in a crowd, living in a church, in the middle of a busy
commercial street. This is the story of Michael Stephen, an
Armenian living in Chennai. The sole reminder of a once
flourishing Armenian community in Chennai, he is the
caretaker of the Armenian Church in Georgetown.
Michael is a third generation Armenian. His great grand
parents were successful jute merchants, settled in Dhaka.
His parents moved to Bangalore and still live there.
Michael was selected by the Armenian Association to take
over as the caretaker of the Armenian Church in Chennai in
1995. Ever since he has been living in the church,
passionately involved in maintaining the three-century-old
church and its serene gardens.
Armenians are a forgotten race of people, in India. They
first came to India in the 17th century, and established
themselves as merchants. Their population in Chennai alone
was 800 then. Now, only 150 Armenians live in the whole of
India, most of them in Calcutta, where the Armenian
Association is located.
Michael says that people in Chennai are not aware of the
Armenian connection in their history, he hopes that the
population of Armenians increases to carry on their rich
tradition. But the situation looks grim, even though the
Indian and the Armenian Governments are encouraging
Armenians to settle in India.