- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 January 23 , 2004 

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

A rewarding (or disappointing) thing about living abroad is what the experience teaches you.

For example, being an "otar" in Armenia has taught me that I:

  • Am a victim of Americanized social studies.
  • Have a confused sense of the difference between necessity and excess.
  • Can shave using cold water, and so on.

  • Pillow talker.

    This week I learned that I am a homosexual polygamist.

    If I've told you more than you wanted to know, turn the page. Otherwise, let me explain . . .

    One of our staff became engaged this week. In keeping with an Armenian tradition, he brought to the newsroom "tarosik" (from "taros dzez", meaning "the same to you"). Tarosik is packets of things - sometimes sweets, etc. - that a newly engaged hands out to single friends who he or she wishes to find a mate.

    (It was not until after my tarosik experience that I learned that the tradition is intended for single Armenian girls - not, certainly, for middle-aged Irish-American males of questionable matrimonial viability.)

    The deal is, the person who receives the tarosik is to place it under her pillow, and it should make her see her future husband in her dreams.


    Last night (after checking the bed for scorpions), I put the tarosik under my pillow and drifted off, hopeful that I would not dream of my mother, thus subjecting myself to unknown amounts of psychiatric counseling for damage control.

    In case I've not made it clear, allow me a sidebar in this cultural position paper to say this: Armenian women are the most beautiful in any world I've ever spent time in and offer reason why a normal man should happily spend his days here. I, it turns out, am not a normal man.

    Going to sleep in a city where, everyday, I feel like a warthog in a paradise of swans, I figured even my chances were pretty good of scoring underserved good fortune with a packet of Armenian tradition as my dream catcher.

    Was there a Gayane, an Anahit, an Armine out there somewhere, needing only the power of the quasi-voodoo tarosik to reveal her?

    No. There was a Pointer and a Red. They are my two best friends - both of whom I love dearly but, well, not that way. Besides, Pointer's married.

    Pointer, who can't point because he chopped off his index finger, and I became pals while he was recovering from a surgery. Red, who is sort of black, and I go back to a time when we were both recovering from something worse than surgery.

    In the dream, the three of us were doing what we used to do before I left their land for this one: hanging out, playing music, behaving poorly and generally avoiding, as men do, revealing anything honest about ourselves to each other. In other words: Having a great time.

    It was as if I'd never left. But it wasn't like what I'd want in a marriage. Or maybe . . . If there has to be a "till death do us part" so far I haven't found other mates who've managed to be so durable.

    Whatever. Having learned that I've probably abused some revered pagan-esque ritual by putting a girl's crystal ball of good intention to this bastardized use, I fear I might have angered the gods of happily ever after.

    Or maybe, like I said, living as an outsider in Armenia can teach a person a lot about himself.

    It was great to spend time with Pointer and Red, if only in my dreams. Still, tonight I'm going to put the tarosik at the foot of my bed and see if I have any better luck . . .

    According to Agnes
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