“The old generation’s answers should not be given by this new generation”

This is a transcript of an interview with Serine, recorded in Stepanavan on Feb. 13, 2011. You can listen to the interview (in Armenian) here:

I’m Serine.  I was born in 1986 in Stepanavan. I grew up here. I studied at Yerevan’s pedagogical university [the Armenian State Pedagogical University] in the logopedics department. I volunteered at World Vision for a year, I still work as a volunteer, but I also have a paid job at a school. I worked at the school as a volunteer for two months, then I moved on to [paid] work. I live with my parents. It’s me, my mother, father; I also have an older sister. Unfortunately, she’s disabled — because of doctors. When she was 3 years old, they vaccinated her incorrectly. At one time, there were such cases, and it seems to me there still will be, because the children of papas [wealthy people] are studying at the medical university.

Do you remember anything from the Soviet years, or what seems different to you now from those years?

It seems to me at that time people had a lot of complexes. Then I heard from my mother about “acquiring from under the table” [that is, goods appeared to be non-existent in shops, but they were held by shopkeepers and given to some — the wealthy, the influential — under the table, so to speak]. I know from hearing about it; of course, I don’t remember. But it seems to me people had complexes. Even if they lived like they do today, had a boyfriend, but they kept it more hidden. Now it’s more out in the open. That is, they could’ve been dating someone, [but] not tell their mother and not come out in to the street. But now, it seems to me, youth, even schoolage [children], don’t have those complexes. It’s a difference of mentality.

What do you think, is it the Soviet influence, or just that time (20 years) has passed that there’ve been such changes.

Yes, it seems to me it’s [the passing of] time… we’ve undergone progress, to a certain extent. To a certain extent, again we’re backward, but… Armenians generally have a lot of backward things.

Say, I’m now 24 years old, I want to go somewhere, I’m not saying do I-don’t-know-what, just among friends, or even at a friend’s house as a guest, I have to get permission from my mother, then my father too, then I can go. And for me that’s backwardness; after all, I’m grown up, I can choose for myself, even right or wrong. My parents can simply give me advice. But not that I have to ask 10 days in advance for them to grant me permission. I don’t think it’s like this abroad. From what I know there, children separate [from their parents] at 16 years old.

Armenians are mainly like that.  I have contact with a lot of people here, at school, in the yard and so on, I’m comfortable around people and even from hearing from others. It’s the same way [with everyone]. Even one of my acquaintances, she’s 28, but her mother tells her who to get married to. It’s true, for this life choice, my mother doesn’t tell me who I should choose, but it’s often that even in this issue, parents intervene. They can only give advice.

In your opinion, what’s the reason that you’re obliged to get permission?

I don’t think it’s that they don’t trust [me]. They know me. They know that I wouldn’t do anything wrong. I asked my mother about this, she said she’s simply concerned; it’s parental concern. That’s how they explain it. Psychologically, I understand her, but it’s wrong that they tell their 24 or 28 year old child who to choose for married life.

They say, you don’t know what it’s like in the city, what will happen at 7 [pm] on the bridge and so on… it’s just I can’t be closed inside four walls, thinking someone is going to do something bad to me.

My parents don’t interfere in boy-girl relations. My mother always says, even if he’s a panhandler, if your heart beats [for him], you’ll be with him. The issue is more so about coming home late, at 7, 8 pm when it’s starting to get dark. Though during my university years we also came home at 10 pm. And everything was normal. Just that they didn’t know whether I came [home] at 9 or 10 pm. I studied in Yerevan, at the pedagogical university. They trusted Yerevan more than this small city. It’s true, lately there’s been such incidents here that it’s worth being afraid. They drive cars dangerously; there are many car accidents. That’s why it’s worth it to be careful, not to go out late. During this past week, there were about four incidents due to drunk driving.

What do you think, if you were a boy, would your parents respond similarly to your going out late or meeting with your friends? Is there a difference?

Definitely. There’s such a thing among Armenians: if it’s a boy, let him go out. Perhaps they would reprimand him for coming home late, but it wouldn’t be stated in the same way as in the case of a girl. They’re more afraid for girls. I have many male friends, who go home when they want. Or their parents think differently so that no matter what time he comes home, they don’t give him a talking to. I have acquaintances who keep strict guard over the girl, they practically don’t let her leave the house, while her brother can come home at four in the morning and they don’t say anything. But the girl has to sit at home, go out with her mother. That’s why I say they’re backwards.

Perhaps there are roles, it’s considered that the girl has to stay at home, help her mother, do housework.

No, there’s also a “bride” [i.e. daughter-in-law] in that house. It’s not mandatory for that girl to stay at home. Then there’s that mentality that if you have a brother in the house, the girl shouldn’t go out, especially sisters of “good guys”… But very often it’s the sisters of those “good guys” who are freeer and who make more mistakes in their lives than the girl who doesn’t have a brother. It’s just she moves in more clever ways. If you don’t have a “good guy” brother, it means that you’re bad; that is, there’s no “control,” and you can be free and live freely. That’s not accepted.

Does the age matter, for instance, if the brother is younger or older?

No, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is she has a brother, a “roof.”

And who decides all this and how is it decided?

All this is determined by one group of boys.

What traditions are there here that are still preserved?

The abundant way of marking the New Year. It’s mandatory that there’s dolma, gata. For a full year, people are recovering from these expenses, but on that day, the table must be plentiful. [Another tradition is] Ter’ntez [also known as Tyarn’daraj or “The Coming of the Son of God into the Temple”], which they didn’t do a few years ago, but now they’ve reinstated it again. They light a fire near the church and jump over it: it’s only for newlyweds. And Vardavar when they throw water on each other. Easter, obligatory.

Are there traditions specific to Stepanavan or Lori marz [province] that don’t exist in Yerevan or other marzes?

No. Even Ter’ntez they’ve been traditionally celebrating in Yerevan for a long time, [but] here, no. There’s keeping the fast.

Are there traditions regarding newlyweds that are preserved?

I know only of the jumping over the fire. And I think, after that they organize a feast. Connected to New Year’s, I mark the night of the 31st. Of course it’s not mandatory for there to be ham. It’s a family holiday, while here, from the 1st to the 3rd of the month we’re thinking who’s going to come as a guest. I don’t accept that. But I like the night of the 31st. It strikes midnight, you’re happy with your family.

