Friday, December 10, 2004

Defending ones honor

The internet can be a very dangerous place for the naïve, especially chat rooms.

My fiancé is one of those people who uses a chat room to keep in contact with her schoolmates and family that live abroad. I have always warned her that she may encounter weirdoes who will hide behind a fake identity (like Jennifer Smith) and to be careful not to engage in conversations with people who she does not personally know. Growing up in small town Martuni, you are not exposed to such thing.

A couple of weeks ago while chatting to her sister in an Armenian chat room, she got an unsolicited proposition from a someone. All I know is that I happened to be looking at her from across the room and could see her jaw drop and she looked like she was going to choke on her tong. I rushed over to her and asked her what was wrong and did her sister give her bad news?

It took a little bit for her to compose herself and with an almost frightened look on her face she asked me if I knew what someone had just said to her? She went on to say that she didn’t fully understand everything that was said, but said that she was just propositioned by someone with the nick “Magnum” and he wanted to do something with her “boots” (which in Armenian is a somewhat dirty way of referring to the female sexual organ). Before I could see who Magnum was, he had left the chat room.

My fiancé was really upset for the rest of the night and told me that I have to find Magnum and take with me my driver, the former Samuel Babyan special forces guy who once almost ended up in jail for striking a guy in the head with his fist, who fortunately didn’t die and came out of the comma he was in to testify that he was the one that provoked my driver. She wanted me to defend her honor and teach this guy some manors.

A few nights ago, I went into the Armenian chat room to tell my fiancé to turn off the internet so I could call her and entered with her sisters name (this chat room you have to register for before you can use it and since I don’t know Russian, I’ve never really felt the need for my own name).

Before we came out to talk on the phone, I noticed Magnum’s nick and asked my fiancé in a private message if this was the guy?

She told it was him and after looking at his profile, which was in Russian and only said that he is in Stepanagert, I engaged him in a conversation with the help of a free on-line translation service (English-Russian).

The conversation went something like this:

H: Privet (I didn’t need the translation help for this)
M: Privet
H: Don’t I know you?
H: What’s wrong, don’t you want to talk to me?
H: Are you in Stepanagert? Let’s talk on the phone.
M: Yes
M: Where do I know you from?
H: I want to meet you, why don’t you give me your phone number and I’ll call you?
H: What’s the matter, you scared to talk to me? You think I will laugh at you when I hear your voice? Don’t worry I won’t laugh. If you want you can call me. My number is #######.

Not a minute passed, my cell phone rings. I answered the phone which displayed a cell phone number ####### and used a soft and as feminine voice that could pull off.

Ara: Hello?
Magnum: Hi.
Ara: Is that you Magnum?
Magnum: Yes.
Ara: What’s your real name?
Magnum: Arthur. What’s your name?
Ara: That’s a nice name Arthur, thank you Arthur, goodnight.

I hung up the phone.

Arthur called back again and this time I answered the phone with a deep voice of what I would describe as the guy you see in the movies that just got out of jail and is pissed off at the world and more so because you just woke him up at 1:30 in the morning.

Ara: Hello!!! Who is this!!!
Arthur: Who is this?!! Where is the girl I was talking to?! Let me talk to her!!!
Ara: Excuse me, but do you know what time it is?!!! What business do you have calling me?!!!

I hung up the phone again.

Magnum called again.

Ara: What do you want?!!!
Magnum: Who are you?!!!
Ara: Do you know what time it is?!!! It’s 1:30 in the morning!!! It’s rude to call at this hour!!! Go sleep!!!

I hung up the phone and turned it off.

I got what I was looking for, which was a phone number that could belong to Magnum or someone Magnum knows.

A couple of days later I went to Karabagh Telecom to pay my phone bills and told the woman that I also want to pay my friend’s phone bill, giving the phone number that Magnum had called me on.

The woman said Haik Casparyan? He owes 7,840 dram. I looked to the woman and said that yes, let me pay Haik’s bill now. They took the money and printed me out a full statement, which had name and a Stepanagert address.

Today I went to Stepanagert for some work and while I was busy with my work, I sent my driver off to locate the house, but not to approach it and once he found it, to call me. With all the street name changes, it took my drive a while to find the place, which was near the university, half of the building being dormitories and the other half housed refugees from Baku.

