Friday, June 28, 2002
Recent days have seen the restart of peace negotiations with Azerbaijan which are taking place in Turkey. There are reports again that Azerbaijan wants to take over a Meghri corridor which they will give in return for the Lachin corridor. I agree completely with this plan as long as Turkey also gives us a corridor to the Black Sea since Armenia would be stupid to give up its only link with Iran and just be stuck with Turkey, Azerbaijan and an unstable Georgia on 3 sides... The pan-Turkic dream of linking Turks from Istanbul to the Caspian Sea should not be fulfilled cheaply, it is worth a great deal to them and I think that they would seriously consider giving Armenia a port on the Black Sea which would finally give it a sovereign connection to the whole world!
Sunday, June 23, 2002
Aside from that I met a guy who is going to shoot some interviews of some of the diasporans living here, and am giving him some background and tips. He hopes to make a little documentary out of it, which would be nice. It was really fun discussing it in a group last night because the conversation was so animated and in the end the whole group was pretty agreeable on just about everything. It is hard to get that many people to agree on where to eat, let alone such heavy topics, so that was cool.
Thursday, June 20, 2002
Why am I going to all these places? I�m actually taking a couple of American visitors around who want to do a lot of hiking, so wish me luck and since I�ll be missing in action for over a week, I�ll write about the rest of the trip when I return.
Wednesday, June 19, 2002
Guys: Where are you guys from?
Me: Most of us are from America.
Guys: We want to congratulate you!
Me: Why thank you. (no real clue why we are being congratulated)
Guys: Do you know why we congratulated you?
Guys: Because your team won their world cup match.
Me: Oh, thats right, I heard something about that... we were all surprised!
Guys: You shouldn't be, you have a great team this year.
Me: Thanks! (this time I know why :-)
So I wonder how the US is doing now? Anyways, last night I noticed the cops pull up in front of the big post office near my house and start pulling cars over for bribes. They never once wrote a ticket, just stopped all kinds of cars. Some cars stopped, some didn't, some screeched to a halt right in front of them, told them something (most likely not to mess with them) and drove on, and finally I hear a loud noise and tires screeching and look over to see a red Niva has nailed a pothole and stopped a few meters from the cops. The next thing I know, Ashod gets out! (you remember Ashod? he used to log here when he wasn't too busy and important for us!) He checks out his car which is in bad shape and needs repair, while the cops, not wanting to actually be helpful and get involved finally drive off from their "toll booth". By this time I had run down to the street and we decided Ashod should hunt down a mechanic rather than wait till tomorrow and a taxi driver volunteered to help him out. After an hour they arrived and drove the creaking car backwards down the street towards their garage...
Tuesday, June 18, 2002
HRAG... happy birthday to you. you are one of the most amazing people in this world and i miss you like nuts. you are still my best friend no matter where you live... now move to Armenia you freak!!!
a lot of people have written and asked what i miss most. i think my answer is my friends as cheesy as that sounds. it is hard. i have a lot of good friends here but i have left diamonds and gold friends behind and i miss them dearly.
Yerevan was beautiful today.
Madlene I don�t think you�re log was harsh and good on you for writing it. I was not one of those who screamed, in fact I wasn�t involved in any Armenian Community and can hand count the number of Armenians that I know in the Sydney Community. By the way most of the Diasporans living here currently have their parents visiting which is wonderful. I really wish that my parents could also be present with me in Armenia, it would have meant so much to me but unfortunately they�re getting old now and can�t make the long journey across (40 hours).
On the weekend I managed to find a host family for the Aussie girl who�s volunteering for a couple of months, they really are very nice people. They also have a house out near Garni and I�ve been invited to visit and hand pick the strawberries and cherries in the next couple of weeks. Speaking of the fruits, all I can say is it�s about time, they�re delicious.