That which has to be enjoyment has become obligatory. 

Yes, it’s an obligation. Heaven forbid this or that thing is missing from the table. We take on meaningless expenses — whether we want to or not. That one has it, so I should have it too. More so, it becomes competitive. For example, this year I was telling my mom let’s just have a dessert table. No one even eats the ham. When you’re a guest, at the most you drink coffee. Yes, let there be holiday foods, but for you. Armenians simply love to serve others, they’re hospitable, right?

But so much so that it becomes an obligation.

Yes, and the food goes to waste. A doctor on TV this year said not to eat anything after the 5th [of January]. Many people get [food] poisoning after the New Year. You’ve spent money; you can’t just throw it away. People’s average salary doesn’t allow them to throw out food that’s been purchased. They’re forced to eat it and they ruin their stomachs. When I suggested to my mom [to do things differently this year], she said she’s doing it for me; it’s my friends who are coming. And of course they did it by tradition. Or, why does there have to be 4–5 different types of baked goods? You can just make one festive thing.

I like Easter, as a religious holiday. We’re Christian; we have to mark it, but not with the family. I like it when my girlfriends come, we crack eggs with each other, eat. And I don’t understand the meaning of Ter’ntez. Probabaly I’m not superstitious and that’s why I don’t understand. There’s some meaning that they jump over a bonfire. I don’t know; one can look it up on the Internet.

For example, St. Valentine’s Day is not our holiday; it’s more so Russian. While [Feb.] 19th is St. Sarkis Day. People go to church; they eat a salted biscuit [traditionally, young women eat salted biscuits on this day but don’t drink water. Custom says the person they see in their dreams who hands them a glass of water will be their future husband]. I also don’t believe in that. But I consider it a good thing that people drink the holy water and they say they’ve gotten better. It’s very good when a person has faith. It’s psychology; it’s completely [based] on self-inspiration. It’s very good. Even young people, when they eat the salted biscuit, they say, wow, I saw my knight. They see someone [in their dreams] and they begin to think about that person. That’s a good thing; I don’t criticize that. But I myself don’t believe it.

I accept all of our church laws. Toward sects… I can’t say that I have hatred [toward other sects], but I don’t accept sectarian branches. Armenia is full of them. For example, here there are Jehovah’s Witnesses. There were the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — they were foreign boys. They’re also in Yerevan, holding black books in their hands, with the same color hair (blond). I don’t accept any sects. If we have our church laws, those traditions… finally, we’re Armenian. For example, they say [in the case of] Jehovah’s Witnesses, if a child becomes ill, they won’t give him blood. They don’t go to baptisms or the event marked forty days after birth or death; they don’t participate in anything. Separate from the world, only them, their books… or now emo groups have spread among the youth. That’s a very unfortunate thing. They say that too has some connection with religion. On TV, they were also speaking of emos.

Do you know any emos yourself?

No, I don’t. It’s a movement or another that’s come from abroad. On one hand, it’s good that these emos view life freely, they don’t have complexes, but mainly it seems to me those children who have low self-esteem are the ones who join this movement. I don’t have anything to say about the way they dress. But all this leads to them having to commit suicide. That is the subject of criticism.

It seems to me that those who say all this are not fully informed.

Perhaps. I was criticizing suicide. Already without that, we’re few. As for wearing pink or black… it happens to all of us that at some time in our lives we like black or another color.

And what do you think of other religions? For example, there’s a mosque in Yerevan.

I, as an Armenian, won’t go. But I won’t criticize. Every nation has its faith. The important thing is that it has [a faith].

That there’s a mosque in the territory of Armenia, what do you think of that?

Well if we’ve joined the Council of Europe — there are many foreigners in Armenia — why shouldn’t they have their church? Armenians in Russia have an Armenian church. They hold their weddings there. Or in Tbilisi, the same. This is normal. Let everyone go to his church.

Recently there was a movement against the opening of foreign-language schools [in Armenia].

Well it’s right that Armenian be primary, but there were Russian schools before too.

My mother graduated from a Russian school; it’s true, sometimes her Armenian is weak. But knowing a foreign language is good. Our Armenian writers said: The more languages you know, the more of a human being you are. It’s not bad that a person masters different languages. Let Armenian be the first and foremost. It was the same, too, before being admitted to university, the emphasis was on Armenian literature, then the rest.

Here in the city we have a Russian school. During my mother’s time, whoever wanted could go to a Russian school. Now only those whose parents are Russian go. Or they won’t admit you. And they studied all the subjects in Russian. If you’re Russian, what do you need Armenian for?

You’re in Armenia, the state language is Armenian…

Well, to a certain extent, [the Russian student] would know… but it would be better if children know perhaps English, Russian, [another language] in greater depth. My cousin is in Greece. And there’s an Armenian school there. That’s very good. And they learned Greek through contact [with others].

And how would you relate if a Russian or a person of some other nationality came and exams were in his language here?

I would accept it normally. What difference does it make in what language [the exams are in]? They wouldn’t needlessly study. In the process, if necessary, they can take private [Armenian] lessons. Why should they be needlessly overburdened with [having to learn] Armenian?

Probably for the reason that if you’re in Armenia you have to know the language. 

To a certain extent, you have to know it… A foreigner will know the colloquial. Grammar is difficult. If he wants to study, it’s better he take the exams in his language. Then the synonyms in Armenian are so many that there are words that even we don’t understand what they mean. The volunteers that come [from abroad] too, their conversational [Armenian] is not bad, but I don’t think they know the written [language] well.

If we look at the region, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, do you see it as one region or does each country have its own problems? Or, what would you like to see in the future for Armenia or for the region?

A big problem now is corruption, which has been resolved in Georgia. [Georgian President Mikheil] Saakashvili solved this issue. Not so in Armenia. When I was accepted into university, everyone saw that I studied from morning till night, but, all the same, they thought I had paid a bribe to be accepted into university. We suspect that you have to give money to pass. But if this issue has been resolved in Georgia, then it’s possible to resolve it in Armenia.

