Sunday, June 15, 2003

I'm on a break from the Monte Melkonian memorial events, so I'll give you all a little update on what's been going on the last few days.

On the 11th of June, I went to greet my guests who I have not seen since my last trip in the states almost 3 years ago. It was as if we had not been away from each other for more than a week, the only difference was that there were some new babies to add to our group.

That night we ate and drank and talked until the very early hours of the morning and after 17 shots of vodka, which for some reason had no effect on me, Hagop and I drove back to Martuni.

On the morning of the 12th, we joined our friends at a gathering in the governemt square of Matruni to commemorate the 10th year of the passing of Monte "Avo" Melkonian's death.

We had lunch at the school auditorium, went to Avo's spring (a spring named after Monte) and then after a quick potty stop at my house, we drove to Stepanagert.

In Stepanagert, they had a photo exhibition and a cultural performance in Monte�s honor.

In attendance was the President of Parliament and the Prime Minister, who were sitting directly in front of me. The Prime minister left early, as I guess he had something more important to do. I didn't have a problem with this, since at least he came. Now where the President was this whole time, I'm not sure, but during their whole visit, he made no attempt to see them, which was okay by all of us.

After this above mentioned gathering, we were invited to a dinner which was given by the Minister of Defense. A nice gathering, but it seems that anytime I'm in the presence of the Minister of Defense, I loose my appetite and as hungry as I was, this time was no exception. I ate a meal later that night at the house we stayed at.

As we were finishing the dinner, I got a call asking me if I could take Monte�s brother Markar down to the radio station to give an interview. Markar agreed to this and with a couple of visiting friends we headed to the station.

The interview that was to be only 15 minutes, lasted almost 2 hours. It was fun and very very informal. We laughed a lot.

On the morning of the 13th, we all headed towards Yerevan and stopped in to see a village in Lachin that the Monte Melkonian Fund is helping with a cultural center, school and economic farming aid.

It was a nice visit, but Monte�s widow Seta and her son were not feeling well, so we left before the lunch, so we would arrive early to Yerevan so they could rest.

In our car was Hagop B, Seta and her son and one of Seta�s and my Godchildren Roman, who lives in the village we were visiting and was going to Yerevan to spend the summer with his grandfather.

Roman was struck by motion sickness and barfed all over the backseat and Seta's bag, but avoided getting my suit soiled.

Hagop and I worked away at freshening up the car and I have to tell you that Hagop had everything to really get the job done, including air-freshener. To say the least, I was very impressed with him not getting grossed out and just doing the job that had to be done. A real trooper and a great catch to that lucky girl that he marries, not to mention for me and our nation building work.

As we were coming in to the city of Vike, there was a fancy jeep that decided to pass a truck without waiting for the road to be free and was coming right at me in the opposite direction.

I flashed my lights at him as I really didn't have anyplace to go to avoid a head-on collision. Lights or collision, this guy thought he owned the road and just before having to hit him, there was a little stretch of extra road I was able to move over on to avoid an accident. An act of God or just good luck?

As the jeep ran me off the road, all I could see was its license plate which was 002 LL 02, a number which belongs to someone in government and I would guess connected to the Prime Minister�s office.

I've already put a request in for more information to a friend at the Armenian KGB of who that license belongs to. You can be sure when I find out who it belongs to, I will be getting in touch with them to make sure that at very least apologize to Seta, her son, our Godson and especially Hagop (who saw for the first time in his life, death flash before his eyes). After that, I'm going to make the driver's life hell (my specialty) and do what I can in my power to have him loose his job in hopes that he understands that he does not own the road and that there are others living in this country other than him and his clan.

It looks like I'll be in Yerevan for a few more day enjoying the company of my friends and then back to my home and work in Artsakh.

Well I'm off to a BBQ with my friends, so I have to get going.

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