Showing posts from October, 2003

Letter 16: Call Mama if you want your father

October 2003

The Georgians call their father "Mama". To call their mother, they go: 'Déda'. Armenia's neighbors to the Northwest are a people hardly known in the part of the world I come from. I knew Stalin and Beria were Georgians, and I always loved their songs and dances, but this was unfortunately all I knew about them. I knew many Armenians lived there, and that Tbilissi (in the past Armenians called it Tiflis - Charles Aznavour's dad was born near Tiflis - but since Georgians prefer Tbilissi our Yerevan airport signs now say Tbilissi in Armenian characters) had been a center of Armenian culture, producing some of our best artists and writers. In fact, Georgia is a country where Armenians still constitute over 8.5% of the total population, which is the highest percentage for Armenians anywhere in the world outside Armenia. Georgia is a country also shared by many ethnic groups. Other minorities living side-by-side, peacefully* with the ethnic Georgian maj…

Letter 15: Use it with joy: The Popok and Napoleon

Octobre 2003
Yesterday morning, I agreed with two neighbors to go to Getap (on the Silk Road) to look at a huge Popok for sale. Popok is Armenian dialect for a walnut tree.. Arsen, my neighbor who has 2 children (a daughter and a son) in University in Yerevan, has bought an old truck which he drives for a living. He rebuilt the motor himself and converted it to diesel in order to transport the Popok. And Vartkes (our neighbour, who reminds us of our great neighbour and friend near our farm in Québec--also an expert craftsman in all) came along as my expert and to help load. At noon, we got in the mechanically-fit blue truck and coasted down the mountain (to save on fuel) until we found a gas station. Arsen had asked me to pay only for the cost of fuel, so he asked the attendant for seven liters of diesel (called by its Russian name "Salyarka"). I intervened. It made no sense to keep stopping to buy only 10 liters at a time , so I insisted they put in 40 litres instead . (The…