My cellphone had been giving me problems lately. It's one of those old Nokias, the generic kind, starts with a "3"... Anyway, it would just switch-off mid-conversation. Last week, after I turned it off myself, it refused to be turned back on. Hmm... Come to think of it, I'd never been able to successfully turn things on. For example, the ladies don't exactly get turned on by me, but, in my defence, a phone has a button. If only it were that simple with women... Sigh...
Anyway, anyway, I'm digressing. So, I took it to one of those innumerable "bjjayin herakhosneri veranorokoum" places. It was a small place near Paregamoutiun, and there were other people before me. That's a good sign, it showed the varpet there was probably a good one. Well, as I waited, the guy just dismissed one customer after another.
"Varpet, es ban'e..."
"Ch'gitem, aper!". Next!
"Mi ban aretsin menu-is het..."
"Yes menu-neri het gorts ch'ounem!". Next!
So, the guy opens up my phone, tests the battery, says it has to be changed. He happens to have some old second-hand ones from those sorry chaps from the States who think their phones will work around here. He charges me 2000 drams, says to test it for some time, and, if it doesn't work, we can try another battery, or he'll give me my money back.
As soon as I get home, I plug it in, and it doesn't work. Sigh...
Next day, I actually do get my money back. And he was being so kind to everyone, that guy, it was really amazing. He must have been having a bad day before. Anyway...
When he was being rude prior to that, he mentioned to someone to take his phone to the "Posta" on Saryan, where, he said, there's a cellphone repair guy on the right. I decided to steal that piece of advice, and that's when things got interesting.
I had never been inside that large, imposing structure before. There were at least two, maybe four doors in the front, with one marked "Moutk". As I approached it, a bunch of people started coming out, and I got all upset with my favourite hobby-horse for being upset that gets to me every time I go to the Yeritasardakan Metro Station, when I feel like shouting, "It says MOUTK! The YELK is the other one! Can't you read ?".
Right. Anyway, I got in, and went to the window on the right that gave the usual propaganda in Russian for "programmi, igri, kodifikatsia, etc., etc.", and handed my phone. The guy took a look, recommended that I go three windows left, and ask for Edo. Hmmm. I go to Edo. He, on his part, has a look or two, all the while exclaiming with delightful surprise, "Chi el mianoum...!", and said that I should go upstairs and consult with either Homeros or Vahan. Well, well... Off upstairs I go, and find the little window behind which was either Homeros, or his representative.
Now comes the best part. The guy (he was a pretty young kid, so I expect he wasn't the Homeros himself) takes my phone, takes out the battery, notes down the battery's and cellphone's serial numbers, then takes down my name and number, and hands me over a slip with a registration number, asking me to call next day using that number as a referral. Wow! And - would you believe it ? - a couple of hours later Homeros himself calls! It was such an honour...! Well, fixing my apparently-very-damaged phone will cost a bundle, but that's not the point. Hmm... on the other hand, they could be ripping me off. But no, no, I want to concentrate on the professionality of this place.
As I was leaving, I noticed that, indeed, that entire foyer area, except one bit where there was actual postal service being provided, was filled with cellphone people. It was like a whole guild! Like old bolsahay "esnafs", like in an eastern bazaar, you know ? A "souq". One is where all the gold is sold (we still have voskou shoukas around here, and, incidentally, "shouka" and "souq" have the same Assyrian/Semitic root), one for spices, a bunch of stalls of people selling textiles... and now, Anno Domini 2006 - a cellphone repair bazaar! :-)
And you know what else I noticed as I was leaving ? The door, through which I entered, which was marked "Moutk" on the outside, was marked "Yelk" on the inside...! Sheeeeesh, man! Sigh...
Afterwards, I happened to have a couple of items of shopping to do, and therefore frequented one of the more elite hanrayin khanoutner of the city. Very often had I been disappointed with the service that the either very thin and young or very fat and middle-aged women of the store would provide, and this time was no different. Plus, one guy in one section of the store didn't know where I could find something else I needed, even though he's working in the same building. Sigh...
Yes, yes, I've gotten used to it. And I've been saying for a long time now to everyone that this is a terrible country, but we're here anyway, that Armenia is on the road to ruin for sure, but the Armenians have been surviving thus far, and will continue to do so, etc., etc., but every time I am REALLY impressed with something good that's going on around here, I am immediately and sorrowfully drawn back to reality.
Will we ever manage to establish and maintain a level of professionalism in this country ? Why do chocolate bars have Georgian writing all over them, but rarely any Armenian ? How come the DVD rental place from where I bought a movie a couple of weeks ago did not have another copy of that DVD to rent out to other people ?
Okay, okay, I could go on and on, but I expect this will suffice for now. In case anyone out there intends to write an epic, though, I do happen to know a man with just the name with whom to consult...