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Monday, 29 July 2013

Chris Bohjalian remembers his ancestors in Turkey. A story about the only surviving Armenian in her village

Asiya might be the last surviving person from the Armenian Genocide

Chris Bohjalian is the author of 16 books. His new novel, “The Light in the Ruins,” 

Bohjalian says:
A woman I met last month in southeastern Turkey is going to die, probably sometime soon. Asiya’s death will not be covered by any news service, and for all but a few people in her small village of Chunkush, she will not be missed. Even the relatives who love her will probably think to themselves, well, she was 98 years old. Or 99. Or, if she survives until 2015, somewhere in the neighborhood of a century. She will have lived a long life.

When I met Asiya in May, her daughter brought me strong Kurdish tea and fresh strawberries from their yard, and when I return to her village someday and find that she has indeed passed away, I suspect I’m going to weep.
Why cry for a woman I met but once, who lived a long life and who couldn’t understand a word I said? Who spoke only Turkish, a language in which I know how to say only “please” and “thank you”?
Because Asiya is what some people call a hidden Armenian, and she is the last surviving Armenian in Chunkush.
I met her when I was traveling with six Armenian American friends through a part of Turkey that many Armenians (including me) refer to as Historic Armenia. We were in a region that today is largely Kurdish but as recently as 98 years ago was a mixture of Kurds, Turks, Assyrians and Armenians. We were making a pilgrimage to view the ruins of Armenian churches and monasteries, the remnants of a culture obliterated from this corner of the Earth in the Armenian genocide. During the First World War, 1.5 million Armenians were systematically annihilated — three out of every four living in the Ottoman Empire.
On our fifth day, we visited Chunkush, where until 1915 there was a thriving community of 10,000 Armenians. The ruins of the church loom over you. The town was almost entirely Armenian. Over a few nightmarish days that summer, Turkish gendarmes and Kurdish chetes — killing parties — descended on the village and marched almost every Armenian two hours away to a ravine called Dudan, where they shot, bayoneted or simply threw them into a chasm of several hundred feet. One of the gendarmes pulled Asiya’s mother from the line at the edge of the ravine, however, because he thought she was pretty. He decided he’d marry her. And so she was spared — one of the very few Armenians who were saved that summer day in 1915.
My companions and I hadn’t expected to find Asiya when we journeyed to Chunkush. We simply wanted to see the ruins of the church. Most of the villagers acknowledged that once upon a time Armenians had lived in Chunkush, but they were quick to add — whenever we asked what had happened to them — that at some point they had all “moved away.”
The truth was, they were still there, whatever remained of their bones deteriorating at the bottom of the Dudan chasm. We didn’t think there were any living Armenians in the town.
But as we were leaving, a thin fellow in his 60s, with a deeply weathered face and a ball cap, raced up to our van and banged on the door. We had been there an hour, and word had spread that Americans were in town. We had to meet his mother-in-law, he said.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

"Lisbon 5" ABOUT A SLICE OF HISTORY... The attack on Turkish Embassy in Lisbon, Portuguese.

Thirty years ago today, July 27 1983, five young Armenians (ages 19, 20, 21) stormed the Turkish embassy in Lisbon, Portuguese.  By sacrificing their lives they wanted to elevate the awareness of Armenian Genocide by Turkish government.  Although I don't approve any terrorist attack, but I'd like to bring to my readers attention a slice of history.  During the attack the five Armenians along a diplomat's wife and a police officer lost their lives.

In a note delivered to the news media during the takeover, the Armenian Revolutionary Army (as they called themselves) said: `We have decided to blow up this building and remain under the collapse. This is not a suicide nor an expression of insanity, but rather our sacrifice to the altar of freedom.' The note also said that they had resorted to armed struggle because peaceful means for the `pursuit of our just cause' had failed.'

The five Armenians who are known as "Lisbon 5" elevated the awareness and the demands of the Armenians.  The Armenian Genocide is referred to the systematic massacre and forced deportation of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire 1915-1923.  At the time of the Lisbon attack the international community had turned a deaf ear to the Armenian Cause. Today, after 30 years, the government of 21 countries, including Russia, France as well as 43 states of the United States of America have recognized the massacres as "genocide."  Turkey and Azerbaijan still deny the Armenian Genocide.

The above picture is the commemoration of Lisbon 5 in Lebanon at the eve of thirty years of the Turkish embassy attack

Friday, 26 July 2013

A very rare six-legged Octopus found in Greece

I came across this interesting news on Internet.  I thought to share it with my readers:

While vacationing in Greece with his family, Labros Hydras caught a rare octopus -- dubbed a 'hexapus' -- from the sea when he went snorkeling with his kids. The 49-year-old didn't realize that his catch was only the second six-legged specimen ever found. He and his son followed local tradition by smashing it against a rock to kill it, and then they took it to a nearby taverna to cook. Because it was so rare, the chef refused to cook it for him -- so Hydras just fried it up himself.
After enjoying his meal, the Washington D.C. resident checked into what the chef had said. Hydras found out that the other six-legged hexapus, nicknamed Henry, was found five years ago near North Wales, Britain. "It tasted just like a normal octopus but now I feel really bad," Hydras told the Daily Mail. "When we caught it, there was nothing to suggest it was any different or had been damaged. I thought it had just been born with six tentacles."
Labros is now trying to find out more about the marine animal. He is talking to biologists and wants to make the scientific community aware of the existence of the hexapus.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Aram Khachaturian Film Screened at Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood

Last week on Sunday July 14, I attended the screening of Khachaturian's documentary at Egyptian theatre.  Arpa film festival had organized the event. After the screening there was a wonderful reception with, plenty of food and drinks. It was beyond my expectation. And all that pleasure for only 11 dollars.   

KhachaturianScreening of Khachaturian's documentary
HOLLYWOOD—A two-hour-long documentary about Aram Khachaturian was screened at the hall of the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on the occasion of the composer’s 110th birthday. The documentary traces the tumultuous career of the great composer, while also exposing the harsh realities of the Soviet regime for artists. The screening was organized by joint efforts of the Armenian Diplomatic Representation in Los Angeles and the ARPA Film Festival.
Aram Khachaturian’s career and life were presented through his and his friends’ memories: his passion for classical music, his first achievements and first failures, betrayal of friends and struggle against the vicious environment. The authors of the film, Dora and Robert Kuhn, present all this with details that had been unknown up until now.
“My wife is a pianist and she presented Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto in about 40 countries from Chile to China. The Saber Dance is probably his best known work, and our wish was to make him better known in a wider aspect. Director Peter Rosen realized our initiative in a political context by presenting a story about Kkhachaturian’s Armenian spirit, his great creative potential and the cruel Soviet reality,” Robert Kuhn said.
Exceptional archive materials have been used in the film, part of which had never been screened before. There are also memories of Aram Khachaturian’s contemporaries and interviews with those who later betrayed the composer.
“I’m in love with Khachaturian’s music forever. His Violin Concerto has been my visiting card all over the world. I wanted everyone to get to know him deeper, to know that he is Armenian and has always been close to his roots. I think he would like the film,” Dora Kuhn said.
The film about Khachaturian has been presented at tens of festivals and won the first prize at the Hollywood Film Festival. It will be screened in a number of countries in the future, Dora Kuhn said. According to her, the film is a great story about a great man, which lives its own life.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Aren't we lucky to have manicure pedicure so affordable

The following story was published in LA TIMES on July 18.  It is about Nail salons that are mostly owned by Vietnamese.  I always wanted to write about today's nail salons that have made mani-pedi so affordable to us in the United States.  I remember in 1979 pedicure was 17 dollars and today in my neighborhood I found a very nice nail place (a one woman show) that she charges only $21 for mani & pedi.  GO FIGURE...
by: Anh Do
The woman rubbed the cracked skin of a man's foot, smoothing on almond cream. She massaged his leg, cradling his rough ankle as she muttered in Vietnamese.
"Choi dat oi!" she said, turning to a co-worker. "Oh my God! This guy is so dirty. I thought he looked clean. But he takes off the shoe and he is different."

The manicurists kept their heads bowed and whispered, although there is no way the customer could understand their chatter. One polished his toes, the other did his fingers.
Inside the Derma Spa & Nails salon in Newport Beach, manicures started at $16, and the women worked away as afternoon grew into evening.
The customer wore a sleeveless tank top and jeans. He had a sparkling stud in his left ear and held a phone to his right, oblivious to the talk.
I sat two chairs away, tapping the keys of my BlackBerry, taking it all down. I didn't let on that I understood their conversations; everyone working here was from Vietnam, as am I.
The murmuring of manicurists in Vietnamese is as much a part of the mani-pedi world as the scent of acetone and fingernail polish. I've been asked over and over by those who don't speak the language: What do they talk about at nail salons?
In reality, it's not so different from other places where people toil at tedious work. Gossip breaks the routine.
They chat about children and romance, about spending their tips and saving for college, about ladies with calloused hands holding expensive purses. They compare the best airfare for a visit to Vietnam. They share their longing for tropical fruits found only in their homeland. They size up their clients.
"She drives a Mercedes, but she's so cheap," one technician said about a grandmother who tried to get the salon to lower its price for a French mani-pedi.
"Look how beautiful her hair is," said another, nodding toward a middle-age blond with a fleur-de-lis tattoo on her ankle. "Her makeup looks nice. But her hands need a lot of work."
My feet soaked in warm water as I tuned into the chatter around me: Is he married? Why doesn't he wear a ring? Is the young companion with him really his daughter?
The conversation stopped when the client they had been gossiping about dropped his cellphone near a water-filled basin. An employee picked it up and wiped it on her sweater.

