The city kills me…

Recently I’ve been kept by the idea of going to a village and spending a week there. First thing which pushed me to that thinking was to have some rest which I still don’t manage to have after my classes, examination period and on top of all the course paper which I have to hand in September, but I’m still working on it.

After being to Drakhtik village I had my old recollections drove back and remembered the happy time I spent every summer in Ilan-Chalan village in Aparan. I was a 12-13 years old girl then but everyone would take me for a boy, that is because I was always with boys, running, climbing high trees, jumping from the garden fences when I was not allowed to go out, stealing fruit from a neighbor’s garden, standing a guard over my relative’s garden and riding my favorite horse called Kassandra.. And not to forget to mention one thing which I was always ashamed to tell to my classmates after the holidays, because I had a fear that they’d make fun out of it. Anyways, now I even feel like telling everyone that I was a shepherd girl for a while and along with other girls we would take the sheep to the fields and hills. Those were the most joyous years if I recollect now.

Having the village sight in front of my eyes for a moment I felt that I miss those years so much that now I’m only captured by the idea to spend some time at a village. This city life may kill you if you live there for a long time. Now I’m so tired of that raising ugly buildings, cafes instead of trees, traffic mess and noise, asphalt instead of grass that my only desire for the moment is to run away from this place which is becoming a hell now.

Those resting houses are not what I need as well because I also want to escape from the people from the capital who always think that they are somewhat privileged if they have money to have their rest at an expensive resting house in Jermuk, Tsakhkadzor or Dilidjan. This isn’t rest however, it is something to show off and by the time they come back they only count the amount of money they spent there and kind of boasting tell it worldwide. They, people who don’t forget to take to a resting place all their golden jewelry and put them on each on their turn, as a rule, never rest for resting. The only thing they care about is the image, only, the vainglory and idle vaunt. I want nothing which will remind me of the city life and those people.

If you are a foreigner and want to learn about a country’s real life, never stay in the capital or in a big city, go to a village and you’ll be given an ample opportunity to study that country in its real colors. Villagers are precisely those people who preserve the moral, culture, tradition in their invariants. You want to find a person presenting the face of the country, find them among the same villagers and not among the city-dwellers and in the city, where everything is so confusing, exasperating and not understandable.

The city is a cheap killer who acts so slowly and with an extreme caution, that the victim is not even aware of it. It is like a poison which goes into the blood so warily and hits the person when it is too late to take measures. But it kills not the person but the human.

It is not accidentally that I had this thoughts again. A friend’s sister invited me to her place. They live in Ararati Marz, Gyugh Darakert, it is not so far from Yerevan, 15-20 minutes by car. They are such good people, brilliant, open-hearted, hospitable. They work on the soil the whole day and it’s hard but they do it with love, and they still preserve those human features. As soon as we got there I started watching around and couldn’t restrain myself from gathering apples, raspberry and blackberry and eating on the spot. My fingers were all black though. Then I asked for a cellophane and started gathering verdure called ‘dandur’ which they pull out and throw though it is eatable, but many people don’t, however that is my favorite dish when prepared with garlic and vinegar, or garlic and matsoun. They don’t know what they lose. Yammii… But nothing will give the pleasure of pulling a tomato directly from the plant and eating it right there with village made lavash and cheese. In the end of the day, when it was night , the electricity was turned off and the remarkable day was concluded by the candle burning in the middle of the room and enlightening the cozy house and people around it telling different stories. And this completed the village-life canvas.

I want to call back those years, I want to work on the soil, I want to water the plants, gather the fruit, feed the animal. I wish it so much… Though I’m afraid that the city life has spoilt me in a way and I can’t do the things the way I used to. But the city still kills me with its everyday problems. I want to escape, but can I?

Probably people living in villages want to escape from that life and live in the city. Can they?
Life is funny. Or it is funny how it appeals to different people.

Don’t kill me, I’m your dweller, do you care? I do care, so I escape…

12 Responses to “The city kills me…”

  1. Onnik Krikorian Says:

    I totally agree that everyone should get out of Yerevan not only to escape the madness of the city, but also because the weather is so much nicer in Tavoush, Lori, Aragtsotn etc in the Summer. Most people I know feel the same so it’s ironic that most Diasporan tourists stay only in the center of Yerevan while only taking the occasional trip outside, and even then not for very long or far.

    Incidently, most people in the West aspire to live outside the city center and in the countryside when they become succesful. Funny how Armenians are just the opposite. Anyway, I’d better let you get back to your sheep. 😉

  2. Mr. E Says:

    What’s that I see? Onnik Krikorian generalizing again…?

  3. Esoteric Says:

    I like where I live, the only gripe I have is it it’s just a bit too far away from the city, but it’s close to the beaches at least. I don’t see myself living outside a city/metropolitan area until I’m 50. There’s just so much more happening, better shopping, better eating, better drinking, more fun, more women.

