Thursday, June 30, 2005

A new defense minister we don't know about?

I was just reading the news on Groong and came across this article ...

Ara Tadevosian: Armenia edges closer to NATO

Providence Journal , RI
June 28 2005

YEREVAN, Armenia - ARMENIA'S defense minister, Sarah Sarkisian,
and the secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organiztion,
Jalap de Hoop Schaffer, have come to an agreement that many see as
proof of a strategic shift by Armenia toward the West.......


Since when was our defense minister a female? Am I missing out on something? Has Serge been replaced by a sister or a female relative?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

New message boards...

Well Hagop - speaking of messages disappearing, the message board got hacked again and everything is lost again. I got an email from my site host saying I should update the message board script, because a new security flaw was found, and sure enough when I went to the board everything was gone... Every time they announce a new flaw, the Turks go out and look for Armenian sites using that script and do as much damage as they can. The script I was using was the most popular one in the world, so I have switched to an obscure one which I suspect they will not check for security flaws all the time - so hopefully the problem is solved, but who knows, right?

Great fun to deal with while I'm on vacation... (or in Armenia for that matter with it's crappy internet)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Never Again...

For those of you following the Time Magazine Europe fiasco, it seems they are not interested in taking any action after their massive error. Basically they allowed Turkey to attach a "Tourism Promotion" DVD to every single magazine. The magazine did not screen the DVD and it contains a large segment of Genocide Denial. Arsineh in the Diaspora log has seen the DVD and wrote about it. Please people, make our voices heard. I am tired of the Armenian Genocide being treated as a second class one. We have been winning one victory after another, just imagine the New York Times refused just recently an ad denying the Armenian Genocide. Germany just recognized it. These are irrevesible victories. We fought with ABC and BBC and got our fair coverage and taught them a lesson. People, now it is time for Time to learn. Audrey has written to them already and got a completely unacceptable response. I wrote as well and got none. KEEP WRITING! KEEP THE VOLUME UP!! Pass this mission along to your friends, Armenian and non. Audrey's letter is on the message boards, and has a link to the Time Magazine email address. USE IT!

http://cilicia.com/board/index.php?topic=2.msg2#msg2

I will probably visit Aushwitz tomorrow or the next day, with no small amount of bitterness at Israel for turning it's back on the Armenians... the Jews who died there would no doubt be disgusted at the Jewish government...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

I know this has nothing to do with Life in Armenia, but I had to post it. This is a new residential building that is being built in Malmo (Sweden). One of my brother-in-law's cousins is a big chief in the project. It's called the Turning Torso.

I made it back to Armenia in one piece, but not my luggage.

The main reason I went to Sweden was to take part in my niece’s baptism.

We had a great time in the small city of Malmo, where my brother-in-law is from, and where his family currently lives. The Armenian community in Malmo is very small, and most of my brother-in-law's family hangs out with the local Assyrians, which seem to have a greater population.

Returning yesterday, I first went to Copenhagen airport via the awesome bridge that connects Sweden with Denmark. Towards the end of the bridge, before reaching Denmark, the bridge turns into an underwater tunnel before making its first stop at Copenhagen airport.

In Vienna I was greeted by a friend, spent half a day there, and saw ugly parts of Vienna I had not seen before. I swear, one road completely reminded me of the road here in Yerevan that leads to the airport … you know where all those shacks are, close to the casinos and Malaysian furniture stores? Luckily, most of that area here is currently being torn down to build neater looking furniture stores.

Surprisingly, the flight to Yerevan took less than 3 hours. My one piece of luggage arrived all torn up. Usually I get my luggage wrapped up in that super expensive saran wrap, but I didn't have time to do that in Copenhagen. After reporting the damage, I finally got out of the airport 2 hours after I had arrived ... 6 in the morning. Unfortunately, the next day I found out that one of my friends had stayed up all night to surprise/pick me up, and was gone by the time I got out of the airport.

So, back in Armenia ... I just sat down at a café in Armenia, and got an update of what's been going on in Life in Armenia. Construction wise, the Swan Lake pond by the Opera is turning into a pool. Not sure what that means. The city has started cleaning up entrances and replacing entrance doors to many of the residential buildings around the city. (One of many complaints we usually hear from Diaspora Armenians.) Lighting up more streets and cleaning up residential building courtyards is also on the agenda.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Only a few more hours and I'm outta Scandinavia and back home in Yerevan. I miss my home BIGTIME!

I will go through that usual adaptation period for my first day or two. Scandinavia is so different than Canada ... nevermind Armenia.

Though I spent most of my time relaxing and spending lots of money shopping, I had a chance to see Copenhagen/Denmark, and a couple of cities in Sweden. Boy is Sweden green and clean. On my way back, I'll spend half a day in Vienna (with friends that live there)... then arrive in Yerevan at that ridiculous early morning Vienna landing ... 4.45am.

