I guess I touched a nerve with my last few columns. For the last month and a half my virtual mail bag has been bursting at the seams with messages ranging form irate criticisms to uh… well… not so irate criticism.
OK. Fine. I’m prone to exaggeration sometimes.
I did receive a few complimentary letters. One of them was from Uzbekistan and the other one was from New Jersey–America’s very own Uzbekistan. I was also excited to get a few from the mother ship–Armenia. Not as excited as I was to get the note from Uzbekistan–but still–it’s good to know that my ran’s are being read all the way in Yerevan.
But with things extremely morose in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation along the Gulf of Mexico–I made a promise to myself not to harp on any annoying issues in the Armenian news or criticize trends in our community. In fact–if anything–the scope of the disaster and suffering in New Orleans made me reflect on how precious life can be.
After all–without the gift of life–how would we ever be able to cruise at breakneck speeds in our parent’s German luxury sedan on Glenoaks Boulevard in Glendale while attempting to "pick up" some "kooroh" (noun–Armenian street slang for "chick;" also see akhchee)? Oops. Almost slipped there. I have to keep my promise. I’ll lay off of the diaspora hooligans and their ilk.
Instead–I’m going to tear open the ol’ mail bag and dig up some of the more entertaining messages and share them with you.
So without further delay–let’s get to the Skeptik e-mails. Let’s start with the responses to my piece on my grandmother and her amazingly frugal–hard working–survivor generation.
Note: These first few aren’t questions but are all responses to my column that ran in Asbarez on August 5 ("A Recycled Rant from an Angry Armenian Bourgeois").
Comment: I like your last article in Asbarez. It reminded me of my mother’s "ikrah." ––Wonderful thing
–Ikrah lover Armen unknown location
Comment: Refering to your last column on the recycled rant–I must say that I can’t agree with you more. My entire image of "The Armenia’s" has been shattered ever since I moved to Los Angeles 6 years ago. I believe the basic problem is a chronic lack of education amongst our population. It’s not only the youth and their ignorant parents that are to blame–but the so-called religious/social/political leadership groups in our community. They have done a lousy job of providing opportunity for the youth to cultivate the more productive aspects of themselves and to learn how they can selflessly and effectively give towards building a better future for the Armenian nation.
– Serge Los Angeles
Comment: I am from Uzbekistan (I am not sure that you have heard about this country–but I can assure you that Armenia’s are living here as well). Every time I look through ASBAREZ ONLINE I read your articles. They are really cute and I appreciate you for such a precise description of Armenia’s’ conduct and mentality. Although I have been tracing your writings in this newspaper for about a year–it is the August 5–2005 edition that made me write to you. You are writing about aimlessly wandering young guys spending their parents’ money. I can make you sure that here in Tashkent–we have the same stuff with young Armenia’s. Our organizations are separated and constantly criticizing each other but commitment to the Armenian Cause is seen as listening to Armenian music like gangster sort of songs and the heavily courting of blond girls. I have the same concerns about the future of our community when the elder pass away.
OK–I just wanted to share with you my commen’s. Hope they were interesting for you.
In brief about myself–I am 25–married–have a degree in Law but am working as freelance translator (English). I was born and live in Uzbekistan
– Artur Tashkent–Uzbekistan
It’s too bad our friend is married. I was going to start an online singles auction for a date with my new friend–Artur.
First of all–I love the fact that there’s an Armenian in Uzbekistan who "traces" my columns. Secondly–I can’t seem to get the image of the comedic character of Borat out my head every time I read Artur’s letter. Finally–isn’t it strange that Tashkent–Uzbekistan sounds just like Glendale–California (cue creepy Uzbeki music).
I love Ikrah lover Armen’s letter. It reminds us that brevity is a beautiful thing.
I have to agree with Armen that "ikrah" is indeed wonderful. It’s one of those dishes that if served it in those fancy Italian restauran’s with the crappy bread basket they bring out–everyone would jump on the bandwagon. You’d see blogs on the internet about which restauran’s on Melrose had the best "eggplant dip," followed by a section in Whole Foods for homemade Ikra from Vermont.
But we are Armenian and that means with out luck; Turks would end up somehow stealing/getting credit like they did with yoghurt–lokhum–and baklava.
As for the community organizations contributing to the declining state of our youth–all I want to say is that we can either sit here talking and continue the problem–or we can roll up our sleeves and try to make differences in our communities–each in our own way. But as Mark Geragos’s most famous one-gloved client/pop star Neverland Ranch resident once said "If you wanna make the world a better place?Take a look at yourself–and then make a change"
Q: I’m sure Dole–Gregorian–and Hovanissian know that taking antiques out of the country is illegal. I think they were more concerned about the length of time Turkyilmaz was kept in jail without any action. How come you single out Dole in your criticism but not the other two?
–Raffi from New Jersey
A: I guess I jumped on Senator Dole because he is such a good friend of the Armenian community and should not be so easily swayed by the folks around him. He shouldn’t jump head first into an issue before studying all the details. He’s a former US Senator and Majority Leader. He knows better to study all sides of an issue before making a rash decision.
I admit that Armenia’s such an easy target to pick on. Its government may not be perfect but that doesn’t mean this Turkyilmaz guy is innocent.
But neither are the guys who sell him these books or who aid him in taking these treasures out of the country. I think the biggest crime that took place is that the people who have been providing these rare books to him were not arrested as well.
Q: Have you heard anything about a Victoria’s Secret opening up in Yerevan?
– Koko from Philadelphia
A: I did a little bit of research on the internet and sure enough–there’s a store called "Victoria’s Secret" opening up in Yerevan–Armenia. Here’s the link to the picture for those who are greater (do I dare to use a pun) skeptics than I am: www.cilicia.com/uploaded_images/victorias-739751.jpg
Lord only knows where the "T" is in the sign. Someone should double check Turkyilmaz’s luggage. Someone suggested that the "T" is actually stuck in customs at Zvartnots International Airport.
But what frightens me more than the missing letter T is the whole idea of having a Victoria’s Secret in Yerevan–Armenia. How do you even begin to explain to an older Armenian woman what a g-string is or a cleavage-enhancing bra? How would the bra sizes even work? Would it be by the traditional Armenian alphabet–Ayp–Pen–Keem–Tah? Would a double "D" cup bra be called Tah Tah in Armenia? Would this be considered sacrilegious since 2005 is the 1600th anniversary of St. Mesrop Mashdots inventing the Armenian alphabet? What impression will this store leave on tourists who will walk by–look at the lace underwear–bra ensembles in the window and then look straight up at the apartment complexes to find clotheslines festooned with the oversized trootseegs and vardeegs of gold-toothed Armenian grandmothers waving in the wind to dry like ceremonial flags for some sort of May Day parade? Is there also going to be a Frederick’s of Little Armenia–Hollywood opening up next? Depending on the success of this store–will Victoria’s Secret launch a whole new line of muumuus and have mannequins in its windows wearing slippers and nylons rolled down to the knees? Inquiring minds need to know!
I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see.
Skeptik Sinikian is a part time Professor at the Yereven Polytechnic Institute for Advanced Lingerie Design. He will be teaching a course on the physics of under wire support and gravity. If you wish to enroll or audit his course–email him at SkeptikSinikian@aol.com or visit his blog at www.Sinikian.blogspot.com.