It seems to me that everyone thinks about his own people. It doesn’t seem to me that Armenia can think about Georgia, even about the Armenians there. But recently, funds were gathered for the roads in [Nagorno-]Karabakh. Armenians abroad think about Armenians here. That’s very good. The roads in Karabakh are truly horrible — I’ve seen them myself. Though they also view that negatively: why Karabakh and not Armenia? But I’m happy. I don’t think that Karabakh is also Armenia. Then why were we struggling so much, fighting, if we now think that Karabakh or a Karabakhi is not Armenian.

Here [in Stepanavan] there were people who’d come from Baku and Karabakh, and they treated them badly. What difference? The same way they could’ve removed you from your homes, banished some place, not knowing where to go, and you find yourself in such a situation. They are ethnically Armenian, but they treated them like Turks [i.e. Azeris]. Now it’s changed.

So you consider Karabakh to be a part of Armenia, or it should be an independent republic?

Let it even be independent, but Armenians accept it as their own. Not to relate to Karabakh like it’s the Turks [i.e. Azeris]. Of course I want it to be ours.

At one time, there were ethnic Azeris in Karabakh. If Karabakh is independent, do you think they will be able to return or is this impossible to imagine?

No, if normal conditions are created… For example, when I went to Stepanakert, there the mayor had organized a thousand-person wedding and he was giving each couple a house and a few cows. He created conditions for new families. This was 3–4 years ago. And if such conditions are created for people, why not?

Do you think that Armenians and Azerbaijanis can be neighborly and live side-by-side together?

They might not accept it from the start, but then they’ll adjust. If they feel that he’s human, what difference does it make where he’s come from, the important thing is he’s Armenian and has returned to Armenia.

I was saying if he’s ethnic Azeri. 

I don’t know how Armenians will respond. But in our building there was a Russian, and we accepted that normally, [she or he] even came to our house, used our phone.

But, it seems to me, there isn’t the same approach to Russians as there is to Azerbaijanis.

But how is it that there are Indians living in Yerevan? What difference does it make if he’s Indian or Azerbaijani? It’s not all Azerbaijanis who are to blame, or the Turks. Isn’t it true that it was the Young Turks who were the participants of that war? What connection do the Turks of today have? Or us, what connection do we have, that they’ve had victims? The old generation’s answers should not be given by this new generation. It’s just that what’s wrong is that the Turks now, despite so much evidence, don’t accept that the Armenians are right, that those are our lands. It’s wrong that they don’t accept it [i.e. the Armenian Genocide of 1915].

Do you think Turkey not recognizing the Genocide is the same as our war with Azerbaijan for lands? Do you view it as one issue?

No. Azerbaijan is one thing and that’s another. They are different things in my opinion. As for Azerbaijanis living by Armenians’ side, every Armenian will respond differently. For example, for me it makes no difference who lives beside me; what’s important is that he doesn’t harm me and he doesn’t harm Armenians; let him live for himself. What does it matter if he’s Armenian, American or Azerbaijani? And if he has a bad inclination toward Armenians, of course I won’t accept him. That also comes from them; it’s two-sided. But I don’t think that so many years later, Azerbaijanis will respond with animosity toward us.


And do you know any Azerbaijanis?

No.

It can be that living next to you is a Russian, an Azerbaijani and an American, but you receive more harm from the Russian than the Azerbaijani. You can’t know who is what way. It seems to me that ethnicity also has little relevance. Or are there no bad people among Armenians? There are. [There’s a saying:] There’s no village that doesn’t have a dog.

And in your opinion is improvement in our country tied to improvement in the region, or are the problems different here, different in Azerbaijan, different in Georgia?

It seems to me similar types of problems can be anywhere. As for how solvable they are, that depends on high-ranking officials. And of course on people, whether they’ll find a solution to the problem or not.

For example, this playground that I built for children [in our community], it was a volunteer program. There really wasn’t any money left for me. Not only that, but I also incurred expenses. There are three buildings [surrounding] our yard and about 80% [of the residents] thought, for sure Serine made $5,000. And they treated me with great envy. I simply put three trash bins, three benches, a sign stating under the auspices of what organization’s program all this is being implemented and we had prepared a clubhouse made of wood, a sandbox for the children to play in, a carousel… The children had lots of fun playing. At least let them be happy that such a thing has happened. 90,000 [Armenian] drams [about $247 US] had been secured for this project. The TV station here came and filmed it; newspapers covered it. This was in August.

And 80% was seeing only the financial aspect. And that 80% all have children who would have played in that yard. I want to say that if someone does something good and 80% treat it negatively—they were telling the children destroy the carousel, kick it with your foot… I want to say, if the president initiates something and the people don’t rally [around that idea, that initiative]… of course nothing will happen. If the president wants to do something general for Armenia and the marzes [regions] don’t unite and do the same thing, they don’t fight as a group, it’s clear that nothing will happen.

Let’s say, now [Armenian President] Serzh [Sargsyan] says corruption has been eliminated and someone secretly does certain things, takes bribes. That for sure won’t reach Serzh [i.e. he won’t know about it]. For this reason the worker has to be honest.

And do you picture the opposite situation? Whether Serzh says or doesn’t say, they won’t take [bribes]?

Definitely no one will, they’ll take bribes. In Armenia, only about 20% can work honestly. An incident took place recently for me.  I had to get a document; they were constantly postponing it. And others were telling me that probably they want something sweet, or they want money [i.e. a bribe to provide the document]. I said I won’t give it. I made the 1,000 drams [about $2.74] state payment. It’s the same if they bring a child to school and I ask for money for working with the child. But I already receive a salary for that, right? And I didn’t do it; I didn’t take anything. But I suffered. They made me run around for four days, making me play the fool. I went [to the office]; they said come back the next day. I went the next day; they said come back in three days. I didn’t go in three days; I went on the fourth day, they said come back next Friday. Finally, I saw it was getting on my nerves, but, all the same, I’m not going to take something sweet or react. Let her have displayed a good-natured attitude, and then it’s up to me if I want to respond by giving her something sweet or not.

