Showing posts from 2007

Letter 25 : That stubborn pain, the pain of hope!

Yeghegnadzor, Monday, November 12, 2007

Here, on the steep slopes of our mountains, there is no time for life (Kyanqi hamar zhamanaq ch’ka). We do, like those who rise towards God: We forget pain! That stubborn pain, the pain of hope!
Onnik is the man in his seventies who lives at 5 Khachatryan, the other end of our street. He welcomed us so kindly when we first moved in that I thought I would ask him for advice on where to acquire the goods and services we needed locally. I called several times the number he had given us; noone answered. Then I saw him on the street and asked if I had taken-down his number wrong. He said no, you have the correct number, it is just that they have cut my phone line (for non-payment - 900 drams). So I asked him if perhaps his wife would be willing to help us with our laundry, since city water rarely reached our house at the time (because of our altitude). He checked with her and we started taking our laundry there and his phone line started working.

Lettre 25: Ce mal tenace, le mal de l'espoir

Yeghegnadzor, lundi, 12 novembre 2007

Ici, aux pentes raides de nos montagnes, pas de temps pour la vie (Kyanqi hamar zhamanaq ch’ka). Nous faisons comme ceux qui s’élèvent vers Dieu : Nous oublions la douleur! Ce mal tenace, le mal de l’espoir!

Onnik est le septuagénaire qui habite au 5, rue Khachatryan, à l’autre bout de notre rue. Il nous avait accueilli si gentiment quand nous avions emménagé que j’avais pensé lui demander conseil pour savoir où acquérir les biens et services dont nous aurions besoin, localement.J’ai composé plusieurs fois le numéro de téléphone qu’il nous avait donné, personne ne répondait. Je l’ai alors croisé dans la rue et lui ai demandé de vérifier si j’avais mal copié son numéro. Non, me dit-il, vous avez le bon numéro, ils m’ont coupé la ligne (pour non-paiement des frais – 900 drams). Je lui ai alors demandé si sa femme pourrait faire notre lessive, puisque l’eau courante atteignait rarement notre maison (à cause de son altitude). La réponse positive de sa f…

Letter 24: When Mané's great-grandmother died

Letter 24: When Mané's great-grandmother died
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Her name was Elizabeth. She was born in 1918, a few months after the Sartarapat victory. She got married in 1936 and had two daughters, one of them Rima, Mané’s grandmother.
I met her for the first time six months ago, the night before Mané flew to Canada on a scholarship. Mané had invited me for a good-bye dinner party at Rima’s house.

They called her ‘Nana’. She was sitting on the couch side of the dinner table and she looked so sweet with her hair covered in a cone-shaped scarf, I decided to sit next to her.
I found out she had almost zero vision, but she was sharp and witty and laughed and responded in kind to my jokes. She was so sweet, I couldn’t help go and visit her regularly after that. I brought her bananas (an imported fruit in Armenia, a luxury in Soviet times). I always joked: “Don’t let anybody have them, these are for you”. She never ate any, they all went to her great-grandchildren. I always …

Letter 23: We buy a truckload of cement

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Thank God the parliamentary elections went relatively well (better than the last election, improving like everything else in Armenia)… Thank God there is no war going on here… We still have quite a few problems to deal with though...

This morning, our neighbour Vartkes asked me how much I paid for a truckload of cement I bought directly from the factory last week. When I told him I paid 37000 drams per ton + 26000 for the transport, his reaction was: ‘Aynkan tangatsel e’ (It has gone up so much)! And he proceeded to blame ‘Doddy Gago’ for jacking-up the price after he bought the factory. (Doddy Gago is one of those oligarchs who made a quick buck buying-up everything when the Soviet Union collapsed. He is now reputed to be ‘Godfather’ to thousands of local Armenians.)

On May 10, I took 300,000 drams cash (about 1000 US$) out of the bank and rode with two young men in an old ‘Zil’ Soviet truck to the town of Ararat, normally a one hour trip across the Nakhicheva…