Sunday, August 23, 2009

Unfortunate are the unkind words exchanged at times between Diaspora Armenians and Hayastantsis. A musician recently returned from Syria told about what an Armenian there had said to him: “The Syrian Armenian told me he wanted to start a business in Armenia, but that all Hayastantsis were thieves. I told him that he shouldn’t generalize, that all my family and friends were hardworking and honest, and that, on the other hand, I had met plenty of Diaspora Armenians who weren’t exactly honest. Our conversation ended there, which was fine with me.”

Another common belief among Diaspora Armenians is that Hayastantsis are out to cheat Diaspora Armenians when they come to Armenia. Although there are locals who definitely fit into this description, it seems that at least some of this comes as a reaction to the way Diaspora Armenians, and others, come to Armenia with the attitude that Armenians here, being the economy isn’t exactly strong, should work for free or close to it, and be grateful at that. I am reminded first of all of a fellow from Norway, from a wealthy family, who asked to use a few of Hasmik’s lullabies for a film he was working on, but when the subject of an honorarium came up, he suddenly ran out of money, saying his budget was too low, etc. (even though he had traveled here, put the film together, and the like).

And there was the Armenian who recently asked if I could translate several pages of Classical Armenian into English, but when I told this new acquaintance that I wouldn’t mind being paid, he too suddenly ran out of money, complaining about his low budget (I wondered how he got here in the first place if he had no money). Oddly, I think it fair to say that neither of the two characters I mentioned would have thought of asking for free songs or services were they in the West...

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