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Monday, 12 January 2015

Signs of a Changing Nation amid Rose Parade Floats and Bands

This year for the first time Armenians entered a float in the Rose Parade.  Here is my reflections

As the Armenian Float went by... 

On January first, better known as the laziest day of the year, I woke up late. And as soon as I opened my eyes, I turned on the TV to see the Rose Parade. The TV screen opened up and there it was the Armenian float.  It was like winning a lottery ticket.  For a moment I was numb and then I heard Bob Eubanks saying "Cradle of Civilization."  

It was so unexpected, to turn on the TV and the first thing to see to be the Armenian Float. Thanks to today's TV technology I could replay the scene over and over again.    

I felt a surge of patriotism. The words caressed my ears.  It was such a happy moment. The Armenian Music was blaring, the young men and women, in their beautiful folk costumes, were happily dancing and prancing to the music along the sides of the float. In the ice-blue sky, the sun was shining, and the same was with the faces of the people on the float, waving to the crowd.  I so much enjoyed the electric moment. 

I went back and forth until my euphoria evaporated and my heart slowed down.  Then I realized that one of the descriptions I heard as a commentary didn't sit well with me. Why Bob Eubanks called us Nomadic people? 

The float was called, the "Cradle of Civilization," which was an appropriate title to represent a 5000-year of culture in the mountainous Armenian plateaux.  And then I was pleased to hear that the float had won the prestigious President's trophy of the 2015 Pasadena Tournament of Roses for "effective floral use and presentation."

But then, the question lingered in my mind. Why they called us Nomadic People?  Haven't we proved to have a rich culture?  Haven't we produced intellectuals and haven't we contributed to the international stage in art, economy, science or politics?

I should admit I was not happy to hear that description.  And then what was the purpose of spending over $300,000 for a fleeting moment.  I know the float on that day made it to the Channel 5 news.  And again I had a big smile on my face when I heard in the news about it.  But a reality check made me feel that this lavish expenditure would have been better if it was spent towards the numerous prevailing needs that our people are encumbering – especially during a subzero winter.  

My apologies to the American Armenian Rose Float Association.  I think they did a great job, but I'm not sure if it was worth it.  Especially that the Armenian were represented as Nomadic people.  

I like the following column from LA Times about changing of demographics.

Friday, 2 January 2015

I'll Squeeze Those Armenians Like Lemons - A Slice of History

The following is an account by Garen Kazanc, published in Armenian Weekly.  It is about a slice of history that not many people would know about it – How Turkish government Levied taxes on non muslims and squeezed them like Lemons.
  Special for the Armenian Weekly
It was one of those receptions that had taken months to organize. The tables were fitted with fancy decor topped with bouquets of tulips picked from all parts of the country. The hall was unlike most other halls in the city; elaborately embellished with handmade ornaments, it had the capacity to dazzle one’s eye. Throughout the night, couples mingled, announcers made long speeches, and others danced. It was the place to be.
The reception took place in Istanbul and was hosted and organized by a local Armenian church. The leading figures of Istanbul’s Armenian community were present. Among those invited were various government dignitaries, including Ismet Inonu, then president of the Republic of Turkey. Inonu was accompanied by his wife, who was impressed by the decorations and the preparation that went into the event.
“My goodness, such beautiful decorations!” she said gleefully. “Where do they come up with the money to finance all this wonderful decor?”
“Don’t ponder about that too much,” Inonu replied sternly. “Pretty soon, I’m going to squeeze them like lemons so hard that they’ll run dry.”
Inonu would never back down from his promise.
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