It was 6 th of April and hoping to present something to my mom I entered the glass-ware shop called “Limex Ross”. But I quite forgot that I wanted to buy some vase or so when I saw a huge bunch of bamboos having an intense longing for plants. I asked the shop assistant to help me. That was a young girl with very dull personality, very short (shorter then me, huh) and plump. So with a wide smile on my face I asked her how long the bamboos would last. She said something , but as it was very noisy in the shop (obviously the shop had received a new consignment of goods and everything was in a mess) I misheard and said: “I'm sorry?”, still keeping the smile. Then she rose her voice and said “aseci inchqan paheS…” (“I said as long as you keep them”) and looked at me in such a manner as if I had borrowed money from her and refuse giving back. For a moment my smile disappeared, I just looked at her resisting myself not to utter anything, turned around and left the shop.
I’ve always wondered why people here have so bad manners. On the way home I was pondering whether I said or did something wrong. I guess no, I was very courtesy, I talked distinctly, then what did I do wrong?? Oh, yes, I smiled, this was my great mistake. People here do not like when you smile, they take you for a mad or in cases like this one, girls like this seller think they are it and consider themselves to be higher than you. Although I am for elimination of various barriers of socioeconomic groups, but perhaps I should had reminded her that she is just a seller and I doubt greatly that she’s even intelligent and perhaps she’s just a remote relative of one of the owners of the shop and only thanks to him she works there. But, no, I would rather hold back, let the shop owners thank her for losing customers. I got the gist, I smiled and didn’t receive a smile back.
Many times it happened when I'm with my friends in some café and while smilingly ordering some meals to bring, the waitress speaks so reluctantly and without any emotion that my smile automatically disappears and I start thinking whether something is wrong with my speech or appearance. And they have that approach of looking down at you, not only directly, but indirectly as well. Yes, I understand that they are getting very tired working the whole day, but that's their work. Imagine a scientist who works on an important project and does it reluctantly because he is tired. His invention is likely to have a negative effect more than positive. Here again they chase away clients.
Would I face such a scene if I happened to be abroad?
The first thing foreigners notice and ask is: “What has happened to this nation? Why don’t they smile?”. The usual explanation is that throughout history Armenians have suffered a lot, they have lived a dog’s life, that life is still difficult, they work hard, no work , no money.. bla…bla…bla. But wait, chuck it! Stop that cheap crying! Yes, the history has left a cruel heritage but shall we blame it for not smiling today? Yes, life is not always a bed of roses, it’s hard, full of burdens, but who’s life is not? And as a matter of fact those people “cry” who need for nothing, they have more than enough money to support their needs and live in luxury. Just having money breeds another problem: they live all their lives guiding the money they pile up in order not to let the others obtain it. No doubt, that’s a frustrating life..
Among poor people, on the contrary, you can find such people who always smile though they are the ones to complain for the hardly earned bread of each day. Peasants spend the whole day in the burning sun and in the evening they return home exhausted but with inner satisfaction and gratitude for life. I know so many such people, who live in ramshackle, who are surrounded by problems, who are the ones to cry, but they don't . They smile, they crack jokes, they infect us with their laughter and thus they live. This reminds me one of Toomanian’s tales, which he took as far as I know from an Arabian story: “Qef anoghi, qef@ chi paksi ( The one who is resilient, will never lack resilience)”. I think the translation is at least close and you guessed what tale I mean. I really recommend reading it.
The day before yesterday while waiting other students to come I had a chat with my professor of Spanish. She remembers when she first time came to Yerevan from Tbilisi she was also astonished that people here do not smile. So she kind of got adopted to it, trying not to smile on every occasion. She told me with admiration about the years spent in Cuba, that people there are so kind and they seem to be so happy, that they celebrate every little occasion, mainly accompanied by beer and music, and not tradition tormenting preparations as is the case in Armenia. Though Cuba is one of the problematic countries, isn't it? After returning from Cuba she couldn't help smiling any more. And it's so pleasant to see a woman about 60 always smiling. When she enters the auditorium nicely smiling, it always has a positive impact on us. Whenever we are tired or reluctant to study she immediately emboldens us with her stimulating smile and laughter. …And how can we withstand her resilient smile?! Sometimes it seems as if we are 60 and she is 20….!!
Later she went on telling that when her sister came from Tbilisi to visit her, the first thing she warned her sister was: “Alla, don't smile, people here will understand you incorrectly”. Yes, from your smile implications may differ immensely.
If you ask an old man how he is, he is likely to answer: “Eeeh…balam…balam (Oooh..boy..boy)”. then he will start telling his life story, how well or how badly they lived many years ago.
Let's leave alone elder people, but what about the youth? History can't have any influence, then what's wrong with them? I have a way of watching people while walking and I rarely happen to see faces which are whether neutral or have slight expression of smile (I don't mean a wide smile while walking down the street, otherwise we'll consider them to be really mad). The youth seems so tired, worn out, as if they have many things to worry about. And they really do, for instance, thinking what to wear tomorrow, what restaurant to go this time, what cell phone to choose, what make up to do, what color to dye their hair, so on and so forth. All this is so difficult, you can't even figure out, and the whole day they just break their heads pondering what to do. And thus they find themselves in such a desperate plight that even forget to smile at times and walk with such faces as if day in day out they search for solutions to global problems, at least to Nagorno Kharabakh conflict. I need to ask them to lend me that expression of face for some time, it may be handy, who knows… Poor…Poor they are…
Now I don’t know whether to smile or not. People older and wiser use to say that our face is the mirror of our inner ego. I always smile and it’s not something artificial, but that’s coming from my inner state. I’m very sociable and I like smiling and I think everything must be done with smile. Treating everything with smile means softening our life. Smile helps us to live easily. Yet, when you smile people may be dubious about it, and they may assume quite strange things. For those who know me my smile is a usual matter, and whenever I don't smile being awfully tired and that's all, my friends conclude that something is wrong with me and they usually ask whether someone has offended me. Of course, no, just they are too much used to my smile.
We must smile in every situation, it always gives courage and aspires us to do more than we are capable to do. To smile means to cheer up and never give up. To smile is to hope. Even when you are in bad moods or you are angry with someone, smile, and you will feel the sustaining ease occupying your mind and soul.
And as I frequently say: there are no borders for smile – All people smile in the same language 🙂 …Life is camera so keep up smiling and never give up…!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