Armenian Jerusalem
they don’c come like that anymore
This project has been supported by the Gulbenkian philanthropic Foundation, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and members of the worldwide Armenian community. Reproductions of the genealogical documents [domar’s] are courtesy Photo Garo, Jerusalem. Copyright © 2007 Arthur Hagopian
         The   Armenians   of   Jerusalem   had   more   than   their   share   of   comedians, clowns   and   pranksters:   they   thrived   on   laughter.   One   of   the   most   incorrigible and   accomplished   was   Hortanan   (Jordan)   Marashlian,   a   Kaghakatsi.   He   was ready   to   perform   at   the   drop   of   a   hat   -   if   anyone   deserved   an   Oscar,   it   would be him.              There   was   the   time   Hortanan   Marashlian   decided   to   spring   a   practical joke   on   Im   Arakel   (Anna   Baghsarian).   She   had   been   complaining   of   a mild   stomach   ache   and   he   promised   to   get   her   an   excellent   Greek doctor to check her.        The   scene   is   set   in   the   bedroom   of   Noubar   Baghsarian's   house.   Im Arakel   is   in   bed   and   they   are   all   gathered   around   Im   Arakel   (her   sons, daughters-in-law,   and   whoever   happened   to   be   in   the   neighborhood   at the time), waiting for the doctor.      "When is he going to come?" Im Arakel keeps asking.      "Soon," they tell her.        In   the   next   room,   behind   the   door,   Hortanan   is   busy   donning   a   white coat   (where   he   got   it   remains   a   mystery),   a   makeshift   stethoscope   and eyeglasses   that   actually   hinder   rather   than   help   his   sight   but   that disguise   his   features.   He's   found   a   schoolbag   and   is   filling   it   with   all kinds of bottles.        They   are   all   actually   waiting   for   it   to   get   real   dark   -   Hortanan   will need the darkness to complete his disguise.        Once   he   is   satisfied   that   the   coast   is   clear,   he   comes   out   of   his hiding   place   and   knocks   on   the   bedroom   door,   calling   out   in   what sounds   quite   convincingly   like   Greek   Arabic:   "Fein   el   marid,   khabibi? 'Ashan bishouf." (Where is the patient I can see?"         With    her    weak    eyesight,    Im    Arakel    can    hardly    distinguish    the apparition that bulldozes his way to her.          Mimicking   a   Greek   doctor   speaking   Arabic,   with   a   lot   of   aspirant "Khabibi"s   [for   " habibi ",   the   Arabic   for   'loved   one'),   Hortanan   shuffles into   the   room   and   proceeds   to   examine   his   patient,   surrounded   by   an audience of giggling relatives.          Hortanan   gets   into   stride   with   his   act. A   lot   of   "ah"   and   "oh"s   and   " fein boujaa '" (where does it hurt?).        The   audience   has   mushroomed   and   is   spilling   over   into   the   yard outside:   and   everyone   is   having   a   very   hard   time   trying   to   keep   from bursting into laughter.        Hortanan   is   finished   now.   He   writes   out   a   "script"   and   hands   it   over to   Noubar   (who   can't   hold   it   any   longer)   and   then   dips   his   hand   into   his pocket   and   comes   out   with   a   20   mils   piece   [legal   tender   during   the British    Mandate    of    Palestine],    and    places    it    in    the    palm    of    the astonished woman.                 "Yo,    what    a    wonderful    doctor,"    Im   Arakel    enthuses    after    her physician   has   disappeared   (only   to   return   and   rejoin   the   group,   minus the   disguise).   "He   not   only   examines   and   prescribes   medicine,   he   also gives out money to his patients."