In 1975, according to Nails magazine, a trade publication, film star Tippi Hedren persuaded 20 refugees from war-ravaged Vietnam to train with her personal manicurist. It provided an easy way to earn a living compared to other professions.
Jumping into the business required only a small cash investment, little English and a short series of cosmetology classes. Thousands of nail salons sprang up across the country, run by Vietnamese Americans who hired friends and relatives. They charged less than the going rates — and what once was a luxury suddenly became affordable.
Of the 8,000 salons in California, about 75% are owned or operated by Vietnamese Americans, according to Nails magazine.
I rarely paint my nails. Mine, like those of many of the workers in this salon, are trimmed short and left unadorned.

A few weeks after visiting Derma Spa, I returned and told some of the women I had eavesdropped. Some were amused. Others were puzzled.
Still, manager Lynn Nguyen and her staff welcomed me. Nguyen's family in Vietnam farmed the countryside near the Dong Thap province in the Mekong Delta. She arrived in the U.S. in the 1990s, and sold banh mi sandwiches by day as she studied to become a manicurist by night.
Her co-worker, Anh Tran, attended law school in the homeland. She and her husband, a pharmacist, arrived in America in 1975, after the fall of Saigon.
At first, she worked at drafting. In 1983, Tran tagged along with her niece to classes to learn how to become a nail technician. They earned their licenses and then, drawn by the booming beauty services industry, "we decided we should be a part of it," Tran recalled.
Tran spoke English well, having picked up the language from conversations with customers. She used to own a salon in Costa Mesa but now prefers working for someone else, especially when that person is Nguyen. The two clipped and filed in rhythm, gently attending to Carol Nue, a regular customer who favored shades of pink.
Tran spends eight hours a day at Derma Spa, usually starting at 10 a.m. Mornings unfold slowly but after 1 p.m., business is brisk. She serves seven to eight clients daily and can make $100 to $150.
Nue, a real estate agent from Newport Beach, called Tran and Nguyen "smart women who reinvented themselves. They have good instincts. They know what I need before I know it myself. I don't care what the conversation's about, it's none of my business. I come in, sit back and relax."
Customers don't always understand how unrelenting the pace can be. At Sun Nails in Silver Lake on a recent Saturday, people paraded in and out. In one 10-minute span, six women and one man arrived, ready to be pampered.

Tuyet Nguyen removes the gels from the nails of Los Angeles Times reporter Anh Do during a visit to Sun Nails in Silver Lake. More photos
Signs on the wall reminded clients to feed their parking meters. Cuong Tran opened the business three years ago with his wife. He barked a warning to an employee.
"Be careful not to graze that lady's skin," he said.
"I'm not," the technician responded.
"Then why is she yelling?"
A customer spoke up: "Buff my nails again, please.… It's not shiny enough."
In the next few seconds, three teenagers entered, followed by one of their mothers. There was a rush to finish bikini waxes and pedicures. Every technician had clients waiting to get served.
"You think we sit around and gossip about people?" manicurist Tuyet Nguyen asked me.
In fact, her fellow workers did.
"Not her again. Her mom is so polite. I don't know why the daughter is so demanding," said one employee.
Another manicurist piped up: "Didn't she learn how to act nice?"
"Pay more attention," one employee warned as a co-worker echoed the order. "We don't want to send them to Happy Nails" — a rival salon.
You think we sit around and gossip about people?"
— Tuyet Nguyen, manicurist
Folks wandered into the De Lacey Beauty Shoppe in Pasadena, fresh from shopping at Tiffany's around the corner, or sipping a cup of chamomile at Bird Pick Tea & Herb next door.
On this Sunday, the manicurists sat at cramped stations as they shouted to one another across the room in Chinese and Vietnamese.
"You don't need to ask her what color. She always chooses green."
"Be careful. That girl's ticklish."
"Sell the facial. She could use a facial."
"She looks like a model," one technician says. "I wonder if she's fake anywhere. She is beautiful."
When customers asked employees for their names, a few were reluctant to reply. They worried that a complaint was on the way. Some thought their names were too hard to pronounce so they responded with Americanized versions.

