Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Karabaghtsi originally from a village near Togh, in Hadrut, lamented the way his countrymen have taken over so many important positions in Armenia, a major reason for the ill will many Hayastantsis feel towards Karabaghtsis. “Everybody was together during the war, and afterwards, at least for a while,” he said. “And now, seemingly every day, we hear news like this, like what I heard just yesterday. The former education minister of Karabagh was shown in his new position, as pro-rector of Yerevan State. He deals with students from abroad. ‘Why didn’t he stay in Karabagh?’ people here ask. ‘Doesn’t he care about education there?’ I have nothing to answer them. It’s beginning to look like Karabaghtsis came here, took over, and now are ready to give Karabagh back to the Azeris. A few of those at the top are giving us all a bad name. Once, we fought together, now, this.”

A farmer from Voskevaz, a village neighboring Oshakan, and whose ancestors happened to emigrate from Karabagh some 200 years ago, overheard the conversation and continued: “I can’t believe how most Karabaghtsis who came to Yerevan already own homes and property, and have good jobs, like the one you’re talking about,” he said. “The big shots own half of Armenia, from Tsakhkadzor to Jermuk, and no longer seem to care about their homeland. True, they funnel money there to upgrade and renovate the country and its infrastructure, but many Karabaghtsis have no love for their land, and are quite happy here, in Russia, Europe, wherever.”

The Karabaghtsi from Hadrut sat silently.

Our conversation took place in one of the villages of Echmiadzin, where several of us had gone to check on plantings of winter wheat and corn and vegetable harvests. A fifty-year old farmer, who I found out is battling lung cancer, energetically prepared us a barbecue of pork chops and freshly picked peppers and tomatoes. During the early Nineties, he fought in Karabagh, yet, being the modest type, never talks about those years. Tired, and without color in his face due to his illness, the farmer took care of the entire barbecuing process and then served us tsirani oghi, the tasty result of two large trees behind his home. Without doubt, he will continue with such hospitality until no longer able; he knows no other way.

Leaving the village, and reaching the road leading back to Echmiadzin, we came across two old women who were standing on the side of the road, alongside several large bags of peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant. The women, who appeared to have come from another, long-past century, had come from Echmiadzin, and had gleaned the fields after their final harvest, with plans to can their goods for winter use in their homes. As they weren’t local, and weren’t part of the huge makeshift vegetable market near the main road, they had been left behind, and were waiting for someone willing to take them to Echmiadzin. Tossing their bags of vegetables into the back of our Niva, we all headed towards Echmiadzin.

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