It was a young girl working there. She was rude: there was no smile and she was giving me a hard time. I called Yerevan (the division above them). I said I have a complaint. I said they’re giving me the runaround. In how many days am I supposed to get this document, so that I know whether they’re deceiving me or not? The person on the other end of the phone asked what happened and I explained everything. They told me go tomorrow and get your document. Now on Tuesday I have to go and get it. Yet that worker had told me to go on Friday. I don’t like it when they put me in the position of a fool.

If five people call and demand their rights, something will change. My mother was getting anxious; she says, when you go, they’ll say bad things about you. I say, let them say it. I will very quietly and calmly say that I’m simply defending my rights. That employee is only two years older than me.

It’s just that this girl has a defender, a “roof,” a back [i.e. someone protecting her]; that’s why she works there. And she thinks that everyone will be afraid of her and they won’t protest, but I’m not afraid. What difference does it make whose daughter you are?

If she apologized to me, perhaps she made a mistake, she didn’t manage to do something; in that case, I wouldn’t have called; I would’ve gotten into the situation. But she was constantly deceiving me. And definitely she was waiting for me to give her something. If someone does something good for me, I will show gratitude. But not by being obligated.

Their director even asked me why I am speaking so rudely. I answered that it’s not possible to speak normally to his employees. And he tells me don’t do it so we don’t give you this document at all. That’s why I called. My mother says, you’re going to acquire an enemy, you shouldn’t [call]. But they can’t do anything to me. They’ll even get my work done faster.

Thank God, this toll number [to report corruption] appeared in Armenia. It’s very good. Or the thing connected with the receipts. In the supermarkets in Yerevan, they put them in the bag; they give it to you whether you want it or not. Here, when you go into a store, they look at your face, they try to understand whether you’re from Stepanavan or not. I wasn’t here for about six years and when I went to the central store, frightened they gave me receipts.

But it’s hard for small shops, the taxes are so much that they can’t recover from them and for that reason, they ask whether to give it or not. [By not issuing a receipt from a special receipt dispenser checked by tax inspectors, stores can ring in cash sales, and thus, show less income and pay lower taxes. However, retail outlets are required by law to always give a receipt from this special dispenser to customers.]

But if it’s the law… If they don’t burden people with high taxes, then yes, people [would be able to manage]. I wouldn’t argue with that.

It’s small businesses that suffer.

Yes, you’re right, but I’m the one who’s paid and how to prove that I’ve paid?

In Yerevan, there are many cases where they shut down the shops until they get a receipt dispenser.

Yes, here too. There was a shop in our district that they shut down.

Generally they keep people down; it doesn’t matter whether you’re a store employee or an average resident. Especially with these last price increases. And that doesn’t show anywhere — salaries don’t go up, but prices go up. On what account? It’s incomprehensible for people.

My sister is disabled; her disability payment is 13,000 or 12,000 [drams per month; about $32.88 US] — I can’t remember specifically. Definitely a person can’t live on that kind of money. Or her caregiver (our mom) — how can one live? You can’t. It’s very difficult.

Yes, people have heard that things are expensive abroad too, that the price of sugar can be the same [as here], but there the salaries are so high that it’s no trouble to buy sugar. But here there are people who are ill and don’t have money for even one spoonful of sugar.

I know that it’s not easy abroad either: there they are paid hourly and work a lot. But at least after working, they can spend money on their pleasures. But here, you can work 48 hours [a week], it doesn’t matter, your salary is never enough. There you get decent pay for your work.

In Vanadzor, my girlfriend’s husband works at three places. He has two children; he says how can I support them if I don’t work? His wife is a student, but her mother helps pay for her studies, so it doesn’t come out of the family budget. See, the man works three jobs, but still can’t make ends meet. But if you worked three jobs somewhere else [i.e. abroad], you’d get a decent amount of money and be able to live.

And have you thought about going abroad, either temporarily or permanently?

My relatives live in Omsk [Russia]. I had decided to go, to work and come back. They have a construction office there; I had decided to do office work. But it didn’t work out. I was a student and now I’m working; it’s not convenient. But I thought about it.

I would go abroad, but first of all, I don’t know the langauge (English) very well, and then going to America (or somewhere else) is hard. Russia is easier. In Yerevan I worked while I was a student — as an operator in an internet club. I was transcribing written text and so on. I thought about staying in Yerevan and working, but when I was calculating whether it was worth it or not, it did more harm [than good]. I was to have received 3,000 drams [about $8.22 US] per day by working as an operator, and it was hard to find work in my profession. Here [in Stepanavan] I don’t pay rent, and I don’t think about [purchasing] food all that much, and that there was a chance at working in my profession… I like my profession.

What would you like your partner to have that would make you fancy him, or what expectations do you have [when it comes to relationships]? 

Generally I very much value honesty in people. For them to be smart; of course it’s pleasing to have contact with smart people.  I also love to learn new things. It’s better to learn things from smart people… and to be kind. If someone is [a] good [person], the rest is positive.

And I don’t like ostentation. I’m so-and-so’s son or daughter… I don’t like that. Also, [for the person] to have the aptitude for serving people and not be egotistical.

And is faith important?

Yes, very important. It seems to me that if he’s a good person, he can’t not have faith. Goodness comes from biblical things. The same with honesty. Being coarse, rude, I think, is not churchly. If a person is God-fearing, that’s good too. Man must have a conscience.

And if the person (whom you love) were of a different ethnicity or religion, how would you deal with that?

I myself, I think, won’t adapt. We have other customs; it’s a bit difficult to adjust to someone of a different ethnicity or create a family. Even an everyday joke won’t be accepted. I’ve had a lot of contact with foreign volunteers and my girlfriend had an Indian boyfriend; they were constantly fighting. I was saying that was natural. You won’t understand him and he won’t understand you. I don’t look at it badly; if they get married, they understand each other.

Yes, of course [they can find a common language]. But this hasn’t happened with me; I don’t know if I would adapt or not. I myself am an accomodating person, but I don’t know whether I can create a family with a foreigner.

If others create [families], I don’t view this badly; it means they understand each other, love each other, and they got married — it’s good. Our neighbor wanted [to get married to] an Iranian-Armenian man and everyone was saying, oh, how is she going to go to Iran? This girl was very freethinking — she’d been to France, Russia…  she was very free. And we were amazed, how is she going to handle it, wearing that Persian [Islamic] dress [and covering herself]. I was saying, definitely she won’t last. But she loved that boy so much that she adapted, and now, thank God, they live well together in the Armenian community [in Iran].

