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Posted by gamavor on 25 January 2017 - 09:53 AM
Posted by Arshak1946 on 26 October 2017 - 11:43 AM
4 Minutes of video about Western Armenia , I hope video interest you.
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Posted by gamavor on 05 October 2017 - 01:12 PM
A little bit crazy in my view but commendable. I did something similar but not that extreme.
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Posted by onjig on 05 October 2017 - 10:13 AM
YEREVAN—An Armenian-made electric car debuted at the 13th annual DigiTec tech expo, which opened in Yerevan earlier today. The electric-powered, self-driving car, which was assembled in Armenia by National Instruments, was unveiled at the “Engineering City” pavilion of the three-day exhibition.
An Armenian-made electric car debuted at the 13th annual DigiTec tech expo (Photo: Mediamax)
“The whole world is working on [electric cars] and we should do the same in Armenia,” National Instruments’ Ruben Simonyan told Yerevan-based Itel.am. “We need to increase the number of electric cars and the percentage of self-driving or driver assistance systems. We’re exhibiting the electric car we assembled in Armenia. Essentially, it’s a continuation of our engineering culture. This isn’t a novelty. The first electric car was assembled in Armenia back in 1975. Now we should extend that culture,” said Simonyan.
The car is equipped with several driver-assist devices, such as radars, a camera, and laser equipment. Though the sensors and equipment were not produced in Armenia, National Instruments worked on the design and testing of the entire system.
“To make sure that the car will operate smoothly in different situations, you need to drive millions of kilometers. Producers used to do exactly that and some of them still do,” Simonyan explained. “But that requires too much time and expense, which affects the car’s price. Our testing doesn’t require driving millions of kilometers in specialized areas. We can simulate the same scenario for several times to make sure the system is working fine.”
A team of around 20 engineers and designers worked on designing and testing the car, collaborating with several foreign companies.
DigiTec is the largest technological exhibition of the region and runs Sep. 29-Oct. 1 at the Yerevan Expo Center.
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Posted by gamavor on 06 September 2017 - 08:10 AM
For Christ sake, on top of everything she gave UNESCO's Mozart prize to Mehriban Alieva. The later I'm sure did not know how to hold a violin.
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Posted by gamavor on 05 September 2017 - 06:35 AM
What a world we live in!
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Posted by MosJan on 15 July 2017 - 11:29 AM
Learn about the Armenian silversmiths of Kayseri who created beautiful silver covers for Armenian manuscripts. Three of these covers are in the collection of the Morgan Library & Museum in New York.
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Posted by gamavor on 11 April 2017 - 02:24 AM
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Posted by Yervant1 on 03 January 2017 - 02:45 PM
I think, it means mistake or a flaw and the բեխալատ would be the opposite of flaw, I mean flawless. I'm just going with the sentence structure and the Arabic word Khalat means mistake or a flaw, maybe that's where the origin is.
I hope this helps.
I believe the babies flaw is not falling sleep. The last sentence which says that you have one flaw, you don't sleep and stay awake.
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Posted by onjig on 13 October 2016 - 11:57 AM
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Posted by gamavor on 12 January 2016 - 10:44 AM
YEREVAN. A new fertilizer has been developed in Armenia, and to save water.
Director of Eco Technology company, Ashot Baghdasaryan, told Armenian News-NEWS.am that the granules of this fertilizer collect the water from the soil, and return it to the plant when and as needed.
And the granules of our fertilizer not only accumulate water, but also the useful nutrients, Baghdasaryan explained.
In addition, this fertilizer eliminates excess water, so that the roots of the plants do not decay.
As per the company manager, this fertilizer helps to increase crop yields by 40 to 60 percent.
Furthermore, this material biologically decomposes, and therefore it leaves no residues in the soil.
The fertilizer, which is called Aquasource, underwent several tests among volunteer farmers.
Also, it is tested with a number of international projects.
Ashot Baghdasaryan said Iran, Russia, the US, India, the United Arab Emirates, and even in distant South Africa and Namibia are interested in this new fertilizer.
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Posted by Yervant1 on 11 January 2016 - 01:27 PM
The chances that Russia will help us to free Western Armenia is as much as the help that we will get from the rest of the world, which is zero. We should rely on ourselves only.
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Posted by Yervant1 on 19 December 2014 - 10:42 AM
A CHRISTMAS CARD TO ONE AND ALL
The Harvell Gazette, MA
Dec 18 2014
Tom Vartabedian Haverhill Gazette
Hard to believe that I've waited until close to the last moment to
wish everyone a joyful Christmas.