Monday, June 17, 2002
first a rave (A RAVE, WOO HOO I HAD NOT BEEN TO ONE IN A YEAR AND MISSSED THE TECHNO AND TRANCE LIKE CRAZY) in Republic Square. Hundreds of Armenian youth dancing and partying to the sounds that I had gotten used to in New York right here in Yerevan. The perfect weather, the perfect DJ line up (France, England, Russia, and New York) and the perfect company. Even my older more conservative brother who lives in Los Angeles was getting down. It was soo fun when this group of guys noticed our group because of my huge afro...and then noticed that Arthur Ispirian was part of our crew (famous singer here) so they started to attack us... they danced with us... and they videotaped us and said tsavet danem a million times before they left. but the greatest was when they grabbed arthur and i for a big armenian circle dance. my excitement was unparalleled... circle dancing to techno on the perfect night... in the middle of Republic Square, Armenia.
my parents are in town. that made my weekend more amazing. i have them running around with no time to breathe as i introduce them to everyone including the shoe repair guy at the corner. they love my friends and my circle and it is going really well. after years of struggles about my move here... (it was hard for them to accept the fact that i was moving to armenia) they have finally become somewhat adjusted and even show hints of smiles and hugs... ahh they are beginning to understand.
my friends and i have been doing a lot of talking about living here and every armenian's responsibility towards this country. although I understand that everyone cannot repatriate and that some people are better off in the diaspora and can contribute in other ways it has become quite annoying some of the attitudes that we face.
there is the ongoing issue of the tourist that comes here and falls in love with the place... meets us, the diasporans, promises that this is the best life and they will come right back and ... flop... we never see them again. they return to their world and their visit here becomes a dusty fairytale.
then there is the large crowds of people in los angeles and other communities all over the world who get together to scream Van Mern Eh, Bitlis Mern EH (Van is ours, Bitlis is ours) and do not follow through on the idea that Yerevan IS ACTUALLY OURS, KARABAGH IS TOO... Who will live in Van and Bitlis when there are so few repatriates here in Yerevan TEN years after independence?
Many of these screamers, these nationalists whose rhetoric is full of talks of a great Armenia, vacation in Europe instead and build mansions in America while Yerevan becomes a far off land where they send the donations which pays their way to allow them to speak the way they do. Please do not misunderstand me, everyones contribution is real and valid. i am not accusing anyone of being insincere or am not saying one type of contribution is stronger than the other. there is no better armenian or stronger armenian. however there are people whose rhetoric does not match their lifestyle and that becomes annoying for us. most of the diasporans who live here were not as loud before their move. i have met so few repatriates who were those same screamers of yesterday when i still lived abroad. i have been here a year now and i am happy to say that i feel strong in wanting my Van and my Bitlis back because I am repatriating Yerevan now. I cannot speak on behalf of the other loggers because by chance none of them were part of this conversation but I can speak for the five repats that were.
this may have come off as a bit harsh, i guess the purpose was to vent or to bring awareness to some of the issues facing diasporans in regards to their homeland and how much of an obligation one should have. i go back to LA and see a lot of vigor and a lot of heart and passion towards Armenia but then i come back and do not see a lot of that followed through. there are so few brave armenian diasporans making a difference. we can count them on our hands and toes. i can count the repats, i can count the donors, i can count the number of hospitals rebuilt, of old monuments re-built, of new programs and centers opened. i know there is more love and more strength than what i see here. i know there are more Armenians out there. i am just saying that we need to tap into that energy and vigor and direct it towards realizing all those talks in the diaspora about a great future for our ARMENIA.
I have started working at an Armenian crafts project which I will tell you all more about in the future, but it is going well and is a great project.
Saturday night was the annual (I guess) international DJ festival, which was held in Republic Square. It was really fun just watching the crowds, and once again I thought about how impossible this all seemed just 2 decades ago.
I have been trying to make sure my web site ranking remains high on the search engines so that people can find my site easily, and could use your help. If you have a website, please add a link to www.cilicia.com because then I get a better rank on google which counts how many web pages link to yours in order to decide how to rank your site. If you don't have a web site, but notice links page here or there that should include cilicia but don't then please let them know... even on non-Armenian sites which have relevant recipe, travel, font or other sections which could be enriched with links to an Armenian source. Thanks! Also if you start using the new message boards, it would be cool. They have been up for a few weeks now and work perfectly!
Friday, June 14, 2002
Also tonight we�re having a big party with the new volunteers from AVC. They had a field trip to the open market this afternoon and bought fruits and vegies to get a feel for the bargaining that goes on in the �shouga�. I can�t wait to eat the salads that they�re preparing and of course we�ll be having falafels.
