Saturday, August 31, 2002

Letter 08: Ara ler and Raffi s khente

Saturday, August 31, 2002

We went with the Habitat project to a small village on Ara ler, above Ashtarak , to help a family insulate the roof over their house. We spent the whole day working with the family and they prepared a great happy meal for us which we ate outdoors. It was tiring but pleasant.
On the way back, we visited the Church in Oshakan. It is the church where St. Mesrop Mashtots (the inventor of the Armenian Alphabet) is buried. It has a special Byzantian style architecture, unlike other Armenian churches I have seen so far. Oshakan is a stone’s throw from Etchmiadzin, the seat of the Armenian Katoghikos, and was an ancient pagan city. People living there often find old pagan statues whenever they undertake an excavation.

Sunday, September 01, 2002

I went with Badal to Saralandj, a small village on Ara Ler (King Ara Keghetsig’s mountain). On the way, we stopped in Ara Kyough, where Badal pointed to me a bust statue of “Khente”, see photo.
The inscription on the pedestal says “Sasnon Boghos DerBoghossian 1846-1911”. Apparently it was erected in 1974 by the local villagers most of whom came from the same region as Raffi’s Khente.

We then went up the valley to Sourp Nishan Church with is again in ruins, after being reconstructed by Kouyr Viktor, a nun from Etchmiadzin, who was saved with other Armenian orphans in 1915, but who had doubts on whether her own family were Christian Armenians or Yezdis. The Church is on a hill dominating the Kassakh river valley (the same river that goes through Saghmosavank). The church is also called “Asdvadz-engal”

Friday, August 30, 2002

Letter 07: Are you sick of our dug-out sidewalks?

Dear Repats:

Are you sick of our dug-out sidewalks?
You can now do something about it
1) log-in to Antoine’s column at and send a message to Kirk Krikorian to fire his project manager in Yerevan, or give the forum a piece of your mind;
2) Get a shoe shine:
· On Abovian near Artbridge (between Toumanian & Sayat-Nova);
· Mornings between 9:00 and sunset;
· Regular leather shoes (black & brown) for now ;
· 150 drams (exact change please) – tipping is welcome; If shoe has to be taken-off foot 200 drs
· you can take photos, he is a “Babig” his name is Zhoura. Please put up with him and help him with his training period..

If you know of an unemployed person interested to continue this job, contact me. The shoeshine box maker is already churning the second unit!
This project idea is designed to get the shoe-shine business back on the streets of Yerevan: a) to fill a tourist need; b) to create jobs for needy people as an alternative to begging; c) to show that one can be creative in finding self-sustaining work.
I am doing it because people resent others “telling” them what to do. Leading by example is better. If the business is successful, then I expect, like everywhere else, others will imitate it and hopefully improve on it; and we’ll all have clean shiny shoes despite Kirk Krikorian’s project manager’s mistake.


Are you sick of the dug-out sidewalks in downtown Yerevan?

When I first arrived on May 30th, they had started digging-out streets and sidewalks in downtown Yerevan. I then learned Kirk Krikorian had donated the funds. It sounded like a good win/win deal. He was creating jobs. Some of the streets/sidewalks being dug-out seemed perfectly OK, but I convinced myself they will look even better in a month. I blessed Kirk Krikorian for his excellent initiative.

Come August, with all the strong winds and dust in the air, with more sidewalks dug-out and few finished, with more street garbage accumulating in the holes and all the museums closed, I thought, surely they are planning to finish the whole thing at the same time for the height of the tourist season in September. Then I thought they will have them ready for “Independence day, Sept 21”… Are you still waiting?

Of course Mr. Krikorian himself is NOT to blame, especially not his motives. He also took a further step in specifying what his donation would be used for (renovating downtown streets). But did he ever imagine that he did such a disservice to tourism in Yerevan in the 2002 season? Mr. Krikorian does not check-out the fine print in the contracts his foundation issues, but he has managers who are supposed to do that. These are the people I point the finger to.

If they are on this list, I beg them to clear their names.

What do you think? Do you know how to contact Mr. Krikorian? If you do, please forward this (or about this) to him.

Best regards