Once I finished all my work, my driver and I headed for Haik’s house, calling my truck driver Lavrent (6 foot tall, 240 lbs., built like the guy that was in the Indiana Jones movie who Jones could not defeat and only killed when the guy was stuck by an airplane propeller), who joined us in the parking lot of the building.

We went up the third floor #62. A newer white steel door and it was clear from the other doors in the building that the people who live in there are well to do.

My driver knocked on the door and I heard someone inside ask as to who it was? I asked the woman if we could ask her something? The woman opened the door to find three people, two of which were on the large intimidating size/look.

I asked if Haik Casparyan was home? She asked who is Haik? I said I don’t now, but he has a cell phone and claims this to be the address he lives.

She said no, there is no Haik here. I presented her with the statement and showed her the name and address and asked her if this was #62? She said yes.

She then said that Haik is her bother’s son, but he lives in Yerevan. She said that he has not been in Artsakh for over a year and must have sold the phone to someone.

I asked her she would know of an Arthur and if he could have purchased the phone?

She said she didn’t know but would get in touch with Haik and have him contact us with that information.

She asked why we were looking for the owner of the phone and was it because he owes money on the telephone? No, Lavrent said, walking into her house, the owner goes on the internet and says inappropriate things to girls in chat rooms, one of them being Ara’s fiancé.

My driver asked if she could call Haik now so we can find out?

She said no, she didn’t have his phone number and would have to call her relative in Abovian to find out.

Lavrent said that my phone has Armenia access and we could call now, to which she claimed to not have the phone number handy.

She invited us into her living room after telling us that they are a dignified family and her son Garen we may know who is the head of the tax office in Stepanagert, to which I told her that Garen is a friend of mine. Her other son is the Deputy Minister of Social Services.

She looked for the phone number and as we were waiting, I noticed a computer with a phone line going into it. I asked her if they have internet to which she said yes.

She could not find the number, so we left our phone numbers and names so she could have someone call us with the information of who owns the phone now.

We left and sitting in the car, I looked over the statement for numbers that started with 022, which is the code for Abovian. There were 2 numbers. I called the first number, identified myself (Ara Manoogian from America) and asked for Haik Casparian. The man said that there was no Haik there to which I apologized for calling, to which the man said that if I’m looking for Haik, I would have to call him in Yerevan, the man identifying himself as Haik's uncle. He said to call back in 5 minutes and he would find the number.

I called back and this what I’m guessing the man’s wife answers. She asked me how I got there number to which I said that we had just finished visiting with Garen’s mother, but not saying that she gave it or not. The woman gave us the number, but warned us that he is not yet home, as they already tried to call.

On the way back to Stepanagert, I called the head of the tax office in Martuni and got Garen’s cell phone number, which I tried to call, but it was out of range or turned off.

Once in Martuni, I called Haik’s Yerevan number and a young girl answered (probably his daughter). I asked for Haik and was told that he was not yet home. She asked who I should tell him called to which I identified myself and that I was a friend of Garen’s.

A half hour later, I got a call on my cell phone. It was Garen’s number. Keep in mind, the last time I saw Garen was maybe 3 years ago. I answered the phone “Hello Garen, how are you”?

Garen asked who I was and after telling him, a friendly conversation began.

I told Garen all the details to which he understood why we visited his home and continued the same story his mother started as to him not knowing who the phone belonged to, but he would find out and call me back and have the owner contact me. He made it very clear that the person who had the phone was not related to him.

Garen called me back and said that he found the owner (we had been calling all day to the number and it was turned off), a guy that is an administrator at an internet café named Artyom, not Arthur. He said that he probably gave the phone to a customer who called me that night. He said that Artyom will call me soon.

Later on I got a call from someone who asked me if I was looking for the owner of ######. I said yes. He said that he understood that I wanted to talk to him and let’s meet. I told him I was already in Martuni and that I am not due back in Stepanagert until probably Monday. I said that I would call him and asked if his name was Artyom? He was about to say no and then as if I gave the wrong name said yes.

What transpired was a little bit fishy in terms of how it is that Garen and his mother don’t know who has the phone, but the Abovian number belongs to Haik’s uncle and was last called 10 days ago?

Anyway, when I go to Stepanagert on Monday, I’ll see what “Artyom” has to say and to who he gave his phone to at 1:30 in the morning and then decide who is telling the truth.

So much energy I am spending to defend my fiance’s honor. Is it worth it? Well she is going to be the mother of my children and no I'm not going to allow someone to play with her emotions and get away with it so she feel further violated.

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