Saturday, September 27, 2008

A small business owner took the morning off from work to help Hasmik cook up a batch of eggplant caviar, pronounced here as “khaviar.” The main ingredient is eggplant, but tomatoes and green and red peppers are also used, as well as various spices. Yesterday they had bought two huge bags of eggplants and separate bags of peppers, all for less than 3,000 dram.

At around ten-thirty, as the eggplant was cooking away in our large pan, which is usually used to make khash, the familiar old blue-and-white bus from Aparan arrived down below, leading us to take a break and join the crowd of locals buying village eggs, milk, potatoes, madzoon, pipert (what we used to call cheese weed in Fresno), and aveluk. To round things out, we took pictures of our friends from Aparan before resuming our work upstairs.

Later, we took a short coffee and fruit break, and talked about happenings in Yerevan. The business owner, angry about today’s rally for one of Levon Ter Petrosyan’s people for district mayor, said, “If any of Levon’s crowd makes it into government, we’re finished. I don’t know anybody who likes Serge, but at least we know just how bad he is . . . we know his limits. There is even hope he helps clean up corruption here. We saw Levon and his followers and what they did when they were in power, and believe me, it was far worse than now. The only thing that would destroy what hope I have is if Kocharian became prime minister. Which reminds me of the latest joke. A Hayastantsi, a Karabaghtsi, and an Azerbaijantsi ran into a golden fish, who promised them it would grant their first wish. The Azerbaijantsi naturally said, ‘Kill all Armenians.’ The Armenian gave his wish: ‘Kill all Azerbaijantsis.’ When the fish asked the Karabaghtsi what he wanted, he asked the fish this: ‘Are you really going to grant their wishes?’ to which the fish replied positively. ‘Then fine,’ the Karabaghtsi said. ‘Just give me a cup of coffee. You’ve taken care of everything.’ I don’t know what to say, except there’s some truth in this joke. During the war, Hayastantsis and Karabaghtsis got along well, fought together. After all, Karabagh has also given great heroes in the past . . . Nikol Tuman, Aram Manukian, General Pirumyan. I have to think there are outside powers trying to tear us apart, by creating such rifts, by sending sects into Armenia, etc. Our battle is a hard one.”

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