    Granted there will be necessary holidays to escape the grind, but only when I’m at the end of my working tether will I retire to a sun-drenched villa, surrounded by golden fields and a lush oasis garden in the Spanish countryside. 😀

  4. Onnik Krikorian Says:

    Mr. E, nah. It’s just an observation. It also depends on which part you think I’m generalizing on. I mean, if it’s on the Diaspora thing go do a random survey in Yerevan and the regions.

    In Yerevan, you’d be surprised how few locals have run into any Diasporans, and this is especially true for the areas outside the city center UNLESS there are young Iranian, Syrian and Lebanon-born Armenians living in those areas. Interestingly, where I live in Komitas, I’m always asked if I’m Iranian or Syrian and then after that, if I’m Iranian or Syrian born Armenian because basically, few Western born Armenians from the Diaspora get this far.

    Walk around Yerevan and see that the concentration of tourists from U.S. and Western European Armenian communities are from there. Guess that’s obvious really, when it comes to tourism so no problem. However, then it is THESE guys that go back home and GENERALIZE about how modern Yerevan is as a city when in actual fact, they’re just talking about the cafes that have destoyed the parks in the center, the restaurants that offer lousy food and an inconsistent quality of food, or the hotels that are overpriced for a country like Armenia.

    Go to the regions and the situation is sorrier. You can just see the inadequate tourism infrastructure which testifies to that. Apart from a half-day trip to Garni / Geghard or a day trip to Hagahartsin, Tatev or Norevank it’s as if the regions of Armenia are something that you travel to in order to see a church or monastery minus any people, and something then you travel back through to get to your favorite government official owned cafe before it gets too dark in the capital. Generalization? No, not really. It’s mostly the situation, and my hats off to anyone who really wants to travel in Armenia to see so much more.

    Sure, that requires some investment in the tourism infrastructure, but it also requires something much more. A different mindset among MOST Armenians from the Diaspora. Yerevan is not just the center, and Armenia sure as hell isn’t. And as the temperature gets hotter in Yerevan, it’s also advised. Sisian has some good hotels considering the state of the tourism infratructure in the country, as does Dilijan. Recommended for any traveller regardless of they’re ethnicity.

    Now, if you’re talking about moving out of the city, maybe it’s a generalization, but for sure, many in England choose that approach. I suppose it’s also linked to the quality of life you can enjoy in terms of privacy and relaxation for people who have worked hard in the rat-race to become successful. It’s also probably linked to what you get for your buck for others. Esoteric, agree that as you’re young, the city will be more interesting. However, remember that Yerevan is not London, Perth, New York or any other developed capital as you wouldn’t expect it to be.

    Interestingly, many Armenians from the Diaspora as well as locals now realize that at the present rate of desertification and “development” in Yerevan, it’s not going to be a nice place to live in at all a few years down the line. Dusty, polluted, lacking green areas for families to relax in, terrible traffic in the center, and so on, you can understand perhaps why the money is now beginning to buy up land and construct reclusive large houses outside of the city or at the very least, on the edges. Anyway, generalization? Chigidem.

    However, I would like to say that while Esoteric is putting forward his opinion which is cool — I mean, when I was younger, I felt the same — what are you doing Mr.E? Puttingo froward a reasoned response to Zarchka’s post and any subsequent comments, or simply using her blog to attack me? Still, on a brighter note given the issues raised, while the regions of Armenia are indeed a delight, they also desperately need attention from the those wanting to invest in tourism, but also from the Diaspora in general.

    Which is why, for all it’s faults, I’m glad to see that the Armenian Government will be concentrating on the regions of the Republic for this year’s Armenia-Diaspora Conference.

  5. Zarchka Says:

    Well, I totally agree to what Onnik says and I’d like to ask Mr. E to explain what he means by saying “generalizing”. What is said about the Diasporan Armenians staying mainly in the very city is true, as if it isn’t so. The matter is whether they choose Yerevan as a resting place or they’d like to get acquainted with real Armenia and people who still face poverty and try to keep body and soul together. Though many Diasporans would argue saying that Armenia, or they mean Yerevan mainly, is prospering. If it could be called so though. Yes, Yerevan now mostly resembles a European city with the abundance of shops, high buildings, restaurants, clubs, casinos and so on. And I lament this fact. So this is what most foreigners and Diasporans see. But go some kilometers away from Yerevan, go to some village and that will be the point where life begins, because what you see in Yerevan is just veiling what happens in regions.

    Incidentally Onnik’s exhibition and related stories show the other side of Armenia, the reality which many people refuse to admit

  6. Onnik Krikorian Says:

    Yes, Yerevan now mostly resembles a European city with the abundance of shops, high buildings, restaurants, clubs, casinos and so on. And I lament this fact.

    Sorry Zara, I have to disagree with this. On my last two visits back to England the thing that struck me most was how much Yerevan DOES NOT resemble a European city in that in London, Bristol and Oxford there was an obvious policy of urban plannin that preserved the historical and kept city development in check and in line with legal and societal demands. More than that, in all of these locations there were LARGE expanses of green in the city center so that students, children and families could relax in.