Tomorrow while the new volunteers visit a children�s campsite at Tsaghgadzor, I�ll be busy helping an Aussie Armenian who�s volunteering for Mission Armenia for 3 months, find a place to rent most probably with a host family. I have a feeling this weekend is going to be rather busy, I still want to squeeze in my power walks with Gohar.
A couple of months ago the water guy (not the same person) knocked the door. He was new at this job and invited himself in. I asked to see his credentials. I have lived too long in the West to trust complete strangers. At first he did not understand me (an unusual request?) then was ready to show his ID. There was a cigarette in his hand. In Canada even when it's subzero people go out for smoke. The guy asked how many people lived in the apartment, I got suspicious (info was supposed to be in his books) and told him the truth, two. He said according to his documents only one person was registered at the address and the name he gave was my family name and Nigol's truncated family name as a first name. A person who does not exist. Explained him so. He said why don't we continue to pay for one person per registration info. He kept smoking and sitting in the chair, noticed some English books and asked where were we from. Then gave the name of his cousin in US whom I did not recognize. After the Genocide his cousin's family went to America theirs to Eastern Armenia, his father was a 'hi-aser'. There was resentment in his voice, the resentment of a person who thinks was cheated by life, and confessed that they were forced to collect taxes (a job below his station, as before he had a higher position). I paid for the whole year - I really don't like the smell of cigarettes in our apartment, particularly his brand.
Thursday, June 13, 2002
so my internet was cut off about two to three weeks ago and i did not seem to notice. since then my mom has arrived and armenia is not the most promoting arena for internet use... life here makes you forget to check your email everyday. so i became lazy about my internet... and i was too lazy to walk up the five flights of soviet stairs to the old arminco office and to lazy to find the new netsys office so i just did not have internet and was ok with that.
my mom being here has been amazing. i have been running around trying to manage my mom, my volunteer job, my personal life and the arrival of my father and brother tomorrow. so i never had time to peep into any internet cafe's either... so why am i telling you all of this. because after two weeks of not even noticing i was cut off from the rest of the world i just signed on to find that the world had not forgotten about me. i had a million emails and really important stuff too... my cousin eloped (congrats saby jan) and friends graduated, others got engaged... you really miss out on a lot by not being connected. i vow (since i have been on for 8 hours making up for lost time) not to stay too far from the internet again.
a lot has happened since my last log but i must say that one of the funnest was when ara's mom was in town during the conference and we all got to go to artbridge for a nice dinner... my mom and ara's mom were called the moms and they were pretty cool to hang out with.
my family (save my brother armen) will be here tomorrow ... and i will enjoy this little reunion as much as i can.
thanks for having me back internet world. i missed you.
Wednesday, June 12, 2002
As we roughed it in a few places, I have now come down with a head cold and fever just when the weather is nice and warm. I also took lots of pics to capture the beauty of some of the places we visited.
Monday, June 10, 2002
Bright and early in the morning, Hagop Bedrossian headed off for Stepanakert to visit some more with his friend there, while we tried to get ready for our day. From Ara's compound we headed south past Fizuli to an unpronouncable village which sustained heavy damage during the war, and had no inhabitants. We were in search of a caravanserai, and the nearby soldiers did not recognize it from pictures. Although it was quite possibly destroyed, we decided to search a bit anyways. Wary of landmines, we stuck to a trampled path and after going a ways, I noticed a tick on my jeans, then another, and then I noticed I was covered with them! I quickly headed back to the road with the group and we started flicking the ticks off of ourselves, then checking each other like baboons. I had no less that 30 ticks crawling on my jeans, shoes and socks. They don't burrow right away so it was simply a matter of flicking them off.
From there we high-tailed it to the town of Hadrut where we visited the Spitak Khach Vank above town. It was a nice little church with a good view, and we followed it up with a nice khorovadz (bbq) in Hadrut.
