

Duduk (Armenian oboe), or tsiranapogh (“the soul of the apricot tree”), as the Armenians call this musical instrument. The soft wood of the apricot tree is the ideal material for the body of the instrument. It is brilliantly performed in the soundtracks of Hollywood blockbusters. In Armenia, it is played everywhere: in highlands and restaurants, in nightclubs and by street musicians.

There are thousands of khachkars in Armenia, stones with elaborate crosses engraved on them. They are ubiquitous: in the masonry of spiritual buildings, in forests, on rocks and mountain peaks...

Lavash (traditional Armenian thin bread) is considered a herald of welfare and prosperity; it binds marriages and is sacrificed before a new beginning. Dried lavash can easily be stored for 7 months. Today, tourists are offered a master class in baking lavash: how to roll out the dough thinly, swirl it over their heads and send it into a tonir – a fiery oven in the ground.


There are places in Armenia that capture your imagination. Magnificent Sevan – the largest lake in the Caucasus. Tucked away high in the mountains of Tavush is the marvelous Lastiver cave. During the middle Ages, caravan robbers particularly took a liking to Lastiver. Today, it is a favorite destination for tourists. The path to the cave is flanked by several quaint treehouses and goes past a picturesque waterfall – the legendary “Ottoman of Seven Cyclops", under the Celtic cross khachkar and past the church hidden in the tall grass.

In Armenia, it is a must-see to visit the Symphony of Stones in the valley of Garni, the terracotta cliffs of Vayots Dzor, the cave town of Old Goris and the meteors of Khndzoresk. Plunge into the "Mermaid Hair", waterfall in Jermuk, climb to Lake Kari – the stone lake atop Mount Aragats, dive under the famous Umbrellas – the waterfall of Mamrot Kar with overgrown moss, located in the gorge of Unot in Artsakh, and snap a photo of a trout by the Trchkan waterfall. They swim upstream for spawning, and can jump up to 23 meters in one swing. Witness their flight and marvel at the sacred Skhtorashen plane trees listed as one of the oldest trees of the planet.


If you are ready to consider high-mountain diving or paragliding, this is the perfect place to be baptized. A flight in an air balloon over endless mountain ranges is guaranteed to be a thrill and will end with nothing less than champagne and an aeronautics certificate. The popular rock climbing walls (5a-7 difficulty grade) nestled in the “Valley of Sorrows” stand ready to challenge you. Keep going, and you will reach monastery of Noravank. In the very same valley you can also discover Archeri – meaning bear cave, which is a special treat for speleologists.

Armenia has over 300 days of sun, an amazing advantage in the world of paragliding. Feel the wind as you take off on a cross-country flight around Armenia!

Heading north through the country, into the high mountains of Tavush, explorers are encouraged to visit the local extreme park and go on horse treks that span the mountains of Dilijan and Yenokavan – vistas that rival the Swiss Alps. Armenia is undoubtedly an ideal place for hiking and cycling. Mount Aragats, Azhdahak and Spitakasar in the Geghama mountain range, as well as mount Khustup are the most interesting sites for trekking. The extremely diverse terrains all brought together in a limited space give avid trekkers an overwhelming sensation. Trekkers can also avoid being overloaded by too much luggage, travel light and stay overnight at the houses of locals.


Armenians have preserved their family traditions and the lifestyle of their ancestors. Just as before, the elderly are treated with a great degree of respect and attention. Hospitality is also deeply rooted in Armenian traditions. Despite hardships and the fact that not everybody enjoys a carefree life, people are remarkably welcoming, hospitable, and honest.

However, just like in ancient times, young men and women eat a salty cracker on the day of St. Sargis (Armenian Valentine day) to dream of their betrothed. Newlyweds build a fire on the streets and jump over it on Trndez (traditional holiday) to have a long lasting and happy marriage. Clergymen consecrate grapes, and on Vardavar, the celebration of water and fertility (Transfiguration in Christianity) people splash each other all day in the belief that water cures and purifies.

If you’ve been splashed with water on Vardavar, be ready for a successful and happy year. On Vardavar young women decorate the water springs with rose petals as a tribute to Astghik, the pagan goddess of beauty who wove roses into her hair.


