Sunday, February 28, 2010

Armenia’s patriotic unions are suddenly appearing on the scene, talking about defending the liberated territories in case of attack, etc., while word has it that Armenian males under 40 aren’t being allowed, or with difficulty, to leave the country by way of Zvartnots airport. Is war in the air? As an in-law put it, if war breaks out, Armenians will again rise to the occasion, but, “will it be like before, with hundreds, maybe thousands, of Haystantsis volunteering to fight? The Karabaghtsis in charge here are making that difficult. For example, soon, later this spring, someone from the Karabaghtsi elite is opening a new taxi service, with at least 1,000 vehicles, and will be working at a price of 60 drams per kilometer (current price, 100 dram), which will in effect put all other taxi services out of business. They want everything, from the Internet to taxi services, what next?”

Friday, February 26, 2010

Komitas’ letter to the Catholicos of all Armenians, Mattheos II, on September 5, 1909:

“I have been a monk of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin for twenty years. I entered this institution to serve it. During those twenty years I was not allowed to do what I can, for I saw only traps and injustice. My nerves are on edge, and I can see no way to stand this any longer. I need rest but cannot find it and I desire for honest work, which is hindered. I try to close my ears not to hear, to shut my eyes not to see, to bind my legs not to be tempted, to control my emotions not to become angry, but since I am human, I fail. My conscience dies, my energy cools, my life wanes, and only perplexity remains in my soul and heart. If Your Holiness wishes not to lose but find me, I beg you in tears to release me from the monastic order of Holy Etchmiadzin and appoint as solitary of the Sevan monastery. I have lost twenty years; let me at least use the rest of my life to write down quietly the results of my studies and thus render a more important service to the long-suffering Armenian church and scholarship.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

“My ancestors came from a village just seven kilometers from the town of Moush,” the Aparantsi said. “They came to Eastern Armenia, to Aparan, in 1829, following the war between Russia and Turkey. My father, and my grandfather, never saw Moush. But every night I dream about Moush, and the Plains of Moush.

“Any Armenian who lives away from the homeland is lost. They might find their Mercedes, their money, but they’re lost.

“I don’t mind when pop singers sing pop music. But when they ruin folk music, it’s a crime. I’ve given old folk songs to pop singers who pretend to sing folk. I shouldn’t have. They ruin the songs. They never say where they found the songs. I gave a song of Moush to the Maratouk group, and they changed ‘Moush’ to ‘Sassoun.’ I asked them why, twice, and they said they hadn’t done this. They knew they had. I gave a song to someone from Tovmas Poghosyan’s Sayat Nova group. The singer said she had gone to villages and searched for the song. What search? I gave her the song.

“My grandfather taught Komitas six songs. And now, two generations later, these songs are being ruined by today’s pop singers. In Soviet times, when they were supposedly ruining our culture, there were folk groups all over the country. Real folk groups. Not like the State Dance Ensemble and others with their choreographed folk music. Today, you can count real folk groups and singers on one hand. If you’re lucky.”

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Yerevan State University professor told me yesterday she asked an American Protestant minister if he could read a text for an educational CD she was producing. “He said he’d help, that I should come to his church service on Sunday, and after the service, we’d talk. I told him I was busy, but could meet on Tuesday. Hearing this, he refused to help.”

Today, while enjoying some peace and quiet at home, someone knocked on our door, and after mistaking the women outside for people I knew, I opened the door. Two Bible-toting women, with strange and forced smiles, asked if we knew about the Bible. After a few seconds, we sent them on their way, telling them they shouldn’t be selling their souls for a sack of flour, their smiles turning into scowls as they walked towards the neighbor’s door.

An hour later, while getting some apples out of our storage, the neighbor opened her door, smiling as if she had just won the lottery.

“You should have heard what I told those women,” she said. “I let them in, then, as they talked, I went and got them each a glass of water. Then I told them about a passage in the Old Testament that says one cannot be poisoned if he’s spreading the Word of God. I tried handing them each a glass of water, and they got up and nearly ran out of our house.”

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Inside the village mayor’s office in Vardablur, near Stepanavan, the old man told about Komitas:

“Komitas was in Echmiadzin when he was told that there was someone in Vardablur who sang a different version of horovel. He came to our village and asked to meet the man. The villagers took him to meet Rushan. Komitas asked him to sing the horovel. Rushan said, ‘how can I sing a horovel without a plow?’ So they found a plow. Then Rushan said, ‘how can I sing if there is no ox to pull the plow?’ So they found an ox.”

