Yerevan Journal – November 2007

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A neighbor who owns one of the larger supermarkets in the area knocked on our door this afternoon, looking a little wild due to his five or so day old beard, likely left because of the large amount of time he’s been spending with workers renovating his apartment. He was holding several pieces of khorovadz wrapped up in lavash. They had been celebrating their new fireplace by barbecuing in the fireplace, and were bringing us part of the results. With this wife, father-in-law, and nephew, we ate khorovadz, dolma, and salad, topped off with a glass of tuti arak. Asking about our trip to Belarus, the store owner wasn’t surprised to hear how clean and nice the country is, and about the collective farms and orderly life. “Now you know how it was here during Soviet times,” he said. “People treated people with dignity. People didn’t have such serious financial problems. Now we’re being run by a criminal government. Now, do you see why the people of Belarus wouldn’t let the Americans remove Lukashenka from power?” As they left, I looked outside, saw a car loaded with cabbages pull up, and watched as several neighbors flocked to the car, buying cabbages for pickling. The car, which arrived with cabbages filled to the brim, and somehow balanced on top of the car, was soon emptied. An old man hauled off about six cabbages himself, taking two of the huge cabbages each trip to his apartment. Seeing this, I knew I was in the old world. . . . A little later, we left for the Mer Gyugh restaurant, to meet with an Italian couple in Armenia for some preliminary filming for a documentary on Armenian folk song and dance. The Italians had heard Hasmik’s Armenian Lullabies CD, and had found Hasmik by way of the Culture Ministry. After deciding they would visit our home the next morning to interview Hasmik, the husband asked if it was true, that I had heard Hasmik’s voice on a CD and come to Armenia to search for her. After saying it was true, he pulled out his camera and said to tell the entire story, which I happily did. After our meeting, we picked up our photos taken in Belarus, grabbed a taxi, and headed back to our Ajapnyak home.

By the time yesterday ended, it seemed we had set a record for the number of people visiting our home. The day started with what was supposed to be a one-hour meeting and interview with our Italian filmmaker friends, who arrived at about ten-thirty in the morning. As Hasmik talked about the importance of a nation maintaining its culture, songs, and dances, the filmmakers rolled their film, seemingly fascinated even though they understood almost nothing. As the hour-long meeting turned into three hours, Hasmik talked about and sang lullabies, nearly putting the Italian couple’s one-year-old daughter to sleep. As they worked, I met with a student in one room, while the visitors’ driver took care of the child in another. Then, not long after the Italians left, a neighbor arrived, almost at the same time another student arrived, and after this student left, another showed up, with our guest laughing at the door swinging open and closed. Soon, our neighbors doing the renovating and fireplace building knocked on the door, this time, as they said, to discuss serious financial matters, which turned out to be paying a debt of about twenty dollars, after which they stayed and talked about the predictable yet unpredictable upcoming presidential race. “Do you know the international organization Ter Petrosyan’s a member of?” the husband said. It seems that not only do people here remember the bad years Ter Petrosyan ruled over, and the selling of electricity while the people froze, but they suspect the former ruler of working for others, with the purpose of destroying Armenia. . . . Today’s active life continued with the wedding of one of Hasmik’s Byurakantsi cousins, one whom the father sent back from Moscow a few years ago so she would marry an Armenian, the father’s wish thus coming true. After a couple of hours in a nearby apartment during the ceremony of taking the bride from the family home, where the women and girls all left to the courtyard and danced to zurna and dhol as the bride was being prepared for her wedding, the men talked and visited upstairs. By three-thirty, we left for the Mughni St. Gevorg church for the wedding ceremony, and then on to the ancient village of Parbi, near Agarak and down the hill from Byurakan. A crowd of what seemed to be the entire village ate, danced, gave toasts, made noise, and visited for about three hours, after which we danced the Kochari before heading back to Yerevan. On the way, we spotted someone selling pumpkins on the side of the road near Ashtarak, so, not resisting, we bought one, its fate soon to be another batch of pumpkin soup.

After a shockingly strong windstorm, which kept us and doubtless much of Yerevan awake part of the night, a morning phone call from our Kyavartsi bee man had us going to their home in central Yerevan, near St. Hovhannes church, to get part of our year’s supply of honey. He said he had already sold all his honey, which he gathers high on one of Kyavar’s mountains, but he had held back a few kilograms specially for us. Arriving at their home, one of the older homes of the area, likely part of one of the programs of rebuilding the old residential areas of the city center, we sat and ate honey and bread, along with pickles, cheese, and the like. As a good Kyavartsi, he offered some oghi, which he proudly said was apricot oghi from Ararat. I told him I couldn’t have any, as I had a student coming to our house in just a couple of hours from then, but he said not to worry, that oghi isn’t garlic, or green onions. I asked him how people were doing in Kyavar, and after saying they were “getting by somehow,” he said a thirty-year-old relative had just killed someone from their area of Kyavar, as the man had cheated his father while working in Russia. “He’s a good boy. None of this would be happening if everything were normal in Armenia. People have no money, no security. They’re only people. We can’t expect miracles.” Later in the day, we went to the premiere of a presentation of Saroyan’s Cave Dwellers, renamed Last Day on Earth for the current presentation. It was my first visit to the Metro Theater, below the road near the subway station in Yerort Mas. It seemed nearly everyone with a name in culture in Armenia, especially the literary part, was there, as Writer’s Union officials, art experts, culture ministry people, and art lovers came to see Armen Elbakyan’s version of the work by Saroyan. One of the main players was his wife, Anna Elbakyan, who was backed by others from the Metro Theater and two Malyan Theater actors. Unfortunately, as agreed on by basically everyone who viewed the play, it was not only too long, but didn’t even begin to capture the Saroyan “flavor” or “breath,” as people there put it. Nevertheless, the evening did prove to be a good social affair, as I met culture ministry officials from the folklore department, as well as relatives of “Doctor Harout,” a Karabakh war hero from the Sassountsi village of Ujan, and others from the culture scene in Yerevan.

While in Belarus, we talked with someone in our delegation who has worked with Yerevan’s “stars,” as they put it. One of Shoghaken asked him what he thought of a certain singer with an obvious lack of any talent whatsoever, and our friend said he didn’t take her seriously at all. To our question as to how she made a name for herself, our friend said, “Just give me $5,000 to $7,000. Then we’ll make a good video clip. Then you pay television stations to run the video. If they run it enough, the person becomes known, and is a star. That’s how it’s done. The singer you’re talking about has a rich husband. It was easy for her. And, they can make that money back. They start getting invitations to sing (lip-synch) their songs at weddings, etc. Up to a thousand dollars a shot. This is the current scene in Yerevan,” he said, sadly but acceptingly. A twenty-five-year-old graduate student put it more bluntly: “My friends go to these stupid comedy shows and pop star concerts. I don’t understand it. And we say we are European, civilized, and better than Moslems. Why? They respect and maintain their culture. Do we?” Today, as if proving the student’s point, Turkish television showed a group of costumed musicians sitting on a large carpet inside a house, each playing a different national instrument, blul, dap, saz, tar, bku, and even strung-up walnut shells rattling together, while an old man sang and danced intermittently. And from Armenian television, besides occasional lucky and rare moments featuring old film clips of Ophelia Hambartsumyan, Hovhannes Badalyan, Raffi Hovhannesyan, Edik Darbinyan, Avak Petrosyan, or even the Song and Dance Ensemble, pop stars and pretenders are promoted to no end, with huge amounts of money undoubtedly funneled into the country for this purpose, which many say is simply to destroy our culture . . . not to mention the money reaching here to promote religious sects, the list goes on. . . .

Even though news services always report about construction or mining when talking about Armenia’s economy, it seems the best business to invest in here is that of sunflower seeds. Looking out our window yesterday morning at a group of youth standing in the building’s courtyard, I counted seven high school-aged men, six of whom cracked and ate sunflower seeds as they spoke. Only one stood with his hands idle. A friend arrived, shook hands and kissed each of his friends on the cheek, reached into one of his pockets, and began cracking and eating sunflower seeds. My next glance revealed none of them eating the seeds, but a couple of seconds later they departed for whichever school they were attending. Later in the afternoon, a car pulled up in the same spot, loaded with cauliflower. When Hasmik and a friend who happened to be visiting at the time found out, they went down to the courtyard and joined about ten others in choosing and weighing the cauliflower, bought mainly for making pickles, yet our next breakfast had the cauliflower cooked in a frying pan with parsley and red pepper. In the evening, we went to the long-awaited return to the stage of Gurgen Dabaghyan, well known as the youthful singer of ashoughagan songs until a five-year hiatus was needed during his early-teen voice change period. A full house at the opera hall watched and listened as Gurgen, now with a mature voice, sang the songs of Sayat Nova, Sheram, Havassi, and others. Gurgen was accompanied by musicians from the Sayat Nova ensemble and his uncle, Gevorg Dabaghyan, and three other duduk players, and dhol. It seems Gurgen, especially with time, will have a voice appropriate to the genre. No doubt, with Armenia’s culture scene controlled by those with lesser talents (besides that of self-promotion), singers like Dabaghyan are needed to counter and hopefully conquer these singers (better yet, businessmen). Interesting, though, that the program read that folk and ashoughagan songs would be sung, yet no folk songs were sung, leading to several discussions in the lobby after the concert, one in which Hasmik explained the difference to two pop stars who attempt to sing folk and ashoughagan songs, neither knowing the difference between the two genres, yet while listening attentively defended their earlier belief that there was no difference between folk and ashoughagan songs.

As the weather in Yerevan has cooled down considerably, we decided to have our first batch of khash for the year, leading to several trips to the local market for the proper parts of the animal used to make khash, known here as “zink,” (the close equivalent of the knee joint and ankle area), as well as greens, radishes, mineral water (known here simply as Jermuk, no matter the brand), garlic, and lavash. We dried part of the lavash to break into the soup, and left part of the lavash soft, which professional khash eaters use instead of a spoon. As a mother and daughter who were coming turned up “mrsats,” or, caught a cold, we called a neighbor and his wife whom we knew loved to eat khash. After saying “bari luys,” the simple kenats said when eating khash, each of us had a shot of tuti arak, after which we began eating this traditional winter breakfast. While partaking in this quite unusual (to Westerners) breakfast, the talk turned to this week’s Gurgen Dabaghyan concert, and whether it was appropriate for a television personality to invite those youth who had participated in the recent folk/ashoughagan competition on the Shant television station to the stage, and make the remark that if Dabaghyan hadn’t been singing ashoughagan music ten years earlier, who knows what kind of music these youth would be singing. One of our breakfast guests said he thought this was inappropriate, giving Dabaghyan all this credit, as this takes away any influence these youths’ families, or genetics for that matter, might have had on the youths choosing folk or ashoughagan music to sing. Another commented on the manner in which the winner of the competition was chosen, as one of the three finalists had been voted out, after which the show’s producer invited him back into the competition, this ousted singer then being chosen winner. It happens that most of those who followed the competition, which lasted weeks, had hoped a certain Aparantsi male would win, and, from the little I heard of the competition, this Aparantsi was the only one who had a true Armenian folk-style voice, and a possible future as a singer in the genre. Apparently many agreed and, also considering the show as fixed, demonstrated in front of the Shant offices, calling the show’s producer and judges every name under the sun.

Just a couple of days before returning home, a young European-based Armenologist found his way to our home, in search of true Armenian folk music and culture. It happened that he had heard the Music of Armenia folk recording from the mid 1990s, featuring the Shoghaken Ensemble, and hoped that the group was still active. “I am very disappointed in the current scene in culture here,” he said. “All day long, whether on radio or television, I hear either rabiz or western-style pop music, or perhaps classical music, which is fine but has nothing to do with Armenian culture. I had given up, when someone at the culture ministry said to come to your home.” The Armenologist reminded that since folk music isn’t alive now in Armenia’s rural regions and villages, that this would eventually mean the end of folk music in Armenia, saying that folk culture is meant to be practiced, not kept in museums or even recordings. “In my opinion, the ‘last Armenian’ has already been born. Unfortunately, here you are trying to imitate Western culture to the point you are losing your own. Those that are singing folk-style songs to synthesized music in their video clips do more harm than good. You need to have more pride in your true folk culture.” We talked about Armenia’s unfortunate geographical position, leading several world powers to covet the spot and even influence the people here with their cultures, music, and religion, to take away Armenia’s face, concentrating on the younger generation, which is always ready to accept anything new or different. “In Europe, we face similar problems, what with globalization and all, but here things are worse. I don’t like Russia and what they are doing here in Armenia, but I admit the Soviet Union had its positive side, because I know folk culture was stronger back then.” As the night went on, I watched as the Armenologist sat at least somewhat amazed as Hasmik talked about Armenian culture and song, how folk songs were created throughout our history, and why songs of the old quality aren’t being created now. Reaching around one a.m., we offered our new friend to stay the night, and join us in the morning eating khash left over from the previous day. Taking up our offer, he stayed, and partook in his first breakfast of khash, after which he left, saying he’d be seeing us the coming summer during his next trip to Armenia. Later in the day, he called, laughing about his trip to the Culture Ministry, where he had walked in on a meeting where they were deciding which ensemble to send to Armenian culture days in Syria. He said he had told them that they should send Shoghaken, after which he said the praise began, lasting nearly a half hour, him leaving the gathering to decide whom they might send to Syria.

Today a local singer of ashoughagan music admitted, after some mild pressure, that ashoughagan music was different than folk music, and that he and others used the term jhoghovrtakan (folk) for songs they sang because saying the word “folk” has more prestige than saying ashoughagan. “And, one reason I sing ashoughagan is because it is easier to sing than folk music. Folk music demands more understanding, more feeling, than ashoughagan.” Our singer friend sat in awe of Turkish folk musicians on TRT 4, as saz and blul players confidently performed mughams, while folk singers sang to quiet backup by dham duduk or blul. “Our musicians, although excellent, don’t play like this,” he said. “They try to show their expertise at times the singer is trying to sing, portray a picture. They need to be more confident, and know when to play their solos and when to quietly back up the singer, and not interfere with their singing.” Being currently in tune to the subject, I noticed during dinner at Mer Gyugh on Sayat Nova that the male and female singers both sang nothing but ashoughagan songs, and that the only folk music we heard were dance melodies played on duduk by one of Gevorg Dabaghyan’s students. In the meantime, at the restaurant, we enjoyed our meeting with none other than a great-grandson of one who had fought with Sebastatsi Mourad, about whom I had just learned while editing a story of how Mourad and his men fought their way out of Western Armenia, occasionally taking revenge for unspeakable acts committed by Turks during the deportations, during the massacres of 1915. It happened that our new friend had roots in the same village of the Sivas province that Mourad did, and had fought, in 1915. As the evening passed, we talked about Armenian and area politics, coming to the sad conclusion that several Western powers who supposedly support Armenia are quite busy building up Azerbaijan’s military, once again proving that Armenia’s only friend, if it can be said, is itself.

A phone call from a Norwegian who is filming a documentary about Moush and had heard Hasmik’s Armenian Lullabies recording had us going to one of the city center hotels to meet and talk about his film. It happens the man’s grandmother had run a school and small hospital in Moush until the massacres began in 1915. “I am doing this because it has to be done,” he said. “My grandmother felt betrayed by the Turks when the killings started. She barely escaped herself, going to Constantinople before returning to Moush three months later. She personally searched for her former pupils, and found out that all had been killed by Turks or Kurds. She even returned a year or two later, but found almost no Armenians and saw the situation as hopeless, so she left for good. I went there last year, and even went to the Armenian cemetery on the hill where Moush ends. You should have seen the Kurds, how curious they were, how many questions they asked.” He then said he wanted to use two of Hasmik’s lullabies in the film, asking which ones were from Moush, after which we exchanged contacts and parted. From the hotel, we went to Orran, where Hasmik talked about the importance and influence Hayrik Mouradian had on Armenian folk music, for the television station “R.” Later, on another subject, a visitor to our home expressed his opinion about the upcoming presidential election, saying he thought Levon Ter Petrosyan actually had a chance of being elected. “Everybody knows what Levon is, and whom he works for, and it’s not Armenia. But Hayatantsis are full up to here (pointing to his neck) with Gharabaghtsis, who they think are working only for their pocketbooks, and not for Armenia or anybody else for that matter.” As we talked, Dashnaktsutyun’s Yerkir Media interviewed a priest from the Armenian Apostolic Church and another supporting individual about a certain Western-based sect and its influence in certain elementary schools in Armenia. They told about how a well known principal was using books published by the sect and teaching and praying according to the sect’s style and rules. Several students were interviewed, each of them saying they were disgusted with it all, yet a high ranking official from city hall said he saw nothing wrong or illegal about what is going on. Most here think that such officials, as are several of the better known pop stars who follow this particular sect, are sponsored by this and other sects, to the point they’ll say or do whatever the sect wishes.