George Zimmerman Trial in death of Trayvon Martin

It was last Saturday, about this time of the day that the Jury finished the deliberation and found George Zimmerman not guilty of killing Trayvon Martin.  I pretty much followed and watched the high profile trial of Zimmerman. Last Saturday, the whole day my TV was on CNN.  The following column is written by Jack Neworth.  If I had written it myself would have been very close to what he says.  
            The Jury's acquittal of George Zimmerman has sparked protest across the nation. 
by Jack Neworth
If you didn’t follow the George Zimmerman murder trial, consider yourself lucky. I squandered endless hours glued to the HLN Network, hours that I will never get back. (Then again, other than in the Twilight Zone how could one ever get them back?)
Watching the trial I suffered excessively annoying TV hosts including bombastic Nancy Grace (who’d make a great WWE wrestling announcer); Jane Velez-Mitchell, whose normal speaking voice appears to be shouting; and bully-ish attorney Mark Geragos. (He didn’t do so well with Scott Peterson and Winona Ryder, which raises the question has Geragos ever actually won a case?)
I found the verdict deeply disappointing, much like the trials of O.J.,  Robert Blake and Casey Anthony. That said, if I had been on the Zimmerman jury, I might have voted not guilty. That’s how weak the prosecution’s case seemed to be. The only beneficiaries of the entire tragedy were the TV networks as ratings were unbelievable. What a country.
During the last days of the Zimmerman trial, HLN was already promoting “coming attractions!” Andrea Sneiderman is going on trial in Georgia for her alleged involvement in the death of her husband, Rusty, who was murdered by Andrea’s boss with whom she may or may not have been having an affair. There’s even a Facebook page devoted to it. (Lord, or higher power, help us.)
The charges in Sneiderman’s indictment include murder, attempted murder, racketeering, insurance fraud, perjury and littering. (All right, I made up littering.)
Frankly, I found myself offended by the marketing of this new trial like it was the release of a blockbuster horror movie. (Which actually isn’t a bad analogy.) And yet, when I saw that the trial wouldn’t begin until the 29th a tiny part of me thought, “How am I going to wait that long?” (OK, maybe not such a tiny part.)
But I must return to the Zimmerman trial, especially since I was unable to get through on the phone to the shows of Dr. Drew, Nancy Grace, Jane Velez-Mitchell, Piers Morgan or Anderson Cooper. (I know, I should get a life. I’m working on it, OK?)
The trial got off to a highly weird note when Zimmerman defense attorney, Don West, began his opening remarks with a tasteless knock-knock joke. (As opposed to a tasteful knock-knock joke?) Here’s how this one went: “Knock, knock. Who’s there? George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman who? All right, good, you are on the jury.” Huh?
The jury’s reaction was stunned disbelief. As the late Lenny Bruce used to say, “It was like an oil painting.” Can anyone explain where exactly the joke was and what West was trying to accomplish? My advice is he should keep his day job as a career in standup is highly dubious. (Meanwhile, Zimmerman got off, so go figure.)
Considerably more serious, to those who think the verdict was just, I have one essential question. When Trayvon Martin supposedly confronted Zimmerman and asked, “Do you have a problem?” why didn’t George identify himself? He could have easily said, “I’m with Neighborhood Watch, do you live here?” and that might have put an end to the problem without any violence.
But, in my opinion, that’s not what Zimmerman wanted. In my view he wanted desperately to be a hero. His actions fit a cop wannabe who was set on single-handedly apprehending a criminal, who was in fact, not doing anything illegal unless you count wearing a hoodie.
Then again, why did Zimmerman get out of the car against the instructions from the 911 dispatcher? Why did he choose to follow Trayvon when the dispatcher clearly said, “We don’t need you to do that?”
To the dispatcher Zimmerman complained that Trayvon was walking so slowly he was “suspicious.” Then he complained that Trayvon was running. This raises the question, at 7:30 p.m. in Sanford, Fla., at what pace can a young black male safely walk?
If you don’t think race is at the core of this tragedy, imagine if Zimmerman were a 30-year-old black man who shot and killed an unarmed 17-year-old white high school student. But at least one juror (#37B) thought “George had a good heart.” Of course she didn’t hear evidence about Zimmerman plotting with his wife to hide their money and use his second (and illegal) passport to possibly flee.
Or what does it say about Zimmerman’s heart that he seemed to use a racial epithet. Defenders say the word was “goons” but who uses that word in that context. “Gangbanger” maybe, but goon? Give me a break.
As it did with O.J., hopefully the truth will finally come out at Zimmerman’s civil trial where he’ll have to testify. In the meantime, the anthem at HLN is murder be damned, cue Andrea Sneiderman and let the good times roll.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

A controversial statue in Glendale – sex slave, comfort women

"Comfort Women" were young women forced into prostitution and sexual slavery during World War II  by Japanese military.  Here is another slice of history that is not discussed.  Now city of Glendale has been chosen to house the bronze statue of comfort women.

