Thursday, March 23, 2017

Words to the Wise!

Cold Call:  Peter!  Do I have a deal for you!  For every dollar you invest, I can get you a $10 return.

Grandpa Peter:  Mister, I invest $10 to make a $1 profit.  Goodbye.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Happy Birthday to the Spring of Our Lives!

Hello, Springtime!  Hello, Sweet One.  Hello!  and Happy Birthday with all our love!

Unlike most children, you were first held by your father, but then you were too young to remember -- only a few minutes old!

Do you remember being held and blessed by author William Saroyan when you were only a few months old?

Do you remember toddling to the front door to greet Papa, and when you arrived there, turning away, because you were so upset that he had been away for so long?

Do you remember toddling next door to visit Virginia Newes, our neighbor who adored you?

Do you remember how you loved to draw, and how amazing your drawings were?

Do you remember when you first picked up a camera on the top of the Wilbraham Mountain and started taking photos of the wonders of country life?

Do you remember barreling around the corners of East Longmeadow with your mom in order to get to the next yard sale, sooner rather than later?

Do you remember helping Uncle George pick apples -- you were his favorite apple picker!

Do you remember?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dancing through Harvard Square: A Politically Incorrect Blogpost

Many years ago, Marash Girl and her best friend Linda Jen were wandering through Harvard Square when they met up with some guys who were students at Boston College.  The guys insisted that all Harvard men were "fairies".  Marash Girl and Linda Jen vehemently contradicted the proposition.  "But look," they insisted as they pointed to a group of guys who were literally waving their arms, skipping and dancing down the street. . . "That just proves it!"

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Way It Was, Watertown, Massachusetts

                                                                                                  iPhone Photo by Marash Girl
Oh!  Almost forgot!  Happy first day of Spring!!!!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Listen up, Yeghpairner!

We Armenian-Americans would do well to remember our history, as survivors of genocide, as immigrants, we who would not have survived had it not been for the kindness of the stranger, for the bread shared by those who had barely enough for their own families, for the folks who gave us a chance to prove ourselves, who gave us jobs, who frequented our shops, who encouraged us to send our children to college, who believed in us, who encouraged us to keep on in the face of adversity.  

As the saying goes, folks, "Pass it on!"

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Amazing Grace

And speaking of being too religious (see  blogpost of Sunday, February 5, 2017), Marash Girl was having a very tough time with her data base recently, (she sells out-of-print books on the internet . . .) so tough that she feared she had lost the work of several years . . . When out of the blue, she received an order for a hymnal, and then a request for any hymnal that contained the hymn, "Amazing Grace".

Now was this God's way of reminding Marash Girl that there is no reason to get upset about much in the light of God's Amazing Grace?

The juxtaposition of the two occurrences sure put things into perspective for Marash Girl!

And miraculously, her database, though lost, was found!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Did you know?  Some say that Armenians went to Ireland well before Ireland was called Ireland, and that the so-called "black Irish" are descendants of that Armenian migration.  Whether this is true or not, it certainly is a wonderful story to tell those of my grandchildren, nieces and nephews, who are half-Irish and half-Armenian!  What a beautiful combination!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Jordan on Jordan

Marash Girl used the day after the snowstorm to pay off some of her bills via telephone, (as it was impossible to trek by foot or car to the post office).  The first such phone call was answered by a young man:  "Hello.  This is Jordan.  How may I help you?"  

Marash Girl immediately perked up.  "My nephew is named Jordan, after the River Jordan. What a beautiful name!  Did your mother name you after the River Jordan?"

"No," he answered, with some chagrin.  "My sister chose the name . . . she named me after Michael Jordan!"

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Sun Shining On Snow

In New England, we're looking out of our windows this morning to a whole new world of sun shining on snow.  The famous Mark Twain comment comes to mind . . . If you don't like the weather in New England, just wait a minute!  . . . Oh, and earlier this morning (or was it late last night?) the moon was shining on snow!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

La Liberté Pour Tous Avant Tout !