It's only because I'm strapped for cash after going bonkers this year
and decided I'd use my best resources to get the word out.
Nothing easier and cheaper than to convey my intentions through
this Almanac column. It's okay. You don't have to reciprocate. I get
enough afterthoughts leading up to the New Year and beyond, if you
count Armenian Christmas on Jan. 6.
So let's begin by wishing my family the very best -- my wife, Nancy,
with whom I'll be celebrating our 50th anniversary on Feb. 19. I
chose that date because it was her birthday and I couldn't think of
a better time to exchange our vows.
Cheers go out to the other three favorite people in my life --
children Sonya, Ara and Raffi -- and the six grandchildren in our
lives. Get set for Disneyworld, guys. We've got a lot of celebrating
to do this February in the land of unbroken dreams.
Let's hit the newspaper crowd next -- editor Bill Cantwell, who
peruses my columns each week and makes them readable, along with
climbing cohorts Dave Dyer, Paul Tennant and Mike LaBella. I still
remember that time we got stranded on Mount Katahdin in Maine and
spent the night on a rock studying the stars. Turned out to be a
pretty decent Almanac, as I recall.
You'll find me three afternoons a week playing racquetball at
the Haverhill YMCA. Maybe George Yell will let me win a game this
Christmas. Welcome Clint "CJ" Clay. You're the next generation. I
marvel at the job Executive Director Tracy Fuller does in keeping
that facility intact. Kudos to you, too.
You'll also see me browsing up a storm at the library -- a true
resource for our community -- and all that it avails to me, whether
books, CDs or DVDs. I am proud to admit that both my sons secured
their Eagle Scout badges by doing community projects for the library.
Not a bad consideration for any good scout.
As the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide approaches in 2015,
the congregation at our Armenian Church at Hye Pointe is already at
work planning a milestone commemoration in the community. Watch for
details. While I'm at it, good luck to all those involved with the
church's building project in Ward Hill. It's been a long time in
Greetings and salutations go out to my doctor, Peter Rees, for keeping
me agile. He sets a fine example for health and fitness. And to my
cardiologist Salmon (Sonny) Ghiasuddin for saving me from expiration --
not once but twice. It's been 10 years since I've become "pipe free."
Same goes for Dr. Alan Gonick and his staff at Greenleaf. Be true to
your teeth -- otherwise they will become false. He makes a root canal
seem so tolerable. My sentiments also go out to Dr. Alvin Yadgood,
my oral surgeon at Northern Essex. I cannot say enough about implants.
I marvel at the work being done by cohorts Kathy Bresnahan and Rita
LaBella in organizing a myriad of activities at the Council on Aging.
There's no reason why any senior citizen in this city should be bored.
The guy behind it all is head honcho Vinny Ouellette, who seems to
have more arms than an octopus.
The ping-pong vibrations you may hear Monday nights come from West
Meadow Road, where some pretty hot table tennis activity is heard. Bob
Baillargeron and Malcolm Anderson are two fine players who don't act
their age. May their paddles always keep them young.
Special Christmas greetings go out to the sick and the infirmed of
this city, those who will spend the holiday in hospitals and nursing
homes. It's not the place you want to be. May you be joined by family
Extended wishes are conveyed to the caregivers and medical support
staffers who must work this day to keep the health system mobilized
and in good hands. Santa applauds you.
Here's a greeting to all the police and firefighters who maintain
their constant vigil, holidays or not. And to all those who do not
celebrate Christmas. May some of you get caught up in the spirit,
whether you're a Christian or not.
For one brief day, bury all the bad news and put a moratorium on crime
and punishment. Let's finally end this terrible plight in the Middle
East and live in a world where peace and harmony work hand-in-hand.
Above all, let's put Christ back into Christmas and honor the day
for what it was intended.
If you're looking for the perfect last-minute gift, try this. Human
kindness costs nothing and goes the furthest.
