Hi to all of you. I came to Yerevan two months ago. This is my third visit here, but this time I have the intention of staying. Of course, making a decision such as this one is pretty difficult, and hearing all the negative comments from other Armenians, sadly including some family members and friends, was not helping. I heard comments such as "why Armenia?"
, "there's nothing there"
, and "they're all thieves and liars there"
. Sadly, I'm still hearing some of those same comments here from the locals. But the one comment that has always outweighed all those nasty comments has been "bravo!".
So I came here without telling anyone that it was for good. "Ya, I'll go see how it is and then decide"
, but of course I had every intention of coming here and trying my best to make it work out. If it doesn't end up working out for me here, I can just pack up and return. I'll probably hear "I told you so"
, but then again why should it matter? At least I gave it a shot. Most of the people that say all those nasty comments are those that have never even seen Armenia.
I have always felt like an outsider even in the country I was born in. Not to say that I don't have that feeling here, but it feels less strange to me. It feels more like home than Canada ever did to me. I grew up listening to Armenian music, was a member in an Armenian Folk Dance group that traveled the world (and represented a country I honestly didn't know much about), attended masses at Armenian churches, ate Armenian food, spoke Armenian, went to an Armenian school, had many Armenian friends, etc. So what was I doing in Canada?
Don't get me wrong, I love Canada; but I love Armenia too. I love being here and seeing the entire country being rebuilt. I love to see the progression, I think it's awesome! Of course coming to a country with such a low cost of living is also a bonus. My other reason for being here is because I want to help out in any way possible, but mostly through what I can offer. I've been involved in producing music professionally for over 10 years now for all the major labels (ie. Sony, BMG, Universal, etc.). Although I have no intentions of losing those vital ties, I wanted to come here and see what I can offer all these talented people. Armenia is filled with professional artists: painters, writers, musicians, actors, etc. Unfortunately, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it's been difficult for most of these artists to exhibit their works. And since music has always been an important part in Armenian life, I want to help preserve that.
Sometimes I wish the progression would speed up, but it's happening, it's happening at an acceptable pace. Thanks especially to a couple of wealthy Armenians for repaving and illuminating the streets, fixing up the sidewalks, museums, and even installing a million dollar pussycat.
The visitors are also making a difference here. The locals see how much money they can make from them and so they are opening up cafes, restaurants and so on. Plus, their communication skills have changed a bit. They know what "lolig"
are now. Ya, so their customer service still sucks, but eventually it'll change. For instance, why not ask if you are finished when eating in a restaurant before taking your plate away? And what's up with standing right in front of you when you are shopping for souvenirs? All they need to do is ask if you need any help and then move out of your way. I'm debating if I should prepare a customer service skills pamphlet and hand it out to all these store owners. Their behavior is driving away customers.
I came here with my best friend (non-Armenian) and he couldn't believe how different Armenia was. He was expecting a totally Middle Eastern country. He said "Armenia is definitely a European country. All it needs is some money to fix the poverty issue"
By the way, if anyone has some money and wants to invest in a project or two I can make a few suggestions. For one thing, somebody needs to invest in fixing up the street signs. Writing them in Armenian, English and Russian. Also, how about sandblasting all these great looking buildings? It's a pricey project, but it can make a HUGE difference in the overall look of the city. I've noticed that on some buildings the ugly grayish cement parts have been painted in yellow or fleshy pink and I think they look so nice with the surrounding tuff stone and pillars. It brings a little color into the city.
Over the past couple of months I've shared many of my experiences with my friends back in Canada, which Raffi would like me to post here, so I will do that for sure in my future logs.
By the way, Raffi, have a great trip down under. Hope you return soon.