Reprinted from France Armenie No. 439 / Mars 2017.  Caption on photo in lower right hand corner reads "Lorig Charkoudian, Raffi and Aline, at the demonstration against the anti-immigration decree, Washington DC airport,  January 29 2017." If you enlarge your screen, you may actually be able to read the text!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Workers in Aintab, from Cesar Jacques Chekijian

Cesar Jacques Chekijian posted on Facebook (see below) in Aintabtsi Armeniansa list of Armenian shops that existed before the genocide of the Armenians by the Ottoman Turks.  As Marash Girl's mom's family comes from AIntab (yes, Marashtsi men often married women from Aintab -- such elegant women they were!), Marash Girl was intrigued by the list below and wondered if any of the shops listed belonged to a long-ago relative.  Marash Girl's Aintabtsi grandma (Yester Bosnian) and grandpa (Garabed Vartanian) knew to leave Aintab before the genocide.  How they knew, nobody knows, but Marash Girl's guess is that since Grandma Yester lost her first husband (Bezjian) in an earlier attack on Armenians by the Ottomans in Adana, she (Grandma Yester) was hypersensitive to the warning signs.
Cesar Jacques Chekijian
March 7 at 8:09am

Number of Armenian owned shops in 1914. Each shop employed on average of 5 skilled craftsmen, exception being shoe-shops, which employed about the double the average:

Below is a list of the total of 684 Armenian shops, employing about 4,000 skilled professionals. The number of 4,000 corresponds to 4,000 Armenian families in all the parishes of the Armenian churches in Aintab in 1915.

Stonecutters 300
Goldsmiths 50
Coppersmiths 50
Bakeries 50
Shoes 40
Farriers 33 (shoes for horses)
Cutlers 30
Saddlers 30
Blacksmiths 25
Gunsmiths 25
Tailors 25
Smelters 22
Millers 4

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Replacing Obamacare: An Act Of Mercy Or An Act Of Malice?

Article below bAlex Newman (Patch Staff) taken from the Newton Patch, March 9, 2017 
WASHINGTON, DC – House Republicans revealed their long-anticipated bill to replace Obamacare this week, a necessary part of the party's plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and update the nation's health insurance system. 
Already, the bill is facing pushback from both sides of the aisle. House Speaker Paul Ryan defended it on Tuesday, calling it an "act of mercy" and arguing that the bill would ultimately "collapse on itself" if nothing was done.
But Rep. Joe Kennedy III, a Democrat from Massachusetts' 4th District, flipped Ryan's comment on its head, instead referring to Republicans' bill as an "act of malice." 
"With all due respect to our speaker, he and I must have read different scripture," Kennedy said in an address to the Ways and Means Committee. "The one that I read calls on us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, and to comfort the sick. It reminds us that we are judged not by how we treat the powerful but by how we care for the least among us."

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Happy Birthday, Deron!

                                                                        Deron on the bus in his favorite city.                Photo by Marash Girl

There are many quotable Deron quotes.   One of Marash Girl's favorites?

Marash Girl:  Deron, do you want an English muffin for breakfast?

Deron (age 3):  No, I want an Armenian muffin!

Happy Birthday, Deron.

You are our favorite son, your sisters' favorite brother!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Knitting Needles to the Rescue . . . or, On the Bus to Yonkers

Many years ago, Marash Girl was living in the Bronx with her cousin, Richie, and her Auntie Gohar.  She (Marash Girl) would travel by bus to work every morning, the bus from the Bronx to Yonkers (New York, of course!)  On one very busy morning, Marash Girl felt something strange down around her legs (those were the days when women wore longish skirts); she reached down and pulled up a man's hand!  Looking at the man next to her, whose hand she was now holding high into the air, she shouted, "What was your hand doing under my skirt?"  His answer?  "That's not my hand!"

From that day forward, Marash Girl carried knitting needles in her bag, needles which were very visible stretching their necks well over her bag.  That was the secret! Never again did she have a problem with folks getting too close to her during rush hour!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Banning of Howard Zinn?

Marash Girl was good friends with Howard Zinn and had just been wondering, were Prof. Zinn alive, how he would be dealing with today's political atmosphere when she learned that  "this week it was reported that state Sen. Kim Hendren introduced a bill to ban the works of Howard Zinn from any school that receives public funds."

Are we back to the days when  the reading of Huck Finn and To Kill A Mockingbird  will be banned as well?  

Are we no longer the country of the free?  

Banning books is but one step away from the burning of books! And the burning of books but one step away from . . . Well, let's hear from Heinrich Heine on that subject:

 'A hundred years before the advent of Hitler, the German-Jewish poet, Heinrich Heine, had declared: "Wherever books are burned, human beings are destined to be burned too."'

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Trip to the Franklin Park Zoo

When Nisha was a little girl, and Lorig was  even littler, still being pushed around in her umbroller stroller, Marash Boy took the family to Franklin Park Zoo.    The children loved the animals, even though the animals were all caged; the girls were particularly intrigued by the baby elephant.

