Perspective of Life… NM

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

“If you don’t do stupid things while you are young, you will have nothing to smile about when you are old

My First Christmas

Our past shapes our present, I have no doubts about it. Schooling, the discipline [in my case] parents try to teach their children in that past era when Mothers still stayed at home to take care of their children. Trips if fortunate, exposure to many different cultures, civilizations, total different Worlds than the present, again if fortunate as I was. I don’t know at the present how much of it is left while lingering here, should I say living here? as indeed I am while as much as I miss the past and its memories I am fortunate and more to be here. Alone yes, still alone with no dog, no buddy even though the thought of it is very slowly growing on me as I have to approach that situation with honesty meaning Spirit is not coming back and this will be a new buddy, Slowly…

Mother in Coulommiers 

There are 70 years behind me and it is always nice to think about them as yes, I have had a full Life. Its start in itself sounds today to me amazing. Born in France, one set of Grand Parents living in Cairo, Egypt, the other set in Aleppo, Syria, which today is totally destroyed to the ground, Aunt and Uncle in Kampala, Uganda and many other Uncles and Aunts in the beautiful country of Lebanon, the City of Beirut and its Mountains for summer living. There is some traveling to be done from just reading the above! Which I did quite a few times. I write this because I am asked so often where am I from as I pause and don’t quite know how to answer the question and when I do it is immediately “what are doing in Alamogordo?”. What am I not doing? Is the overall impression concludes that I should have settled somewhere exotic? Like maybe Bora Bora? I like it here. A lot.

Grand Pa and I

In Aleppo, my Grand Father was an Oculist. They don’t use that word anymore. He checked eyes and also made the eyeglasses in his little lab on the second floor where I helped him when I visited and caused enough damage I always thought for him to go bankrupt!. There were no fancy machines at the time of course and I would take a frame upside down, trace the lens on a piece of cardboard, cut it, apply it to a lens and with a diamond tool trace it. Then slowly going around and around break pieces of it or… the whole thing in half!!! My Grand Father was a stern man and when that happened there was not a single trace of happiness floating around but my Dear Grand Mother, a true Saint, made up for it. It was then grinding the edges on a rough stone and finally on a red soft stone with some rouge. Heating up the frame a bit and inserting that lens. I really did that!!! I learned about the optical centers, bifocals, trifocals and more.

childhood 2 

Times were much better in Cairo where my Grand Parents on my Mother side had a print shop which included an Armenian Newspaper, the only Armenian Newspaper published continuously for 50 years! I love those Grand Parents and especially my Grand Father, a unique character on its own. The Man was my Hero and still is up to this day. The print shop was walking distance from the house and somehow this man never drove a car throughout his entire Life. He never even bothered getting a driver’s license. He would just walk back and forth every day but it was not just a regular walk. When there he would wake me up about four in the morning and him and I would start cooking. Tons and tons of rice, fish, potatoes, meat, you name it and all would go in two rattan weaved baskets with handles so he could feed on his way to work all the dogs and cats waiting for him! During the day I would play with the lead characters while my Grand Mother would take care of the business end of it and “Dede” as I called him would take care of the Newspaper.

Grand Ma... 

Unlike me he was very political and outspoken, outspoken being the one one aspect out of the two which I know I am. They burned to the ground his print shop twice and nonchalant as he was, he came home those nights as if nothing had ever happened and just said “we will rebuilt”. And he did. Throughout the days the fun part of course was the fact that we would go out and eat every hour on the hour. No joke. My Grand Father was a very large man in every sense of the word. Foul, Hummus, Sugar Cane Juice, Falafels, Kunafeh, Basbousa and the famous Baklava… you name it! I was always ready while my attention was on the clock above him! But the clincher was going home after work. The baskets were empty so there was no more food left to feed the dogs and cats but… to my Grand Mother’s daily dismay… he always brought a homeless for dinner! I don’t think my Grand Father lived amongst us. He sure had his own bubble. He would wear his French Beret, sit in some Café by the Nile and watch the water for hours without saying a word while I know he was thinking and thinking some more…

Grand Pa working

These two were the definition of “Love”, nothing more and nothing less. As my times there were in peaceful times unlike today I would in my teens hitchhike from France going East of course, stopping in Aleppo, Beirut then Cairo, then Kampala from where I would go North through Morocco and catch the ferry to Gibraltar and on through Spain back to near Paris were we lived. Yes! What am I doing in Alamogordo? Funny!!! Got to be somewhere… right? I have two sets of great memories as “Dede” knowing everyone surrounding him could make things happen. One was sailing the Nile to Assouan before the Russians managed to cut the base of the Statues to elevate them for a dam they built. I was always “one of them” in those countries I passed through. I learned from a very early age to respect and ahead of time learn other’s Cultures, something very important. The next set of memories was traveling and camping the Sahara with the Bedouins and their Camels. From Oasis to Oasis [you get it now?] we would slowly but surely go.