Your trip to Armenia will probably start with Yerevan. The capital city is one of the most ancient cities in the world with a rich history and incredible atmosphere. The city that is 29 years older than Rome is known today for breaking all kinds of stereotypes: the past is in absolute harmony with the present, and the traditional East goes hand in hand with the modern West. Despite how old the city is, Yerevan still looks very young. Concrete jungles of multi-story houses are mixed with the warmth of old masonry featuring the shade of the tuff stone, granting Yerevan the title of the Pink City. There is no rush in Yerevan: employees of city cafes slowly trim the lawns and serve visitors coffee as the latter leisurely leaf through magazines or their gadgets. Morning yoga classes turn into evening folk dances at the Cascade.

In the streets, you will find works of the best sculptors of the modern world; in museums – mysterious artifacts; in galleries – paintings of Armenian and world classics; at the flea markets – brilliant creations of contemporary painters, ceramists and jewelers.

Nightlife in Yerevan beckons with classic music concerts, sounds of folk music, jam sessions by jazz musicians, night club music, performances of musicians of all types, and wine bars along Saryan Street. Do not miss out on the opportunity to see the show of singing fountains; enjoy delicious food in fashionable restaurants or fast-food places.


Guests visiting Armenia are very fortunate: Armenian cuisine has stood the test of time for two millennia and offers bountiful tables of mouthwatering dishes that are accompanied with copious drinks and intimate toasts. Here, you will enjoy an inexpensive full dinner at a respectable restaurant, aromatic coffee at a cafe and local fruits and berries at the markets, fresh from the orchard. Armenia is a place where recipes are passed on from generation to generation and signature specialties become a treasured family secret. It is a place where chefs conjure in the kitchen while keeping to traditional recipes, offering a modern interpretation or even boldly experimenting with the past. You will learn how to bake lavash, make khorovats (barbeque), tolma (meat wrapped in grape leaves) and learn to distinguish authentic Armenian brandy. You will be offered a taste of crawfish with fresh beer. A seemingly casual drink, yet in the V century B.C. Xenophon, an ancient Greek historian, mentioned in “Anabasis” that the beer he tried in Armenia had excellent taste. National Geographic included Yerevan in the list of “Six Unexpected Cities for the Food Lovers” mentioning the capital city as one of the best places in Asia with a rich cuisine: the magazine advises food lovers to try gastro tours to Armenia. Armenia is a country of century-old traditions of winemaking, the founder of which is considered to be a biblical patriarch who planted the first vine at the foot of Mountain Ararat. The traditions of ancient winemakers are properly preserved by modern winemakers. Thus, it is no surprise that the terroir of Vayots Dzor produces wine that is included in top ten best wines in the world according to Bloomberg Business weekly.

The manufacturing of ARARAT brandy was founded in Armenia 130 years ago, quickly gained international recognition, and was even supplied to the court of the Russian Emperor. It was starred in almost all Soviet movies, traveled to space; often times rescued drifting polar explorers and was preferred by Winston Churchill. ARARAT brandy is one of the symbols of Armenia, an indispensable attribute of a generous traditional feast. It bears witness to the most vivid and joyful moments of people’s lives – at weddings, birthdays, and gatherings of friends. ARARAT brandy is the most famous souvenir from Armenia without which no guest leaves the country.


Drive through snowy roads, master snow scooters, stay at skiing resorts. Free riders prefer the slopes of Mount Aragats, while downhill skiers, snowboard skiers, cross-country skiers come to the ski resort in Tsakhkadzor, which translates to “gorge of flowers”. There is every opportunity to exercise your favorite winter sport since the slopes do not crust and the undisturbed snow supports the boards perfectly.

The ski resort in Tsakhkadzor on the hills of Mount Teghenis is 40 minutes away from Zvartnots airport. Trails of all levels of difficulty start from the peak of the mountain, which you can reach via Leitner ropeway with heated seats. You will not have to wait in line for the ropeway in Tsakhkadzor. The highest point of skiing is 2819 m which is just 10m lower than the highest one in Courchevel.

Tsakhkadzor ropeway has three levels: the regular ski lift takes skiers to 2400 m. The total time to reach the third level is about 40 minutes. There is a height difference of 1200 m.

Khash is a dish that used to be for the impoverished in pagan times; it consisted of cooked of veal knuckles and giblets. Today it is considered a delicacy and is usually served during the months that contain the letter ‘r’, from April to September inclusive. The only place that serves khash regardless of the month is located at Mount Aragats.


