May 9, 2011

“I am from Karabakh, I was born in Azerbaijan, I live in Armenia. I don’t know who I am. I’m human”

This is a transcript of an interview with Alla, recorded in Yerevan, Armenia, on Feb. 21, 2011. You can listen to the interview (in Armenian) here:

My name is Alla; I’m 24 years old. It seems I work in journalism, if I’m not mistaken [jokingly]. I graduated from the Faculty of Journalism. I was born in Azerbaijan; [now] I live in Armenia, with my father. Before, my brother was with us too, now he’s married. I have brothers who don’t live in Armenia. My mother died in the summer of 1988; I wasn’t yet 2 years old. At that time, I was still in Azerbaijan. If I’m not mistaken, in 1989, when all that [i.e. the Nagorno-Karabakh War] started, we came to Armenia. We lived in the city of Kirovabad [present-day Ganja]. They also call that city Gandzak or Ganja. I knew it as Kirovabad; now I don’t what’s the right way to call it. Then everything started (the war with Azerbaijan, the joining with Armenia): In short, we were forced to come here. But my mother’s grave is there [in Azerbaijan]. Continue reading

May 2, 2011

More than ten years she work as itinerant seller.

Interview with Lalayeva Aishe from Zagatala, Azerbaijan by Khanim Javadova.

She says that she has been working here since she married. But nowadays there is no trade in market. “There is no trade that’s why I don’t want to go to work.” No matter that it is cold or hot the person who works indoor must go to. “Now at this moment  several months we are going and coming but there is nothing to do. But I have no way, I am in predicament I think that possibly I go I can earn something for daily bread for children.”

49-year-old Aishe lives in İkinci Tala village of Zagatala which is situated in the north of  Azerbaijan. She says that she had never left here. In her youth though she went to Ganja for business industrial study; she married in Zagatala.

She lives together with her family of six (not including her). Saying that she never wants to be alone — her family is her priority. For that reason she can not leave for another district or country even it is temporary. “Although my family may come with me I have siblings we are close to one another.”

Continue reading

April 17, 2011

“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.

Continue reading

April 4, 2011

I always want to leave and go somewhere but I know that I will always want to come back. I am feeling good here, I feel attached.

The interviewer (Nikki Kazimova) met Yelena Hagverdiyeva for an interview on February 8, 2011. Yelena is a successful painter whose works (as well as her late husband Ujal Hagverdiyev’s) are displayed in the Azerbaijan’s Museum of Modern Art and have made their way to many private collections around the world.

My name is Yelena Rafailovna Hagverdiyeva. My maiden name was Isakayeva and my husband said that I could keep it when we were getting married, but I am stubborn as all Tatars and I’ve changed it.

I have one son. When Ujal and I had just gotten married, we weren’t sure if we wanted to become parents right away. But then one year passed and another year passed and we still did not have a child, so I started visiting doctors and all that but it seemed to be hopeless.

But then one day we traveled to Sheki and we saw a small church in the village of Kish. We decided to walk there, it looked like it was a short distance away but we walked for a long time and got there by the afternoon. Ujal had a long beard and long hair and I was wearing a traditional “kelagai” and was young and beautiful (laughing). Lots of kids were swarming around us and we asked them to show us where the church was, so they took us there by some tiny roads.

It was an amazingly beautiful Albanian church. And there was a woman there who said to us that it was a magic church which is why it had survived through the ages. Everyone who had some problems or maladies came there to make a wish. She told us to take a coin and place it on the wall. If the coin sticks, the wish will come true. So we got a coin (back then it was a Soviet kopek) and gave to her and on the third try the coin stack. She turned to my husband and said “You will have a son!” and after one year we had our son. After that, we visited the church every year.

Continue reading

April 2, 2011

I used to have Armenian friends but not anymore

The interviewer (Nikki Kazimova) met Narguiz A for an interview on March 20, 2011. Narguiz is a successful pianist, who gives frequent concerts and travels extensively around the world with her family.

My name is Narguiz, I am 43. I have three children – two girls, 14 and 10, and a boy who is 18 months old. I’ve been married for 15 years.

I live with my husband and children, and there is always some help around the house – a housekeeper and a nanny. I wouldn’t want to live with in-laws or parents, I find this situation unnatural. I would not have married if our family could not live separately. Even with the best mother-in-law, it is hard. My sister went through that for 13 years and we ended up solving this problem for her and buying an apartment  to separate them from her in-laws.

I was born and have always lived in Baku. My mom is from Iravan (Yerevan). They moved to Baku in the 1950s. My dad is a native Bakuvian, all of his predecessors, as far as we know, were from Baku. Continue reading

April 1, 2011

“Armenia is in crisis. If there’s no crisis, there will be no emigration”

This is a transcript of an interview with Armanush Bakunts, recorded in Goris, Armenia, on Jan. 23, 2011. You can listen to the interview (in Armenian) here:

I am the president of the organization of the fallen freedom fighters of the Artsakh [i.e. Nagorno-Karabakh] war. The organization has been around for 10 years. I’m also the director of the Sero Khanzadyan museum; I’ve been working there for 2 years. We’re trying to get the museum established. We hope that it will become one of our city’s beautiful recreational centers.

I’m a physicist by profession. I have a university education, but I haven’t worked in my profession. I am interested in overall state issues, social issues, borders, overall civil society, insofar as I want my state to be a good state, a democratic state. That’s what we strive for. Armenia has many problems. Continue reading

April 1, 2011

If women are doing a “man’s job,” it’s ok, but if a man is doing some kind of a “woman’s job,” it’s a shame

The interviewer (Nikki Kazimova) met Shahla Sultanova for an interview on March 1, 2011. Shahla is a journalist who has just returned from the U.S. after completing a Master’s Degree in journalism. She is originally from the region of Zagatala, which is where her family lives.

My name is Shahla Sultanova. I am 30 years old. Foreigners call me Sheila because of the difficulty of pronouncing my name. I am not married and I don’t have children yet, but I have a plan to have children or a child some day.

My living situation is kind of complicated. I lived most of my life alone. Right now I live with my cousins in Baku in a small apartment. That’s because I have just come back from the United States and I have financial difficulty. I have a plan, it should happen, to find an apartment and to live alone.

Usually, I live alone. That’s what I did in the last 15 years. I grew up in an Avarian community, in Zagatala, in a village called Yuxari Tala. I had a grandma who lived totally alone.

She had plenty of rooms and after the age of 15, I went to live with her. And at the age of 18 I moved to Ganja city to study and of course I lived there alone, too. For the first two months, I shared my house with another student from my town but it didn’t work out.

For some reason in my character I can’t live with anyone. It’s really very difficult. I had a problem living with my sister too. It was difficult for me to find a place and pay for it, that’s why I moved to a dorm, which was in a very bad condition but they gave me a room that I did not have to share with anyone else. It was very cold but it was so important for me to have a place to myself. Continue reading

March 26, 2011

My child is my reward

The interviewer (Arzu Soltan) met Zumrud Alimatova in her home in Gusar, Azerbaijan. The conversation took place over a glass of tea at Zumrud’s well-lit, spacious, clean house. She felt some uneasiness about the voice recorder and was more outspoken when the recorder was turned off.

I am 38, married. I have three children – a 19 year-old daughter, and two sons – 15 and 10. I’ve been married for 17 years. I am my husband’s second wife. When we married, he already had two children and the two eldest children are from his first marriage. The little boy is mine.

When I was 21, I was married to a different man. I moved with him to a mountainous village and we had a very good life there, with good income. But I had a problem – I did not have children. Twice, I had miscarriages when I was six-months pregnant. I spent my entire third pregnancy in a hospital but it didn’t work again. The child was born after 8 months and lived for only one day. I don’t know what the problem was. All of my blood tests came back negative, I did not have any infection or anything. The doctor said that perhaps my husband’s and my blood types were incompatible but no one did any tests. Unfortunately, this must have been the reason. When I came out of the hospital, I needed to be cared for, so my mother took me to her home. And then my husband never came to take me back. That’s how we separated. Continue reading

March 16, 2011

“People my age don’t receive benefits or a pension and we don’t have work. How can you live?”

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

I was born in here in Stepanavan. My granddad arrived as a migrant. Not my grandmother, she came from an orphanage. They got married. They had three boys and a girl. Everybody lived here. I have one sister. We are the children of the oldest son. I graduated from the pedagogical institute. I worked in Stepanavan as a teacher for 22 years. I studied in Kirovakan [currently Vanadzor]. I had five children, five girls, who all have higher education. Two are working, one is married and the two others are studying: one is in the last year of her master’s studies; the other is in the second year at Brusov [State Language University] in the Tourism Section. My husband works in a gold mine. First he was head engineer at a building management office. In those difficult years after the earthquake [of December 7, 1988] in which I lost one child… After that we kept livestock to maintain our existence, we gave our children a start in life, we gave them education.

Did you lose your child during the earthquake?

Yes. It was a year and a half old [interviewee did not specify the sex of the child]. The child died during the earthquake in my mother’s house. A five-floor building collapsed. My mother got out. Another of my girls also got out, but my young one didn’t. After that I had two more children. I was pregnant [at the time of the earthquake]. I was evacuated to Ukraine. I gave birth there. They received us very well there. We stayed in Ukraine for three months, until forty-days after the child was born. We went in February; I gave birth in March. Continue reading

March 14, 2011

“He divorced me, because I was sick”

The interviewer (Arzu Soltan) met Sadagat Hajieva at her workplace in Baku on March 5, 2011.

How old are you?
30… I am 31

Are you married?
No, I am divorced. Because of my [health] situation.

How is that?

I have neurosis and I also had a problem with my breast which had to be treated at the Oncology Clinic. That cost a lot of money and my ex-husband did not want to bear those costs, so he divorced me. Continue reading