If I love him, I’ll get married; if I feel that he’s my second half. It’s true, it might be against my family, but it doesn’t matter, if I love him, I’ll get married. And it seems to me that surely there will be problems. My father for sure will be against it. I don’t know about my mother, but my father will definitely take it badly.

Would they more easily accept it if the person you loved was Russian rather than, let’s say, Turkish?

No, Armenian. Just Armenian.

And it doesn’t matter which [nation’s] good you choose; the important thing is it’s a good choice. I associate with boys my age, as friends, but they have such a stupid way of thinking that I always ask, why are you like that? They tell girls you’re going to the park to pick up boys. Come on now, they go to relax, not to hook up with boys. Why are you so sure of yourselves that girls have to get to the park to pick you up? Or, for example, going to cafes. In Stepanavan, the café is, I don’t know why, it’s considered such a bad thing. And I, having become accustomed in Yerevan, naturally I went to cafes and they view those who’ve studied in Yerevan with a little bit of an evil eye: ah, there’s the person who studied in Yerevan, who definitely would’ve gone to cafes and nightclubs. I don’t see that as a bad thing. The person who goes to a café here is equal to an immoral [person].

And do you feel that you can’t adjust to the boys here?

Yes, I don’t adjust to their way of thinking. And we always choose such subjects that we argue over — we, the girls and they, the boys. I don’t accept that in Armenia there isn’t the understanding of friendly relations. I don’t like that. They always want something more. And I don’t accept that if you have a boyfriend, there should be no other boy in your life — even as a friend. They say, what do you mean, [he’s just] a friend? My [male] friend said when his girlfriend saw her [male] classmate and they hugged and kissed. He said I was this close to doing something [to that boy]. I told him to relax. “Why does it seem to you that your girlfriend would like it that you’re sitting here with other girls? Think about her a little bit.” For him it’s normal that he’s sitting with girls, but how can it be that his girlfriend hugs and then kisses [i.e. amicably, presumably on the cheek] another guy. But what is there in that? I don’t know, our Armenian boys are a little… And I don’t think that such a thing would happen abroad.

It depends… there are people who would be jealous.

But you know that that person loves you and has chosen you. If she didn’t love you, she’d have chosen her classmate. Or they forbid their wives or girlfriends to go to parties. The husband goes, but doesn’t allow his wife [to go]. Recently, our neighbors were invited to a wedding and the husband told the wife it’s not your circle [of friends]; I’ll go alone. And I advised her that she could’ve said that I don’t need those associates, you’re beside me, it’s you I need. I’m not going to the wedding to associate with all the guests. Or something’s not right if he wants to go alone. This neighbor of mine tells me, you’re younger than me but oh what advice you give!

It might be that when a man goes with his wife he feels more burdened or obligated.

But it’s not like that here, that, oh, I’m by my wife’s side; I have to treat her [take care of her], though it’s the wife who does that. It’s the opposite here.

Or he feels more free when his wife is not by his side.

So why did he choose that person [as his life partner]?

I know of many cases where men have lovers.

Yes, but this is not that case. Then in that case the husband wouldn’t say where he was going. He would just get dressed and go as usual; he wouldn’t say he was going to a wedding.

I don’t accept that either: yes, he’s the head of the household, fine let it be, but, let him care about his wife, ask her opinions. It’s thanks to two people that the children were born, right? One person shouldn’t be the head of the family. It would be good if everything was discussed and the golden middle chosen. Not for one to dictate and the other to obey. Again let there be obedience but not in every issue. Our women’s rights are in a bad state.

It seems to me that those women who know their rights and want to find such a man with whom they can share [their life], it’s a bit hard in this society — because men are expecting something else.

If during your friendship, you make it be known that you have an opinion, they say, oh my, she has a sharp tongue. And during the course of their friendship, those boys discipline their future wives in such a way that after that everything goes the way they want. And the girl, fearing that she’ll lose her loved one, accomodates. That’s very wrong. Let that boy be afraid that he’ll lose her if he doesn’t adapt. Why is it always the girl who has to adjust? Maybe that’s why I haven’t had a boyfriend till now (laughs).

I tell my friends if you’ve chosen your other half, then it’s also because you need someone to help you out, right? Or else you’d live alone. And for this reason, one must listen to the person across from you. Listen to the opinion of the person beside you, perhaps it’s more accurate.

The important thing is you have your profession and you do what you love.

Yes, but also there’s always room to learn, even professionally, even not professionally. I don’t stop. I don’t like a monotonous life.

Armenian Summary of Interview:

«Պետք է հին սերնդի պատասխանները այս նոր սերունդը չտա»

Ես Սերինեն եմ: Ծնվել եմ 1986 թ.՝ Ստեփանավանում: Սովորել եմ Երևանի Մանկավարժական Համալսարանի լոգոպեդիայի բաժնում: Աշխատում եմ որպես կամավոր և համատեղում եմ դպրոցի աշխատանքի հետ: Ես ապրում եմ հորս, մորս և քույրիկիս հետ: Քույրս հաշմանդամ դարձավ 3 օրեկան հասակում, բժիշկները սխալ պատվաստում են արել: Հիմա նույնպես, ցավոք, այդպիսի դեպքեր տեղ ունեն մեր իրականության մեջ՝ քանի դեռ – «պապաների երեխեքն են սովորում բժշկական համալսարանում»:

Սովետական թվերից ինչ որ բան հիշու՞մ եք, կամ ի՞նչն է Ձեզ տարբեր թվում այդ տարիներից: 

Իհարկե, ես չեմ հիշում, շատ բաներ լսել եմ մայրիկից, օրինակ «տակից առնելու» մասին: Ինձ թվում է այն ժամանակ մարդկանց մոտ շատ կոմպլեքսներ են եղել: Միգուցե ապրել են այսօրվա նման՝ ընկեր են ունեցել, բայց ավելի թաքնված են պահել: Հիմա ավելի բացահայտ է, նույնիսկ դպրոցական հասակում կարող են ընկեր ունենալ: Մտածելակերպի տարբերություն է:

Ինչպե՞ս եք կարծում, դա սովետական ազդեցությունից է, թե՞ ողղակի այն ժամանակ մարդիք այլ կերպ էին մտածում:

Այո, ինձ թվում է ժամանակն է, առաջընթաց ենք ապրել որոշ չափով, բայց որոշ չափով էլ հետամնաց ենք:

Ի՞նչ առումով հետամնաց, սեռական հարաբերությունների՞, ինչի՞ հետ չես համակերպվում:

Ես հիմա 24 տարեկան եմ, բայց մինչև այսօր ծնողներից թույլտվություն եմ խնդրում ինչ որ տեղ գնալու համար, դա ինձ համար հետամնացություն է, չեմ կարծում, որ արտասահմանում այդպես է: Ես շատ մարդկանց հետ եմ շփվում և հասկանում եմ, որ դա համատարած երևույթ է: Նույնիսկ ինձանից մեծ աղջիկներն են այդ իրավիճակում: Ծնողները շատ են խառնվում անձնական հարցերին, օրինակ՝ ամուսնական: Չեմ կարծում, որ նրանք ինձ չեն վստահում, մայրս դա բացատրում է նրանով, որ ուղղակի անհանգստանում է: Ես հասկանում եմ նրանց, բայց սխալ է, որ ծնողները 24, 28 տարեկան աղջկան ասում են ում ընտրել որպես ամուսին:

Ինչի՞ց է գալիս ծնողի անհանգստությունը, եթե դու ասում ես, որ քեզ վստահում են:

Այո, ինձ վստահում են և չեն խառնվում տղա-աղջիկ հարաբերությունների մեջ: Մայրս ասում է, – «Ուզում է մուրացկան լինի, եթե սիրտդ թփթփա, իր հետ կլինես», ուղղակի վախենում են այս քաղաքից, վերջերս շատ դեպքեր են պատահում, ավտովթարներ շատ են լինում: Նրանք ավելի հանգիստ էին, երբ ես Երևանում էի սովորում, ճիշտ է չգիտեին 9-ին եմ գալիս տուն, թե՞ 10-ին:

Ինչպե՞ս ես կարծում, եթե տղա լինեիր, նույնը կլինե՞ր:

Ոչ,  աղջկա համար ավելի են վախենում: Շատ տղա ընկերներ ունեմ, որոնք երբ ուզում՝ գնում են տուն, կարող է միայն թեթև նկատողություն ստանան դրա համար: Ծանոթներ ունեմ, որ աղջկան չեն թողնում, որ տնից դուրս գա, բայց եղբայրը կարող է առավոտյան 4-ին տուն գալ, նրա վրա չեն խոսում, իսկ աղջիկը պետք է տանը նստի և դուրս գա միայն մոր հետ: Դրա համար էլ ասում եմ, որ հետամնաց ենք:

Միգուցե  դերեր կան, համարվում է, որ աղջիկը պետք է տանը լինի, մորը օգնի, տան գործ անի:

Ոչ, հարս էլ կա այդ տանը: Այստեղ այդպես բան կա, եղբայր ունեցող քույրը ավելի սահմանափակ է իր շարժուձևի մեջ, միշտ գտնվում է նրա/եղբոր/ վերահսկողության տակ: Կարծիք կա, որ եթե եղբայր չունես, ուրեմն «ազատ» աղջիկ ես, բայց շատ հաճախ, եղբայր ունեցող քույրերն են, որ ավելի ազատ կյանք են վարում:

Ի՞նչ հատուկ ավանդույթներ կան այստեղ (Ստեփանավան), որ դեռ պահպանվում են:

Հատուկ ավանդույթներ չկան, բայց վերջին տարիներին լայն տարածում է գտել Տրնդեզը, որի իմաստը չեմ հասկանում: Շատ մեծ շուքով նշում ենք Նոր տարին, անհասկանալի ճոխ սեղան ենք պատրաստում, մեծ ծախս ենք տեսնում, տոնը վերածվել է դառը պարտականության: Իհարկե, ընդունում եմ բոլոր եկեղեցական տոները, բայց չեմ հավատում «աղի բլիթի» սնահավատությանը:

Չեմ ատում, բայց չեմ ընդունում աղանդավորներին, օրինակ՝ Եհովայի վկաները: Հիմա երիդասարդների մեջ տարածվել են «էմոները»: Ասում են, որ դա էլ ինչ որ կրոնական ողղվածություն ունի, նույնիսկ հեռուստացույցով էին խոսում նրանց մասին: Դա այն մարդիք են, որոնց ինքնարժեքը ցածր է, իսկ այդ ապրելակերպը տանում է ինքնասպանության: Ես քննադատում եմ ինքնքասպանությունը:

Ինչպե՞ս եք վերաբերվում ուրիշ կրոններին և որ Երևանում մզկիթ կա:

Կարևորը, որ ամեն ազգ իր հավատը ունի: Ես որպես հայ մզկիթ չեմ գնա: Մենք էլ մեր եկեղեցիները ունենք աշխարհի տարբեր քաղաքներում: Ամեն մարդ թող իր եկեղեցին գնա:

Վերջերս շարժում եղավ օտար լեզվի դպրոցների բացման հետ կապված:

Իհարկե, հայերենը պետք է առաջնային լինի: Նախկինում եղել են ռուսական թեքումով դպրոցներ, բայց օտար լեզու պետք է իմանալ, դա լավ բան է:

Եթե վերցնենք Անդրկովկասը, դու այն դիտարկու՞մ ես որպես մեկ տարածաշրջան, թե՞ ամեն երկիր իր խնդիրները ունի: Կամ ի՞նչ կցանկանայիր ապագայում Հայաստանի կամ այս տարածաշրջանի համար:

Հիմա մեծ խնդիր է կաշառակերությունը, որը լուծում է ստացել Վրաստանում: Հայաստանում այդ խնդիրը դեռ բաց է, բայց կարծում եմ, եթե Վրաստանում դա իր լուծումը գտել է, ապա մեզ մոտ էլ հնարավոր կլինի:

Հիմա ամեն պետություն իր ազգի մասին է մտածում. ինձ չի թվում, որ Հայաստանը կարող է մտածել Վրաստանի մասին, նույնիսկ այնտեղի հայերի մասին, բայց վերջերս Ղարաբաղի ճանապարհների համար գումար հավաքվեց: Մարդկանց մոտ դա վատ արձագանք ստացավ՝ ինչու՞ Ղարաբաղ, ոչ թե Հայաստան: Չեն մտածում, որ Ղարաբաղն էլ է Հայաստան, ապա ինչի՞ համար էինք պայքարում:

Դու Ղարաբաղը ընկալու՞մ ես որպես Հայաստանի մաս, թե՞ դա անկախ պետություն է:

Թող թեկուզ անկախ լինի, բայց ընդունենք որպես մերը: Չվերաբերվենք, որ դա թուրքերինն է: Իհարկե ուզում եմ, որ մերը լինի:

Կարծում ես հայը և ադրբեջանցին կարո՞ղ են կողք կողքի ապրել՝ որպես հարևաններ:

Կարող է սկզբից չընդունեն, բայց հետո կհամակերպվեն, ի՞նչ կապ ունի, թե ինչ ազգություն է: Ամեն տեղ էլ կան և՛ լավ, և՛ վատ մարդիք: Օրինակ մեր շենքում մի ռուս կին էր ապրում: Երևանում շատ հնդիկներ են ապրում: Բոլոր ադրբեջանցիները չէ, որ մեղավոր են, կամ թուրքերը: Չէ՞ որ երիտթուրքերն են կազմակերպել ցեղասպանությունը: Պետք է հին սերնդի պատասխանները այս նոր սերունդը չտա: Հիմա ապրողները ի՞նչ կապ ունեն, ուղղակի վատ է, որ այդքան փաստերի հետ մեկտեղ, նրանք չեն ընդունում ցեղասպանությունը:

Կարծում ես, որ Թուրքիայի ցեղասպանությունը չընդունելը և Ղարաբաղյան պատերազմը նու՞յնն է:

Ոչ, տարբեր բաներ են: Ուղղակի, հայ-ադրբեջանական հարցը երկկողմանի խնդիր է և չեմ կարծում, որ այսքան տարի հետո ադրբեջանցիները թշնամաբար կվերաբերվեն մեզ: Չի կարելի վատը հիշելով հարաբերություններ ստեղծել:

Մտածե՞լ ես երբևէ գնալ արտասահման՝ ժամանակավոր կամ ընդմիշտ:

Ունեմ բարեկամներ, որոնք ապրում են Ռուսաստանում, որոշել էի գնալ մի որոշ ծամանակով աշխատելու, բայց չստացվեց: Կգնայի ԱՄՆ, բայց լեզու չգիտեմ, հետո այնտեղ մեկնելը բավական դժվար է: Երևանում, ուսանողական տարիներին, ես աշխատել եմ որպես օպերատոր, հաշվարկները ցույց տվեցին, որ դա ձեռնտու չէր: Այստեղ ես տան վարձ չեմ տալիս, չեմ մտածում ուտելիքի մասին և վերջապես սիրում եմ իմ մասնագիտությունը:

Ի՞նչ յուրահատկություն պետք է ունենա քո սիրած անձնավորությունը կամ ի՞նչ սպասելիքներ ունես նրանից:

Ես ընդհանրապես մարդկանց մեջ շատ եմ գնահատում ազնվությունը, խելացի լինեն և բարի: Չեմ սիրում ցուցամոլությունը և եսասիրությունը:

Իսկ հավատքը կարևո՞ր է:

Այո, շատ կարևոր է, կարծում եմ, եթե բարի լինի, չի կարող հավատք չունենալ: Բարությունը Աստվածաշնչյան գաղափար է, ինչպես նաև անկեղծությունը: Մարդ պետք է Աստվածավախ լինի:

Հնարավո՞ր է, որ քո սիրելի մարդը լինի ուրիշ ազգի կամ կրոնի ներկայացուցիչ, ինչպիսի՞ն կլինի քո մոտեցումը այդ դեպքում:

 

Ինձ թվում է, որ չեմ համակերպվի: Մենք իրարից տարբեր սովորություններ ունենք: Դժվար կլինի ընտանիք կազմել, նույնիսկ առօրյա կատակ կարող է չընդունվել: Ոչինչ դեմ չունեմ այն մարդկանց, որոնք այդ տեսակ ընտանիքներ են կազմում: Դեպքերը տարբեր են լինում: Եթե սիրեմ՝ կամուսնանամ, եթե զգամ, որ նա իմ երկրորդ կեսն է, ճիշտ է, ընտանիքս դեմ կլինի, բայց դա կարևոր չի լինի, եթե ես սիրեմ:


“Gənc nəsil əvvəlki nəsillərin etdiklərinə görə cavab verməməlidir”

 

Serine ilə müsahibə, 13 fevral 2011-ci il, Stepanavan, Ermənistan.


      Mən Sərinə 1986-cı ildə Stepanavanda anadan olmuşam və burada böyümüşəm. Ermənistan Dövlət Pedaqoji Universitetinin loqopediya şöbəsini bitirmişəm. World Vision – xeyriyyə təşkilatında 1 il müddətində könüllü vəzifəsində işləmişəm – hal-hazırda da könüllü vəzifəsində çalışıram, həmçinin məktəbdə məvacibli işdə də çalışıram. Mən anam, atam və həkimlərin düzgün peyvənd etməməsi nəticəsində 3 yaşından əmək qabiliyyətsiz qalan böyük bacımla birgə yaşayıram.

 

Mən Sovet illərindən heç nə xatırlamıram, lakin mənə elə gəlir ki o zaman insanların çoxlu kompleksi olub. Hətta sevgililəri olanda belə onu gizli saxlayırdılar. İndi hər şey daha açıq və aşkardır, hətta məktəbli uşaqların belə bu cür kompleksləri yoxdur. Bu təfəkkür fərqi ilə izah edilməlidir.