The picture on the left is a controversial statue of a korean woman to be erected in Glendale.  Read the following story from LA TIMES.  

Story by Jack Dolan /Jung-yoon Choi  LA Times July 10,2013

When Glendale officials proposed a memorial to "comfort women" — sex slaves who served the Japanese army in occupied countries during World War II — they saw it as a quiet gesture of goodwill for the city's Korean community.
The planned statue shows a young girl seated next to an empty chair: a symbolic memorial to the estimated 80,000 to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, who spent the war in Japanese military brothels serving up to 50 men per day.
But city leaders soon realized that they had stepped into a major international controversy. They've been bombarded with hundreds of angry emails, mostly from Japan, accusing them of falling for "anti-Japan propaganda" and calling the Korean women, many of whom say they were abducted from their homes as teenagers, "liars" and willing "prostitutes."
Proposed memorials in New Jersey, New York and Singapore faced similar organized opposition.
The uproar has left Glendale officials stunned but undeterred. The City Council late Tuesday approved the statue despite the opposition.
"A 14-year-old girl doesn't voluntarily leave her village in Korea to go serve the Japanese army, give me a break," said Councilman Frank Quintero, who said he was surprised that such a "low-key" memorial could stoke such fury. "We never intended to kick up a hornet's nest," he said.
Takehiko Wajima, spokesman for the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles, said the government's official position is that the comfort women story "should not be politicized or be turned into a diplomatic issue." Asked who he thought was politicizing it, the city of Glendale or the emailers, Wajima said, "I am not in a position to comment."
Yumiko Yamamoto, the Tokyo woman leading the email campaign, told The Times that she has waged similar battles against memorials elsewhere. She said she's one of "many Japanese mothers" trying to fight the spread of "fabricated Japanese history."
Glendale has a reputation for taking on global issues important to its residents. The city — which has a large Armenian population — holds an annual "week of remembrance" marking the Armenian genocide. Glendale has about 10,000 Korean American residents, about 5% of the city's population.
The emails protesting the comfort women's memorial, which have also been addressed to Times editors and reporters, generally don't deny that the brothels existed. Instead, they argue that soldiers from all nations, including the U.S., patronize prostitutes during wartime. Any coercion used to staff the Japanese "comfort stations," they say, was committed by unscrupulous Korean pimps — not Japanese officials.
"The girls were sold by their parents to private sex brokers, which is a tragedy," wrote one Japanese man who said he lives in the U.S. and only identified himself by his pen name, Pakku Rareman. "Or they volunteered to feed their family" during the war, he wrote.
The Japanese government issued a formal apology to the comfort women in 1993. It acknowledged that the Japanese military had established a vast network of brothels and its officers, at times, had a direct role in recruiting women against their will. As a result, the apology said, "a great number of comfort women … suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds"
In the last 20 years, however, a growing number of Japanese conservatives have argued that the evidence underlying the government study was thin. In May, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto said the brothels had been a "necessary" part of Japan's war effort and questioned the level of coercion involved.
Within a month, the city of San Francisco rescinded an invitation to Hashimoto for an official visit. The U.N. Committee Against Torture urged Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — who has also questioned the level of coercion required — to condemn Hashimoto's comments. He did, but not strongly enough to appease international critics.
The backlash in Japan against the accepted version of the comfort women story is fueled by a sense among conservatives that "saying anything bad about the nation's past is some sort of capitulation to conquering foreign powers," said William Marotti, a Japanese history professor at UCLA. They blame the foreign version of events for undermining patriotism, Marotti said.
The new, combative tone coming from Japan has done nothing to silence 86-year-old Kang Il-chuk and others who live in a home for former comfort women outside Seoul.
"I won't just disappear quietly," Kang said in an interview last week with The Times. "Until the day I die, I will raise my voice to fight the Japanese government."
Kang said when she was 15, Japanese soldiers came to her rural home while her parents were out and ordered her to come with them. She wound up on a train to China, where she said she spent nearly four years in a military brothel.
"I can't even remember how many hours I worked in a day, and how many men I had to serve. It was just endless," Kang said.
Others say they had sex with 40 to 50 men per day.

