Saturday, June 4, 2011

My Life Revolves Around Nikol Pashinyan (She Says with a Sigh)

(I started writing this post on May 25, 2011, on the threshold of the release of journalist and opposition activist Nikol Pashinyan, who had been imprisoned in Armenia since 2008 under questionable charges related to his involvement in the events of Mar. 1–2, 2008, in Yerevan. Bear with me as this post goes in a direction you might not have expected, considering the title!)

These days my life revolves around Nikol Pashinyan: what he says, what he writes, who he talks to. Pashinyan is revered like a god by some people while, as I mentioned in a previous post, I’d rather hang on every word that my yoga teacher says rather than any politician — be it from the ruling party, an opposition member or one with no official party affiliation — or opposition activist says (and these days, they seem to be saying a lot, while saying very little — how convenient).

I admit, my work has been wearing me out a bit. The schedule’s still the same and the work itself hasn’t changed all that much, but I’m growing weary of local politics (and I haven’t even been here that long!). I don’t know what it is, but I’m not as excited about the promise of change as I was when I first got here. I guess you could say the honeymoon period is over :)

This became more apparent yesterday when I met a guy who’s originally from Yerevan, but has been living in New York City for the past 6 years. He’s back for two weeks, visiting his aging parents, and his excitement and awe (like a little child) of the everyday things here both annoyed me and made me jealous. I was annoyed because ուրց (oortz or thyme) tea is after all just tea, and having a good time with friends in the evening sharing food (even with people you just met) is practically routine, so what’s the big deal? I forget that for someone living life in NYC or Toronto or London or any number of other cities these experiences might be seen as something to cherish.

I was also filled with envy because I realized I don’t see things here the way he does (keep in mind, I wasn’t born in Yerevan, he was, though I’ve been the one living here) — and I miss it. I miss what Yerevan felt like when I was just a tourist or when I first arrived and everything seemed possible. Now that my life here has become more routine, I’ve lost that հայացք (view, or rather, perspective) and I don’t know how to get it back.

Which is part of the reason why I’ve been thinking about going away for a while. Nothing for certain yet and there are so many things that have to be factored into this decision before it becomes a reality, but lately I’ve been feeling the need to leave Armenia — in some way, I’ve lost my footing here and somehow I think that by being elsewhere I’ll get it back. What do you think? Have I caught the common virus going around this country in which people assume that things will be better in another country, the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, that sort of thing?

All I know is that despite the many amazing people I’ve met here and the many amazing things I’ve been able to be a part of, I haven’t felt like I’m building a future or working towards something meaningful. I feel like I do little things here and there that might make a small difference, but have neither a bigger impact nor a long-term strategy. I do think, however, that this feeling isn’t all that uncommon as most people I know don’t know if they’ll have their job tomorrow or how much longer it’ll be till their money runs out, which makes planning for the future just a tad bit difficult. Seems so many are just living by the seat of their pants — and that has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to adjust to here: the lack of stability.

I’m trying to find that balance between feeling that everything is possible (what I felt when I first arrived to Yerevan) and the need for stability. And it ain’t easy, let me tell you.

I will end with a note by blogger and fellow cyclist Tom Allen, who inspires me not only with a writing style that engages his audience but also with what he writes. In his recent post, he writes about taking control of your life:

Our lives and [what] we do with them are entirely products of our own volition, given the opportunities available to us. All the inanities of modern existence, the procrastination and pointless pursuits, assume that being alive and healthy are entitlements.

“It's probably worth reminding ourselves that they aren't — then we might look upon our options with more respect, seeing real alternatives waiting to be grasped, not tomorrow or in a few years' time, but today. We all hear stories of those who've had near-death experiences or terrible accidents and have gone on to grab life by the balls as a result of coming so close to losing it. […] it would be tragic to look back on a lucky life of good health and vitality and to realize that it was squandered in a system of living which wasn't your own, and from which you never managed to wrestle control.”


  1. Adrineh jan, what you feel is not at all uncommon. I remember my excitement when I first came to London, meeting new people, new experiences... Even though you may always discover something new here, but after few years, life became routine and I do miss that feeling too... I feel like home in London but miss Yerevan too, and I like having the feeling you described when I visit Yerevan. Have to say, however, I do not feel too much stability in London too, and so far I never managed to make long term plans...

    As to the value of what you do in Armenia, you may not feel it, but it does contribute to a long-term strategy. It's because of people like you, Armenia slowly, yes, at times very slowly, but moving forward.

    Here is cheers to summer break and change in routine. Not sure how yet, but I have to change mine too.

  2. aww, thanks, Mika jan :) your words mean a lot. It's hard but I have to keep reminding myself (or have others remind me!) that this feeling is not unique in Yerevan, that the lack of stability exists in London or Toronto or many other places (especially post-"global economic crisis" and the loss of so many jobs) but that there are opportunities everywhere — one just has to look. I have to confess though that the drawback in opportunities I have come across personally in Yerevan ha been financial: either too little pay or not at all (lots of things you could do as a volunteer!). Anyway, maybe we can continue this conversation when you come to Yerevan next :) Anhamber spasum enq qez!