Marash Girl, taking Nisha in hand, pushed Lorig in her stroller up to the  baby elephant's cage; Nisha stepped back a bit, while Lorig, in her stroller munching on her peanut butter sandwich, wanted to approach  even closer.  As Lorig sat in her carriage,  peanut butter sandwich in hand, the baby elephant  reached  out of the cage with his trunk for the peanut butter sandwich, and successfully grabbing it out of baby Lorig's hands, tossed the sandwich into his own mouth.    

And that, ladies and gentleman, is a true "elephant" tale!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Walk Along Wall Street

                                            A Midwinter Walk Along Wall Street                          Photo by Marash Boy 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Four Free Toppings!

One of the many delights of the grandchildren on their trips to Cape Cod was the local pizza shop which offered three free toppings every Tuesday. . . It had been years since Marash Girl had seen such generosity in a pizza shop, and now, she was in NYC with Marash Boy, awaiting the train to Boston, when Marash Boy decided to get lunch.  And guess what!  There it was, but even more generous!  Four free toppings for his pizza! What a wonderful surprise at the end of a wonderful weekend.  Marash Girl hastened to regale her granddaughter with the story, and yes, indeed, she too remembered:  three free toppings on Tuesdays in Sandwich, Massachusetts!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Saturday, March 4, 2017

"Blow the Man Down!"

Yesterday, making her way across the "Circle of Death" to cross over the Massachusetts Turnpike via the walkway along the Boston Marriott Newton, Marash Girl was nearly (and literally) blown down by the record high winds.  The experience, though a bit unsettling,  caused her to remember the fun days in the living room at 474 Lowell Avenue in Newtonville when her dad and uncle first brought home a record player and with the record player came the recorded sea ditties "Blow the Man Down" and "What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor" . . .

Blow the Man Down
Come all ye young fellows that follows the sea
To me, way hey, blow the man down
Now please pay attention and listen to me
Give me some time to blow the man down
What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor
What do you do with a drunken sailor,
What do you do with a drunken sailor,
What do you do with a drunken sailor,
Earl-ie in the morning!
These lyrics and tunes she sings to herself on occasion, even to this day.  What fun that recording afforded all six of the kids.   They would put the record on the record player, raising the volume as high as it would go, and stagger through the living room, pretending to be blown down by the wind, or to be drunken sailors, laughing and falling into each other, then laughing even louder.  What fun, those days!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Sniper on a Minaret

At the meet and greet on Sunday, Peter Koutoujian asked about the story that Peter (Marash GIrl's dad) used to tell . . . Although it has been written earlier in this blog, it bears repeating.  It was an experience that both Peters (both the teller and the listener) would never forget.

Sniper on a Minaret

Yesterday's broadcast (WBUR's Here & Now) by Robin Young -- A Sniper's Look at Snipers -- was a fresh reminder of an experience that Genocide survivor Peter Bilezikian had as a young boy.

Peter was always courageous though hungry.  It was during the Armenian Genocide -- circa 1918 -- when 6 year old Peter, running through the streets of Marash, saw an Armenian woman baking bread.  He was so hungry that, although he had been taught not to beg, he asked the woman for a bit of her bread. Her answer:  If I give you bread, I'll have nothing to feed my children.  At that moment, a bullet whizzed through Peter's cowlick, nicking his forehead (the scar there 'til the day he died) and hit the woman baking the bread between the eyes.  She fell to the ground, instantly dead.  A Turkish sniper from the top of a minaret had done his duty.

Peter, young as he was, hungry as he was, grabbed all the bread, ran under a staircase, and, as he tells it, ate every bit of the bread.  He said he was not hungry for days after.  And he never, in all his life, refused anyone who asked him for anything.  He had learned his lesson.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Springfield, MA:
Springfield, Massachusetts       Elina & Iffar show their appreciation for Dr. Seuss!
                                                                                                Photo by Marash Girl

And yet another family link . . . Dylan Marie is celebrating Dr. Seuss Day at her Day Care, BRIGHT HORIZONS,  in New York City (although its headquarters are right around the corner in Watertown, Massachusetts!)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Meet & Greet for Scott Lennon, Candidate for Mayor of Newton, Massachusetts

On Sunday, February 26, 2017, over 25 folks from the Maple Avenue neighborhood in Newton Corner welcomed life-long Newton resident Scott Lennon, Candidate for Mayor of Newton, Massachusetts, to a "Meet and Greet".  Above, Peter Koutoujian (in the red shirt), Sheriff of Middlesex County, introduces Scott Lennon to the folks gathered in the 150 year old Newton Corner Victorian home to greet Scott Lennon.  (Scott Lennon stands behind Peter Koutoujian in the photo above.)                                                                                                      Photo by Ben Kaufman

"Scott Lennon, Councilor-at-Large, is now running for Mayor of the City of Newton. Scott’s roots in Newton go back at least 3 generations. He is a well-regarded community servant who has been re-elected for City Council President by his peers four consecutive times. Throughout his tenure, Scott has earned the respect of colleagues and constituents alike."

