Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I THINK I'M BECOMING ARMENIAN,,,,,,,,,,,,,,in Armenia!

The following are now common in my daily life after 2 years living in the Armenian culture:
 Wearing slippers: both inside and outside is a habit. I’ve almost worn my purple slippers with the silver bows to school, without thinking.
My favorite comfy Armenian slippers, given to me by my friend and counterpart, Christina

Saving a teabag and using several times is  fine unless you prefer very dark tea!

Re-using tea bags is a common Armenian practice and I do it all the time now.
Discovering that a cup of Armenian coffee with sweets can revive me and give me energy to skip lunch on a school day (not a healthy habit but one practiced routinely by my Armenian teacher friends)

Always carrying candy in my purse. It comes in handy on a crowded marschutni (bus) when a child is fussy or in class when a student earns a small quick reward. (I have candy canes left from Christmas and Armenians are fascinated by them!)

Taking candy, fruit or other small gifts when visiting someone’s home (homemade American  cookies or brownies win rave reviews!)

Wearing more black, gray or brown clothes equals immersion into the clothes culture of my Armenian friends and colleagues. (I still like to add some bright colors to this dismal fashion picture.)
Note that most of theses teachers are in BLACK attire!
      Carrying extra items in a plastic shopping bag and clutching one’s purse on her lap is the picture of an Armenian woman on the avtobus or marschutni. (I do this without thinking now.)

      Offering coffee to anyone who enters your home for any reason and accepting the fact they they’ll probably say “yes”.

      Paying attention to the cleanliness of footwear even after walking on wet and muddy or dry and dusty streets. (I try but do not measure up on this one!)

     Being prepared to answer the question, “Do you like Armenia? “ or “Do you like Dilijan?”  I can say “lav na!” (It is good, in Armenian.) Do you greet a visitor to the US immediately with the question, “Do you like the U. S.?   This is a routine question posed at most initial encounters with a new person here.

     Accepting that Armenians will urge me to “eat, eat” at every meal, coffee time or any occasion with food involved. (I do the same to Armenians when I take food or baked goods to them.)

    Always sitting in the back seat of a taxi and reminding Dave to sit in the front. (not bad since the front seat passenger is usually expected  to pay the fare!)

    Ignoring the plight of poor hungry cats and dogs all over Armenia. (It breaks my heart to see them, but I know we can’t help all of these animals, so Dave and I take scraps occasionally to our neighborhood dump where they congregate.

Cats waiting for dinner at the  neighborhood  dump site

      Eating ice cream only in the warm months because that is when it is available in our town. (I cheat whenever possible if we are in the capital city, Yerevan, where ice cream is widely available year-round.)
Homemade brownie with a block of Armenian vanilla ice cream is to die for!

        Bathing every 4-5 days instead of daily. ( I actually can do this without worry in the winter, but summer is a different story.)

      Wearing the same outfit to school for several days in a row as my colleagues do. (It is certainly easier to wear the same clothes over a period of time and everyone does it here.)

      Successfully carrying raw eggs loose in a plastic bag after purchase in the neighborhood market. (Eggs also need not be refrigerated if used within a few days.)
Thin plastic bag does just fine to transport eggs........unless you drop it!!!!
     Staring straight ahead without eye contact while riding on the local marschutni. (I have yet to figure out WHERE to focus one’s gaze during these rides but I try not to look directly at any one person.
This is the local avtobus.  Don't make eye contact with other riders when sitting on the bus.  It is culturally unacceptable.

       Not automatically smiling and speaking to everyone on the street or on the avtobus. (I still make an effort to smile and speak to most women and children but NOT to the men because it is culturally unacceptable.)

       Carrying an umbrella at all times.  The weather in our town is very unpredictable and often a sunny morning can turn into a rainy, cold walk home after school.

Umbrellas  protect Armenian women from sun, rain, snow and any precipitation.  I take one almost every day.

       Sometimes I think Dave and my last name is SmithYAN (our host family during Peace Corps training called us Dave and Judy Smithyan because the –yan ending on a surname is typically Armenian.) We do not deserve that designation but appreciate the thought.

       These  reported scenarios help me to feel more immersed into the Armenian culture which we’ll be leaving in less than 2 months.    Wonder how long it will take to break these acquired habits and not be so Armenian back in the states????