#147 Yervant1


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Posted 09 March 2020 - 08:27 AM

PhilStar, Philippines
March 7 2020
What do Cher, the Kardashians, Andre Agassi, Charles Aznavour (& even Steve Jobs) have in common?
PURPLE SHADES - Letty Jacinto-Lopez (The Philippine Star
The answer to that titular question is that they are all Armenians!
Cher, the Hollywood singer and actress, continues to reinvent herself in her risqué fashion style and music concerts. The Kardashians have become a byword in reality TV, celebrating their opulent lifestyle and complicated dalliances. Andre Agassi is a celebrated tennis legend; the late Charles Aznavour was a popular French balladeer who earned a strong following with platinum hits like She, Hier Encore (Yesterday when I was Young), and was a strong advocate of his ancestral homeland, Armenia.
And who doesn’t know Apple computer founder Steve Jobs? His adopted mother Clara Hagopian was Armenian, but Jobs welcomed everything Armenian into his life, including speaking the language fluently.
With that, we began our interesting tour of Armenia, arranged by Arlina Onglao.  We drove from Tbilisi, Georgia, to Yerevan, Armenia — about five hours — stopping at an Armenian bakeshop that lured us with the smell of freshly baked lavash made from flour, water, salt, and sprinkled with sesame and poppy seeds.  They were fired in a deep cylindrical clay stone oven called a toneer.  The dough is slapped against the wall of the toneer. The bread was hot, filling and totally satisfying.
How can you spot Armenia on the world map?  It’s the only country shaped like the profile of a young girl.
What caught my eye? Religious estampitas of the Mother and Child — a sometimes chubby Mary was shown with the Infant Jesus holding the Armenian native fruit, the pomegranate, or baby Jesus holding a globe, a crucifix or simply with hands posed in greeting.  They were completely different in style, color, garments and facial _expression_, yet recognizable to all religious groups.
We went to the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, or the Matenadaran (“Mat” means manuscript, while “Danaran” means place), where you can really appreciate the Bible as a book.
Prepare yourself to be dazzled by this repository of ancient manuscripts that cover a broad range of subjects: theology, history, medicine, literature, art and cosmography — the sea, earth and universe.  This museum-cum-institute holds one of the world’s richest written collections dating back to thousands of years ago.  
I was captivated to see works of the early scribes, who used ink dyes from natural stones like lapis lazuli, malachite, and gold.  The red ink came from worms or scaled insects called cochineal (from the pulverized bodies of insects), while book covers were made of carved ivory dating back to the 6th century.  Goatskin was used for the pages.
Armenia 101
In history, the Armenian kingdom was described as spanning “sea to sea,” covering the green parts of Turkey down to Mesopotamia, the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, and the Black, Caspian and Mediterranean Seas.
Armenians didn’t participate in the holy synods in Calcedonia and Nicea.  They are Christians belonging to the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church, which is one of the oldest Christian churches.  They were founded in the 1st century AD and, in 301 AD, became the first branch of Christianity to become a religion.  The head of their church is called Catholicos, who resides in Echmiadzin, near Yerevan.
Armenia gained independence from Russia in 1990 when their churches and monasteries were reopened.  Armenian monks are found in St. Lazarus near Venice, in Israel (the Holy Land), and in Turkey.  They speak Russian and English, too.
We were introduced to the duduk, an Armenian wind instrument that sounds like an oboe, made from apricot wood. It is described as producing sad, solemn sounds that are truly haunting. I heard an Armenian say that it is like being transported back to a “windswept Caucasian hill 2,000 years ago.”
Armenian food
An Armenian meal usually starts with mezze — appetizers made of cheese, cut vegetables and cured meat. Manti is soup with dumplings shaped like little boats stuffed with ground lamb or beef and topped with fresh yoghurt. They were golden, crunchy and tasty.
Traditional dishes include Basturma, cured meat served with Armenian red wine; Khoravat, barbecued meat grilled over a wood fire so it has a smoky flavor; Kashlama, slow-cooked lamb or beef served with vegetables; Dolma, meat and rice wrapped in grape leaves; Su Boreg, a boiled phyllo dish; Harissa, or chicken porridge; and Gata — not our coconut milk but sweet bread or puff pastry stuffed with nuts.
