Bourj Hammoud; Safe haven for the survivors of the Armenian Genocide

Disclaimer: “Go ahead, destroy Armenia. See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a new Armenia.” William Saroyan

Today we mourn the death of 1.5 million Armenians, 950,000 Greeks and 750,000 Assyrians under the directives of the Ottoman Empire rulers. This extermination policy led Armenians to flee (warned by their Kurdish neighbors) to neighboring countries in what is known as the death march. Many settled in Der el-Zor (Syria) and more reached the coastal city of Beirut (Lebanon).

You can read my blog post on on the centennial commemoration of the Genocide by clicking on the link below; https://patylsperspective.wordpress.com/2015/04/23/the-story-of-an-armenian-genocide-survivor-my-grandmother/ 

Today I wanted to share with you all a glimpse of the safe haven Armenians built in Beirut city known as Little Armenia to some and Bourj Hammoud to most of you. This neighborhood, built out of a swamp, turned into an industrial and residential area for Armenians and other ethnic minorities over the years.

This past month I have visited Bourj Hammoud more than I have in the two decades I have lived in Lebanon. Many errands kept me going back and forth but it is mostly the genuine, cozy interaction with its residents, the real-feel of intimacy from its narrow streets and that old/vintage vibe that kept me going up to more than three times a week.

The infrastructure of Bourj Hammoud is an interesting one. Unlike its neighboring district, houses are built three/four stories high and the buildings stack up one next to the other each being polished its own unique way. The survivors of the first genocide of the 20th century did not despair about their fate. They took matters into their own hand and started building their future in this welcoming unknown territory. Most of them got employed just so to put aside some money in order to feed their families and eventually open their own businesses.

When strolling through the streets of B.Hammoud you will instantly notice that Armenians are handymen i-e they excel in the craft of art. They are known to be famous jewelers hence the stretch of jewelry shops on its main road. Furthermore when you enter the streets parallel to the famous Arax street, you will come to notice small shops selling dried food, spices and unimaginable artifacts (sometimes all sold under one roof).

The streets are narrow and permit one car to pass through (very slowly). Pedestrians walk in the middle of the road as well as on the pavement when permitted since most items from shops overflow onto the pavement. Although it is a busy street, you do not feel overwhelmed. People are lively, interactive and very much happy. If you have not heard Armenian before, be prepared to be drawn by its hubbub. Clothing shops tend to compete with each other and if you look closely you will notice that most of them sell to an extend the same products. I don’t know what you have heard but it is not easy to bargain with an Armenian. But you will most probably have heard before (and many times) that they are the most honest businessmen and their work speaks for itself.

How many of you have gone out of your way to buy in bulk from an Armenian vendor in Bourj Hammoud?

How many of you go first to an Armenian jeweler for an honest opinion about the price of a stone?

How many of you fashion designers have settled a deal with an Armenian clothing manufacturer to produce your collection pieces?

and again I’m going to ask you

How many of you swear by the work of Sako, Ara and Garo?

There you got it.

We might have been persecuted a century ago. We might have fled our home country. We might have spread worldwide. But we maintained our integrity, our faith and our trust in God that no matter where and no matter the circumstances we are going to remain and fight against all odds thrown our way.

I encourage you to visit Bourj Hammoud, take unique pictures, mingle with its residents and have a bite of some delicious Armenian food.

Trust me, the experience is one of a kind.

 

 

 

Exes; those that cant be tamed.

disclaimer: Remember that ex you couldn’t live without? Well look at you, living and shit!!

Ex, is a word we are all too familiar with because, yeah, we all have a minimum of one in our drawer (if you don’t have an ex, then girl, have you been living under a rock?). Kitchen Drawer? Closet? Cabinet? Hell any restrained rectangular shaped space would do, as long as it doesn’t open by mistake (that cabinet holding all those old tupperware would do). So within these space you would toss an ex or two and try never to slide the door open, and if, God forbid, those damn sized tups’ burst the door open, shut it back firmly and tightly. You do not need an old junk when you have collected new gadgets in the cabinet next door. Why am I comparing exes to in-animated object? Well do I need to remind you what they talk behind our back to their home boys? Guess not, so tups they shall remain. And between us, sometimes they do deserve that adjective…

So I am writing about this topic because as a woman I relate to those who are weak when their ex tries to catch up with them out of the blue on a Tuesday afternoon, season being winter at best (you know in winter everyone is relatively in a hibernating mode and seeks his selfish comfort). I am reaching out to those women who are in doubt of themselves when an ex pops back in the picture. I am reaching to the women who I am warning not to cave back in. I admit and its human nature, I caved in and so did you. And we most probably learnt our lesson I know I did. 110%.

A decade ago we would have given our bone marrow to our partner. A decade ago, we were ready to be tied down and faithful to his (sorry) ass. We were patient and caring to his mood swings and depressive state of mind. We were taking care of his every whim. We put our 200% into the relationship only to be given the boot because he was not ready to settle down. Picket fences and all that shebang. We grabbed our hearts in our own hands, a few teardrops here and there for a couple of weeks and we moved on. Apparently, men (boys, to be more precise) do not move on as easily as we thought they did. When he came back, we gave him the benefit of doubt and rekindled the relation. Only to have the same problems resurface and ended with another break up in our hands. Not the fairy tale wedding we were imagining, nope. Flash forward ten years, give or take, and you have EX trying to infiltrate your life again. Apparently you turned out to be the one who actually did M.O.V.E  O.N. and you’re happy and you know it (clap your hands!!!). Ok, sorry I’m being too merry about this, I just felt like tuning, its the season to be jolly, lalalala you know!! (ok apparently you don’t, i’ll stop).

When a person becomes an EX, that word not just labels him, it defines the boundaries and sets the tone for any further relationship. An EX is a person that was once close to your heart. A person you shared everything with baring in mind of a possible future together. However, the WE became EX and your roads diverged. For the better, trust me. When an ex pops back and tries to cave you back in, try not to remember the good things. Remember the bad things. Remember why things never worked out. Remember the tears. Remember the broken promises. Remember the lies. Remember the drama. Do not set yourself good enough for the promises. Do not be content with his just words. Do not fall for the petty act. Do not fall again because of your pure heart. Do not fall because you think that he is the only one out there for you. Do not fall for the comfort of the relationship. Do not fall back into his comfort zone. Do not fall back because you are scared of any future uncertainties. Do not fall back into his arms because of the society’s pressure. NO!! You deserve better. No. You deserve the best. And the best is not hidden in that EX. It is hidden in your future. And that kind of future awaits you. That kind of Love is out there. Do not settle for less. Trust me (again).

There is a french saying that goes like this “Chasse le Naturel, Il retourne au galop” (shoo away human nature, it comes back naturally)and that is what happens slowly yet surely.

Now let’s toast to those who put their clingy exes in the in-animated tupperware closet and drink a couple of bubbly to the every woman in us!

Chin (up) chin (up)!

xo