Ok, I should go pack ... I will definitely be over the retarded 20kg maximum luggage weight with all the home and clothing shopping I did. Armenia is greatly lacking men's clothing stores, and spending most of my vacations away from Armenia shopping for clothes is a little ridiculous. (I sound like a spoiled brat in this log.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I forget...

Well, just like in Armenia, I notice all kinds of things during the day that would be interesting to share, but when I get in front of the computer, I forget what they were. Hmmm. Well in any case, yesterday morning I bumped into an American I'd met earlier, and we headed down by metro to some fortified church, and from there wandered our way back along the river to Old Town Square. This took about 7 hours, with a break for beer. As soon as we got to old town square we bumped into a Serbian acquaintence of the American, and walked around a bit till they were satisfied with a beer place where they proceeded to drink 1.5 liters each, before the American took off to meet someone. So the Serbian, who was a tour guide whos group had free time and I headed headed to a cool local food joint, and I had my first real Czech meal. Dumplings of all kinds, in a rich gravy. Not bad at all. I also have tips on a couple of other good local hole in the wall joints.

Tonight I meet up with my childhood friends and the sightseeing will begin in earnest. Till then I didn't want to see anything specific, so as not to repeat it when they arrive. One of them visited me in Armenia back in 2000, and I haven't seen him since.

Anyway, going back in time, on Sunday evening I went to the Arma Hotel in Yerevan for dinner on the outdoor patio with some friends, and a "cousin", Edina. I forget about places that aren't right in the center, and it was so nice to get up above the city for the sweeping views, which were all the more incredible due to the lightning/rain storm that swept in and out, and whose progress across the Ararat Plain we could track so easily, as well as see our apartments in town.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Life in Prague

Well I've finally made it to the former East Block. I know that this area has always been much more integrally a part of the USA, but they are also post-Communist, so comparisons are always interesting.

One huge difference was just illustrated by the comment the guy sitting next to me asked his friend. "We're in June, right?" This place is crawling with tourists and backpackers who spend a long time going from one country and city to another. It's so easy to get around both transportation wise, and visa wise for them. With Georgia having made entry to Georgia FREE to Americans, Europeans and Australians, I wonder when Armenia will wake up and follow suit. That would at least make it simple for tourists to visit Armenia, Georgia and Turkey... The visa procedures for Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia are all still in the stone ages in comparison.

So yes, the Czech Republic is part of the EU, but not part of the Euro currency zone yet. The people dress so western, that it is impossible to tell the difference in Prague for me. So different than the Armenian dress, where black leather shiny pointy shoes have been in fashion for over a decade now, black dress slacks, buzzed heads... it just hasn't changed much. Girls in Yerevan, and the teenagers, have all come a long way, but the biggest change in Yerevan guys fashion since I arrived is that they now find it acceptable to leave their shirts untucked, and can occasionally wear some kind of sandally shoes in the summer.

Alright, so back to Prague. The architecture is stunning. I just watched life going by in Tym Square much of the day yesterday. Aside from the absolutely neverending masses of tourists, the place was just begs for people to come and sit down, soak in life, have a drink... Every building is beautiful. The stone cobbled ground, the statues, the huge astrological clock. This is everything the new Northern Avenue under construction in Yerevan should be, but isn't. It will still be nice, no doubt, just to have a big pedestrian area in the center, but why shouldn't every single corner and facade be so beautiful that it is impossible not to take pictures? Anyway, that's just a pet peeve of mine, so I'll shut up about that now. And I won't even begin to complain about how ArmenTel's monopoly makes internet speed and prices much worse than in Prague...

Another interesting difference I noticed is that trash cans are really in short supply on the streets, yet there is very little litter. Quite impressive. The weather has been rather cool so far, in comparison to the full on summer weather we've been having in Yerevan, I don't know if that's the norm or not... but in any case, I ought to head out and enjoy the city some more, and get something to eat!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Rediscovering Armenia! At long last!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Retire in Armenia... revisited...

A few years ago, I wrote in detail how easy it would be to retire in Armenia for a relatively small amount of money. The basis of that explanation involved buying then-cheap real estate to rent out for a steady, generous income, as well as a place to live for yourself in Armenia, rent free.

Times have changed in that real estate in Yerevan has exploded in price. That however has come during a corresponding explosion of prices in the west, so the idea is still quite valid for many, the numbers have just changed.