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Wait a minute!

Waking up to a grey day (surprise?) in wintery New England reminded Marash Girl of one of her father's favorite quotes . . . (Peter loved to quote Mark Twain -- probably one of Peter's favorite philosophers, if not his FAVORITE philosopher!)  The quote?

"If you don't like the weather in New England, just wait a minute!"

And why did Marash Girl think of the quote today?

She woke up to a grey, overcast  New England winter's morning. . .  (forcing herself to remember that spring is less than three weeks away!)

Monday, February 27, 2017

La La Land!

Marash Girl had been living in La La Land, as it were, until, in fact, she was invited by her step-granddaughter to go to see "La La Land" at the West Newton Cinema.  Marash Girl accepted the invitation, went to the movies with her daughter and step-granddaughter, bought everybody popcorn and coke,  watched the movie, and went home.

Fast forward several months.  Marash Boy insisted that Marash Girl watch the Oscars last night on their ancient tiny TV in the attic room of their Victorian house.  Why? Still not sure, as they rarely go to the movies and even more rarely watch TV.  But it was important that Marash Girls' step-granddaughter kept Marash Girl up with the times, because, in fact, almost every "best" at the Academy Awards last night went to "La La Land"!  So important that even the MC at the Academy Awards last night, Warren Beatty, read off    "La La Land" as he removed from the envelope in his hand the white card holding the name of the winner of best film. The performers from "La La Land" were on the  stage celebrating before Warren Beatty realized his error!  The name on the card for Best Picture was not "La La Land" but "Moonlight", but we must assume that the excitement regarding all of La La Land's "bests" was so great that when Warren Beatty read from the card in his hand, he was, indeed, in "La La Land".

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Generational Thing?

Joking around at the check out counter of a local shop, the clerk commented, '"I see," said the blind mouse!'

"The blind mouse?" questioned Marash Girl, having never heard the expression before. . .

"You know," he said; "The three blind mice?"

"Oh," countered Marash Girl.  "When I was a kid, the joke went like this -- 'I see," said the blind man, as he picked up his hammer and saw.'  I never thought of it as politically incorrect, or even as a joke; only as a riddle.  My grandmother was blind, you see, and my father and uncle were always sawing wooden boards (with a saw) or pipes (with a hacksaw) . . ."

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Straight Talk!

An Armenian expression:

(1) Shidag nisdenk; dzour khosink!

And a play on that Armenian expression by Armenians,

(2) Dzour nisdink; shidag khosink!

Playing with the words and the concepts, Armenians may say (to translate for those of you who know no Armenian),

(1) Let's sit up straight and talk "crooked".

And a play on that Armenian expression,

(2)  Let's sit "crooked" and talk straight!

In either case, in either language, you get the point!  Or do you?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Taxes and Open Space, a tradeoff?

"It's always a tradeoff between taxes and open space," says Selectman known to support 'good causes' in western Massachusetts.  Such a sad tradeoff.  Open space? They aren't making any more of it!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Dr. Boris Adjemian speaks at NAASR in Belmont, Massachusetts

Dr. Boris Adjemian speaks at NAASR in Belmont, Massachusetts.                Photo by Kimberly Kamborian

On the evening of February 16, 2017, Dr. Boris Adjemian, (Director of the AGBU Nubarian Library in Paris) gave a talk entitled “The King and the Forty Orphans: The Invention of an Armenian Homeland in Ethiopia,” at the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) Center in Belmont, Massachusetts.    A personable and engaging speaker, Dr. Adjemian told his audience of well over 100 people that, in 1977, he began to write about the history of foreigners in  Ethiopia.  He began by noting that Ethiopia is a nation made up of 90 ethnic groups, Armenians being the 91st.  They were known as Farunj" = "Foreigners?"