Friday, 5 July 2013

A Water feast – Celebrating Vardavar in Yerevan

This year Vardavar falls on Sunday july 7 of this weekend.  Following is about my escapade in Yerevan.

Celebrating Vardavar in Yerevan - A Water Feast


Am I lucky or what? Last year while I was doing a research to write a column about "Water Feast," an old Armenian tradition of dousing each other with water, I came up with pictures shot in the streets of Yerevan, showing the kids throwing buckets of water. And I wished one day I would have the chance of being there in person and watch those kids in action and take my own pictures.

The date of Water Feast, called "Vardavar," rotates. Like Easter it falls on Sundays usually in August. I remember when I was young in Tehran the coming of Vardavar was bitter sweet. Of course there was the joy of dousing each other but then it signified the end of the summer.

So, this year, making arrangements for my travels to Armenia, I didn't pay attention to the date of Vardavar, thinking: "No question, I'll be there for Vardavar." Because my plan was to be in Yerevan by the middle of July.

Yerevan welcomed me with a bang. I arrived Saturday July 14, and realized that the following day was Vardavar. On Sunday morning I looked outside of my window and saw young kids, walking with buckets in their hands. My heart skipped a beat.

I was so excited to go outside and see how they celebrated the feast. Our celebration of Vardavar, in Tehran, was subdued. I usually woke up with a splash of water on my face from my younger brother. Later in the day we went to a swimming pool to use the excuse of Vardavar to splash each other. And in the United States while my kids were growing up we hardly have celebrated the feast.

But now in Armenia I was excited like a kid to watch the revelers. First I was hesitant to go out, because I had heard there is no mercy. No matter what; you would be doused.

I put a light outfit, took my iPhone to use it as a camera, and went outside to our courtyard, where the young kids were so well behaved. I could tell that they were from America because they were all wearing the latest fashion, American outfits and sneakers.

Then a young mother came with a bucket of water in her hand. She started splashing the kids from the bucket. I took a few pictures and then joined the gang to go outside of the apartment complex and continue the celebration.

In Yerevan all over the city, there are drinking water fountains. We proceeded to one of the fountains and the kids filled their buckets and doused each other. They respected me and didn't splash water on me. I was able to catch a few nice pictures. Satisfied with my work, I went back home. Then my friend called and asked me if I'd like to go to the main square where the real action was.

"Curiosity killed the cat." So we drove to the main square where the kids were soaking wet. They were using the water from the pond at the main square to douse each other. Their fight was fierce and without mercy.

My friend sat in front of the Marriott hotel to have a "marojni" ice cream. I proceeded to the battle ground by the pond. While I was standing at the red light to cross the street, a car stopped and someone from inside sprayed me with a water gun. I quickly hide my iPhone so it won't get wet.

With doubtful steps I reached the other side of the square and entered the war zone. They were older kids and they were wreaking havoc. First I took pictures from the fringes, but then realizing my iPhone was not equipped to take nice pictures from far, I proceeded slowly to the center.

My escapade was over when someone emptied a bucket of water on my head from behind. I got soaked from head to tow. I was pretty darn sure that was going to happen. At least I had a towel in my purse which absorbed the water. When I got home I had to lay down all the paper money on the table to dry. The damage was not grave and the joy was worth the dare. I was able to take only one incredible picture.

At age 64 that was the best vardavar I had ever celebrated.

A Look at Founding Mothers...

I found the following blog from Ms. Magazine Blog exceptionally interesting:

What About the Founding Mothers?