Pointing out the window, to the east, he continued. “They went to that field, on the slopes of the mountain. There, in that spot, Rushan sang what people now call Lorva Horovel.”

The old man then sang part of the horovel, after which he sang Shogher Jan, Hov Arek, and other songs collected by Komitas.

“Rushan was my grandfather’s brother,” the old man said. “Their parents came from Karabagh. I think they were originally from Moush, but I’m not sure. In my opinion, the Lorva Horovel either came from Karabagh or Moush.”

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

For some reason, the government appointed a Karabaghtsi woman as provincial governor of Shirak. A government agency reported that in the first year of her service the woman had stolen 278,600,000 dram. Her reaction to this accusation was, “True, I did it, but I had reasons, subjective and objective…”

Monday, February 15, 2010

A conference is planned this upcoming April at the Genocide Institute in Yerevan, concentrating on cultural genocide, in this case the destruction of Armenian monuments by the Turks, Azeris, and Georgians. As a neighbor put it, “This is all true, what the Turks and others are doing, but why not tell the truth about what’s going on in Armenia? Haven’t people seen the condition of Hovhannavank, Sanahin, Kobayr, Goshavank, Odzoun, and countless others? These monasteries and churches are suffering a slow death due to our neglect. It took an Arab Sheik to pay for the restoration of Haghardzin. Where are our rich, and what are they doing? Building lavish restaurants and casinos, not to mention nightclubs.

“The rich should be building factories, not these ridiculous restaurants and hotels. Pictures what would happen to Armenia if 3,000 rich Diaspora Armenians, or rich Hayastantsis, for that matter, all built factories? Even small factories...we don’t need General Motors, just normal factories. Our people would go to work, and our country would blossom.”

Friday, February 12, 2010

Reaction from two Hayastantsis about the Armenian president’s speech in London, and his tough talk concerning Karabagh:

“Serge gave a good speech, and said all the right things. It would be great if he were serious. But who believes he has the power to make decisions of war and peace and whether Karabagh will be independent or not? I think he talked tough for two reasons: The first is that he was in London collecting money. The second was strictly for public consumption, to convince Diaspora Armenians, and Hayastantsis, that he really cares about Karabagh and the Armenian nation. In the end, he’ll agree to giving back the territories, and will agree to having Azeris back living in Karabagh, which will mean the end of Karabagh, if not now, later, and eventually the end of Armenia.”

A Dashnak said, “Of course, the president said some good things. If he’s serious, though, we’ll be going to war with Azerbaijan, probably this year, as Azerbaijan will never agree to Karabagh being independent. My friends and I are ready to go, if the war starts. For one thing, if we give up the territories, mainly Kelbajar, can you picture how long a border we’d have to defend? We can’t give up these territories just for that reason. Of course,” he continued, “if Serge was only giving a nice speech, and nothing more…”

I asked him to continue.

“If that’s the case, there’s nothing we can do. It will mean the end of Armenia. If he agrees to giving Karabagh some temporary status, and allows Azeris back to live in Karabagh, like they’re talking about doing, we’ll lose Karabagh, then, later, Armenia…”

Thursday, February 11, 2010

While at work in someone’s home, an electrician received a strong jolt of electricity, sending him flying to the floor. Afterward, he got up by himself, and said he felt fine. The next day, at work, he said he didn’t feel well, poorly enough to where he went to the hospital.

The next day, he died. Hospital officials announced that he died of swine flu. Yet, the electrician never had so much as a high temperature. Suspecting, and apparently rightly so, bad care at the hospital, thus the announcement of death due to swine flu to cover up the doctors’ bad care, the electrician’s family is suing the hospital. The court case will no doubt prove to be quite interesting.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A historian associated with the Academy of Sciences history institute told about his research in ancient Armenian history:

“Right now, I’m arranging to have a book written by an Austrian historian translated into Armenian and Russian. The Soviets didn’t allow its translation, as the author proved that European church architecture had its foundation in Armenian church architecture. The Soviets didn’t want to give the Armenians that much credit.

