Wednesday, September 8, 2010
It seems that living in Armenia means you must get use to saying goodbye. This week my host father left for Ukraine where he works in a shoe factory for 8 months out of every year. Even though I have known this day was coming, I didn’t realize how sad I would feel now that he is gone. He is the third man that I have had to say goodbye to since moving to Armenia, and I am beginning to understand a deeper level of the Armenian woman’s strength. They send their sons off to the Army and their husbands abroad to work, never complaining about the unfairness of it all, or about the extra work they will have to do. My family now lives on a farm of sorts. This means that my host mother will now have the extra work that both my host brother and host father have left behind.
The last night that my host father was here, the mood was different. It was as any other day but only quieter. No one spoke. No one laughed, or if they did they did so quietly, not their usually boisterous outbursts. It was different than any other Armenian goodbye that I have usually seen. Usually there are parties and khorovots (bbq) and toasts made with lot of laughter and hugs and kisses. There was none of that this time, but nor were there tears. We ate dinner as normal, nothing special denoting the occasion other than a small shot of vodka shared between my father and my papik. Chores were done and after they watched tv just like any other night. I almost started to doubt my language skills, and thought perhaps he wasn’t leaving yet.
At around 10 o’clock at night my host mom called me to tea and bread. We drank tea and watched Eurovision, or something like it. My host mom asked if we have Eurovision in the US. I told her no, but we do have shoes like it, the only difference being that only Americans are in it, not other countries. My father then says next year we will get a satellite dish and be able to watch American tv. He asks if I had one in America. I explain that I had cable tv. He asks me how much it cost. I tell him about 70 dollars. He looks disappointed. He tells me his satellite dish will cost him 80 US dollars. $80 dollars a month! I say. He scrunches his face, no just once he answers. Oh that’s good, I paid 70 a month. His jaw drops, a year, he tries to correct me. No a month I tell him. He and my mom say something to each other, prolly about how much money they think I have.
I like the Animal Planet he tells me in English. I laugh, astonished that he knows what the Animal Planet is. See I know some American things he says in Armenian. In Ukraine we watch American tv. I can watch the Animal Planet all night, I like it very much. I watch the police arrest bad people who are mean to animals, we should have that here, but most people would go to jail. I like to watch the surgeries. I use to be a vet and I like to watch it because one day maybe I can be a vet again. I nod my head and think to myself, what sad times we live in that a vet now works in Ukraine as a cobbler in a factory. I admire him for doing what is necessary to provide for his family, especially when so many of the men here just give up. The room falls quiet again, everyone in their own thoughts.
In America you don’t have the porno channel my host dad says in armenian, suddenly breaking the channel. Apparently there is no translation needed for porno channel, it is the same in both languages. I look up, trying not to giggle and try to pretend I don’t understand. He points to the tv, porno channel he says again. I look, and sure enough there is porno on the tv. My face couldn’t have been more red. Here, he says, it comes on late at night (it was about 1 am). My host mom looks disgusted, yet no one changes the channel. In America, I tell them, you have to pay for “the porno channel”, so you only get it if you want it. Ahh that is much better they tell me, as if they are disgusted with their own country, and yet the porno channel remains on tv. I look over at their son and it’s too much for me to handle. I let out a giggle. They all look up at me. It’s nothing I say and I sneak off to bed… Defiantly going to miss my host dad!
* I would like to note that by porn, I don’t really mean porn; it was more like a raunchy movie that may be rated R or X depending. There was some plot to it, so it wasn’t full out porn, but it was pretty graphic.