 

Biz əvvəlki illər ilə müqayisədə müəyyən dərəcədə inkişaf etmişik, eyni zamanda müəyyən dərəcədə geri qalmışıq. Hal-hazırda 24 yaşım olmasına baxmayaraq bir yerə getmək istəyəndə valideynlərimdən icazə almalıyam. Mənə görə bu geriliyin əlamətidir, çünki mən artıq uşaq deyiləm və özüm qərar verə bilərəm. Düşünmürəm ki xarici ölkələrdə də bu belədir. Bildiyimə görə həmin ölkələrdə uşaqlar 16 yaşında valideynlərindən ayrı sayılırlar.

 

Mənim valideynlərim oğlan-qız münasibətlərinə qarışmırlar. Məsələ evə gec axşam 7-8 radələrində hava qaralmağa başlayanda gəlməkdədir. Baxmayaraq ki, universitet illərində biz gecə saat 10-da evə qayıdırdıq və hər şey normal idi. Onlar heç bilmirdilər mən 9-da yoxsa 10-da gəlirəm. Onlar İrəvana bu kiçik şəhərdən daha çox inanırdılar.

 

Hal-hazırda ən böyük problem korrupsiyadır hansı ki qonşu Gürcüstanda öz həllini tapıb. Gürcüstan prezidenti Mixeil Saakaşvili bu problemi həll edib. Ermənistanda isə bu problem hələ də aktualdır.

 

Mən universitetə qəbul olunanda hamı gecə-gündüz oxuduğumu görürdü amma buna baxmayaraq belə düşünürdülər ki, hamı kimi mən də rüşvət verib universitetə daxil olmuşam.

 

Bu yaxınlarda mən də bu xoşagəlməz hal ilə üzləşdim. Mən bir sənəd əldə etməliydim, amma müəyyən dairələr bu prosesi daim təxirə salırdılar. Digərləri deyirdilər ki, onlar sözsüz ya şirinlik, ya da pul istəyirlər(sənədi vermək üçün rüşvət). Mən rüşvət verməyəcəyimi bildirdim. Ancaq, bu səbəbdən əziyyət çəkməli oldum. Onlar məni 4 gün süründürərək ələ salırdılar. Mən idarəyə gedəndə onlar deyirdilər növbəti gün gəl, növbəti gün gedəndə dedilər 3 gündən sonra gəl. Mən 3-cü gün yox 4-cü gün getdim amma bu dəfə onlar gələn həftənin cümə günü gəlməli olduğumu dedilər.

 

Mən İrəvana daha yüksək vəzifəli şəxslərə zəng etdim və şikayətimi onlara çatdırdım, süründürməçiliyə məruz qaldığımı dedim və əslində bu sənədi əldə etmək üçün neçə gün lazım olduğunu soruşdum. Xəttin digər tərəfində olan şəxs məni dinləyərək sabah gedib sənədini götür dedi. Beləliklə, əgər 5 nəfər zəng edib hüquqlarını tələb etsə nə isə dəyişə bilər. Anam isə çox narahat idi və mənim arxamca pis şeylərin danışıldığını deyirdi. Anama dedim qoy danısınlar, mən yalnız öz hüquqlarımı tələb etmişəm.

 

Əgər biz regiona, Azərbaycan, Gürcüstan, Ermənistana nəzər salsaq, sən bu ölkələri bir region kimi görürsən, yoxsa hər ölkənin özünəməxsus problemləri var?

 

Mənə görə hər kəs öz ölkəsinin xalqı barədə düşünür. Məncə, Ermənistan Gürcüstan barədə, hətta orada yaşayan ermənilər barədə düşünə bilməz. Lakin, son dövrlərdə Qarabağın yolları üçün maliyyə toplanıldı. Xaricdəki ermənilər burada yaşayan ermənilər barədə fikirlərşirlər. Bu çox yaxşıdır. Qarabağın yolları həqiqətən də dəhşətli dərəcədə bərbaddır – öz gözlərimlə bunun şahidi olmuşam. Buna baxmayaraq, bəziləri bu barədə mənfi rəy də ortaya qoyur. Ermənistan özü qala-qala nə üçün Qarabağa maliyyə yatırmalı? Mən düşünmürəm ki, Qarabağ da Ermənistandır və ya Qarabağ Ermənistanındır. Əgər belədirsə, nə üçün biz bu qədər mübarizə aparırdıq, əgər indi dərk edirik ki, Qarabağ Ermənistanın, Qarabağlı isə erməni sayılmır.

 

Beləliklə, sən hesab edirsən ki, Qarabağ Ermənistana məxsusdur, yoxsa müstəqil respublika olmalıdır?

 

Əgər Qarabağ müstəqil olsa belə ermənilər onu özününkü sayırlar. Əlbəttə ki, mən də istəyirəm Qarabağ Türklərin(Azəri) deyil, ermənilərin olsun.

 

Nə vaxtsa Qarabağda etnik Azərilər olub. Səncə, əgər Qarabağ müstəqil olsa onların buraya qayıtması mümkün olacaq, yoxsa bunu təsəvvür etmək belə qeyri-mümkündür?

 

Əgər normal vəziyyət yaradılsa, niyə də yox?

 

Səncə, ermənilər və Azərbaycanlılar qonşuluqda və birgə yaşaya bilərlər?

 

İlk vaxtlar onları qəbul etməyə bilərlər, ancaq sonra onlar öyrəşəcəklər.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Comments to ““The old generation’s answers should not be given by this new generation””

  1. The article was a bit long so I read only some parts.. still have to add

    1.Armenia has joined the council of europe and 2.please, please, please stop making people to say stuff that happen in a small minority… or at least give some credit to another minority that allows their girls to stay out longer..

    p.s. one could clearly see that you were asking about more newlywed traditions to hear the “red apple” stroy, didn’t you. i’m surprised you didn’t make her talk about that!

  2. Hi Ani,

    Thank you for comments. You’re right about the Council of Europe; that was my mistake and it’s been rectified. As for the questions that were asked during this interview, there was no specific intent to ask about the tradition of the red apple; the questions flowed from the discussion and depended on what the interviewee wanted to share.

    I’m not sure I understand your comment about “making people say stuff that happens in a small minority.” Can you clarify which part of the interview you’re referring to?

    Thanks again for your comments and feedback. I appreciate it very much!
    Adrineh

  3. Good piece ))) I also listened to some parts of the audio and did like how this guy thinks about traditions and other stuff!

  4. Thanks, Sasun jan, for your comments!

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