“Did you know that British encyclopedias, up until recent years, stated that England was first inhabited by people from the Armenian Highlands? Slowly, this reference was removed. Politics, no doubt...

“Some say that Karabagh Armenians are nothing more than Caucasian Albanians. Not true. The territory of Karabagh was always included in early Armenian kingdoms. Sometimes Albania was included, sometimes not. Perhaps some Albanians Armenianized, true, but Karabaghtsis are Armenian, proved by all the purely Armenian monuments, dating back to the fifth century and earlier. To say that today’s Azeris have Albanian roots is ridiculous, though, as Tatars and the like, before they were called Azeris, appeared in the area after traveling from their home in Central Asia, centuries after Caucasian Albania had vanished from the scene.

“And the old theory that the Soviets went by, and some other historians, Armenians included, that Armenians aren’t native to the Armenian Highlands, is a thing of the past. Foreign historians believe that today’s Armenians are native to the area, and didn’t migrate from the West, appearing only after the fall of Urartu. Urartu was Armenian, and its inhabitants...Armenians.

“The Armenians of the past spread culture...architecture, sculpture, music...around the world.”

Then, the historian’s mood changed, due to a (typical) low grade serial appearing on Public Television’s first channel.

“I never wonder about the roots of the Armenians of the past, even the ancient past. I only wonder if today’s Armenians have any tie, culturally, to their ancestors. Look at what they’re doing here. I don’t know where they find such low class if they’re actors. I supppose they exist, because here they are. And yesterday the president’s commission members started discussing Armenian-produced serials, saying how wonderful it is that we can watch serials in Armenian, and how the serials are high class productions. If Public Television and ‘Armenia’ television continue their anti-Armenian programming, they could slowly ruin not only our culture, but our people. Nowhere in the world are the people of a nation subjected to such trash on a full-time basis...”

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Aleksan Harutyunyan’s performance of “Aygeban” (by Shirin) at the Shoghaken Ensemble concert in Yerevan. Mugham solos by Vardan Baghdasaryan, on kamancha, and Gevorg Dabaghyan, on duduk.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Shoghaken Ensemble playing “Angin Yars” (by Shahen) and the Armenian dance “Tamzara” at their concert in Yerevan on Sept. 4, 2009. Included in the piece are examples of the Armenian mugham, on kamancha, kanon, duduk, ud, and shvi.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hasmik’s performance of lullabies of Mush and Akn, at the Sept. 4 Shoghaken Ensemble concert in Yerevan. The lullaby from Mush is “Taroni Oror,” and the one from Akn (region of Kharberd) is “Oror Jojk Em Kapel,” the latter transcribed by Mihran Toumajan, student of Komitas. Gevorg Dabaghyan on duduk; Karine Hovhannisyan on kanon.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

“The only thing left of our culture in Armenia is our language. And that is slowly being destroyed, with low level street language being promoted on our main television stations, and the lack of education of those running our government. Funny that Public Television has given a linguist a show in which he tells and shows people the mistakes they’re making, then, that same station’s own talk show hosts, news journalists, and of course the serials they produce all use uneducated street language, making the same mistakes the linguist is trying to correct.

“Right now, I can say the offices of president and catholicos are vacant. If the president doesn’t care about our culture, for one thing, or giving up Western Armenia, by way of agreeing to the illegal border with Turkey, how can we call him president?”

These were the words of what I can safely call an intellectual, a computer expert with three children, who is unfortunately considering moving his family from Armenia.

“Think about it,” he said. “Our government, our leaders, don’t appreciate science, our youth, nothing of the sort. They talk about granting money to help our university students continue their education in Europe. But they only give part of the amount needed to live and study there. Do you know who ends up going? Sons and daughters of the rich. The average Armenian has to turn down the money, as they have no way to pay the remaining amount needed to live and study in Europe. So the rich, who can make up the difference, accept the money and send their children to Europe. Kids like mine end up left out, and unfortunately disillusioned.”

He sat and shook his head, and said, “It’s not a good decision to take one’s family and leave Armenia, then again, it’s not a good decision to stay here...”

After our visit, and on our way to the bus stop, we came across a small bakery, and went in to buy some bread. It turned out to be a Georgian bakery. When we asked the miserable, conceited Georgian how much the bread cost, and he answered in Russian, we said we didn’t need bread, and left.