| If you live in
an Armenian family, you will understand what I am
about to say . . .
When you are sick, every Armenian is a doctor.
This week, the country is full of them - victims
of flu, and purveyors of remedy.
So far, I've been told: eat lots of garlic, drink
"ourtz" tea, drink tea with lemon, drink
tea with honey, drink tea with cognac, drink tea
with those yellow fruits that look like warted
apples - quince, I think they're called.
Having been influenced by the Armenian love of
conspiracy, I am now ready to believe that the
tea producers of the country are releasing flu
germs as a sales marketing device.
There is, of course, the local cure-all, vodka.
I've been told to drink it against the flu, but
also when I had an abscessed tooth, an upset stomach,
and even a sunburn. (I once saw a certified technician
here use vodka to clean the innards of a laptop
I have a houseplant that a few weeks ago was
looking puny. For the sake of science I decided
to mix a little Karabakh vodka in its water bowl
and see what happened. The result is that the
plant doesn't look any better, but it didn't die,
Which pretty much sums up the condition of a
lot of people I know who are attacking this flu
and its snotty interference with the holiday season.
Yerevan is a bowl of bacteria and its residents
have Barry White voices and stoplight noses. Schools
are closed as a prevention of spread.
Here, the flu is called "grip". How
perfect is that?
If you're looking for the Armenian version of
ArmeniaNow, you won't find it this week, because
our chief translator has been home all week in
bed. Our reporter who writes about medical issues
was preparing a story on the flu outbreak, but
became sick before she could finish it.
On deadline day at ArmeniaNow, our web administrator
gave me this report:
"There were 15 of us, and now there are
three." Well, things aren't quite that bad,
Like the besieged dictator in his "spider
hole" just to the south of Armenia, I spent
the first three days of this week hiding from
grip. It seems (knock on wood, I'm supposed to
say for Armenian authenticity) to have worked.
I was warm and dry, had plenty of remedies and
plenty, plenty advice and attention.
And plenty time to consider how differently winter
is met in much of this city and even more of this
country, by those who don't enjoy the good fortune
that is mine. Such thoughts are never far away
these days, as our efforts here have centered
on ArmeniaNow's HyeSanta project.
How does a war victim in Kapan with no arms prepare
her tea? What happens when a family's sole provider,
a 15-year old high-school dropout, gets "grip"?
How warm is a wet basement for a mother and four
Last week an expatriate acquaintance and I passed
an old woman begging late at night near the opera
house. We gave her some money - something we likely
would not do (probably for stupid reasons) in
our own country.
"I figure the only difference between me
and her is a passport and credit cards,"
my friend said.
Of course that's way too simple an explanation.
And money is not the only answer. But it sure
can mean a lot.
If you've already read HyeSanta and have made
a donation, thank you. It will be a better season
for some because of you.
We hope many more will do the same. Click here
to read the special section.
And if you donate, maybe I'll send you a remedy
for "grip". Or a slightly impaired house
plant . . .
Merry Christmas friends.