Reflections on ‘Depat’ Armenians

Reflections on ‘Depat’ Armenians

I am a member of the Facebook group that the Repat Armenia Foundation maintains. I am, in fact, a fan of that organization, which provides assistance to Armenians who wish to move to the Homeland, whether in terms of technical or legal information, employment, or some guidance on housing. It’s the sort of function that one would have wished the state to perform, that one might have expected the Ministry of the Diaspora to take on, via Armenian embassies or otherwise. To be fair, we are talking about a big deal, highly resource-heavy in realization, and also ideologically and philosophically heavy in its own right.

The issue of moving to Armenia has been in focus in recent years, even celebrated, both because of the alarming numbers of emigrants from Armenia, and also because of the influx of Armenian refugees from Syria. The latter group has indeed been given some support both by the state and otherwise, but a significant part has moved on to a third country, or has returned to Syria.

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Taxist Blues: Public Transport in Yerevan

Taxist Blues: Public Transport in Yerevan

I hate the taxis in Yerevan. Oh, all right, that’s not quite accurate. I dislike taking taxis in Yerevan, despite all the advantages they have to offer. Really, the best way to explore and get to know any city is on foot. And walking around Yerevan can really be wonderful, especially as it is indeed such a walkable city. You can easily get from Point A to Point B in your own shoes, something that is very hard to experience in, say, Los Angeles, for example. Of all the places I’ve lived and visited in the world—not that my sample is too immense, but, with modesty, I imagine it is sufficient to pass the following judgment—Yerevan’s taxis are among the most inexpensive and accessible in the world. It is difficult not to catch one, barring extreme circumstances. And almost anywhere to almost anywhere in the city center almost always costs 600 drams, what is known as the “minimal” (pronounced “mee-nee-mahl”). That’s something like one and a half American dollars. Where, I ask you, is it possible to have a personal car take you from door to door for that amount? Not in too many places in the Western world, I’d wager.

But I still dislike using taxis around here. I feel uncomfortable with the knowledge that there are a whole bunch of strangers in town who know exactly where I live. Oh, yes, it has happened that I’ve had the same driver more than once, and he has known, without my telling him, exactly where I’m headed. That’s just my paranoid self, because probably none of these “taxists,” as they are called, are planning on burglarizing the place while I’m away. And, in this city, sooner or later (let’s be honest: sooner), everyone knows where everyone else lives. That was the case long before Facebook.

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A View from Erbil

A View from Erbil

I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), in the north of Iraq. The generosity of the KRG, in cooperation with the institution where I study, allowed for around 15 graduate-level students of international affairs to meet with regional officials and to explore some of the sights of that part of Iraqi Kurdistan.

As someone born and raised in India, Erbil seemed rather familiar to me. The layout of the city, the architecture, and the general flatness and climate were reminiscent of my native Delhi. But the people, their outlook, their culture, and certainly their food, spoke far more to my Armenian heritage, to say nothing of their dances. I was expecting as much. I just wish their shourchbar was faster-paced, but maybe they were toning it down for us foreigners. What I was not expecting was how very similar the countryside in Kurdistan would be to that of Armenia: the same rolling hills and valleys, more or less rocky, craggy, without all that much greenery. We saw a fair number of waterfalls as well. Plus, there was a brand-new téléphérique (I made sure to note how long it was, just to confirm that the record set up in Tatev remains unbeaten).

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A Slice of Wiener Life, According to an Ausländer

A Slice of Wiener Life, According to an Ausländer

An honour system. For riding the metro? This was something new. How can you allow people to just wander onto a platform without bothering to check their tickets? And what’s with pushing buttons or yanking handles to open the wagon doors?

These were some of my very early impressions when I first found myself in Vienna, back in the autumn. But while I couldn’t believe the city would organise itself this way – it seemed rather naïve – on the other hand, I still haven’t taken a free ride on the U-Bahn myself. I keep saying that I have never seen a ticket-checker (and it’s true that I haven’t). But I also keep telling myself that I can’t risk getting Vienna upset at me. She’s too pretty.

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Forty Years on: Gourgen Yanikian and Us

Forty Years on: Gourgen Yanikian and Us

On Jan. 27, 1973, two diplomats of the Turkish Republic traveled to Santa Barbara, Calif., to meet with an individual claiming to possess Ottoman artifacts he wished to donate to the country for posterity. Mehmet Baydar and Bahadir Demir played into the hands of Gourgen Yanikian, who had planned their murder as an act at once of vengeance, of retribution, and of justice.

