Originally published on Repat Armenia website
Thanks for being my home for the last 6 months. No, I’m not going anywhere just yet, but I wanted to thank you now, personally.
You provide me with unique experiences that I can’t be part of anywhere else. I have to thank you for keeping me company with your music and fountain show at the Republic Square. Your eclectic mix of tunes always entertains me, from Charles Aznavour to Cotton-Eyed Joe. On weekends I get to enjoy the rabiz remixes played at our handicraft flea market, Vernissage. I am lucky to have befriended some of the woodworkers, who look forward to my visits whenever I get the chance. Thank you to all of the shopkeepers and restaurant employees who know my name and know my orders. Your warm smiles make me feel so much more welcome here!
They say Armenians are curious people. This is very true. When I’m not getting stared down by packs of girls for wearing converses or leg-warmers, I tend to attract the attention of mothers with daughters, the munchkins interested in my goofy smile or tendencies to stretch in public. The Armenian-esque mentality of being serious and sometimes glum has worked to my benefit, mostly. It is easy to stand out and brighten someone’s day with a smile or random act of humor. And when I’m not getting harassed by the old man who refused to stand up at a standing rally, who by the way, told me I would make a great wife (sarcastically), I amuse others with the songs I’ve written about Armenia’s public transport and interesting sense of fashion.
It is easy to overlook some of the other cities and villages, like Gyumri or Shushi, but I think they really provide a slice of Armenia. These historic towns will always have a place in my heart because of the way they opened their hearts to me. The random invitations into peoples’ homes and their desires to pour tuti-oghi down my throat show me that there is a side to Armenia that is more genuine than I could have ever imagined. They wonder why I’m in Armenia, and if I’ve come here to find a husband and have kids – since family is of utmost importance. Sometimes the gender-stereotypical comments can get on my nerves, but that’s just a part of the mentality that I can laugh at. Who likes to get beaten in football (soccer) by a woman?
To the lovely police officers and presidential police escort who have a habit of waking me up on a daily basis – it is not necessary to shout incomprehensible babble through your microphones, and no, nobody understands you anyways. Maybe if you followed the rules you were supposed to enforce instead of throwing your cigarette butts on the ground people might respect you. However, on a non-sarcastic note, I have to say I appreciate the police presence at night. I feel incredibly safe walking around Yerevan after sunset.
So, my dear Yerevan, there are some things you can do to make my smile a bit brighter. I still avoid marshrutkas (minibuses) like the plague, and I don’t like taxi drivers trying to rip me off because I’m a Diasporan. Just because I speak Western-Armenian, doesn’t mean I don’t understand you. I’ve been rammed by grocery carts in supermarkets more times than I’d like to remember, but I’ve perfected my death-glare, so thanks. I don’t think the concept of waiting in line has become a hit here – yet. The cancerous smoke cloud that seems to follow me wherever I am is starting to fade. Though, a bit of advice; if you plan on entering a place to enjoy an adult beverage or two, don’t wear something that’s fresh out of the wash. You’ll come out smelling like an ash tray anyways.
I conclude with one of my favorite Yerevanci slang phrases. Lav, eli!
Ani Kohar Tramblian
Birthright Armenia Participant from Virginia, USA