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Posted by Nané on 28 January 2013 - 12:35 PM
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Posted by man on 19 December 2012 - 03:24 AM
Posted on December 15, 2012
Nathalie Kazandjian aka Nat K
(Canada, AVC ‘ 12)
The "Welcome Home Natty" poster along with friends and family were what greeted me as I made my way past the Arrival gates of the Montreal Trudeau Airport. In that instant, I felt pretty good about coming home. However, as the days went by, the post-Armenia blues violently kicked in as soon as I found myself doing the same old things I used to do. Suddenly, things that seemed so familiar felt foreign and strange. It was a whole new culture shock but it was real and unfortunately, there wasn’t much I could do about it. The problem was not coming home to friends and family. The problem itself was leaving Armenia. For the little bit that I was back, I couldn’t even look at my photos nor talk about it for fear of being overcome with even more heartbreak and anguish than I already felt. I missed everything and everyone that belonged to my life in Armenia.
Before I know it, I found myself longing for Armenia. I missed waking up every morning to hearing my host mother say “ Parev parev garmir arev siroon jan”. I missed walking down 58 district to catch the marshrutka, 100 drams in hand and giving my regular Parev to the locals. I missed walking home from work and being greeted by the cutest little munchkins from my neighborhood showering me with hugs and kisses. I missed finishing the night off with a nice cup of MacCoffee alongside my host sisters while watching Armenian soap operas. I missed staying up with Nvartig, my baby host sister, till late at night drawing, coloring, playing cards, checkers, chess and teaching her English. I missed going to Ponchig Monchig and ordering a ridiculous amount of food. I missed going to the khorovadz place near the OLA center and engaging into a 45 minute conversation with the cook each and every time. I missed getting a ridiculous amount of daily texts and reminders from Allegra. I missed joining my Armenian brothers and sisters over weekend excursions. I missed running in the SAS supermarket and yelling like a crazy person “where’s the Ttvaser ?” before boarding our marshrukta to head back home. As well, as Heeng dzap, Marshrukta 9, besties crew, whatever your face, tracking down wifi, Le Cafe and Sevan’s inspirational speeches among many other things.
The desire to connect to people and the joy of making the connection was life affirming. The physical intensity of the excursions was invigorating. The time walking alone, listening to my own footsteps, sitting in the marshrukta watching the sunset, gazing at the stars was refreshing. Most of all, I long for the way I felt when I was in the Motherland. I felt alive, free, inspired and grateful. Man oh man does Armenia have a way with you. Each and every day there was a goal and an accomplishment that could be measured in different ways: in kilometers, in hugs, in the number of times I laughed out loud.
Although I was only gone for two months and while nothing has changed at home, everything has changed within me. Living in Armenia, gave me a deep appreciation of my life – where I live, where I work, my family and my friends. It also made me appreciate things that we too often take for granted such as the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, weeping eyes, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
To travel to Armenia is to truly take a journey within yourself. When we leave the comfort of home and everything that we have grown to be accustomed to, we often live more simply, with no more possessions than we can carry. We tend to surrender ourselves by becoming much more accepting to the twists, turns and little surprises that life has to offer. I came to Armenia searching for answers. Instead, I left in search of better questions. Sometimes, the unexpected is just what is needed to put life into perspective.
So here I am, back to my same old routine of stop and go, impatiently waiting to graduate just to start a new adventure. All the while feeling nostalgic about my time in Armenia which can feel heavier than the far too many pounds gained abroad.
When I think about it, perhaps the post-Armenia blues is something you can never truly let go of. For it that where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
To sign off, I simply cannot say goodbye to those whom I have grown to love, for the memories we have made will last a lifetime and never a goodbye. None of this would have been possible without Birthright Armenia & Armenian Volunteer Corps. For those of you who are thinking of joining the program, I encourage you to take a leap and go for it. Armenia 2012 always in my heart.
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Posted by onjig on 19 September 2015 - 08:15 PM
Special for the Armenian Weekly
Zabelle Panosian was 23 years old and the mother of a 6-year-old girl when she recorded just 11 sides for the Columbia Record Company in 1916-17. Of those, she recorded one that, to this day, takes the breath away of those who are fortunate enough to hear it, across nationalities and languages. Her “Groung” (“Kroonk” in modern transliteration) is among the most stunning vocal performances made in the United States or elsewhere, and likely among the best-selling performances of Armenian-language music before World War II. And yet, little is known of the artist responsible for it.
