Armenian Jerusalem
they don’c come like that anymore
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."