Hagop Sarafian

“They say that age is all in your mind. The trick is keeping it from creeping down into your body.”


Regardless of social origin, education, wealth, Father Time will soon or later take us down a peg or two. What we could easily manage a decade ago becomes more problematic with each passing year.

But some people age better than others and Hagop Sarafian (son of Saraf) is one of them.
He was born on December 23, 1922 in Marash (Southeastern Turkey) a city with a tormented past that was then part of the Ottoman Empire.
Due to the 1915-1923 Armenian Genocide, and under very difficult conditions, Hagop’s family escaped Turkey and trekked to Aleppo, Syria. Hagop was then just 40 days old.

His father was a small rug merchant and in Syria Hagop learned the weaver trade by watching and helping him.

At age of 20, he gave up this line of work and started to make a living as a drummer in a local band. He performed throughout Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran for the next fifteen years.
In 1958 at age 36, Hagop emigrated to France and shortly after he met and wed fellow Armenian Isabelle Sarafian. They were married according to the Armenian tradition in an orthodox church in Paris.

While in France, he learned how to play pétanque.
In 1972, he pulled up stakes again and moved to Cleveland, USA, to be closer to his younger brother.
A year later he moved to California.

At 90, Hagop (Armenian form of Jacob) is the poster boy for  senior citizens.
A fierce pétanque competitor and a renowned “shooter”, he can still deliver amazing “carreaux” and put to shame people twenty years younger.
One also wonders at his remarkable ability to crouch like a young boy to measure contested points.

Not adverse to an occasional shot of booze or a puff of locoweed, he still has a sharp mind and all his hair, things I wish I could say about myself.
He also has an excellent memory that contributes to make him a formidable card player.

Born and raised in a patriarchal society, Hagop inherited some of the characteristics of a male oriented society.
He is not unlike a chestnut, prickly outside, sweet inside.
Often misunderstood, thin-skinned, slightly handicapped by some hearing loss, Hagop has mellowed with age and blossomed into an upstanding human being.

He is proud of his Armenian roots and of his Christian Orthodox faith.

Please join me in congratulating Hagop Sarafian on his 90th birthday and wishing him many more “carreaux” in the years to come.

Let’s make Sunday, December 23rd, Hagop Sarafian Day!

Tsnudat Shnorhavor Hagop!


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Diamonds are not a guy’s best friends

Let me start by saying that I have never been keen on TV commercials.
And in this holiday season I feel (like in the Battle of Britain) that we are literally bombarded into submission by an incessant barrage of commercials.
And not subtle commercials mind you, but loud and crude propositions.
I am neither deaf nor retarded. If you want to sell me something, speak softly and carry a big warranty.

So anyway, besides being sorely averse to commercials, there are some messages that I find particularly irksome.
One in particular makes me shake my head in disbelief.
It shows a guy getting down on his knees (often in front of a huge TV audience) and begging (bribing with a diamond) his girlfriend to marry him.
In these days of gender parity I find this absolutely insane.
It might look extremely romantic (and that’s what the diamond industry would like you to believe) but it is an absolutely demeaning and totally ridiculous gesture.

Let me remind you that a marriage is basically a merger. It is about two people who agree to join forces to start a new corporation.
I am not a business expert, but I am pretty sure that when two corporations consider merging, neither side does any begging.

Getting down on your knees anywhere anytime sets a very bad precedent.
If you start a relationship by begging, your prospective bride will quickly get the message and strive to perpetuate this trend.
Soon you will have to beg for food, for money, for sex.
No man in his right mind should ever start a relationship by begging.

Instead of genuflecting, come to the proposed merger equipped with shield and sword (don’t forget the dagger) to make your proposal in a position of strength.
Your prospective partner will get the message and you can start your relationship on equal footing.

And keep in mind that mergers seldom work as planned. In case of future disagreement, do not be in the position to have your mate remind you that it was YOU who BEGGED her to boss you around.

Beggars seldom get what they want. They most of the time get trampled on.
So I implore you my fellow men, come to your senses and stop this bad theatrical shtick.

When you propose, don’t under any circumstance get down on your knees.
Come instead accompanied by your (preferably Jewish) mother and a good lawyer.
They’ll insist on a smaller stone, some stock options and see that you get a better deal altogether.

Your devoted uncle Alain


New Year wishes

2012 is slowly fading away, and 2013, like an early edelweiss, is already poking its nose on the horizon.
It might be a bit early, but before I get too sloshed to do it properly, I will present you with my best wishes for the New Year.

When I was a kid, a popular song (Que reste t-il de nos amours?) was often heard on the radio. It was first recorded in 1942 and made popular in France by Charles Trenet.

This song later evolved into the American version known as « I wish you love ».

“I wish you bluebirds in the spring
To give your heart a song to sing
And then a kiss, but more than this
I wish you love”

 So for 2013 I shall wish you love of course, and its inseparable companions: peace, health, laughter, and friends.

First and foremost, I wish you peace. World peace. A little optimistic maybe, but still something to wish for.
Peace is the sunshine of mankind and without it nothing much can grow. So peace is my Number One wish.


My next wish is love. The intoxicating romantic attachment to someone. The glue that binds humanity. A man or a woman consumed by passion are totally oblivious of their surroundings and very unlikely to stir any trouble.
So love has got to be on my list.

The next thing is health. When you are healthy, the world is your oyster and nothing is impossible. Health is more valuable than gold.

I wish you an epidemic of laughter. “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”Charles Dickens
So I wish you the ability to laugh, at yourself and with others. And I hope that by hugging and kissing you will contaminate everybody around you.

And last but not least, I wish for you to be surrounded by friends.
“For a friend with an understanding heart is worth no less than a brother” – Homer
Life without friends is like spaghettis without Parmesan. Unthinkable.

And finally, in 2013, may the Gods grant you a few (don’t be greedy) “carreaux” and the pleasure to share your delight with friends.

Meilleurs voeux de bonheur a tous!
My best wishes to all!