A fascinating look at a question that has long plagued the community . . . Are there black Armenians?  Although he did not address that question directly, he made clear that the Armenians (who came as musicians --40 young boys) and tradesmen, (male, of course,) stayed and intermarried with the local population.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Ice Is Nice

Got an ache or a pain?  Bruised yourself?  Apply heat!  It sure feels good, but the new adage?  Ice is nice!  And sure enough, Marash Girl woke up with a joint pain, and rather than applying heat (which is what she wanted to do and what she had been told to do years ago when she was a child -- yes, she was a child way back when), she grabbed an ice pack from the freezer (they say a package of frozen peas is even better), stuck it in her pocket (which happened to be directly over the joint in pain) and, as the French are wont to say, "Voilá!"  The pain disappeared like magic, or like ice on a warm spring day!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Black Ice Everywhere!

Going for a walk on black tar sidewalks?  Beware the (invisible) black ice!

Monday, February 20, 2017


"I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO!" -- A film that all must see!  (And do NOT arrive at the theatre late, as there were no previews before the film began, at least not in Coolidge Corner.)  Even academic Marash Boy enjoyed it, if enjoy is the word!  Amazing to watch footage that one has lived through . . . footage so dramatically put together.

For more on James Baldwin and Marash Girl, see Marash Girl's post of 
Monday, January 3, 2011:            
"On gifting an Armenian tile to James Baldwin - August 1964 - Orly Airport"

It was on the occasion of James Baldwin's deciding things were getting bad in the good old USA, when he decided he had to return to his homeland . . . it was at that juncture that Marash Girl met James Baldwin in Paris, both of them awaiting a return flight to the USA.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Sign of the Times at the End of our Street

                                                      "No matter where you are from, we're glad you're our neighbor."     Photo by Marash Girl
Marash Girl was surprised and pleased yesterday, when she walked to the end of her street and found the above sign, a message of welcome written in Armenian, English and Arabic.

Saturday, February 18, 2017


Detained at the border?  Not just today; not just folks of color.  Many years ago, Marash Girl and Marash Boy were detained at the border -- at the border between the United States and Canada.  Why?  We never knew.  All we knew was that we were shuffled into a room, asked to sit (which we did), and left in that room for hours.  Never another human contact until 5 hours laer, when they let us out of the room and back to our car. We were allowed to cross the border . . . into Canada.  And had no problem returning a week later.  Why?

We were never told why.  Was it our name?  (Marash Girl?  Really?  What a threatening name!)  Our looks?  Certainly not Marash Girl's looks!  Perhaps Marash Boy's looks!  Was it our dress?  Our luggage?

We never learned.  We were simply glad to be let out of that room!

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Walk Around The Block

A walk around the block on a snowy winter's day could be lovely, but it could be dangerous as well, especially if it's around the corner of a Newton Corner establishment that touts its specialty as physical therapy.  At least that was Marash Girl's experience yesterday as she sauntered along wonderfully shoveled sidewalks that allowed her a safe afternoon's stroll, a first for several days due to that white stuff.  Safe, that is, until she came to the corner that was held down by an establishment which offers physical therapy to its clients.  Ice and snow all around the corner, all the way to the walk light that offered death-free safety to walker's crossing a portion of "Circle of Death".  Go figure!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A mess? Poor U.S.A.!

Early this afternoon, Trump announced, "I've inherited a mess!"  and "Other countries are taking advantage of us."
And later in the speech, he declared,  "‘‘This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine,’’  while he called for an investigation into recent leaks.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Very Happy Valentine's Day

Marash Girl has never had to worry about a Valentine's Day gift for Marash Boy.  She gifted Marash Boy  a lifelong Valentine's gift, daughter Lorig, yes, on Valentine's Day, a gift that has proven the most wonderful Valentine's present that a wife could ever give to her husband!  Happy Birthday, anoushig Lorig! and Happy Valentine's Day, Marash Boy!

Oh, and, of course, "Lots of Love" on Valentine's Day to all of Marash Girl's followers!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Boston Pride: Brewed in Boston

Craving a donut and a cup of coffee?  If you live in Newton, you may be heading for  Newton Corner's Dunkin' Donuts (although not today, as the snow is still coming down).  But don't be sidetracked when you look to your left as you park.  You may  see an alternative . . . Dunkin' Donuts is not the only company with Massachusetts pride!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Don't Say Yes!

A word to the wise!

Have you been receiving calls that begin with the question, "Can you hear me?"  Whatever you answer, do not answer, "Yes." Better yet, do not answer anything.  A "yes" could allow the caller access to your bank account . . . the latest scam.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

White Out.