The 4th of July is a momentous occasion in the U.S.: Parades, barbeques, fireworks and political ceremonies celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which announced the American colonies separation and independence from Britain and King George III’s tyrannical rule. We celebrate our founders, and the troops who sacrificed their lives for the creation of our nation. But in our commentary, there are some crucial people being left out: the women of the revolution. Women were an integral part of colonial society, and later, the Revolutionary War. Their place was usually in the home, where they took care of their husbands, raised children and carried out endless daily tasks: They were butchers, cleaners, candle makers, cooks, farmers, tailors. During the war they also became nurses, activists, camp helpers and even soldiers on the frontline. While we celebrate Independence Day this weekend, we should remember these brave women who fought for and helped to shape our nation.
Here are just a few:461px-Abigail_Adams
 Abigail Adams (1744 – 1818). When Abigail married John Adams in 1764, she probably did not realize the impact she would have in the American Revolution. She frequently corresponded with her husband and influenced his political leanings and stance on equality. She famously asked her husband to “remember the ladies” in the Declaration of Independence (didn’t happen, but at least she asked). Her letters serve as important historical documents which elaborate on the political climate and customs of colonial America. In 1775, she was appointed by the Massachusetts Colony General Court to question Massachusetts women who were thought to be loyalists, one of the first instances of women being involved in the U.S. government. Self-educated, she believed in the equality of women and supported their rights and education. In 1797 she became the second First Lady of the U.S. when her husband was elected the nation’s second president.
Molly Pitcher (?? – ??). Although her existence has been hotly debated, 538px-Molly_Pitcher_currier_ivesMolly Pitcher was the nickname given to a woman known for bringing water to soldiers to cool down the cannons on the battlefield so that they could be reloaded and fired again. She has been identified as Molly Hays McCauley, who followed her husband John to battle. During a battle at Monmouth, N.J., on June 28, 1778, her husband was injured while crewing the cannon, and she immediately took his place. Another woman thought to be Molly Pitcher was Margaret Corbin, who also followed her husband to battle (he was later killed in the battle of Fort Washington in November 1776). She took his place, swabbing and loading the cannons, and was wounded in battle. She was granted a stipend of $30 and a lifelong pension, the first woman to be given a disabled soldier’s pension. Regardless of the true identity of Molly Pitcher, these are only a few examples of women who not only assisted the soldiers, but were actively involved in combat.DeborahSampson
Deborah Sampson (1760 – 1827). After years of indentured servitude and being a teacher in Massachusetts, Sampson cut her hair, wrapped up her chest, made some men’s clothing and signed up for the Revolutionary War on May 20, 1782. She signed up using the name Robert Shurtlif, and although the last major battle occurred prior to her duty, she participated in guerrilla warfare for a few months. After receiving both head and thigh wounds at one skirmish, she visited a doctor for treatment of the head wound, but feared discovery of her identity if she showed her thigh wound. After leaving the hospital, she removed the musket ball from her thigh herself and continued fighting. She received a pension for her service and later became a praised lecturer. Her bravery and strength in battle was commended by many, including Paul Revere.
Mammy Kate (?? – ??) – Mammy Kate was a slave in Georgia under the possession of Stephen Heard. She was well known for her large stature, strength, and loyalty. When Heard was captured by Loyalists and set to be hanged by British forces at Fort Cornwallis at Augusta, Georgia, she followed him and, by charming the troops, became the laundress for the guards and for Heard. One day, carrying a giant laundry basket, the tall, strong woman was able to sneak him out under a sheet, with the guards thinking she was just doing her usual duties (Heard was a very small man). She was able to take him back to Fort Heard, where Heard granted her freedom and gave her four acres of land and a four-roomed home. She died on Heard’s land, immortalized by her loyalty and bravery.
Phillis_wheatley_frontpiece_1834Phillis Wheatley (1753–1784). Born in Senegal and kidnapped into slavery in 1761, Wheatley was purchased by Boston’s John Wheatley as a personal servant for his wife Susanna. Due to the girl’s frail health, Susanna instead taught Phillis English, Latin and theology, and she learned to read and write at a fast pace. She published her first poem in 1767, and in 1773 she was the first African American, first slave and only third American woman to publish a book of poems, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. Some white colonists found it hard to believe that a slave was writing such fine poetry, so she had to defend her authorship in court. She wrote many poems about the Revolutionary War and dedicated some to George Washington. Although she never found support to publish a second volume of poems and died young, she forever has a place in U.S. history.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Statue of Liberty Made From Armenian Copper

As we get close to the 4th of July and the Independence Day the buzz is the re-openning of the   Statue of Liberty to visitors. 

I have a question WHAT ARMENIANS HAVE TO DO WITH THE STATUE OF LIBERTY? Read the answer.  

(Re)born on the Fourth of July: Statue of Liberty to re-open on Independence Day following extensive damage from Superstorm Sandy

  • Statue of Liberty to re-open on July 4th following extensive damage to Liberty Island
  • It had been closed to public for a year for maintenance and reopened right before Superstorm Sandy

Statue of Liberty Made From Armenian Copper

YEREVAN (ArmInfo)—The Statue of Liberty is made of Armenian copper, according to the president of a US mining company that owns the Akhtala Ore Mining and Processing Works in Armenia.
Metal Prince President Serob Ter-Pogosian said he has documentary proof that the statue, located on New York’s Liberty Island, was constructed from copper extract from the Akhtala deposit in Armenia’s northern region of Lori.
According to Ter-Pogosian, all the copper ore mined from Akhtala was shipped to France in the 1880s when it was under the management of a French company headed by Henry de Gaulle, father of former French President Charles de Gaulle.
The statue built by the French and shipped to the US, was officially inaugurated in 1886 by President Cleveland. 225 tons of copper was used inconstructing the statue.

