Armenians are known for their generous hospitality just as Southerners are supposed to be known for theirs. The difference is, while I have met tons of charming Southerners, they don’t seem to be any more hospitable nor gentlemanly than any other American. In fact I’d dare say the southern men I have met are the least gentlemanly people I have ever known! For example once when getting a classroom prepared, our group had to move a bunch of tables and chairs from one room to another. So guys and girls alike all rushed to help out. Girls began to grab the chairs, while most MEN began to grab the tables. It came down to a situation where there were two girls and one guy left, a so-called southern gentleman, and one desk and two chairs. The other girl grabbed a chair, and the guy grabbed the other chair, leaving me drag the table by myself. He saw me pick it up and struggle with it and never once offered to trade or help…
I bring this up for two reasons: 1. it really annoyed me! I hate when men are un-chivalrous and 2. To prove to you just what a sham the south is in their claim of hospitality and chivalry.
So every day I have a tutoring lesson and every day it is turned into a tea and snack gathering because my tutor’s host mom cannot stand to have me in her home and not feed me, so Bon chics are bought and eaten and tea or hot chocolate is made, no matter how I try to refuse it. Well one day after a particularly heavy meal at my tutor’s house I was walking home, tired, hot and just wanting to take a nap. I was barely looking where I was going when I ran into a women who I know I knew, I just didn’t remember where I knew her from.
Hello Alyssa Jan, where are you going?
I am going home.
Ah but you live so far, you must have a rest. Come my house is just over here, come have some tea.
Oh I can’t I am very tired…
No you must come, let’s go.
So this woman led me to her house, where as soon as her parents saw me they sprang into action, making tea, preparing dishes of ice cream, and cleaning up a bit. I sat down with my translation book in hand and talked to the woman about school starting and whether I like Spitak or not. Tea was brought to us, with sugar, honey and the ever present candy dish. The women looked at the dish, and shook her head. No not this candy, bring the Grand Candy. Grand Candy is the big sweets factory here; I’d say it’s the equal to See’s candy in the US. Which also means that it’s the most expensive candy here. A new candy dish was brought in followed by a dish of hajapori and watermelon. Eat eat! Demanded my hostess. I ate and drank tea in the 90 degree weather and did my best to provide interesting conversation. When I was ready to go my hostess walked me out and lead me to the right path toward home. I begin to walk again, dying of heat and super full and tired. I can barely wait to plop down in bed, and am hoping to have at least a twenty minute rest without disturbance. As I approach a hill, I hear my name called out. I see a teacher that works at my school with her two young daughters struggling to catch up with me. I stopped and waited for them, even though I kind of wished I could just go.
Alyssa jan, where are you going?
I am going home
Where were you now?
I have my Armenian lesson
You must come have tea with us. We just bought a watermelon, come have some.
I stood their wanting to come up with an excuse as to why I couldn’t, but my brain wasn’t working so I had to go.
I followed them up the hill and to their house, the whole time the little girls watching me when they thought I wouldn’t see. When I arrive at the house I am met by a tatik who cries out awe Americatzi! And hugs me! Ughh thanks. I am lead into the kitchen where a little one year old boy is sitting and waiting. Ahh ahh he begins to yell his big brown eyes widening as he sees the watermelon taken out of the bag. He tries to grab for it and his mom takes his hand and kisses it. He begins to reach out to bite it, and his mom laughs. Alberto loves watermelon, she tells me, as she cuts him off his own piece to eat and tells him to go outside and eat it. The two little girls come in and sit with me. I offer up conversation.
How old are you?
I am 6 and my sister is 4.
What are your names?
I am lilit and she is ___________ ( I don’t remember the other ones name).
Do you go to school?
No. Maaam I want ice cream….
The mom tells the girls to set the table handing them lil plates and she prepares both tea and coffee.
Would you like some eggs, she asks me. Oh no I am not hungry, thank you.
She leads me from the kitchen to the dinning room and tells me to sit. I sit down and both little girls follow and sit with me. Tea and coffee are brought out as well as watermelon, cakes,candy, ice cream and bread and honey. As we eat, we talk a little bit about school and about my time in Armenia. She asks about when I am going to get married. You are very good with children she says, you need to have some. I assure her that I plan on it, when I go back to America. She asks me what I like to do. I tell her I like to run, and read, and play a game called scrabble, and go swimming at the beach when I am in America.
Mom, says the little girl
Jan, says the mom
I want to read with her, says the little girl
The mom smiles, well she reads in English, it might be hard for you to understand.
I want to go running with her
We both laugh
Well she is bigger than you so I don’t know if you can go with her. Maybe when we are done we will walk with her a bit.
Can I go home with her and play?
Another time Jan.
As I finish up my tea the little girl goes to her mom and whispers in her ear. The mom, nods her head yes. And out the girls go! I tell my hostess that I must be going home; she gets a bag and stuffs some little cakes in it for me to take with me, for the road she says.
As we walk down the stairs, I see the little girls in the garden picking flowers. The little boy sees me and runs to me, flower in hand. The mom takes the flowers from the girls and cuts the dirty stems off. Now both girls reach for the one bouquet. I want to, I want to they both yell. The older girl concedes to the little one with a pout on her face, and she brings the flowers to me shyly. I tell them thank you and we take a picture together. We walk back down the hill me, hand in hand with the little girls. The drop me off at the base with hugs and kisses and promises that next time I will bring my coloring book and we will color together. Then it is back up another hill and home for me. All the Armenian hospitality has warn me out!