    To be honest, I don’t consider that boutiques, restaurants and clubs can be taken as being “European” because they also exist in Asian, Middle Eastern and other cities. What is more to the point is building regulations, concern for the environment etc, preserving history etc. It’s why many people consider Yerevan to resemble a “Middle Eastern” city and why Tbilisi is considered more “European.” Of course, there’s also the matter fo cultural diversity, but I suppose that’s going off the point a bit.

    One other thing that did strike me about England as well was how developed the villages are in comparison to even Yerevan itself. For example, Yerevan’s main libraries are SMALLER than even a village library in a small rural community. Of course they would be. Corruption is rampant in Armenia, society isn’t involved in the process of nation-building, taxes aren’t collected where it matters, and Armenia’s GDP is pitifully small.

    Again, understandable. Armenia is a typical post-Soviet state decades behind development in the West and lacking the checks and balances necessary. Yet, as a small country of 1/3rd of the population of London, I do have to suggest that regional and urban development could be undertaken more satisfactorily if democratization occured here, and corruption were tackled in earnest. Despite all of that, it’s still nice to get out of Yerevan. Regions might be poor and depopulated, but they’re cooler when Yerevan is blistering, and they’re also relaxing.

    That’s one thing that’s the same everywhere, I guess.

  7. Zarchka Says:

    We had this argument before. Actually later I added “European or better American city” but didn’t even notice that it didn’t admit the editing probably due to my computer problems. Anyways, whether it makes difference. The problem is that this changes or “developments” that occur in Yerevan now spoil the original face of Yerevan, whereas those buildings could raise in another location, out of Yerevan or in some definite place which is the case, for example, with Vienna. The main city still preserves the historical, architectural and cultural values but across the river one may find the modern Vienna which has nothing to do with the original capital. And that part may resemble Yerevan. It is the same skyscrapers, office buildings with many glasses which particularly resemble American cities. Even so, the modern doesn’t get on the way of the traditional. Probably this is the case. America doesn’t have it’s long established traditions, be it architectural or anything else, like England.(Though Englanders were the first to inhabit America and one of the compositional parts of it is called New England. Whether it really resembles England up to this days can’t say, not sure). In this regard right, Yerevan would mostly resemble an American city or one in the Middle East. But as once I said connected with the style of the central Yerevan new buildings, they are neither European nor a blend of anything. I was told that it is called “Cubism”, something very simple and practical and awful. Yerevan loses its face day by day, and mainly due to those “con-destructions”. It is being spoiled be it in a European, American African, or Antarctican way. Who cares now? Only money matters, nothing else. This is not a progression but rather a degression.

    And about the libraries. I’d guess that an English village with rural community is of Yerevan’s size by itself. So no wonder that the libraries are bigger there or whether you meant better accommodation? If so, right, buildings are old, facilities are not the best. At least the Library named after Avetik Isahakyan was preserved though it would end up like many buildings next to it on Amiryan street. Why not, some people were despondently trying to sacrifice the library and build a stunning hotel instead. I’m still eager to see what will be there instead of Kukuruznik, a post-soviet building. They promised another stunning building, well, I have no doubts, it will be stunning, literally.

    After all, the traditional and my favorite Armenian architecture is ruined as well. And to be honest, I’d like Armenians be a bit conservative like British. If this is neither European nor anything else, then what the heck is going on in our city, can anyone explain? What a mess is this? Where are those damn architectures to preserve the city? Are they also corrupted?

    It’s all about money.

  8. Onnik Krikorian Says:

    No, for sure not. An English village can be a few hundred people like my grandparent’s current place of residence. They have a better library than anything in Yerevan. Small towns of 5,000 in size even more so.

  9. Onnik Krikorian Says:

    Talking of escaping into the regions, I’m off to Sevan tomorrow, albeit for a day trip 🙂

    Wish you could join us like you did for Drakhtik.

  10. Life around me » Blog Archive » And there’s a village life Says:

    […] Well, well, I’m back. As I wrote in one of my blogs the only thing which has  been occupying my mind recently was to escape from the city to a village for several days. And I managed!!! As soon as my friend mentioned about her grandma’s house in Hanqavan I was already ready to pack my things and start off. Don’t want to tell how we got there, though to mention that we changed several buses in which all people were packed like herrings in a tin, and pungent odour in the air making it heavier and foul. And those were the signs to predict that village life had a start right from that bus.   […]

  11. Oneworld Multimedia :: I Like Villages Too… :: August :: 2006 Says:

    […] It seems like everybody loves villages in Armenia, and who can blame them? Indeed, when Yerevan gets too much most of the city’s population takes time out by relaxing in them if not holidaying in Sevan or Batumi and Kobuleti. Even so, I don’t get nearly enough opportunity to visit them anymore despite them being the main reason why I moved to Armenia in 1998. […]

  12. Cecil Says:

    cool picsxxx

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