Marash Girl's brain has whited out, what with all the snow on the ground, in the air, and promised for the weekend.  Sorry, folks.  She's listening to "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" and can't focus on this post.  Except for the concern about the President's comments on Ivanka Trump's feud with Nordstrom's.  Really?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Murder Mysteries

Marash Girl loves murder mysteries, because they always end up catching the bad guy!  However, Marash Girl spent most of yesterday evening  (while it was snowing, yet again) reading a very boring murder mystery. Any recommendations, other than trying a different genre or moving south?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

In the news: "Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History!"

" Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History!" Well behaved Snowstorms Rarely Make History! And we're in the midst of one! A snowstorm, that is!

 Bumper sticker, anyone?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Ice, Ice, Everywhere . . .

Ice, Ice, Everywhere and not a drop to drink . . . whoops, got that quotation wrong!

Ice, Ice, Everywhere and Not a Grain of Salt!

For Marash Girl, who ALWAYS keeps a bag of salt on her porch for just such ice emergencies as today, finding no bag and no salt on her porch was disastrous!  The stairs are slick with ice, the sidewalks are slick with ice, the cars are slick with ice, the roads are slick with ice . . . and ironically, the hardware store is slick with ice melt -- lots of it!

Marash Girl will have to wait until the ice melts in order to make her way down the stairs, across the sidewalk, up the driveway, into the car, up Maple Avenue, across Washington Street . . . well, you get the picture . . . to the hardware store to purchase that ice melt . . . with hopes that no-one will once again "borrow" the ice melt from her porch, where it's stashed all winter . . . or was stashed until the ice storm arrived!

Brings to mind that old fairy tale about the princess who loved her father, the king, more than salt!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A Good Object Lesson!

The Patriot's win on Sunday in the last minute of the Super Bowl would have been called by Marash Girl's father an "object lesson" for us kids. When all seems lost, all is not lost!  (Amazing Grace?) The Patriots’ championship parade is set for today. "In typical Boston fashion, players and other team officials will ride in duck boats, the World War II-era amphibious vehicles..." and, in typical Boston fashion, this will all take place while it's snowing!

Monday, February 6, 2017


February 6th marks the 229th anniversary of the Massachusetts state legislature ratifying the U.S. Constitution, becoming the sixth state to join the Union on February 6, 1788.  Today is a day for Massachusetts pride!  Drink some ocean spray cranberry juice, eat clam chowder or a lobster roll.  Drink Dunkin' donuts coffee or Sam Adams beer.  Play a game of basketball.  Oh, and the Patriots just won the Super Bowl!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

You're too d.... religious!

Marash Girl was so upset with the results of the United States presidential election that she decided she had to get out into the sunshine, but there was no sun shining through the windows of her domicile (which was on the north side of an old Victorian duplex "side-by-side"), so she decided to head out for the sunniest spot she knew at that hour of the morning, the sunny side of the McDonald's restaurant down the Lake (Nonantum, for those of you who are not familiar with the local parlance).

She sat herself at a booth on the east side of the restaurant, hoping the sun would heal the hurt she felt.  Upon hearing Armenian being spoken in the booth behind, her ears perked up, and she turned to see if she knew the speakers.  No, she did not know the speakers, but she recognized the physiognomy and the language, so decided to engage the couple in conversation, as they were, after all, her "askagan".  

And, yes, they were Armenians from Turkey, now American citizens, having lived in the United States for (not sure how) many years.  But their faces and their accents certainly identified them for Marash Girl. Marash Girl soon turned the conversation to the recent ban on immigration into the United States, the ban imposed by the United States' recently elected President.   Marash Girl asked these folks their thoughts.

"Well, do you want your taxes to go to feed folks who can't afford to feed themselves? Who can't get jobs? Who can't get housing?" the Armenian now American man asked her.

Marash Girl replied.  "Jesus said, 'What you do to the least of these you do unto me.'"  (Matthew 25:40)

The Armenian man got up out of the booth and stormed out of the room exclaiming loudly, "You're too damn religious!"

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Where New Friends Meet and Old Friends Greet!

Marash Girl had the singular pleasure (I don't really know what that means -- singular pleasure -- but it sounds impressive, right?) in any case, Marash Girl had the (singular) pleasure, yesterday evening, of attending a fundraising dinner at St. James Armenian Apostolic Church (Watertown, Massachusetts) . . . a destination where "new friends meet and old friends greet" . . . . an evening which held true to its promise of wonderful in-house  (or in this case, in the church social hall kitchen) Armenian food -- shish kebab of all varieties, with marvelous vegetarian options, and interesting conversation in many languages (Marash Girl's conversations were in English -- easier that way)!  If any of you readers out there live in the Watertown area and have never attended these dinners, give the church a call to assure your visit to the next event.  You'll be glad you did!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Nasrettin Hoja: Who are you going to believe, me or my donkey?

