As I walked through the crowded alleys of Burj Hammoud, with its many shops of different colors and sizes. I stumbled upon a tiny little shop. Simon Constantinian, a watch repairman, a knife sharpening man, a poet, and an accordionist, owns this little shop of 1 meter by 3 meters.
Simon, whose previous profession was a diamond setter, decided 20 years ago in order to have more interaction with his clients, to get a small shop in one of the main alleys of Burj Hammoud. Over the years, people kept on asking him to fix their watches. Apparently that shop had a previous life where watches were repaired, and neither the shop nor the people were willing to relinquish that. Acknowledging that there was no point in turning them back, he decided to do exactly that.
His really passion though was playing the accordion, something his father got him when he was 9 years old. Someone owed his father money and offered him this accordion he had from Armenia as a trade off. His father gladly accepted, and took it back home with him, explaining to Simon that this was his now.
Simon took onto playing the accordion like a fish in water, discovering a hidden passion for music that serendipitously had taken over his life. He played it through out the years until one day his new bride asked him to stop so he can lead a more domestic life. As Simon says “who dares disagreeing with the wife?” Yet every time she would leave the house, he would rush to his old friend and play it, trying to savor those delightful moments where he would play to his heart’s content.
After 10 years of marriage, Simon went back to his wife and explained to her that this hobby could bring them a considerable income. As he explained to me, after 10 years of marriage, his wife was more then happy to see him leave the house and get some personal space.
This is how this wonderful charming man started his career as an accordionist. There is humbleness in finding happiness in your own passion. This accordion sits in the dark, at the back of his shop, like an old friend watching, observing, and waiting to be played.
I stood outside his shop as he stood at the door and played Edith Piaf for me. It was then that I heard the loose melodies of an accordionist’s tale. I heard the fast moving tunes. The busy footsteps of the world around me faded as I held the light of his music inside me.
And here we were beneath the Burj Hammoud sky with a tune fluttering away. People walking about, motorcycles whizzing, cats rushing around, pigeons flying about, neighbors on their windows tilting to hear and see their accordionist play his favorite tunes as it drowned the harsh cacophony of this busy suburb. I stood there under a sunny sky, feeling all of a sudden transported into a world of music, dancing, and twirling. And among all this hustle and bustle and all the city’s rush with its road rage, stood an ordinary man, an accordionist, who played his music with heart and soul, with love and passion, with an intoxicating positivity that made me want to reach above and touch that rainbow that he just offered me, all sous le ciel de Burj Hammoud.
This is a link I uploaded on youtube of him playing: