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

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

The good news just doesn't stop.

Last week in this space was proclaimed the good tidings of great joy that Guinness Beer has made it to Yerevan (canned, but nonetheless black and frothy and satisfying, if you can swallow the fact that it cost $5.35 a pop).

Today I am almost-equally pleased to report that an order from - the world's clearinghouse of nearly all things worth having - found its way to 26 Parpetsi Street No. 9, that is to say, this very office.

This impresses me, if only for the fact that when I tell (non-Diaspora) people abroad where I am living, the conversation usually requires a globe so that I may point and say: "No, the little spot there, next to Turkey. . ."

I tried to get (snail) mail when I first moved here. I had my sister mail a postcard with my name and address on it, just to see what would happen in a republic that I'd always teased about having a variety of national stamps but practically no mail service. (Recently, with all Armenia in a fury over the presence of the Jehovah's Witnesses, I've stolen a line from an American comic, and suggested that the proselytizers might be better welcomed on doorsteps if they'd at least deliver the mail.)

Anyway. After about a month of nothing, I went to the central post office to see if my postcard from California had arrived.

"Nyet" said the postal clerk.

Turns out I guess that there's no 'H' equivalent in the Russian alphabet, leaving no mail slot for the likes of names such as mine, even if the card did make it across the way. (Don't even ask me how the thousands of Harutyunyans here might manage that system. Maybe they drop the 'H', which makes sense. "Arutyunyan", however, goes down a lot easier than other possible 'H' amputated names.)

Imagine, that being my postal past here, my skepticism when, while visiting Yerevan, my friend David from Reno, by way of San Sebastian, Spain via Paris and London said to me:

"Let's see if Amazon can find Armenia."

The fact that I now hold in my hand a copy of the cd "Bright Flight" by David's favorite band, the Silver Jews, means that . . . well, something profound.

Says right here on my invoice that the order was placed on October 25, meaning that it took 19 days for me to have to take back all the cynical things I've said about isolation and living in obscurity. Less than three weeks since telling a friend he was wasting his however many drams or pounds or dollars or Euros, I'm sitting here now hearing the Silver Jews sing such soon-to-be classics as "Horseleg Swastikas" ("I wanna be like water if I can, cause water doesn't give a damn.").

To hell with the old system and its 'H' deficiency. How can this any longer be called a "country in transition" when we are on's map?

But I worry. If a World Wide Web delivery service can find us, can junk mail be far behind? I mean, how long before envelopes claiming "Look inside, you could be a winner" clog the place where mail would go if certain undesirables were to find out that Armenia is so accessible?

Nah. Not as long as I don't change my name to "Ughes".

According to Agnes
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  Photo of the week
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Two Smoking Barrels?

Russia's Minister of Defense, Sergei Ivanov (smoking left) and Armenia's Minister of Defense Serzh Sargsyan (smoking right) blew smoke together this week during a visit to the Genocide Monument.



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