It is hard, as an Armenian today, to write about Yanikian without judging his actions using those three less-than-consistent characteristics noted above. Vengeance is not exactly a Christian concept, is it? Justice is ordered by a legitimate, recognized authority. As for retribution, well, it is not for no reason that “Operation Nemesis” was the name of the immense undertaking following the Armenian Genocide to do away with those responsible for that horrific crime: Nemesis is the Greek deity of divine retribution.

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Marash: remembering anew

Marash: remembering anew

Turkish Review occasionally opens its doors to students from outside Turkey, inviting them to stay for brief internships at our journal. This summer we were joined by Nareg Seferian, a young Armenian of Marashtsi lineage (that is, with Armenian roots in Ottoman Maraş) who received his education in India, Armenia and the US, where his studies have focused on law and diplomacy. During his time with Turkish Review, Nareg visited his ancestral town of Marash/Maraş. This is his account of that journey. Continue reading

The Latin Lovers of Armenia

Among the samples of Yerevan’s architecture is the bridge at the end of Kievian Street.

It unfortunately has the reputation of being a favourite drop-off point for the suicides of the city. Walking across it the other day, however, I saw a series of markings on the railings that evoke happier times and thoughts.

It appears that there is a young man who is quite infatuated with a young lady. So infatuated, in fact, that he can barely express his words … Continue reading

A Good Day for Homophobia in Yerevan

A Good Day for Homophobia in Yerevan

There has been much talk of the LGBTI community in Armenia lately. A bar, widely considered to be a gathering spot for those who think and act differently than most in this country, was recently firebombed and vandalized. The violence was condemned in large part only by the LGBTI community and its supporters, until two ARF MPs acted on behalf of the assailants, posting bail for them pending trial. That gave way to greater attention and greater condemnation, particularly in the diaspora—including by several leaders and opinion-makers associated with the ARF.

Partly in response to that event, a conference on LGBTI tolerance issues took place in Armenia last week. It was poorly attended–perhaps by 20 or 30 people at most–though supported by European bodies and the UN. And on Mon., May 21, a rally in support of diversity and tolerance was planned on the occasion of the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, but also not too far on the calendar from the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, which is marked on May 17. Both events were spearheaded by an NGO known as PINK (“Public Information and Need of Knowledge”), alongside other civil society groups.

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“73. Waverley.”

“73. Waverley.”

I could see from the top of the stairs that one of my buses was waiting. Someone had just come out of the turnstiles from the metro at Harvard and was making a mad dash for the lower bus tunnel. We were both underground. He could see the bus from where he was. I could see him.

I did not want to make a run for it, however. For one, it’s a little undignified, I find, and, well, I was in no hurry. Sure, I’d miss that bus and maybe wait ten or twelve minutes for another, maybe even less. Meanwhile, there’s a copy of Anna Karenina in my bag, halfway read, which means still a lot more to go. Continue reading

What Makes a Diaspora?

What Makes a Diaspora?

I am a member of a mailing list and Facebook group that shares news articles and other interesting bits of information pertaining to the Armenian world. One of the topics of discussion that took place recently was the status of the Armenians of Constantinople, the Bolsahays. A recent article in the Armenian Weekly also took on this question, as did the discussions that stemmed from the visit of Armenian Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan to Istanbul not too long ago.

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Qu’est-ce qui fait une diaspora ?

Je suis l’un des membres d’une liste d’envoi et d’un groupe Facebook qui partage des articles de journaux et autres éléments d’information intéressant le monde arménien. L’un des sujets de discussion abordé récemment était le statut des Arméniens de Constantinople, les Bolsahays. Un récent article d’Armenian Weekly, en commentaire à la visite de la ministre de la diaspora Hranush Hakobyan à Istanbul d’il y a peu de temps, traite également de cette question.

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What makes a Diaspora?

I am a member of a mailing list and Facebook group that shares news articles and other interesting bits of information pertaining to the Armenian world. One of the topics of discussion that took place recently was the status of the Armenians of Constantinople, the Bolsahays. A recent article in the Armenian Weekly also took on this question, as did the discussions that stemmed from the visit of Armenian Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan to Istanbul not too long ago.

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