What a surprise when Marash Girl learned that the Marx Brothers may have taken the quip (heard in their Movie DUCK SOUP),  "Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?" from a very old Nasreddin Hoja tale recorded by Marash Girl several years ago as follows:

When Hodja's neighbor asks to borrow Hodja's donkey, Hodja answers, "Sorry, somebody else has already borrowed my donkey." At that very moment the donkey hee-haws and the neighbor hears and says, "Eh, What do you mean? I can even hear the donkey hee-hawing!" "Well," answers Hodja, "who do you believe, me or my donkey?"

N.B. This is one of the grandchildren's favorite tales!  It could be amended, I suppose, or updated for today's headlines to read, "Who are you going to believe?  Me or the donkey?"

Thursday, February 2, 2017

And on yet another light note

Overheard at a bus stop in Paris:

Young American woman to young Frenchman: Avez-vous le temps?

Young Frenchman to young American woman:  J'ai le temps, mais je n'ai pas l'inclination.

Thanks to Sylvia K. for the above story!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

"Give me your tired, your poor, your yearning to be free..."

At the airport in Washington, DC this past weekend, above sign protests an American Presidential order.

What happened to our Statue of Liberty welcome?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

And on a lighter note . . . "Overheard"

"Oh, guess what?  The beer smell disappeared from my car because I poured baking soda all over this morning . . ."  The question is whether the beer smell disappeared because she poured baking soda all over the morning, or all over the car . . . hmmmmm


"Escape while you can! Although don't come as a refugee - our policies are just as bad!"

Monday, January 30, 2017


Above sign reads
#No walls No Bans

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Protests Erupt at U.S. Airports As Trump Orders Targeting Refugees

Countering the Chief's command, crowds welcome arrivals at airport in Washington, DC.
Courage in the face of adversity!

"You go, girls!"  That's my Aline
On left: "No matter where you are from, we're glad you're our neighbor.  
No imports de donee eres, estamos contentos que seas nuestro vecino."
On right, Raffi holds sign stating, "Super callous fasicst racist sexist braggadocio!"
IMMIGRANTS --  We get the job done!  #Hamilton
"Not what I fought for!"
Thank you, Lorig Charkoudian, for being there for all of us, for taking your children
  (Raffi and Aline) with you, and for these photos!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Mystery in the Making

On Thursday afternoon, Marash Girl was at the library, peaceful, sitting deep in a comfortable sofa chair ensconced in a murder mystery she had just selected from the shelves, when all of a sudden all hell broke loose.  Librarians running, EMT's dashing up the stairway carrying a stretcher, soon followed by a phalanx of police in uniform . . . what was it? What had happened?  

What had happened?  A perfectly respectable looking man who appeared to be in is 40's had taken an overdose and was soon wheeled out of the library on a stretcher, comatose, surrounded by emergency medical personnel and Newton's finest! 

Whenever will we wise up? That is the real mystery.

Friday, January 27, 2017


Dungalakh . . . a word from the old days to use in the new days!  Dungalakh!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Mark Twain's warning to Donald Trump

"Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel. "                    - Mark Twain         

Marash Girl thanks Lorig and Deron for sending the above quotation.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"Something there is that doesn't love a wall!"

Today, the Boston Globe reported:

"Trump to order border wall Wednesday"

President Donald Trump will order the construction of a Mexican border wall on Wednesday, White House officials said. He is also mulling plans to stop Syrian refugees from entering the country and to slash immigration of refugees from “terror prone” nations, perhaps as early as this week."
Marash Girl asks that Mr Trump please take the time to read below Robert Frost's poem, which Marash Girl takes the liberty of reprinting here.
Mending Wall
Robert Frost, 1874 - 1963
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs.  The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side.  It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.'
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors?  Isn’t it
Where there are cows?  But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.'  I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself.  I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.'

