Amid Nagorno-Karabakh clashes, an Indian restaurant is helping displaced Armenians

 

Written by Neha Banka
| Kolkata |October 7, 2020 7:42:03 am

Armenia Azerbaijan conflict, Nagorno-Karabakh, Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, Nagorno-Karabakh fighting, Indian Mehak Restaurant and Bar Yeravan, Indian restaurant helping Armenia refugees, indian expressKhan and his household, together with workers, have been working 12-hour shifts to organize the meals packing containers. (Photograph: Aqsa Khan)

When clashes erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan within the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh area, Parvez Ali Khan knew he needed to do one thing for the nation he now calls house. Khan, a 47-year-old from Patiala, had moved to Armenia 5 years in the past along with his household, within the hope of excellent financial prospects. He now runs Indian Mehak Restaurant and Bar, a two-year-old institution positioned within the coronary heart of capital Yerevan, simply minutes away from Republic Sq..

Armenia Azerbaijan conflict, Nagorno-Karabakh, Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, Nagorno-Karabakh fighting, Indian Mehak Restaurant and Bar Yeravan, Indian restaurant helping Armenia refugees, indian express Parvez Ali Khan runs Indian Mehak Restaurant and Bar in Yerevan, Armenia. (Photograph credit score: Aqsa Khan)

Since combating broke out on September 27, Armenian officers have mentioned the whole army demise toll has gone as much as 244 as of October 6, in line with a Reuters report, making it probably the most violent clashes within the area because the 1990s. It’s unclear how many individuals have been compelled to go away Karabakh because the combating started, however social media posts and witness experiences counsel the numbers are excessive.

“I should have seen roughly 30,000 refugees in Yerevan,” Khan says.

On October 4, on the restaurant’s Fb web page, the household introduced they had been offering freshly-cooked Indian meals to individuals who had fled the Nagorno-Karabakh area and had been in search of refuge within the capital. “We’re Punjabis and we assist individuals wherever we’re. We’ve got all the time carried out it,” Khan says.

For the reason that clashes have intensified, Armenians throughout the nation have stepped in to assist these affected, and Khan says he needed to do his bit. So he turned to the sources he had easy accessibility to—his restaurant’s kitchen. “I had some financial savings that I had stored apart to open a restaurant in Prague. That didn’t materialise on account of coronavirus. So I’m utilizing these funds for this.”

“We began on October 4, and it simply blew up,” says 20-year-old Aqsa, Khan’s elder daughter. “We knew there have been refugees, however we didn’t know there have been so many.”

Armenia Azerbaijan conflict, Nagorno-Karabakh, Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, Nagorno-Karabakh fighting, Indian Mehak Restaurant and Bar Yeravan, Indian restaurant helping Armenia refugees, indian express Aqsa Khan (proper) and her sister Alsa pack ready meals of their restaurant’s kitchen. (Photograph: Aqsa Khan)

Since then, Khan and his household, together with 4 workers, have been working 12-hour shifts to organize packing containers with rice and naan, chole-bhature, vegetable dishes with potatoes, brinjal and so forth., all cooked utilizing much less spice than what’s customary in Punjabi delicacies, to swimsuit the preferences of Armenians.

However the household doesn’t suppose they’re doing something uncommon. “There may be a whole lot of unity in Armenia,” Aqsa explains, pointing to residents who’ve come collectively to donate no matter was doable—from cash to necessities. “We had been desirous about how we may assist. So we first posted on the Fb web page about donating proceeds from supply and take-out orders. However then we noticed that the refugees didn’t have entry to recent meals and we thought this was extra impactful.”

Armenia Azerbaijan conflict, Nagorno-Karabakh, Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, Nagorno-Karabakh fighting, Indian Mehak Restaurant and Bar Yeravan, Indian restaurant helping Armenia refugees, indian express Workers at Indian Mehak Restaurant and Bar in Yerevan, Armenia, at work, making ready the meals packages. (Photograph: Aqsa Khan)

Aqsa says the household discovered inspiration for the initiative when a neighborhood resident approached the restaurant asking for dry substances that she may use to organize meals for kids she was offering shelter to. The household supplied cooked Indian meals as a substitute. “We thought we’d be doing it for 25 to 30 individuals solely,” says Khan. However the household quickly realised that many extra wanted their help.

Aqsa and her sister Alsa, 18, then took to Fb and introduced that the restaurant was providing Indian meals to anybody coming in from Artsakh, one other title for Nagorno-Karabakh. “On the primary day, some 400 individuals requested for assist,” says Khan. “It grew from there,” Aqsa provides.

Additionally Learn | Azerbaijan vs Armenia: An previous regional battle, neighbours

As their social media submit has unfold, the Khans’ telephones haven’t stopped ringing. Whereas some callers have been requesting for meals packages, many have supplied help in any approach they will. “Girls are calling us to ask if we want assist in the kitchen. Individuals are bringing their automobiles to assist distribute the meals,” says Khan.

Lately, a volunteer delivered meals from the restaurant all the way in which to Hrazdan, a city some 50 kms away, the place some residents of Nagorno-Karabakh have sought refuge. One other volunteer has helped ship meals to Tsaghkadzor, a city slightly additional away. Whereas the Khans are cooking the dishes, 4 Armenians have stepped in to assist package deal the meals and ship it throughout Yerevan.

“Now refugees are calling us immediately, as are organisations serving to them. Some motels internet hosting refugees have additionally requested us to offer one meal a day,” says Aqsa. “I’ve by no means seen something like this.”

Armenia Azerbaijan conflict, Nagorno-Karabakh, Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, Nagorno-Karabakh fighting, Indian Mehak Restaurant and Bar Yeravan, Indian restaurant helping Armenia refugees, indian express Parvez Ali Khan helps load meals packages right into a ready van exterior his restaurant in Yerevan, Armenia. (Photograph: Aqsa Khan)

For the reason that initiative is just a few days previous, for now, Khan is making use of his restaurant’s provides to organize the packages. The restaurant has discovered an outpouring of assist from individuals throughout Armenia and even these within the diaspora. Many have left them messages of gratitude, promising to go to the restaurant after they can. “After the struggle, I’ll go to your restaurant and rejoice our victory,” says one message on their Fb web page, with tons of of others in an identical vein.

There aren’t too many Indians in Armenia, says Khan, and his institution is among the many few outstanding Indian eating places right here. In Yerevan, he believes, there have to be round 100 Indian households, with roughly 4,000 Indian college students finding out medication scattered in universities throughout the nation. Following the Indian authorities’s operation of Vande Bharat flights in the course of the coronavirus pandemic, many have briefly left.

Over the previous 5 years, Khan says his daughters have developed a passion for Armenia. Throughout their years in school and faculty within the nation, they’ve made pals, learnt the language and the tradition and have tailored nicely right here, whereas holding on to their Indian citizenship.

“Nagorno-Karabakh is as a lot a trigger for me as it’s for my Armenian pals,” Aqsa says. “So we’re doing no matter we are able to to help the nation that’s now house.”

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