Born in Bardizag (present-day Bahçecik, Turkey) on June 7, 1891, she emigrated to the U.S. in April 1896 and married the photo-engraver Aram Sarkis Panosian, 12 years her senior. She lived in Brookline, Mass., from 1908 until at least 1920. She is said to have toured with the great tenor and student of Komitas Vardapet, Armeneg Chah-Mouradian, in the late 1910’s to raise funds for Armenians. She was in Washington, D.C. in February 1920 at a benefit for the Near East Relief Campaign. She applied for a passport that same year, at age 29, to visit France to study, to Italy to see her brother, and to England and Egypt to “locate lost relatives.” Her application gives her height as 5’5″, her mouth as “medium,” chin as “round,” hair as “dark,” face as “round,” and nose as “straight.”
Robert Karayan has noticed that she was profiled, in photo only, in an edition of “Hai Guine” (Armenian Woman), the first feminist bi-monthly journal of Istanbul, founded, published, and edited by Hayganouche Mark from 1919-33. Panosian and her then-14-year-old daughter returned through Ellis Island two and a half years later on Jan. 23, 1924, from the port of Cherbourg, France, to her husband at 520 E. 183rd St. in Manhattan. A few years later, she made another trip with her daughter Adiena (or Adrina), then still single at 22, and returned to New York through Gibraltar.
And that, for the moment, is where her story seems to leave off. She died in 1986. However, I own two copies of her sublime masterpiece, and each are totally different takes—in different keys and one featuring bird-sound effects. Both are identical in every way visually, with the same catalogue and matrix numbers stamped into the shellac discs. Why would two different takes exist that appear to be identical? My theory, and it’s only a theory, is that Columbia sold so many copies of it that they wore out the original metal parts—the “stampers,” they’re called—and had to revert to an unissued “take” of the performance to keep up with demand for the recording. I do not know which is the first take released, and I do not know at present whether there is a third take in circulation. The recording stayed in print from its 1917 release until Columbia records deleted its Armenian-language recordings in 1931.
And why would they have to keep a performance of a classically trained Armenian-language performance in print for more than a decade? Why would it have been so popular? For two reasons, I think. First, because the performance is so incredibly powerful. And second, because the lyrics, speaking to the loss and bewilderment and frustration of the Armenian-American Diaspora, were expressed so clearly to its listeners.
“Crane, where are you coming from? I am servant of your voice. Crane, have you not news from our country? Hasten not to your flock, you will arrive soon enough! ”
And yet, for nearly a hundred years, nothing has been written about this great artist and performer. It is, to me, amazing and terrible. It speaks to the core of not only the American or the Armenian but the human question: What is the nature of remembering? How could such a beautiful thing be left behind?
You can hear Zabelle’s “Groung” here:
Contact the author at email@example.com.
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Posted by gamavor on 25 June 2015 - 02:01 AM
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Posted by Yervant1 on 20 March 2015 - 09:59 AM
ERIC BOGOSIAN'S NEW BOOK ON OPERATION NEMESIS TO BE AVAILABLE ON APRIL 21
Thursday, March 19th, 2015
Eric Bogosian's new book on Operation Nemesis to be avilable on
A masterful account of the conspiracy of assassins that hunted down
the perpetrators of a genocide NEW YORK-In 1921, a small group of
self-appointed patriots set out to avenge the deaths of almost one
million victims of the Armenian Genocide. They named their operation
Nemesis after the Greek goddess of retribution. Over several years,
the men tracked down and assassinated former Turkish leaders. The
story of this secret operation has never been fully told until now.
Eric Bogosian goes beyond simply telling the story of this cadre
of Armenian assassins to set the killings in context by providing a
summation of the Ottoman and Armenian history as well as the history
of the Genocide itself. Casting fresh light on one of the great crimes
of the twentieth century and one of history's most remarkable acts of
political retribution, and drawing upon years of new research across
multiple continents, NEMESIS is both a riveting read and a profound
examination of evil, revenge, and the costs of violence.
The book will be made available on April 21st, 2015. Pre-order the
"Hitler asked, 'Who remembers the Armenians?' Eric Bogosian, that's
who. Read his potent, action-packed account of how a little known
assassination plot harkens back to a world-historical genocide and
so will you. So take that, Hitler," writes Sarah Vowell, author of
The Wordy Shipmates and Assassination Vacation
"A dark and compelling tale of blood vengeance. In Operation Nemesis,
Eric Bogosian tells the remarkable story of how a small group of
powerless, post-war assassins sought revenge against the all-powerful
masterminds of the Armenian genocide," says Annie Jacobsen, author
of Operation Paperclip about the book.