What is the Statue of Liberty Made Out of?


The Statue Of Liberty is made out of with Armenian copper whose thickness is equivalent to two pennies put together. The statue is a gift from the people of France to the United States of America.

The statue of liberty was built in 1882-1884 and was a gift from France, who was a great supporter of the fight for independence by Revolutionary forces. There are 354 stairs inside
The Statue of Liberty was sculpted in France and given to America to commemorate the Declaration of Independence. It is made of copper and only achieved its green coloration over
The Statue of Liberty was made by France and given to the United States of America as a gesture of good will and solidarity as revolutionary nations. It was sculpted by Frederic Bartholdi
The Statue of Liberty is a frame of steel covered over with copper. It is 151 feet tall, and on its foundation sit 305 feet tall. The foundation is a rectangular stone.You can find

Monday, 1 July 2013

Reflection on celebrating 4th of July

It's day 182 from 365. If you're reading this on July 1st, you're almost half-way through 2013.  Three more days and we're going to celebrate 4th of July.  This year will be my 34th year of celebrating that wonderful American tradition.  Today I don't have the childish enthusiasm that once I had it.  But still I'd like to celebrate the 4th.  The following is my reflections on celebrating the 4th, it was published in in 2011.

As I drove down Glendale Avenue just south of Glenoaks last weekend, I noticed small flags on the front lawns of the residential properties on the west side of the street.  When I paid closer attention I realized, they had been placed by a local real estate agent for her own promotion. Nevertheless, the flags created a sense of solidarity and it was quite patriotic and inspiring. 
The billowing flags continued along the next few streets: Portola, Cordova and Coronado, a neighborhood consisting of smaller homes built in the 1920s and one of the prettiest pockets of Glendale.  The houses with their manicured lawns and mature landscapes revived in me an appreciation of my hometown. It provided me with a few moments to reflect on what America is all about, and how we Armenians have come to Glendale from so many different parts of the world, to enjoy the freedom and the basic rights that 235 years ago the founding fathers aspired to give us.   
The first year my family arrived in America I didn’t have a patriotic drive to celebrate the Independence Day.  I was just interested in watching the fireworks. That was 1979: we had left Iran because of the Islamic Revolution and had settled in Glendale, California. We learned from a friend that Glendale had no display of fireworks for the Fourth of July celebration, but if we drove to Burbank we could watch a show there. 
Although I was very pregnant with my second child – the baby was due in less than two weeks – I pleaded to my husband to take us there to watch the show of lights.  My husband who dreads driving to uncertain places and hates finding parking, and generally he is not a happy camper, he agreed to drive to Burbank so we could watch the pyrotechnics.
As we arrived in Burbank and found a parking spot, we joined the crowd there for the same purpose. Burbank was not a familiar city to me then. I cannot recall on which street we gathered and sat along both sides of the curbs to watch the fireworks. 
Before that day, my only experience was watching fireworks on our roof-top terrace during the celebration of the Shah’s birthday in Tehran. Our home was about a mile or two away from Amjadieh, the sports complex where the festivities were held. 
As fireworks exploded and the sky over Burbank lit up, I didn’t feel or see anything extraordinary compared to the fireworks I remembered in Iran. I haven’t still figured out if the show in Tehran was really out of the ordinary or if it was just me experiencing it as so majestic.  Each year, they seemed to become more spectacular. I remember the colorful globes cascading down seemed like the size of 7 or 8-inch balls. We watched those birthday fireworks from our terrace until we moved to another address in the late 1960s. From our new home on the outskirts of Tehran we no longer could watch the Shah’s birthday festivities.
In September of 1986, my husband and I became citizens of the United States.  Well before then, the spirit of loyalty and patriotism to the USA was growing in our hearts and American values were becoming dear to us. I love the 4th of July celebration and have seldom missed watching fireworks.  This past 4th of July, 2011, we chose to watch the pyrotechnics at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.  We were among the estimated 40,000 picnicking on the grounds of the golf course next to the Rose Bowl to honor America’s 235th birthday.
Although we could not hear the music played at the Rose Bowl, we just imagined that it included patriotic marches and songs, which are very dear to me.  All to often when I stand abreast with a crowd to sing America the Beautiful I feel the goose bumps raised on my skin.
Today I am proud to be an American and to live in this nation of immigrants. I am especially happy to have adopted Glendale as our hometown, where we Armenians are embraced by the city, and there are so many opportunities and privileges available to us.  In my upcoming columns in this paper, I hope to feature different segments of Armenian life in Southern California, mainly in Glendale. Please stay tuned.