Saturday, July 14, 2012

Boston's South End and Mike Sarkissian


Walking along Waltham Street in Boston's South End, Marash Girl was greeted  by sunflowers, 3 for $10 bordering a small greengrocer, most of whose vegetables were organic, the ironwork railings left by the 19th Century developer of South End row houses, now almost impossible to afford, and, as she and her daughters crossed Shawmut Avenue, there it was, the Sahara (Syrian) Restaurant. [Interesting that it was only a few blocks from where Uncle Vartan, Rev. Vartan Bilezikian, first preached the word of God in his apartment, the early beginnings of what was to become the United Armenian Bretheren Evangelical Church in Watertown, Massachusetts.] The Sahara -- physically close, yet a far cry from the evangelism of the Christianity of that day.  The Sahara.  Wow.  We thought it was closed! Early on, Mike Sarkissian and his band [see and  Record Fiend's take on Mike] would play on Friday and Saturday nights, and often members of the Harvard-Radcliffe Armenian Club, as well as friends like Charlie Kouyoumjian (an oud player himself) and Harry Papazian (dumbeg) would end up at the club on any given weekend.  Great Middle Eastern food and music -- Armenian, Turkish, Greek, Arabic, and at least one belly dancer, of course.  [It should be noted here that although many of the oud and dumbeg players were Armenian, rarely was a belly dancer!  That was left for the non-Armenian women.  The Armenian men would not tolerate Armenian women belly dancing!]  Marash Girl was so excited that the Sahara was still there -- she couldn't wait to go there again . . .  But wait. . . as she turned left onto Shawmut Avenue, seeking the entrance to the 

 restaurant, this is what she found. Ivy covered doors, an ivy covered building front, and no way to enter.  It was akin to a dream, a disappointing dream. So instead of taking her daughters into the Sahara where 50 years ago they would have been served hummus, sarma, shish kebab/pilaf, and joined in a line dance or two, Marash Girl and her daughters continued on to a small restaurant in the SOWA district (South of Washington Street), and enjoyed the chic environs of the day . . . with a cup of iced American coffee, Greek yogurt and a blueberry scone.


Post a Comment