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Days of Water & Roses

October 24, 1987|JOHN McCOY | Los Angeles Times

Bob Alhanati leads a double life.

By day, he arranges flowers in the family-owned shop in which he has worked since he was a boy. Most nights, he can be found teaching scuba-diving classes.

Cutting and arranging flowers is a family tradition. Alhanati's grandfather, a Turkish immigrant, started the business from a flower cart on the Sunset Strip in 1920. His father took over the tradition by purchasing a flower shop in the same area in the mid-1960s.

The 30-year-old Alhanati grew up in the Hollywood shop and has chosen to continue the tradition along with his two sisters. His two nieces scamper around the shop in much the same way as he says he did as a child.

Alter Ego

After work at the flower shop, Alhanati heads for the San Fernando Valley to teach at Scuba Duba Dive in Reseda. In a small classroom behind the diving shop, Alhanati's alter ego surfaces.

"Just being able to take other people to this fascinating other world is fulfilling," he said. "My avocation is diving, but my vocation is selling flowers."

In 1982, the death of his mother, who had worked alongside him in the family business, prompted him to explore a new life underwater.

He now teaches a variety of scuba classes, from begining open-water instruction to night diving and underwater photography.

Students in his three-week class sessions become a close-knit group, he said.

"I've even seen close friendships formed as a result of the class," he said. Indeed, Alhanati started dating his girlfriend after she completed his scuba course.


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