Camels for sure are strange animals as I call them “prehistoric”. No need for water they would undulate day after day after day. Once we arrived at an Oasis were maybe another Tribe or two were also camping, the women would set it all up while the men started cooking and smoking their hash. Their lives were so close to the Life Spirit and I lived for 14 years of course ours being modernized but I could have easily done and lived the way they did. Not a care in the World except as for us the weather and the horrific sandstorms. They are not real in movies but trust me that is exactly how it happens including a sound unequaled from anything else. Could easily be the sound of the end of the World! Those were the times when we ate sand, we breathed sand, we even cooked sand!!! To this day I cannot imagine myself having done that. There was and is something so spiritual when all alone within a Tribe only surrounded by dunes of emptiness. It is indescribable and I won’t try to… The closest I ever came to that situation was when going through the desolate State of Alaska.


Sure… what am I doing in Alamogordo? There will be more of my memories… I didn’t have a camera at the time, kind of a shame, but my Mother had managed to put together a couple albums which I will share some of the photos today and most likely later. There are too many memories to fit in one page!

My First Love! Aline...

Culinary School

Stay well, Ara and Spirit [R.I.P. 04/04/2018]

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15 Responses to “Perspective of Life… NM”

  1. Barney Ward Says:

    Wonderful blog entry. Thank you. And I also like Alamogordo.

  2. greg Says:

    Holly Cow Dude!

    What a rich life!

  3. Ara & Spirit Says:

    It has been!!!

  4. Steve Says:

    It is interesting to see that list of countries you traveled through growing up and see them in today’s world. Amazing. I look forward to seeing more of your mom’s photograph album. Alamogordo ??? It must be the sand … and the mountains nearby.

  5. Bill Says:

    WOW…what a wonderful and exciting life, thanks for sharing it and I’m looking forward to the next edition.

  6. Pam Reynolds Says:

    Dear Ara, again you have enriched the life of everyone who has read your album! These pictures speak love, gratitude, generosity, dignity, wonder, adventure, appreciation of the earth and other cultures all around us.
    You seem very happy in Alamogordo. We agree that Alamogordo has much to make one happy.

    Pam “Zelda” Reynolds

  7. Ara & Spirit Says:

    Thank You Pam… Yes, with all the medical procedures I am going through, spine and dental [Merry Christmas Ara!!!] I am happier than ever to be here… The Mountains as always are my savior! That little car by the way has been sold! Considering there is a 6 months wait for one the Dealer offered me $2000 more than what I had paid for… Thought I would do it before they put me in jail for speeding!!! The Jeep does its job… You both take care and enjoy the Holidays. Stay well. Ara… with no dog!

  8. Ara & Spirit Says:

    I must say it has indeed been a full one and now I can live with the present comfort and the memories of the past… Amazing! Thank You and stay well. Ara

  9. Ara & Spirit Says:

    Deserts have always had a great appeal to me even though I find out that most love Forests more. I do too as the Mountains as you know are my savior just a few miles away! Thinking of those countries where are passed not as a tourist but more as a citizen actually brings on some sadness from their present turmoil. Hard to believe that as a teenager I hitchhiked without a single incident through them… They were such wonderful times experiencing the different cultures and especially the food!!! Incredible food… I can still taste it! Stay well… Ara without a dog!

  10. Ara & Spirit Says:

    It has been Greg and lucky me I can in my present comfort think about it… Almost unreal!… but it happened. Stay well. Thank you. Ara

  11. Judith Says:

    While I have been looking at and enjoying your website for several years, today’s seems a wonderful event. Thank you. I am glad you are doing as well as one can with medical/dental problems….and am impressed you can extend yourself to share. So thank you.

  12. Ara & Spirit Says:

    Thank You Judith… My Journal is my sounding board, my companion throughout these years… If I don’t uncap my thoughts I would probably just blow up like a soda can!!! Stay well… Ara

  13. Denny Gibson Says:

    During the years I’ve been reading your blog, I’ve really appreciated you sharing memories as you made them. This entry was something special and I appreciate you sharing some great memories that were made some time ago.

  14. Ara & Spirit Says:

    Thanks for writing Denny. Yes, memories are many I live by now as off the road only with the hope that it will be Valley of the Gods when Spring comes after these non senses including much dental and spine ablations!!!So much fun I can’t stand it!!! Have a wonderful day and stay well. Ara

  15. Alan Kessedjian Says:

    Amazing photos Ara and wonderful to hear something about life in Egypt and also Aleppo where your other grandparents were from. In gratitude to you for sharing, you were a step closer than me with all the connections to Egypt. It is good to preserve these precious memories. I think even further back there was a book written about our great grandfather but I do not know how true this was. Keep burning bright. Alan

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