April 2005, Vol. 6 No. 5
Presenting AUB to the Outside World on
Film and Video
Choral Concert Workshop and Guitar
Festival Held at the Assembly Hall
Civilization Sequence Program Screens Falstaff
Oleanna Play Reading: Power Dynamics and
Book Review: In the Path of Hizbullah by Ahmad Nizar Hamzeh
A Tree Grows in Hanine
Armond Manassian, an assistant professor of accounting at AUB, wanted to take time to celebrate Valentine’s Day with his wife Pamela, despite their busy schedules. So, they decided to meet for lunch at Café Mondo, in the nearby Phoenicia InterContinental Hotel. Little did he know that this Valentine’s Day would leave its mark on him and his wife—literally.
“Would you like a table by the window,” the waitress asked, as they arrived at the café. “Sure,” Manassian replied. But that day, what is usually considered coveted seating turned out to be a dangerous location.
They had barely taken a bite from the salad they had ordered, when they heard and felt a huge explosion—ear-splitting sounds, flying debris, and shards of glass all mixed together, assaulting the senses, recalls Manassian. While the pressure from the blast thrust Manassian forward, his wife, who was facing the window, was pushed backward, and had a clear view of the explosion: a huge ball of fire, reaching as high as the HSBC building.
At first, the professor did not feel pain, just a burning sensation. And shock.
Then, as he realized what had happened, he felt grateful that neither he nor his wife had been killed. His wife, thankful too to be alive, could not believe that she was standing and talking to her husband. “Everyone was in panic, flooding out of the hotel,” said Armond. “But when they saw us, they gasped at our fearful sight.” At that point, the blood had started flowing, gushing from the facial wounds he and his wife had sustained.
Later, after a bumpy ride to the hospital, he received 20 sutures, mainly on his forehead and chin, while his wife, who was more severely injured, required 50 stitches on her face, as well as on her shoulder and arm.
More than a month after the blast, Pamela Manassian still cannot see clearly in one of her eyes, which had to be cleared of substantial amounts of glass splinters. Some pieces of glass remain embedded in Armond Manassian’s skin as well, and sometimes they spontaneously pop out from his face.
But he remains grateful. “Throughout the whole ordeal, we did not feel extreme pain,” he says. He is also grateful for the care he received at the AUB Medical Center and for President John Waterbury’s concern for him and his wife: The president paid them a hospital visit and sent them a bouquet of flowers.
Although he does not consider himself traumatized, a drive by the hotel area still gives Manassian an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach. “My wife and I lived here during the war, and nothing happened to us,” he said, adding: “You know, you never believe that you could find yourself [at the scene of] a car bomb.”