Wednesday, February 25, 2009

After asking Hasmik where a certain knife was, and if she was using it, she said she had only used it once, since it was such a good knife. This reminded her of a Vanetsi joke, one that refers to the cheapness that Vanetsis supposedly possess. The joke goes like this: A Vanetsi buys some new, expensive shoes, but doesn’t wear them, so they won’t wear out. One day, while wearing some old, worn-out shoes, he steps on a nail, ruining the shoe and injuring his foot. Happily, he announces “what a lucky day. If I had been wearing my expensive shoes, I would have ruined them,” not realizing the nail wouldn’t have punctured the expensive shoes…

Our early morning continued with a healthy serving of khash, complete with plenty of garlic, dried lavash, radishes, greens, and the like. A musician friend we had invited over, after saying his “bari luys” and finishing his first bowl, began talking about cultural happenings. He told us about a television interview where someone who was aware that a recent, major concert by two pop stars in the US hadn’t gone very well asked one of the participants about this, who then denied all and said the concert was a big success, figuring what had happened at the concert wouldn’t reach Armenia. “There was a Turkmen singer there who put the Armenian singers to shame,” our friend said. “Funny, the Turkmen wasn’t even mentioned in newspaper articles about the concert. How long are they going to play these games?”

Turning to a popular, current theme, our friend gave his opinion about opening the border with Turkey: “During the dark years, when people had no money, Iranians were coming to Yerevan and making friends with our girls, making arrangements for the girls to have children, after which they paid them $100 a month. In those years, many people would do almost anything to earn a few dollars. Now, they’re talking about opening the border with Turkey. Although things are better here than in the early 1990s, money is still tight, and a lot of our girls would start doing the same things with Turks. As long as the economy is in the shape it is, we have no business opening our border with Turkey, as the Turks would use this to their advantage, in more ways than one. Our parliamentarians, and our businessmen, who are usually the same people, want the border to open, for obvious reasons. But regular, patriotic Armenians don’t want such relations with Turkey, at least not now.”

Later that afternoon, on Abovian Street near Republic Square, I watched as dozens of youth from Javakhk, possibly Akhaltsikhe, marched down the street, waving Armenian flags and holding banners that read “Stop the persecution in Javakhk” and “Protect Minority Rights in Georgia.” The Javakhk question has been the subject of several evening talk shows recently, with the main points being the confiscation of historical Armenian monuments and the Georgians saying they are on good, brotherly relations with Armenia…several of the guests on these shows saying that Georgia is probably the only country in the world that claims such close relations with a certain country while acting in an almost completely opposite manner.

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