"Absorbing and accessible, Bogosian presents this complex and
multi-layered history with a master dramatist's flair. Operation
Nemesis is an engaged and provocative account of an unforgettable
tragedy and a cathartic attempt at finding justice," says Atom Egoyan,
Academy Award-nominated writer and director of The Sweet Hereafter
"Eric Bogosian, actor, playwright and novelist, can now add historian
to his resume with this carefully researched tale of organized revenge
on the perpetrators of one of the most heinous state-engineered
genocides in modern history-the murderous expulsion of the Armenian
people from Ataturk's newly reconstituted Turkey," says Richard Price,
author of The Whites.
"If you think you know all the great thriller stories of the last
century, you don't. And this one is true. Operation Nemesis reads
like a high-stakes suspense novel, but it tells us something essential
about the world we're living in right now," Peter Blauner, author of
Slipping Into Darkness and Slow Motion Riot.
"Operation Nemesis is a spell-binding book. It is written both with
urgency and patience. Bogosian's chapter summarizing the "variety of
peoples who crossed and recrossed" Anatolia is as good as any of the
half-dozen established accounts I've read. His play-by-play story of
the Armenian assassins avenging the Armenian genocide (1915-20) is as
gripping as a Graham Greene novel. The whole book is a significant
contribution to the history of Asia Minor and its effect on our
present world," writes John Casey, author of National Book Award
"In this resurrection of a lost story, Eric Bogosian vividly tells
the story of the assassins who avenged the Ottoman mass killings of
Armenians in 1915. Unfolding like a thriller, Bogosian's history brings
to life long-forgotten events and the courageous people who set out
in their own way to bring a kind of justice and peace to their shared
past." Says Ronald Grigor Suny, Professor of History and Political
Science, University of Michigan, and author of They Can Live in the
Desert But Nowhere Else: A History of the Armenian Genocide.
Eric Bogosian is an actor, playwright, and novelist of Armenian
descent. He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his play Talk Radio,
and is the recipient of the Berlin Film Festival's Silver Bear Award,
as well as three Obie Awards and the Drama Desk. In addition to his
celebrated work in the theater and onscreen, he has authored three
novels. He lives in New York City with the director Jo Bonney.
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Posted by Yervant1 on 15 September 2014 - 12:44 PM
September 12, 2014
Less than 100 Indian Armenians live in Kolkata. And unless you go looking, you will not find them.
There is nothing Armenian about Armenian Street – a long meandering quarter of Burrabazaar. Like any other part of the big, bustling wholesale market, it is clustered with shops and labourers, warehouses and packs of customers, where Marwaris and Muslims, Bengalis and Biharis toil elbow-to-elbow. The shopkeepers know nothing about the community that once, along with the Portuguese and the Jews, thrived here.
Not one Armenian in this sea of humanity. “Machhuaara toh kya, ek macchli bhi nahi milegi,” a shopkeeper laughs. Others shake their heads, mumble something about times gone by and point us down the lane, to the other side of the main road.
And only after you wade through murk and more crowds, and reach its imposing gates, do you get the first glimpse of the Armenian Church of the Holy Nazareth, built in 1724 on an old Armenian burial ground.
On 2, Armenian Street, masked by this congested market, stands the Armenian Church of the Holy Nazareth, built in 1724
on the burial ground of the community. Its caretaker Paul Stephen (seen here in the picture) lives on the premises
There was a time, we are told, when Armenians “ran the city”. And this small community – a few thousand strong at the time of Independence – was at the helm of Calcutta society.
Kolkata is the last surviving home to Armenians in India. And for the last six decades their numbers have been dwindling alarmingly.
The Sunday service at St Gregory's Chapel at Park Circus
But this is not a new story. In a city of 15 million people they have been the object of fascinated interest, and have been written about over and over again.
But perhaps because there are barely a handful of Armenians in the rest of the country, people outside of Kolkata know little – if anything at all – of their existence.
Seven centuries before Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama arrived on the Malabar coast, Armenian merchant Thomas Cana landed on the same south-western coast in 780 CE, writes 19th century historian Mesrovb Jacob Seth in Armenians in India from the Earliest Times to the Present Day.
But it was only in the 16th century that Armenian settlements began in the country.
“India’s such a beautiful country, and they don’t interfere with anybody. As long as you stay away from their girls, they’re happy!” laughs 85-year-old Mackertich Sarkies Adams, who once ran his family’s motor shop in Theatre Road, home to the city’s first theatres.