From there we headed north as the hot day became cloudy and the road we were travelling on got worse and worse. Eventually Ara got us stuck in the mud, then the only other car on the road got stuck as well. Luckily we were near a village and in less than an hour, with a long rope and a lot of muscle power, we pulled our way out of that goop and headed on towards Togh Village, then almost to Tumi Village before heading up a beautiful mountain to the amazing, undiscovered gem of Gtichavank.
Aside from the horrible graffiti covering the interior of Gtichavank (yes, by Armenians) the architecture is absolutely awesome, and the views just as breathtaking. As we started to look around, the clouds started to pour rain on us and we began to worry that the completely dirt road which hugs the cliff would become muddy and unsafe. We could easily be stuck for days, but either luck or Ara's prayers stopped the rain soon enough and we hightailed it down the mountain.
Heading back towards Togh, on a sharp turn a wheel just fell off the car! In the drizzle and mud we teamed up to change the tire. I found one of the nuts that had fallen off of the wheel in the mud, and removed a few nuts from other wheels while Ara and Jack changed the tire. Thank goodness Ara had bought a jack on Day 2 of the trip!!! Now we were rushing as much as possible towards Stepanakert to pick up Lena, who was joining us late, when we managed to lose our way and end up near Fizuli. At this point it was very late and we had to put off picking up Lena till the next morning and headed to Martuni instead. Luckily for her she was waiting for us at the Hotel Nairi and the Australians there took good care of her. Once again I fell dead asleep and woke up bright and early for another day of adventure.
Day 4 - Yeritsmankants
We had to leave at 8am to meet up with Lena in Aghdam of all places, to pick her up on our way to Martakert. We were running late for our 9am meeting in Martakert when the police stopped us and hassled us a few minutes. When we asked what was wrong they said they were registering all the cars... well then why weren't they stopping all the cars??? "I am not a robot" was this genius' answer! We kept going until we reached the military base where one of the commanders (or generals, I don't keep close track of these titles) gave us instructions on where to go and who to meet. The were sufficiently vague that when we reached Mataghis we had to ask around and eventually made it to Tonashen village where we picked up our guide.
We were told it was not possible to see all 3 places we wanted to in one day, so we headed off toward Jraberd Fortress and Yeritsmankants Vank which did not require any hiking. The dirt road was surprisingly good and we did not have to share it with anyone. We were however, 6 people in a 5 seat car and I ended up with only one cheek on the seat. The scenery was incredible with sheer mountains completely covered in lush green forests. This whole region was like that and as a Southern Californian I enjoyed that very much. When we got to Jraberd, which is primarily a natural fortress with not a great deal of made made enhancements we had fun exploring and climbing the steep cliff. The ruins at the top had very recently been dug in and our guide told us that some foreigners had come with a map and dug up gold. Sounds unlikely, but who knows?
From Jraberd you can already see Yertismankants and as we drove towards it we stopped to photograph the forest canopy surrounding us. A 4.2 kilometers after that stop Jack realized he had forgotten his video camera on the front bumper of the car, but there was no way to turn around and look for it. We decided to go on with our trip and hope for the best. Yeritsmankants is a very interesting monastery which was built by Caucasian Albanians and was the center of their church when it was built. They use the Armenian script for their language, but of course I couldn't understand it since I do not know Caucasian Albanian (Aghvan in Armenian). The architecture and decorations were similiar, but noticeably different from the usual Armenian monastery. We headed a little past the monastery to a spot by a stream with a spring to have our picnic lunch. During lunch I noticed another tick on my pants, and flicked it off... this wouldn't be my last encounter with them. On the way back from the monastery to the village, Jacks amazing luck held up as we spotted his videocamera sitting completely unharmed in the dirt. We stopped for a break while Ara bathed. The commander of the area sent a car to find us and a messenger informed us we were invited to his house for dinner to celebrate his birthday. We headed over and the toasts and eating began. After plate after plate of delicious meat was brought out and consumed, a call came informing the commander that a circus had come to visit the base... a kind of birthday surprise for the commander too. Our eating was cut short and the massive pot of crawdads was not to be tasted by us.
