Friday, July 27, 2001

Though I really have nothing special to report as far as my life here in Artsakh, I wanted to tell you what a joy it is for me to read about our up and coming new arrivals to Armenia from the Diaspora. You can be sure that I will personally greet each one of them and welcome them home. This is the best decision anyone can make and though the lifestyle change is a big one, it's worth it. I can only speak for myself, but know that what I say applies to most of us in regards to what our being here means. Not only does it give us the good feeling to know that by us being here, we are doing our share to keep this land, but most of us come with financial resources, which in it self is a big economic stimulator. I'm not sure of the others spending habits, but I know that I personally support at very least 10 families with the money I spend each month. So just coming here and doing nothing other than living is really a big help. I mean regardless of where I live I have to spend money each month to survive, so why not here? I encourage anyone that can come here to do so as not only is the air clean and the water sweat, but it really is the right thing to do. Get that one-way ticket and come on over so I can welcome you home too.

Saturday, July 21, 2001

As many who read "Armenian Life" know, we receive questions and comments to our postings. One in particular I got a bunch of questions was to my posting about James Tufenkian's new hotel. The biggest question I got about it was where can people get more information? Well at the time I should have posted their web-site, but didn't have it. So here it is: The site is as classy as the hotel (Raffi prepared it) and I encourage everyone to check it out as it not only covers the Nork hotel, but future hotels that James is planning on opening all over Armenia.

Tuesday, July 17, 2001

The other day I made my way to Yerevan to pick up some relatives that had come for a visit. So while there, I got in touch with Raffi and Zabel to see how they were doing. In our conversation, Zabel told me that she had an invitation to James Tufenkian's new hotel for a food sampling and Raffi was busy and would I like to go in his place. I figured it would be fun, so I left my jet-lagged guest at home sleeping and with Zabel, took a cab to James' new hotel in Nork. It seems that James purchased an almost complete mansion, practically gutted it and built it into a 5-star, 14-room hideaway for the traveler who wants to be in Armenia, but doesn't want the hustle and bustle of the city. We walked around while waiting for dinner and checked out all the rooms, which were very classy. All the furniture was custom-made, and you can tell that James is in the carpet manufacturing business, as the floors and walls are covered with them. In all, there were 13 guests, including James. Two hostesses and a professional chef served us. James is a vegetarian and for that reason there was no meat (something I enjoy), but the new tastes and very well presented dishes took the thought of Khorovads out of my mind. Amongst the guests was John Hughes, whom I last saw in front of the Armenia hotel with his cat in October. After the meal, followed by tea and coffee we sat around and all talked. The evening ended with a bunch of us piling into James's military jeep and made our way back to the city, where I made my way home. I have to say that I was really happy to be a part of this evening and that it's people like James that are making a positive change in Armenia today. I hope that others will take his lead and do similar things.

Saturday, July 14, 2001

Being born in America and living here sparks people's curiosity, as they want to know what life is like in America. I tell them that America has its good points and its bad points. I tell them that the biggest difference between America and Artsakh is the violent crime. Here we can leave our doors unlocked all the time, where in America, everyone has the habit of locking their doors even when they are home. I'm sure that there are other advantages and disadvantages to living in the Diaspora. Here, the conversations usually end with the natives saying that I must be different, since everyone here seems to have a desire to leave. For that reason, I need your help to better give a better understanding of what life is like outside of Armenia and Artsakh and I invite you to write to me to tell me your thoughts on this subject so I can pass along what you have said to the people I talk with. You can write me at:

Saturday, July 07, 2001

On July 4th, I decided to go to Yerevan to meet with some Diaspora friends so we could celebrate the 4th of July together at Hotel Armenia where the American Embassy had organized a gathering. I brought one of my Artsakh buddies, Gago, along with me, because he wanted to experience how a bunch of "Americans" celebrate their independence. Unfortunately, on the road, 156 kilometers outside of Stepanagert, my car broke down. For the first time in all these years, my car had to break down, and on the very day I was going to show my allegiance to old glory and celebrate her independence. Skipping the details of my car troubles, I'll simply say that I found a mechanic to treat this major problem and left the car with him for repairs. We agreed that it could take up to two weeks before I could reclaim it, and the mechanic gave me a receipt. As we were waiting for a bus or some other form of transportation to get to Yerevan, a car coming from the opposite direction stopped and out came Zabel (one of our cast members). She told me that she and her guests from America were on their way to Artsakh and instead of going all the way to Yerevan to be with friends on the 4th, we could spend it together. I thought to myself that I am now living in Artsakh, so what the heck was I thinking. I mean Americans don't observe May 9th, which is our independence day and in fact, they don't even recognize us as an independent nation. So until they celerate our independence day, why should I celebrate theirs? I also figured that without a car to get us back in addition to the time it would now take us to reach Yerevan, this was our best offer. So, Gago would just have to wait to see a bunch of drunk Americans celebrating their independence. There were already 4 passengers and a driver in this car that seats 5. To get to know each other a little better, 4 of us squeezed into the back and the driver and 2 people squeezed in the front. We drove on and made our way to Sisian, Datev, the Devil's Bridge, Gorris for a coffee break and then straight to Martuni. We got to my house at 1 a.m. on the 5th. I have to say that I think my day and Gago's experience with a bunch of "Americans" who came to visit our free and independent Artsakh to discover their roots was much better than any party that anyone could have thrown. This is what the 4th of July should be all about.

Monday, July 02, 2001

Wedding Season

Well the wedding season is on. With the abundant fruits and vegetables found in the shooga (market), this is the time when most people tie the knot. I went to my first wedding of this year last night. It was the wedding of a friend of mine named Eric. His bride Nona comes from a well-respected family. Her father, Hyeaser, owns one of the better bread factories in Martuni city. He also bottles pear, cherry and lemon drinks, along with his new line of wheat Vodka. In the afternoon, they had a large gathering in the local high-school auditorium, which was arranged by the bride's family. The gathering was followed by a drive to a village in the Martuni region called Spitakashen (white village) where my friend Eric's family home is located and where the celebration continued. Here in Artstakh, very few people take marriage vows in church. As in this case, they usually have a civil wedding, followed by a large reception. I would estimate that there were about 250 people in attendance, all of whom had a great time. The celebration went on until the early hours of the morning with singing and dancing. It was great fun and I'm really happy to be a part the celebration of the start of this new Armenian family. May they grow old on the same pillow.