Saturday, July 5, 2014

A World of Pride or More Like Hüzün?

These days what I’m feeling isn’t pride, but sadness. Or perhaps it is melancholy. WorldPride was celebrated in Toronto this year, but I’m not there. I’m in Yerevan where the word “pride” doesn’t have the same meaning. No gay pride parade and not even a march — nothing that is even close to resembling what was happening in Toronto last week and what happened in Istanbul on Sunday.

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Second Time Around

Living in Armenia the second time around is different. You are no longer bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. You see beneath the surface. And you don't always like what you see…

We (us second-time-arounders) are congratulated for returning. I mean, we had our chance. We left Armenia, and though we always said we'd return, probably no one really believed us. But we did return. And those who stayed, those who remain here thanked us (though they don't need to, really). We feel like heros. But I find that problematic. You don't get a medal for living in Armenia (living anywhere, for that matter). So why do people feel the need to make us feel like we deserve a medal? If anyone deserves a medal, it's you. You who stayed. You who stayed and fought and continue to put yourself on the line every day (I'm talking about the human rights defenders, the activists). I took the easy way out. I left (yes, it was for a good cause, and yes, now I'm back) and yes, though I did what I could from afar, you have to admit, it's easier from a distance, from behind a computer screen, than on the ground, In Real Life. Trust me, I know

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dispelling the Myth that Everything is Organic in Armenia

A friend recently shared on Facebook a blog post by another friend of mine, which elicited several comments on the myth that everything is "naturally organic" in Armenia. Though I knew about the use of pesticides, there's a lot that I didn't know, and so I asked the person who left the most detailed comments, Ursula Kazarian (who happens to be the president and founder of the Armenian Environmental Network), if I could publish her comments on my blog. She agreed, so here it is. Kind of like a guest post :)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Welcome to Armenia

It’s Christmas Eve in Armenia, but I’m not really feeling the holiday spirit. For one thing, all the fanfare of New Year’s Eve (especially here where Dec. 25th is not celebrated) has died down, the alcohol’s effect has worn off, and we’re confronted with the reality of having spent half of this month’s pay cheque on holiday preparations and coming to terms with how we’re going to make the other half last for the remaining 25 days of this month. For another thing, I just read my friend Artur Papyan’s latest blog post. He paints a bleak picture of the year to come (which also reminded me of Yerevan Press Club President Boris Navasardian’s similarly depressing outlook on the state of Armenian media, censorship and a return to a disempowering Soviet past, but that’s a different story). But, Artur jan, please don’t feel bad because the good thing about reading your post was that it gave me the impetus I needed to write this blog post, which I’ve been meaning to write for the past few days.