The life, adventures, and professional transitions of Mohamed (Christian name “Mike”) Agha could fill a book that would entertain readers while educating with history lessons.
“I like to say I’m a jack of all trades and a master of some,” said a smiling Agha, who believes keeping a sense of humor is key to life. “I immerse myself in anything I do that’s interesting.”
During his seven decades, the Lebanese-born Ramona resident has operated several different kinds of businesses, been a horse owner/trainer, bounced back from a brain injury suffered in a car accident, and as a teenager was instrumental in starting a championship volleyball team in his home country. He is multilingual, an accomplished cook, and raises pigeons.
“The way Mohamed grew up is so fascinating to me,” said his partner, Candace Regel. The two own The Blinds Spot and Regal Floors in Ramona.
Agha grew up in Tripoli, Lebanon, with three brothers and three sisters.
“My dad was an open-minded person,” he said. “It was a Muslim home but never strict. My dad sent us to the best school in Tripoli, Lebanon, ’cause it was a Christian school, because he wanted us to be aware of everything.” About 40 percent of the population in Lebanon is Christian, he noted.
Mike Agha sits on his Arabian horse, Candy, ready to ride in a parade. (Courtesy photo)
Agha attended a French Catholic school and said most of his friends were Christians and everyone got along. He can speak French, English, Spanish, and Arabic.
“The French education — they taught us all about Western civilization from the Greeks all the way to today.”
Agha’s neighborhood did not have running water.
“We had all the old traditions of keeping food and saving for the winter,” he said.
Their home changed thanks to Agha’s father who only had a third-grade education but taught himself accounting. He became an accountant for one of the richest families in Tripoli and their household was the first in the neighborhood to have running water, a radio, refrigerator, television, telephone, and car.
Agha took his first trip to the United States in 1969.
What brought him here?
“All the movies that I saw,” he responded, laughing. “I didn’t miss a show.” Listing such actors as Roy Rogers, John Wayne, Rock Hudson, and Doris Day, Agha said, “I was a movie buff. And that kind of made learning English a lot easier for me.”
Over the next 25 years he traveled back and forth. His last time in Lebanon was in 1994, a year after he became a U.S. citizen.
In 1983, he managed a woman’s apparel store in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Women would come in wearing their hijabs and buy up the apparel that Agha’s brother sent from Los Angeles.
It was strange, Agha said. “They couldn’t drive, they couldn’t do this, this, and that. They had to have an escort, however, once they are in the shop, they can do whatever they want.
“One time I had two princesses come in with their entourage. Young princesses, like 16, 17.” They picked out clothing and had Agha deliver it to the back door of their palace. He found out they were the granddaughters of the then future King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
Agha’s past includes operating an Italian restaurant on Miramar Road and a Middle Eastern restaurant called Caravan in Escondido.
He and his brothers opened Carpet Country on Miramar Road in 1984 and later moved it to Poway. In 2011, he and Regel opened The Blinds Spot. They met while he was an owner/horse trainer at San Luis Rey Downs in Bonsall.
They own Arabian horses and also have a menagerie of birds: a rescue Amazon parrot, a rooster and hens, and Egyptian and Pakistani pigeons. Raising pigeons is a Middle Eastern tradition, Agha noted.
“It stems from really old times from when Arabs used them for messenger pigeons,” he explained. Aghastarted with five pairs, not realizing how quickly they reproduce. In two years he had 150 pigeons. His flock that he lets out every day has since dwindled to 40, and he and Regel are entertained by watching their habits.
“The males always, always show off,” he said.
Agha finds life good in Ramona. With the mountains, ocean, and desert close by, it reminds him of his homeland.
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