Wednesday, May 14, 2003

My internet connection was down again today and I figured that from what the regional director of the phone company told me was coming true, no real connection until maybe Friday due to cable damage.

Well a call to the top person at Nargorno-Karabagh Telephone gave me hope with him saying that he will make sure I have a connection as "the customer comes first." A great policy and defiantly a new way of thinking in Artsakh and Armenia.

Anyway, I wont dwell on this issue to save you reading time, but will say that ever since that conversation, I've been getting the extra-royal treatment from the technical people and tonight's line failure was resolved within 10 minutes. Thanks Norair and Roman for your quick help.

Now that I have a connection again, I trying my best to catch up on my e-mail and also the news. It's amazing what one week of no connection can do.

I want to thank everyone who wrote to me with your concerns in regards to the gas station project and possible problems I could encounter. A bigger thanks to all the people who wrote and are interested in investing. As soon as I have more details and a business plan ready, I'll post it on the log.

Since it was mentioned in a few (this means more than 3) messages I got about a "gasoline mafia", I wanted to touch on this subject.

In the former Soviet Union, there appears to be on the news every now and then about different "mafias" controlling one industry or another and I'm sure such things do exist.

One thing that is magical about Artsakh and maybe even Armenia is that Diaspora-Armenians who respect people and the laws here are not bothered by such "mafias".

I think this is possible because such "mafias" really do admire and respect our innocence, honesty and cleanliness. In fact I've been told this from just such people in the past.

For that reason, I want to tell everyone that you really should not worry too much about me when I deal with such issues.

There is also another something that was only a couple days ago pointed out to me by some native teenagers. There are some people here in Artsakh and probably in Armenia that fear me.

When I returned from Yerevan the other day, I brought with me the son of a friend who is from Artsakh, but live in Armenia.

The son wanted to visit his cousin who is serving in the army in Stepanagert.

We went to the base where the cousin is serving and it just so happens that on the day we went to visit the cousin with plans to see about getting permission to take the cousin out for pizza, they were waiting for the minister of defense who was due in a matter minutes for an inspection.

I had noticed the minister of defense's jeep parked up the street and figured we could wait until the inspection was over and then maybe get the cousin freed for an hour.

After a 5 minute wait, the minister of defense's jeep drove past the base and kept on driving.

We continued to wait and I noticed a little bit of a commotion with higher ranking officers looking out the gate to my car and then going back in.

At one point, the commander of the base pulled up and before entering the gate, got out of his jeep and told my friends son that our car was parked too close to the gate (I was sitting in the car, so I could only see he was not happy). I really didn't notice any restricted parking sign, but backed my car up the street a bit and we continued to wait.

Well since the minister of defense had not yet shown up and we were starving after waiting an hour, we left.

We returned the next day and met with the cousin a bit while waiting for the commander to give his approval.

While talking to the cousin, we learned that the day before while we were waiting, a high ranking commander who came out to look at my parked car had asked the people working the gate if anyone from my car had entered the base? It was asked out of some kind of fear and not curiosity.

The commander showed up while we were talking and wanted to know from the cousin if my friends son was related to his solider and looked to me and said that he knows I can't be related to him, as he knows me and then asked me if my car is the one that use to belong to another commander (my neighbor), that the minister of defense had gifted and I purchased from the commander?

Anyway, as we drove off, I asked my passengers why people fear me and who am I that anyone should fear? They told me that they didn't understand it either, but I should not feel bad about it as they and the common people don't fear me, it's only the people in government, law, law enforcement and the military that know if they did something wrong and I found out about it, I'm the one person that wont turn a blind eye and am capable of finding it, documenting it, exposing it and make sure it's corrected.

This is not really something I'm not all that proud of (because it does not make life here all that easy), but something I have to learn to live with, as I know it's in my genes and there's nothing I can do to change it.

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