At Lake Sevan they served us fish kebabs that were marinated with spices and grilled. And, like in Georgia, they also have the Churchkela (a string of walnuts dipped into fruit juices) and the Tklapi, or fruit lavash made from fruit puree, sun-dried on a clothesline and rolled up into paper-thin sheets.  
Sculpture by Jaume Plensa
Mt. Ararat & Noah’s Ark
The national symbol of Armenia is Mount Ararat, where Noah’s Ark came to rest after the great flood.  It is depicted on their coat of arms.  Our guide, Ani Manoukian, told us that visitors like releasing doves in the hopes that they will fly to Mount Ararat.
Noah supposedly died at the age of 950, 350 years after the great flood.
You can actually climb up the Cafesjian Centre for the Arts (CCA) or The Cascade, a museum built ziggurat-style (meaning it’s a pyramid-shaped with two to seven tiers).  You can ascend stairs to reach each level.   There’s a well-manicured garden with bronze sculptures by world-renowned artists/sculptors such as Pablo Picasso, Jaume Plensa, Fernando Botero, etc.
Author Letty Lopez at Ararat mountains from the Khor Virap Monastery
Philanthropist Gerard Cafesjian built The Cascade as a poignant memorial to Armenia.
I loved the tragic but brilliant love story preserved in Noravank Monastery, designed and built by Momik, the architect. “Anything he touched turned to magic,” and Momik fell in love with a princess who reciprocated his feelings. The father of the princess agreed to their marriage, provided Momik built first “a temple of incredible and unmatched beauty.”
Momik went to work, cutting chunks of rock and carving them into building blocks. He was soon putting finishing touches on the dome while crouching on the very top of the temple when, suddenly, Momik was pushed off by a jealous suitor of the princess.  Momik plummeted to the ground, clutching the last block of the dome in his hands.  That stone became his tombstone.  But the beauty of Noravank never died.
Echmiadzin Museum
Biblical artifacts
You can find relics traceable to Jesus and other biblical artifacts at the Echmiadzin Museum, a mouthful to pronounce.
Among the reliquaries we viewed were the Holy Lance (Geghart) that pierced the side of Christ; the true Cross of Jesus; wood from Noah’s Ark; and relics from the apostles Thaddeus, Bartholomew, Andrew and George, including Ananias  (a disciple of Jesus mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles). He was sent by Jesus to restore the sight of Saul of Tarsus and provide him with additional instruction on the way of the Lord. He baptized Saul, who became known as St. Paul.
The Armenian Genocide took place in 1915 during World War I. Leaders of the Turkish government set into motion a plan to expel and massacre Armenians living in Turkey, executing intellectuals, burning homes, pillaging villages, raping and killing women and children and sending them on death marches through the desert without food and water.
By 1920, millions of Armenians perished, with many more forcibly removed from Turkey in a diaspora that scattered Armenians to neighboring countries in Europe and others to faraway America, China, India and Australia.
A memorial sits on elevated ground with an arrow-shaped granite structure reaching up to the sky symbolizing the survival and spiritual rebirth of the Armenian people.  Next to it is a circular structure where an eternal flame burns. Armenians and visitors alike leave flowers in memory of those who were killed and who were kicked out.  The motto is “I remember and demand,” because to this day, this genocide is not recognized by Turkey.
Armenia in film
There is a beautiful two-part film on the plight of an Armenian family who settled in France that starred Omar Sharif and Claudia Cardinale entitled Mayrig and Rue Paradis.  Even in exile, they kept sacred their love for Armenia, working and raising their son with honesty, integrity and unstinting love.
Another film, Ararat, traces the genocide and how generations of Armenians kept the memory alive in their hearts.  Author William Saroyan was an American-Armenian novelist, playwright and short story writer.  He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and won the Oscar for the best film adaptation of his novel, The Human Comedy.  He wrote extensively about the Armenian immigrant life in California.
Our guide Ani Manoukian aroused feelings of empathy within me when she said, “Anywhere in the world, where there is an Armenian, there is a common pathos we share.  We draw this collective sigh of longing for home.  Armenia is where our heart is, forever and lovingly entrenched.”
With that, Ani took us to La Folie for more traditional Armenian cuisine.   We said “Bari!” which means “bon appétit.”

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