Thank you, Robert Frost, for the above reminder!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Women's March for America, Washington, DC - "Armenians for Freedom for All"

    "Armenians for Freedom for All"
 Manuk Avedikyan holds sign with Nora Kayserian at the
Women's March for America in Los Angeles,  this past Saturday.                   
Marash Girl's Shout Out from 1965 lives on!  Abris, yeridasartner!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Banyan Mag writes about Marash Girl

ethel Bilezikian Charkoudian didn’t know this photo was being taken. She didn’t even know who took it, or the identity of the girl standing near the sign she was holding up. But in April 1965, she decided she needed to be at a march with 50,000 other people led by Dr. Martin Luther King protesting racial discrimination and segregation.
When Charkoudian’s photo appeared on social media over 50 years later, it went viral, inspiring Armenians in America and beyond.
“This made me tear up,” one wrote. “Thanks for bringing this to light,” another said. Then came the comment that solidified how much of an impact it had made: “I’m so proud of this.”
At a time when America feels more divided than ever after a contentious election that also sparked heated debate in Armenian-American circles, hate crimes are on the rise and young black men face the highest rate of U.S. police killings last year, this small act of compassion from decades ago not only resonated with Armenian-Americans, it exposed a kind of intersectionality between communities that often remains unseen, one that is rooted in a universal belief in human rights. Among other communities, Armenians dispersed across the U.S. and world whose ancestors survived gross human rights violations in the Armenian Genocide understand that better than most.
Charkoudian was a 25-year-old teacher from Newton, Mass. when the photo was taken, inspired by her own background to be a visible, Armenian presence at the rally.
“We fought so hard for our own right to exist, both in historic Armenia as well as in the United states, as well as historically,” she told me on the phone when I called her, eager to learn more about the story behind the image. “We fought hard.”
This self-proclaimed “Marash Girl” who writes in a blog by the very same name (which is where the photo originally appeared), grew up as the only Armenian child in her class at school, living with her extended family, including her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, where it was common to hear both Turkish and Armenian being spoken.
Her father was a storyteller she says, and often entertained with tales of family resilience and survival back in Marash. However, she stresses, the stories never revolved around the topic of hate.
“It was always about the Turks next door who helped them, the Turks who warned them when soldiers were coming,” she says. “It was not a family of hate, it was a family of love. We never learned to hate the Turks – we knew what had happened, but we didn’t learn hate.”
Charkoudian grew up in the Armenian Protestant Evangelical Church and always felt like an outsider, even in the Armenian community. Being different was something she was comfortable with, and the ease with which she embraced her status was something that helped her relate to people who were also classified as “other” in America.
Once, when she was 21, she went into a wine store with a friend who was of Navajo descent. They walked in together to buy a gift for a friend’s birthday party. “I don’t sell fire water to redskins,” she remembers the clerk telling her friend.
It was experiences like these that led her to becoming sensitive about racism and social inequality. By the time Martin Luther King was slated to come to Boston, she was already very interested in the civil rights effort, putting up signs and posters of support in her bedroom.
She had originally wanted to go on the bus rides and sit ins, but her father wouldn’t give her permission.
“Bethel,” she remembers him saying, “you know what happened in Turkey, you know what happened when Armenians tried to demonstrate and stand up, I don’t want that happening to you.”
So the next best thing was to go to the Boston rally. She hadn’t planned on making a sign, but there were people passing out placards and markers, so she took a placard and a marker and wrote her slogan: “Armenians for Freedom for All”
She marched with thousands of others, towards city hall. A brochure saved from the event details that the march was to protest issues like segregation in public housing and education. “In short, we march to protest the lie that a New Boston can be built without social justice.”
When King, whose alma mater was Boston University, landed at Logan Airport, he addressed a joint session of the Massachusetts General Court, where he spoke about the fact that segregation must die if democracy is to live, according to the New England Historical Society.
At one point, a girl came up to her – the girl on the left of the photo – and told her she was half-Armenian. “Can I stand next to you?” she said.
She remembers a few Armenians standing on the sidelines, heckling and making fun of her for participating, but she didn’t let them deter her.
BetheI knew that a lot of Armenians at the time, through fear rather than anything else, were trying to be inclusive, but inclusive only to their people,” she says. “It’s not that they wanted to exclude others, it’s that they wanted to keep their nation together.”
It was just 50 years earlier, in the aftermath of the genocide when thousands of survivors had landed in America to try and rebuild their lives.
When Charkoudian, who now runs “Bethel Charkoudian Books,” a book appraisal and consulting company, found out that her photo from half a century ago had been shared so many times online, she immediately thought – what is it that I’ve done today?
“Then,” she says, she realized “it’s not what I’ve done today, it’s how I live today.”
That is, a life without fear when it comes to standing up or reaching out to those who are in need, whether it was over 50 years ago, or today.