If you have property in the US, Europe or Australia, odds are that the value has gone up in double digits for years now. The equity in the property, has therefore mushroomed as well. I believe that the American market is pretty much ready to take a complete dive as interest rates rise and make all of the current prices impossibly unrealistic. Meanwhile, though prices have also gone up a great deal in Yerevan, and I believe they will adjust as well - though for different reasons (an lot of new housing hitting the market soon), I still think that those who can get a few hundred thousand dollars of equity out of their real estate in the US can easily retire in Armenia immediately. Depending on how much income you want per month, you'd need a different starting sum to retire on. A very rough and safe calculation would be that for every $1,000 a month you want in income per month, you should purchase $120,000 worth of real estate. So for example, you could purchase $240,000 worth of real estate to generate $2,000/month of income in Armenia, plus throw in $60,000 for a modest one-bedroom place to live in yourself in central Yerevan. So for a grand total of $300,000 - you will be living extremely well, rent free, and generating enough income for a couple to live comfortably and do some travel as well...

Or you can watch housing prices collapse in the west and keep on working... :-)

Monday, June 06, 2005

My parents, my sis and her 10 month old cutie visited me in May ... so I didn't really have much free time to log, but I have some free time right now, in Malmo, Sweden (with this awesome broadband connection) ... so I figured I would at least say HI.

It was my dad's first visit to Armenia, and other than complaining about Armenia's crazy drivers, I think he had a good time. I think he was most impressed by the tomatoes. He must of made a cucumber-tomato salad everyday of his month long stay.

I was shocked at the awesome treatment of the Austrian Airlines staff at Zvartnots airport. My luggage was about 5kg overweight and they said it was ok.

I arrived in Denmark and the first thing I saw, which I miss when I'm in Armenia, are smiling faces everywhere. I can't wait to see Armenians of Armenia smile like that one day. It's too depressing sometimes. Anyway, will be back soon and I've planned to start doing some local work. I've been in Armenia for almost 3 years, and have not really worked with local artists yet ... but I've got some really exciting ideas I need to work on right away.

Half a million genocide denial DVDs distributed by the European version of Time Magazine

Write to Time Magazine Europe at: mail@timeatlantic.com in order to voice your thoughts on Turkey's latest attempt to try to convince people that there was no Armenian Genocide.


FEDERATION OF ARMENIAN ORGANISATIONS IN THE NETHERLANDS
24 April Committee
Address: Weesperstraat 91 - 2574 VS Den Haag
Tel. 070 4490209
E-mail: april24committee@wanadoo.nl
Website: http://www.24april.nl


Press Release

Federation of Armenian Organisations in the Netherlands demands Time Magazine apology for misleading Turkish information

In Time Magazine of June 6 a DVD of Turkish Chamber of Commerce (ATO) is attached to a number of advertisement pages for Turkey as the holiday country, a DVD including a large scale collection of propaganda material denying the Armenian Genocide. Film shots as well as documents present the well known twisting and denying stories, and an illustrious company of genocide denialists as Mac Carthy and Halacoglu, prosecuted in Switzerland for denying the Armenian genocide, make statements of the well known kind.

The Federation cannot imagine how a quality magazine like Time could have added such a DVD to the 494 thousand copies of Time, intended for the European market. The Federation protests against this sort of misleading information and demands Time Magazine at least apology on the front page of next week issue.

Turkey will not impress Europe with this rearguard action and propaganda DVD, since for most European Countries the Armenian Genocide is a fact, politically as well as scientifically spoken.

See below the protest letter of the Federation of Armenian Organisation in
the Netherlands
--------------

To the Editor of Time Magazine

Dear Madam, Sir,

The Federation of Armenian Organisations in the Netherlands and it's 24 April Committee are astonished by the fact that how a quality magazine like Time could have added a free DVD as tourist information for Turkey, which however practically exclusively contains misleading historical information, namely obvious distortion of historical facts in favour of denial of the Armenian Genocide. According to our information this DVD is distributed this week to 494 thousand subscribers of Time Magazine in Europe.

The Federation protests against this misinformation and demands Time Magazine at least apology on the front page of next week issue. We also ask you to withdraw the copies from the retailers.

Although the DVD is not made by Time Magazine, we hold Time Magazine responsible for this very unwanted present.

Waiting for your reaction.

Yours sincerely,

M. Hakhverdian (Federation of Armenian Organisations in the Netherlands)
I. Drost (24 April Committee)
The Hague
The Netherlands

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Tut

It is officially tut (mulberry) season in Armenia. The trees are thick with them, now that it is too late for my sister to sample nice, ripe ones. White and black are all over the place, you can pick them off trees, or buy them for a dollar a pound (this will go down as the season peaks). Cherries (picture of ripe Yellow cherries on right) are also in full swing now, and strawberries too. So a summer of "fresh" is upon us. In the restaurants and cafes, a "fresh" is a drink made of whatever seasonal fruits you prefer, usually with some ice and/or water, and often with sugar. It is one of the best treats available, though those with fragile tourist stomachs who are avoiding the water (and thus Mamikonian's Revenge) should ask for these made with bottled water and no ice...