The circus performance was in the mess hall (cafeteria) of the base and it was quite crowded with new recruits who were tired of marching for the past 6 weeks. A clown, a contortionist, a gymnist, a ring/rope magician, a juggler, a monkey, a snake and a "Ringmistress" entertained the crowd for hours. The soldiers absolutely loved it and we headed headed back to our car very late to set up our tents and camp on the lumpy moist ground. The party going on nearby at the commanders house was very loud and kept us up past 3 am, but there was nowhere else to go and we had to try to sleep a bit in preparation for the next days hike.
Day 5 - Yeghishe Arakyal - the "short-cut"
Waking up with the sun and very little sleep, we got ready for the hike. At 9am we set out and were hiking by 9:30. The hike was meant to be an hour and a half to two hours, so we decided not to carry our lunches with us and just eat when we got back. We had not had a chance to eat breakfast either, but did take a little bit of water with us for the hike and eat a couple of candy bars for energy. Ara and the guide had previously decided to take a "shortcut" without our knowlege and I grew more and more suspicious that something was wrong when there was just no sign of a trail, which the guide kept saying would show up soon. On top of the fact that we were completely blazing our own trail, taking a "short cut" that takes much longer than the normal trail and I believe is longer as well, the guide got lost. Needless to say, after hiking for 4 hours to get to the monastery through deep forest and bush down the entire steep and muddy side of a mountain and halfway up another, without having eaten and even without enough water, we were exhausted, grumpy, and even exploring the large monastery compound seemed to require more energy than we had. The complex was quite nice, and well worth the hike... if we had only taken the right trail! Tired of bushwhacking, we insisted on taking the trail strait back to the village, and getting a lift to the car. This clear, fairly level path took us less than two hours and when we got into the village the guide spotted an extremely dangeroud "G'rzo?" snake. He had been boasting that he could catch these things and decided to show us. We tried to convince him to skip the show and not risk it but he proceeded to catch the thing and show us its fangs before squashing it to death. We continued through the village, picking some of the first ripe mulberries, since we were starving and dehydrated. They tasted absolutely fantastic! We stopped at a little shop and ate lots of junk food while Ara and the guide went after the car. Upon their return we bid our guide farewell and I once again could place both of my butt cheeks on the seat on the ride to Stepanakert.
The hike had taken so much out of me, that I assumed the next day I would be in no shape to travel the bumpy roads and hike around, so I planned to return to Yerevan with Lena and Zabel. We checked into a room at the Karabakh hotel ($3/person for a regular room, $5/person for a luxury room with its very own toilet) and headed to a pizza joint to refill our bodies. The food was great (although probably anything would have been delicious at this point) and we became a tourist attraction on the walk back to the hotel in our filthy exotic condition. Ara left us and headed home, while we settled in. While preparing for bed, I discovered a tick had lodged itself in my ankle, and I dug it out. After a nice shower (75cents) which was a small story in itself, we slept like babies.
Day 6 - The return trip
The four of us had breakfast in bed (total bill, $2) and called a cab to take us to Yerevan as we had not patience for public transportation at this point and with three of us sharing the cab it wouldn't be too expensive. Well this was the slowest taxi driver I have ever seen and we had to tell him three times to speed up. It took forever to reach Yerevan. He came to a complete stop for many of the potholes, I think his vision was quite poor too... in Yerevan he seemed not to see any of the traffic lights and we had to shout directions to him in order to prevent an accident... I wonder how he would ever made it out of the city in one piece. After downloading well over 100 e-mails and typing up a bit of our adventures, discovering and removing another tick, and showering, I went to finally went to bed.
I will have to post pictures and links to where we went later... typing this much up took forever.
The week-long trip to Karabakh ended yesterday a bit early due to exhaustion. Saturday was so grueling that we decided to head back one day sooner than planned, even though we felt back to normal on Sunday morning. I felt like we were redefining the term adventure travel.
Day 1 - Getting there
It all started last Tuesday morning when the Marshrutni (mini-bus) which goes from Yerevan to Martuni, Karabakh once a week pulled up with Ara Manougian in it at 7:30am. Hagop Bedrossian had already come to our place to join us and Jack Majarian pulled up a bit late in a cab, only to have the Marshutni take him back to the exact spot near the Opera that his cab brought him to our house from. Even more random coincidences were in his future. Another passenger got on board and the long ride started at about 8am, picking up and dropping off people along the way. The guy in front of our seats had moved to Lachin (Berdzor) and was involved in some interesting projects. At the pit stop before Yeghegnadzor he bought some Tomatillo seeds and was asking me what they were, so I explained and then gave him some Armenian cucumber seeds which I had brought along.