It happens that an Austrian organization has been producing exact copies of the Echmiadzin Gospel and selling them in Europe, making huge amounts of money in the process. This is being done legally, as an agreement was made with the former director of the Matenadaran some time in the recent past. No money has reached the Matenadaran itself from the sale of these copies, which are said to be so well done that it is difficult telling them apart from the original. Until now, no one has seen a copy of the agreement/contract giving the Austrian organization the right to reproduce the Gospel. Also, as everyone was relaxing, happy that the agreement with the Americans to digitalize manuscripts kept in the Matenadaran was voided, another agreement has surfaced to digitalize the manuscripts, this one with an Austrian organization. It is yet unclear if it is the same organization involved in producing and selling the Echmiadzin Gospel copies.

A trip to the Stanislavsky Russian theater had us watching the second presentation of a Polish work Armenianized by actors Davit Hakobyan, Jhorik Hovakimyan, and Ashot Atamyan, all of whom started with the Malyan Theater, for which Hovakimyan, a good comic actor, still works. In the play, Hakobyan represents the rich, Hovakimyan the regular person, and Atamyan, known for his role in Egoyan’s Calendar, the intellectual. During the course of the play, the three, stranded on a desert island, were approached by airplanes and submarines from various nations, Russians, Americans, Europeans, and others, none helping the Armenians yet each making demands, much like the current situation in Armenia. . . . Today, a great writer of short stories and plays, Aghassi Ayvazyan, passed away, saddening art lovers and Armenians in general. Ayvazyan’s work, Physiology of a Family, was presented by the Malyan Theater troupe is recent times. The writer was a close friend with Henrik Malyan, with whom he worked on the film Yerankyun and others. Along with Zorayr Khalapyan, born in the village of Talish, in northern Karabagh, Ayvazyan was the best of current writers of novels and plays. In the world of politics, Serge Sargsyan’s answer to Levon Ter Petrosyan’s remark that he would only stay in power for three years, declaring that this would be long enough to clean out the thieves running the country, was that three years would apparently be enough for Ter Petrosyan to hand over Karabagh. A pity, the historical and geographical importance that Karabagh holds, that there are so many Hayastantsis so disgusted with the Karabaghtsi-run government that they are ready to let Karabagh go, to get rid of the government and live in peace.

Today, as Yerevan’s first snow continued to fall, I went to the post office and picked up a small package with a map and letter from a Sebastatsi relative in California, showing the entire Armenian Town, house by house, of downtown Fresno before World War II. I saw where my relatives, the Minasians and Saroyans, lived, as well as Kirk Kerkorian and the Saghatelians, for whom I worked at their Valley Bakery, the original owner of which was married to my grandmother’s Bitlisi cousin. The letter that came with the map told of how William Saroyan had to defend himself against American kids who made fun of his big nose and started fights with him, and how Saroyan’s sister Cossette continuously told people that her brother would someday be famous. I was fortunate to have grown up with most of these same people, even though in a later era than shown on the map . . . as I am now fortunate to be in a place where life is similar to the Fresno of that time. Early in my stay here, I met Hayrik Mouradian, about the same age as Saroyan, and for whom Saroyan made a point of visiting during his trips to Armenia. Mouradian, now gone for some eight years, was featured on Nor Alik’s Retro, in video clips where Mouradian sang “Im Hayrenyats Hogi Vardan” and others. His “Antuni,” recorded amongst the ruins of the Zvartnots cathedral, was a masterpiece, easily better than all the video clips the pop stars are putting out these days, for each of which some $5,000-$10,000 is spent in production. On the lighter side, our new friend from Norway called and said he had bought one of Hasmik’s Armenian Lullabies CDs in a coffee shop on Abovian, after which he entered two CD shops (which sell mostly illegal CD copies) and saw an illegal copy of the lullaby recording. “Quite loudly, I told them that what they were doing was immoral and a crime. They weren’t very happy with me,” he said. . . . Also, as things develop here politically, people are starting to ask if Raffi Hovhannisian will be allowed to run for president, and if so, what he will do or say concerning the fact that Stepan Demirjyan and Aram Sargsyan (brother of Vazgen Sargsyan) are now standing side-by-side with Levon Ter Petrosyan, even though they were supposedly staunch members of Armenia’s opposition. Nobody expects Hovhannisian to come out on the side of Ter Petrosyan but, all in all, people here are starting to look more favorably towards Serge Sargsyan, saying the sight of Ter Petrosyan and his ilk is more than they can bear.

