Sunday, January 24, 2010

A telephone conversation with a worker at one of National (Public) Television’s three stations became a debate of sorts as to whether the Armenian public still demanded, or desired, to watch Armenian national (folk) music and culture. The debate started when we asked when one of their stations might show the recent Shoghaken Ensemble concert in Yerevan.

“We’re not sure people are interested,” the worker said. “The public seems to only want pop and rabiz culture and music.”

“Not so,” we replied. “Didn’t you see the reaction of the crowd that night? People were asking, almost demanding, that we have a second concert, and the sooner the better. And much of the crowd was young, university age.”

“I wasn't there...” the worker said.

“Not surprising then, that you think this way,” we answered, adding, “many say the reason so many here only want to see pop culture on television is that all the television stations show pop and rabiz all day, thus the people don’t know anything else,” to which the television person replied, “Fine, we’ll show your concert.”

Following the conversation, we received another call, this one from a relative in Byurakan, who said that we should come to the village today, as with the upcoming snow predicted, we might not be able to make the trip there and take advantage of the large number of apples they have in storage. Our decision was made; in an hour, we left for the village.

Arriving, we went to the house and saw nobody was there, so we opened the unlocked door and went in. There, we found tonir lavash and “horadz panir,” cheese buried and aged in clay containers. With that, and some godem we had brought from Yerevan, we ate sandwiches and sat by the gas oven until our relative and a friend arrived. With a big smile on his face, he said he had gotten a late invitation to eat khash, and apologized for not being at home when we arrived.

“See what we have here in the village,” the well-read friend said. “Clean air, great food. I’d never leave this place, especially for Yerevan.”

Asking why, he replied, “Your city is like Sodom and Gomorrah, first of all. At least that’s what we see on television. But what television shows, people become, if not now, later. I think our young generation is now mostly a lost cause. Not all, of course, but many.

“And another thing. I was watching an interview recently with ancient monument expert Samvel Karapetyan. Karapetyan was telling, as he always does, without holding anything back, how the Georgians are defacing, stealing, you name it, our churches in Georgia. And what does our government do? Stay silent. And give their president a medal when he comes to Yerevan. They have no feeling for anything national. Otherwise, why would they sign the Protocols, and give back Western Armenia permanently?

“And speaking of Western Armenia...if the City of Ani can be considered Western Armenia. Karapetyan said he has information that the Turks are working in Ani to erase Armenian letters and inscriptions on Armenian churches and church ruins there. He also says the Turks are allowing Georgians to confiscate our churches in Turkey, possibly in Ani, just like they are in Georgia...erasing Armenian inscriptions and writing inscriptions in their own language. And what do we hear from our ‘patriotic’ leaders? Silence...”

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