We arrived at Ara's house late afternoon and got settled in as well as did some shopping. His never-ending vast house construction project was much vaster than it was 3 years ago when I saw it last, but probably even further from completion than ever. As long as the pool gets done, the rest doesn't matter to me. That night we ate at his contractors house, a great baked chicken with fresh tonir bread. Hagop and the contractor did shots, while the rest of us enjoyed watching and listening to their under-the-influence toasts.
Day 2 - Stepanakert errands
Wednesday was an almost complete, but necessary waste of time. From Martuni we drove to N'ngi, a small village with a ceramic facility that is trying to be revived. Along the road I spotted a flock of goats which were mostly resting on the green grass, and thought it would make a nice photo (which it did, along with many of the other 892 pictures I took during the trip). We stopped and after a few pictures, Jack noticed the shepherd and decided to take some shots, thinking the guy looked familiar. After a few words, it became obvious this was the son of a shepherd Jack photographed in 1995 and published the photo in both a year 2000 calender and his brand new beautiful book of Armenia & Karabakh photographs. When the guy saw his father in Jack's book tears came to his eyes. Jack will soon be back to visit the whole family. Back on the road we got to N'ngi and cut across some very bad road to get to the cemetary, at the end of which was the re-opened ceramics plant, run by an American guy named Jeff. No electricity, no running water, just a building. The clay was dug up there, the wood was chopped to fire up the kiln, a horse mixed the clay, and the spinning wheels were spun by foot. Not even a light bulb, completely back to the basics. Jeff worked at a similiar place in Kentucky, except that it had electricity, which makes a huge difference. From there we headed to Stepanakert.
In Stepanakert we ran a bunch of errands. We stopped at the foreign ministry to get permission to visit some off limits areas, and were deflected to the ministry of defense. I believe it is their job to interface with the ministry of defense for us, but they sent us off anyways. The ministry of defense was not quite sure what to do with us, and it seemed like a game of come-back-later was about to commence when a friend of Ara's came to the rescue. His first question of course, was why didn't the ministry of foreign affairs handle this for us... good question. Well after some talking and explaining he said he was pretty sure it would be ok, and we should come back in 2 days. Ara eventually confirmed by phone and with other friends in the military that the situation at the places we wanted to see was safe for us, and we had an appointment for Friday morning in Martakert. In between ministry visits, we hit the new Hotel Nairi, which opened last fall in Karabakh. The owners are Australian and are one of the sponsors of Jack's one-man walkathon. It was a very comfy looking hotel, and a few of the partners were visiting and interesting to talk to. Now is where Jack's luck with coincidences really impressed me. Completely by chance, and unrelated to the morning run-in with the son of the guy whose photograph he had earlier taken, some other relatives of the guy he had earlier photographed showed up at the hotel on an appointment with the partners in order to pick up a copy of the large calendar with the old shepherds picture in it. Everyone enjoyed this additional chance encounter with that man's family and I look forward to hearing about the next encounter. We ate at an underwater/fisherman themed restaurant I like across from central market. The Ukrainian woman working there speak much more Armenian than her mom who usually cooks there, but still had trouble not switching to Russian. She had fun trying out some of her English on us also, and although her level of knowlege was not advanced, her accent was quite good. Hagop's internet friend joined us for our meal and then we split up to head back to Martuni on the good road, which takes over an hour. It was so late that I fell as sleep the instant I got back and my head hit the pillow while some of the others stayed up and had pasta.
The interesting parts are yet to come in the continuation...
Saturday, June 08, 2002
Cultural values evolve and it should (hopefully for the best). At the beginning of last century the first Diasporans, survivors of the Genocide, had arranged and mail order marriages.
At least two fictitious works deal with this subject matter, the play written by Richard Kalinoski, The Beast on the Moon, and Zabelle, a novel by Nancy Kricorian. In both Armenian heroines have arranged marriages and immigrate to US to meet their husbands to be.
