Thursday, March 19, 2009

A neighbor stopped in after coming down from the roof of the building to check his television antenna. “I haven’t told you,” he said, with a serious look on his face, “that I’ve decided to leave the country. I have a job offer in the US, and if everything goes well, I’m taking my family from Armenia. And not because I don’t have a job here. I do, and it’s a good one, but I’d like to learn more, move up in the system, but I’m not in the correct “layer” here, so others, less worthy, will take the better positions.”

Our friend then accepted our offer of pumpkin soup and shushan, one of the several kinds of greens eaten here especially in the springtime. After talking about neighborhood happenings, he continued about his plans to leave Armenia:

“I’m worried more, though, about my children. “This is no place for them to grow up. For one thing, we can’t turn on the television, as all the networks are choking us with mafia-style serials and pop star music, although I can’t call what they do music. You’d think there were no other singers in Armenia besides these so-called stars. Yet worse than this is the way the crazy life here is making people act like wild animals, like jackals. For one thing, the way the tax collectors attack small business owners, making unrealistic demands, makes them turn wild, having to adjust just to stay in business. And the individual isn’t protected here. People with connections do what they want, and the regular person suffers, and either leaves the country or turns wild himself, just to survive. We’re becoming a nation of barbarians, acting like criminals and using “goghakan” language, promoted in the mafia-style serials.

“Whether or not Armenians are their worst enemy or not, it’s clear that we have no friends in the world. It looks like Azerbaijan is going to change their constitution so Aliev can stay in power. Can you picture the noise coming from Europe if Armenia tried the same thing? And do you know that in Israel if someone changes their religion he goes to prison? Europe and the US demand that Armenia practice freedom of religion, and as a result there are over 20 sects in operation here. If we decided to imprison those who left the Armenian Church for this or that sect, again, what do you think Europe would do?

“Will things get better? Maybe, but will it be in time for the young generation, my children’s age, to live a normal life?”

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