Hearing Monte Melkonian’s voice in the next room, I left my editing work and went to listen to what turned out to be another in a series of programs dedicated to the great commander, coinciding with his birthday. Hasmik and I watched video footage showing the California-born Melkonian talking about the war and its importance and meeting with regular soldiers, Caroline Cox, Raffi Hovhannisian, and others. Although Melkonian’s brother, in his recently published book, says that Azeris killed his brother, and not Armenians, as is popularly believed, many if not most here cling to the opinion that Armenians killed Melkonian, who fought for Armenia and not for future fortune or fame. Interestingly enough, following this program, National Television’s Hay Lur told about an Azeri wedding that took place not far from Fizuli in Azerbaijan, just across the current border . Several Armenian soldiers fluent in the local Turkish dialect crossed the border and took part in the wedding party, finding out what they could, and even grabbing an Azeri civilian who seemed to have important information and taking him back to Armenian-controlled territory. This news, it turns out, was also broadcast on Moscow news. In cultural related happenings, an interview on the Kentron station brought a strong reaction from Shant, related to their recent, and to-be-continued, Armenian song competition. When asked his opinion about the show, Vahan Ardzruni, who sings traditional songs, often to his own arrangements and to acoustic guitar accompaniment, said the music presented was mostly ashoughagan, with little or no folk music. Although the question didn’t relate to the type of music presented by those competing, it shows that people here are starting to question the false presentation of ashoughagan music as folk music, likely simply for the prestige connected with folk music, not to mention the owners of Shant’s quick reaction to anyone daring to express anything but praise about their show.

As travel to out-of-the-way places, to embassies, etc., has had me in taxis more than usual, I’ve noticed the strong feelings these drivers have concerning the presidential elections. A driver with roots in Alashkert, near Moush, said he thought Levon Ter Petrosyan, even with his record as president, would be right for now, to clean out the “Karabagh mafia,” as he put it. When I asked about Ter Petrosyan giving back Karabagh and maybe even Zangezur, the driver replied that Ter Petrosyan couldn’t do this even if he wanted to. Another driver, this one with roots in Bulanukh, in the Plains of Moush, said he would without doubt vote for Serge Sargsyan. “We can’t forgive Levon for what he did, during the dark years. People froze to death, while they were selling electricity to Armenia’s neighbors. Why do you think the Turks want Levon for president?” he said. He continued: “In Soviet times, I was chief designer at a watch/clock factory. Three thousand workers. Levon shut the factory down. I tried working in Moscow, but Russians look down on us. But we need to make Armenia stronger. We can’t always be depending on others.” Another driver said that since Raffi Hovhannisian was again turned down in his request for lengthening the time of his citizenship to where he could run for president, he would vote for Serge. “I’m tired of all the anti-Karabaghtsi talk. People shouldn’t judge all Karabaghtsis by the president or prime minister. My wife is from Stepanakert, but that doesn’t affect my opinion. I’m for Serge.” Also, in Yerevan, people concerned with culture and its proper representation are talking about Ruben Matevosyan’s recent remark that folk (jhoghovrtakan) music has three branches, spiritual, ashoughagan, and village music — a ridiculous remark, yet not surprising when listening to the group he founded, in which a large group of youths sing, in unison, ashoughagan songs, totally contrary to Armenian style. When we recently heard several boys singing “Dun en Glkhen” in unison, a completely Turkish style, we knew somebody had lost their
way.

Contrasts in Armenia are always there to surprise those not ready for the inevitable, as was the case yesterday with me. After conducting some brief business in HSBC bank, with everything done in an orderly manner, as would be expected from a western-based institution, I went to an Armenian-owned bank to continue my work. The building was beautiful. I thought I would be able to conduct my work myself, but luckily Hasmik knew better. People waited in line at three or four windows, and were being shuffled from window to window by Soviet-style women making strange demands that could only be answered with harsh words, only after which results could be had. Once, we were sent back and forth between the same two windows three different times, to find out the latest exchange rate and other things I didn’t really understand. So be it. Reaction here about the quick release of an Azeri man who had wandered accidentally over the border into Noyemberyan was varied, with many saying Armenians shouldn’t always be so civilized, not thinking about the destruction of khachkars in Old Julfa, necessarily, and how Armenians merely protested, again without avail, but that the Azeris have captives themselves, and the Armenians didn’t make any demands for mutual exchange of captives. “In the past, Turks and Kurds treated Armenians like dirt, and worse,” a neighbor said. “They killed us, and we looked to Europe for help. Now, we act in a civilized manner with this Azeri who crossed the border. Maybe we should start acting like Turks. The sword is all they understand.”
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