A non-fiction book, biography of Arshille Gorki mentions his parents' marriage (survivors of Turkish atrocities), as being arranged by seniors for ensuring lives and physical continuity of Armenians.
30-40 years later Armenian men from Middle East immigrated to Northern America and some of them returned to Middle East to marry a girl from their own original country and sometimes from the same town. I am not talking about childhood sweethearts. You think there were no Armenian girls in the countries/cities they lived in? Or perhaps they thought that Middle-Eastern-Armenian girls from the same country or town were more Armenian than the girls in America who just like them had adapted to the ways of their new society.
Two guys from Northern America who volunteered to serve in Armenia during 1990-1994 in the past four years came back and choose Hayasdantzi girls. Eventually they hope to make enough money and move back to Hayasdan. Perhaps they think and hope that Hayasdantzi girl will agree to come back to live in Hayasdan.
On personal level, marrying couples are consenting adults and they do what's right for them: for love (hopefully), survival, financial, and biological reasons.
Eventually we all might benefit from these marriages: it might help in bringing Spurk and Hayasdan closer. We can all chose to look at mismatched marriages (not all of them are) as spectators and say it's their own business, we can also say it happens everywhere on the world, we're no exception.
On another level we can accept that there's cultural (including family) pressure on Armenian girls (who unlike third world countries are educated) to marry which sometimes forces some of them to make very unsuitable marriages with the first spurkahi and/or even odar who asks her hand even when she has met this person only 10 days ago.
I agree with you, Vahan, Lancaster does not represent US. But as a Hayasdantzi do you think Yerevan represents Armenia? If we did a survey from Lori region to Meghri what do you think the average marriage age would be?
I don't see Hayasdantzi women marrying a Spurkahi for fortune. Maybe some are marrying into money but not all. A few might be marrying to leave the country, and that reflects the mood the country is in.
Armenia has thousands are cultural and family values that we should all be proud of. But when we see problems, keeping our heads in the sand would not help solving it. Admitting it is the first step.
Armenia is exporting brides and it is also exporting babies for adoption. But that's another story that I don't want to touch. Not now.
Tuesday, June 04, 2002
There are two more weddings planned for the summer (that we know of): a Lebanese-Armenian with a local girl; and a Swedish-Armenian with a local girl. Also, yesterday an Anjartsi from Canada got engaged to a Hayasdantzi girl, wedding has to be planned yet.
Armenia is also exporting brides.
According to local custom couples get married very young between 18 and 22. However the economy of the past decade pushed eligible single men abroad (more men than women), or made it very difficult for them to make families. Hence we have eligible single young women waiting. And we do have double standards: a guy over 25 is a good catch, a woman over 25 is 'dunmna'. Diasporan Armenians don't mind the 'dunmna'; one got engaged to a 23-24 yrs old, (12 years younger than him), and the other to a 25 yrs old (15 years younger).
Local attitudes and values are completely different from the values I was raised with. One local attitude is, it's OK to be divorcee woman but is a disgrace not to be married at all. Mothers encourage their daughters to get married at all costs and later divorce their husbands if they're unsuitable. Another puzzling value is the morality of the unmarried woman: at a young age if a girl dates a guy a few times then she should marry him. It's a matter of morality and men of the family are very protective of their young sisters' or daughters' reputation. However, if a woman has not married and she's in her 30's and wants to become a single mother, it's condoned by the society.
Diasporan Armenians have mostly adopted a combination of Christian/ western values. Locals are more fatalists and instinctually created their own morality code, which closely scrutinized, is the appropriate one for the continuity and survival of the nation.
Things have quietened down this week finally. A lot of the visitors have left including my cousins from Toronto; it�s too bad I didn�t get to spend more time with them. Their impression of Armenia for first timers? They�ll be back of course, it�s always the way.
With the weather so perfect I�m really itching to travel within Armenia and since my friends and the visiting Aussies left for Karabagh this morning, it makes me want to go even more. Unfortunately I can�t take time off work since I used up all my holidays on my trip to Sydney in February.
Time is going too quickly, there�s a lot happening this month with my travel plans for weekends, will keep you informed.