Adams’ father, uncle and grandfather came to Kolkata from Julfa [New Julfa, the Armenian quarter in Iran] in 1924, to trade in India, and never went back. Like most Indian-Armenians, Adams has never been to Julfa or Armenia. Like most Indian-Armenians in Kolkata, his siblings and friends have all moved abroad.
But unlike them, Adams never really wanted to leave “Mamata Banerjee’s country.”
We’re chatting at the Sir Catchick Paul Chater Home for the Elderly in Park Circus. The largely empty building gives us a peek into the vanishing world of Armenians. There are only eight residents now. The numbers diminish every year – and the men and women here, a dark, quirky lot, laugh about “kicking the bucket”.
Adams lives here with his wife of 45 years, the 77-year-old Elizabeth ‘Betty’, an Indian who had been adopted by his first cousins as a child.
“Did you date a lot before you were married,” I ask, my curiousity piqued.
“I won’t say, ‘no’,” Mac smiles boyishly.
“Were they mostly Armenian girls?”
“Nooo,” he groans. “Anglo-Indians!” he grins. “The Armenian girls at that time were too bloody stuck up.”
“And fat,” quips Betty.
In those days, Park Street was something else. It was the throbbing pulse of an otherwise conservative city. The Anglo-Indians mixed with the Bengali elite, the Armenians and the Parsis. These small communities, who lived here, roared in the 1920s and swung to the tune of the 1960s.
Those were the days of cabaret in the mornings, sensual singers crooning to entertain diners at Mocambo and lots of parties. Not all Armenians were wealthy of course – but many were. Very.
They owned trading companies, shipping lines, publishing houses. They had big businesses – indigo, shellac, jewellery. Their European heritage and enterprising attitude made them natural allies of the British – and like the Anglo-Indians, they had coveted government jobs. They owned prime real estate too. And the stories of their lives seem like they’re out of a novel.
In the early 20th century, the race course magnate Johannes Carapiet Galstaun owned some 350 buildings and 100 racehorses (he supposedly lost his fortunes thrice and recovered them at the races) and donated Rs. 25,000 to the Victoria Memorial building fund at the time.
The hotelier Arathoon Stephen had come penniless to the city and eventually built The Grand Hotel (now the Oberoi Grand) and Stephen Court, the building on Park Street where the famous patisserie Flurry’s is located.
Realtor TM Thaddeus, who built Park Mansions, owned a Rolls Royce but travelled in rickshaws because he did not trust a driver with his prized possession.
Businessman Paul Chater eventually became one of Hong Kong’s top bankers, and – like many others – bequeathed his estate to the Church in Kolkata, the old home is named after him.
Armenia is situated on the crossroads of West Asia and East Europe, strategically located for trade, and consequently, a constant battleground. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, Christian Armenia was caught in a series of conflicts between the Ottoman Turks and the Persians. Later, part of it was conquered by Russia and eventually absorbed into the former Soviet Union in 1922 as well.
It was during these tumultuous years that, many Armenians moved out. And like the Parsis who had fled from the same region centuries before them, Armenians too found refuge in India. The splendour of the Mughals made India favourable for trade, and Armenians received a warm welcome in Akbar’s secular court. They settled in Agra, Delhi, Surat and Lahore, among other cities. It is believed that one of Akbar’s queens was Armenian.
It was because of their connections with the Mughals, that the East India FCompany began cultivating a relationship with them. As the situation back home got worse, more and more Armenians came to India. But by then Fthe Mughal empire was collapsing, and they spread to other parts of India, settling in large numbers in Madras, Bombay and Calcutta. They could never establish themselves well enough in Bombay’s trade because the Parsis were already mediating between the British and the locals.
It is difficult to say when they first came to Kolkata, but we do know they were here, at least 60 years before the British.
The oldest Christian grave in Kolkata, marked 1630 CE – Rezabeebeh, ‘wife of the late Charitable Sookias’ – is of an Armenian.
The last round of settlers came in the years following the outbreak of the First World War, in 1915. In fact 2015 is the centenary of what historians call the Armenian genocide, the systematic killing of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in the Ottoman empire. Many fled the region—and about 2,000 found refuge in India.
When the British left, there were approximately 3000-4000 Armenians in Kolkata. But at the time, “If you had an Indian name, it carried a lot of weight. But our names didn’t give us opportunities,” says Peter Hyrapiet, 67, the current president of the Armenian Club.
