| The good news just
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 Amazon.com - 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
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'
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,
Says right here on my Amazon.com.uk 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 Amazon.com's
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