- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 March 14, 2003 

Outside Eye: A non-Armenian's view of life in his adopted home

Having been infected with a small dose of America's Iraqnophobia virus, I made a recent stop into my nearby Yerevan hardware store to investigate its Homeland Security department.

Apparently there are not Armenian words for "duct tape", but I did learn that connecting "Saddam", "American", and "boom" conveys a general, if bushy eyebrow raising, meaning.

The need to seal my flat from Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) was inspired by the providence of my World Atlas having fallen open and there on Page 128 I learned that I live 500 miles from Baghdad.

This had not occurred to me when I moved to Armenia more than two years ago, anymore than the thought that a cowboy who pronounces n-u-c-l-e-a-r as "nucaler" would be the bobbing head of the Most Powerful Nation in the Universe (MPNU).

A bit of post-911 history for those of you lucky enough to live in a world that has not yet gone mad . . .

Duct tape is that wide, metallic-colored sticky cloth Americans use for everything from holding water pipes together to wrapping around the mouths of screaming hostages.

A couple months ago an eminent expert in biochemical warfare - or at least a stockholder in 3M, the company that makes duct tape - told Americans they should be prepared to seal their houses with duct tape and plastic sheeting.

I am only reporting what I have been told, when I tell you that on Valentine's Day this year, duct tape outsold roses in America.

And so it is that this news from abroad and the geographic epiphany of Page 128 led me to my local "Amen Inch Tan Hamar" (that's about as close as I can get to "Home Depot"). While the boys there were stumped to produce America's favorite apocalyptic accessory, it is of some comfort this near to the epicenter of evil to learn that "scud" translates fluently.

Funny, it just doesn't feel like we're living in the land of collateral damage.

I've been getting letters from home saying I should get back to the States before war breaks out. I reply that I'd rather sleep with the doors open 500 miles from Baghdad than tape myself inside a suburban bungalow in a country where skyscrapers are shooting gallery ducks of the mad and inflamed.

These are good days to live in obscurity. While occasionally it bothers me that most of the world doesn't care about Armenia, these days it is comfort knowing that most of the world doesn't notice.

I have at least once written to CNN asking why Yerevan is not on its list of cities in its global weather report. A few mild-tempered suggestions that we are just as important as, say, Malta, received nothing more than corporate response.

But then Monday night I got a call from another American here, all excited to tell me that CNN's televised forecast called for rain "in places like Armenia".

Dang it! Just when oblivion is looking safe, the wiseguys at the world's weathermap have to go and expose us. (Though I take exception to the phrase "places like Armenia". What places could those possibly be?)

With the possible exception of Turk and Azeri name-calling, Armenia is not anybody's Axis of Anything.

So while the occasional call from my (World War II veteran) father asks when I'm "going to return to the good-old US of A", I think I'll just keep putting off the move.

And while cafeterias on Capitol Hill are erasing the word "French" from their menus (in protest of France's refusal to join the war froth), I'll hunker down on Nalbandian Street with a bowl of matsun and find an eraser to use on Page 128. And sleep like a fat baby, come dawn's early light or the rocket's red glare.


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  Photo of the week
  Blooming Mad
Click on the photo above to enlarge

Blooming Mad

March 8 is always the Day of Women in Armenia. This year, however, it was the Day of Angry Women, as a few thousand took their bouquets into the streets to protest last week's Presidential runoff election.



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