The Hyrapiets – Peter and his wife Heather, their son Shayne and his wife Nidhi and their daughter Skyla – are a typical Armenian-Indian family
“Armenians were being isolated. People who were very well established, they all left,” Hyrapiet adds rather matter-of-factly. The parties were over. It was time for nation building – and communities that had flourished under the English were seen as a reminder of the colonists.
Hyrapiet had wanted to leave. His mother was Anglo-Indian, as was his wife. Nearly all their friends and family left for the West. He tried too, but didn’t meet the visa criteria.
“Who wouldn’t want to go?” says Paul Stephen, the 67-year-old caretaker of the Holy Church of Nazareth. “The Church said to me, ‘What are you doing? Go abroad. There’s no future over here!’ But I didn’t want to leave my parents.”
In the 1970s and 1980s, more Armenians left, coinciding with the Indian brain drain – and they still continue to do so. Stephen’s sons, both staunch Armenians and proud of their Indian Armenian heritage, have moved abroad too, one to Australia and the other to New Zealand.
At one level though, it is difficult to understand why they would want to leave. The Armenian Church of Holy Nazareth, the centre of this tiny community, has assets worth thousands of crores, “mostly in the form of prime real estate and some five million shares of HSBC,” stated a report published in Mint in November 2013.
If you’re Armenian in India, you’re entitled to free education, medical care and accommodation when you retire. If you want aid, help of any kind, you need only ask.
When there was a legal case filed over Paul Stephen’s residential property, he asked the Church for help. “They gave me a place to stay and since then I’ve been the caretaker of the Church,” he says.
The early Armenian settlers were conservative and clannish. They did not usually marry out of their community, and it was important for them to preserve their identity, their culture. And in order to pass on this heritage, schools were established for educating Calcutta’s Armenians.
In 1821, the Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy (ACPA) was formalised – a school for young Armenians until Class X, which would also teach them the Armenian language, history and music.
Students at the Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy
Until the 1960s, nearly all Indian-Armenians studied here. But as the community shrank and as the world moved on, they began to integrate themselves into the mainstream – children were sent to more established schools in the city.
According to the Armenian General Benevolent Union news magazine, the number of students dropped from 206 in 1961 to just six in 1998. The school had always welcomed immigrant Armenians as residential students, but it now became necessary to bring even more Armenians from abroad. (Education for all Armenians, anywhere from around the world is free at the school – including boarding, lodging and a trip back home every three years. They even give financial aid to students after they finish school).
At the moment, there are only two Indian-Armenian students in the school. The other 58 are from Armenia, Iran and Iraq. But the school has improved, tremendously – is the general consensus.
Whereas at one time, many of its students had to settle for low-paying jobs (according to a 1988 India Today report), they are now finishing high school at premier institutions of the city, many staying on to complete college before going back home to Armenia – or settling abroad.
They are best known in Kolkata as the boys who are brilliant at rugby – a game they’ve been pros at for more than a hundred years in this city.
Sunil Sobti, one of the wardens of the Armenian Church of the Holy Nazareth 5. Students at the Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy
Less than a third of Armenians, roughly 11 million people all around the world, actually live in Armenia.
“People keep referring to us as a small community because they look at us as a community in Calcutta but I don’t look at us as a community in Calcutta, I look at ourselves worldwide. And worldwide, I think we’re quite a force to reckon with,” says businessman Sunil Sobti, one of the two wardens of the Church.
Sobti is, like nearly all Indian Armenians interviewed for this story, only part Armenian. His father was Punjabi, hence the last name.
Like any other community, Armenians frown upon inter-ethnic marriages. But like any community fighting for numbers and existence, it was a losing battle. The only pure Armenians we met for this story were first- or-second generation immigrants. The others are only partly Armenian.
Last year, it was reported that Britain’s Prince William is 1/256th part Indian from his mother’s side, traced back six generations to an Eliza Kewark. Interestingly, Kewark’s father was an Armenian in Surat. She had married a Scotsman in India, and after his death, sent her daughter, Kitty, off to Scotland in 1818.
“There are no young Armenians to get married to!” says 35-year-old singer Shayne Hyrapiet, Peter’s son.
An Armenian wedding is a rare event – the last was five years ago and was covered by two television channels, a documentary filmmaker and “I don’t know how many newspapers!”
Shayne, the groom was marrying his girlfriend Nidhi – a Punjabi. “If I had to marry an Armenian girl, I would have to marry one of two girls! It's either that, or don't get married, and if you don't get married, the community dwindles and there's nothing left. It makes a lot more sense to become, what they call in the Harry Potter series, mixed bloods, rather than have no thoroughbreds at all,” he says.
Shayne’s three-year-old daughter, Skyla, is then 12.5 per cent Armenian.
“I wanted to marry an Armenian boy,” says 36-year-old Victoria Stephen, Paul Stephen’s daughter. “But I fell in love!” She had studied at ACPA and there were options. But all the Iranian-Armenian boys would have been sure to leave the country — something she didn’t want to do.
She met James, a Chinese Christian in high school and they dated for 11 years. “And although my mom is Bengali, she wanted me to marry an Armenian. It took a lot of conversations to convince her!”
And so, the balance is tipping on the other side. More and more Armenians are leaving the country, and the ones staying on are more Indian than ever before. Many speak Bengali – often just about enough to get by.
Once, all Armenian families grew grapes in their houses, not for the fruit but for the vine leaves, used to wrap meat to make their most loved dish, dolmas. The vine was replaced by cabbage. Rice pilaf became pulav. And stews gave way to curries, more spices and less water.
But the Sunday Church service is still in Armenian. Christmas is celebrated on January 6 and in the summer, there's Vardavar, "like your Holi, but only with water," says Victoria, making it sound completely desi.
Singer Shayne Hyrapiet and his daughter Skyla, one of the few Indian Armenian families left in Kolkata. In the backdrop is
Park Street's Stephen Court built by an Armenian in the 1920s
And because she is fluent in Armenian, Victoria plans to teach the language to her five-year-old son. Shayne, on the other hand, does not speak the language. “The first thing you'd want your child to absorb, is the language. I'm yet to learn it. At 35, I don't think I'll ever start,” he says.
But his daughter Skyla was baptised in the Church too – and that is all that matters. “Everyone in our community knows each other. Whenever we see each other on the road, we greet one another but in a regular Christian sort of way. There's nothing special or Armenian about that, we don't tap heads or shake legs or anything like that,” he laughs.
The one way to preserve the community is to get some of the foreign students at ACPA to stay on in India. Susan Reuben, the other warden of the church – and Victoria’s aunt (most people are related, inevitably), says, “We want to get that back, that community that we had. But that can only happen if the children stay back here, marry out here and start a family.”
That hasn’t happened, yet.
“Two of my Armenian-Iranian friends married Indians too – a Punjabi and a south Indian – but they moved abroad,” says Victoria. Aden Davitian, a former Iranian-Armenian student of ACPA and a hotel management graduate even considered living in India. “I got a few job offers too — Park Hotels, Taj, Four Seasons Mumbai… But your minimum salary should be Rs. 1.5 lakh, or you won’t get a visa,” he says. So he is looking to move abroad.
It does seem a bit odd at first, almost unsettling, this idea of wanting to assimilate fresh ArmeniFan students in the community. Until the realisation hits you that Indian-Armenians have always been replenished by newer waves, that there always were new travellers who decided to settle down here, to become a little Indian, if only for a short time.
And if communities are built on the stories they leave behind, then the vanishing Indian-Armenians have assembled a veritable library in the 500 years they have lived in the city – and newer ones still may be written.
Perhaps, some day, you will not have to go looking for them.
The Armenian Trail
I didn’t know there were any Armenians in the country. While researching for our Christmas special last year, I found that when Nadir Shah invaded India, he destroyed two Armenian churches in Delhi.
Paying my respects to Rezabeebeh, whose grave is the oldest Christian grave in Kolkata
The little I knew about Armenia was from Turkish writer Elif Shafak’s bestselling novel, The Bastard of Istanbul. “What were Armenians doing in India?” I wondered and – like every webslave – Googled.
And so I found out about the miniscule but fascinating Armenian community in Kolkata. My Bengali friends called me an ignoramus. But everybody else was surprised by my discovery too – so I decided to do this story anyway. Without any leads!
One evening, over drinks with the friend of a friend, I heard of Medrik Miniassian, an Armenian who had come to Kolkata to study. I dropped him an email.
And through Medrik, I was introduced to the secret world of the Armenians. They welcomed me to peek into their lives, some into their homes. They made me laugh and swept me off my feet. You should try and find an Armenian friend because by jove, they’re fun!
Photos by Ajay Aggarwal
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