I’ve been spending a lot of time in Spitak now that I have my own apartment. It’s nice to live alone and to be able to eat what you want and sleep when you want and be social when you want. I do have to admit it does get a little lonely sometimes, but mostly I solve that problem by watching movies, cooking fantastically yummy meals, which take all day because I have to adapt everything to the Armenian lifestyle. When I get really lonely I just bundle up and take Sophie for a walk to the supermarket. Everyone at the supermarket is so nice is me and they just adore Sophie! They walk with me as I shop and read the labels to me or translate the Russian products for me. They play with Sophie a bit and ask me questions. Strange but I feel the most comfortable at the little grocery store.
Even though I am loving my new apartment, and new found freedom, it was really nice to be able to take a day trip to Gyumri this weekend. Gyumri is my favorite city in Armenia, there is just something about it that feels so authentic and almost grimy. I love the little street vendors and all of the cute cafes and I hadn’t been there since August so I decided to meet my best friend Ashley there to spend a few hours.
The one downside to Gyumri is that the only way to get there from Spitak is by bus. Usually I travel everywhere in Armenia by Marshootni. Marshootnis are similar to mini vans that seat about 15 people to 20 if you are really unlucky. They aren’t exactly race cars, but riding on a bus makes them seem that way. They are so slow!! While a trip to Gyumri by cab would take me about thirty minutes, by bus it takes up to an hour and twenty minutes!!!
When I got on the bus I took my usual seat by the front door. I like to sit there because not many people like to sit by the door as it can be pretty cold, this means normally that I won’t be squashed. Plus I have a Sophie dog to sit on my lap and keep me warm!
As I got comfortable in my seat, the bus was getting ready to leave. Thankfully no one was sitting by me! Just as we began to pull out from the station a group of men came toward the bus. The door opened slowly to let in a big, huge fat man with stains on his shirt and a very distinctive smell. As he passed by me I thanked god and began to make room for one of the three boys who followed behind him. One took a seat by me and I was glad to be on our way… but as luck would have it, just as the wheels began to move again, the fat man decided that he would change seats with the young boy.
I tried to make myself seem unavailable. I put my head phones on as loud as they reached and turned to look out the window. I was aware that the man was staring at me, but I tried to avoid letting him know that I knew. His friends sat directly across from us, on the backwards facing seat in the bus, which meant they too were staring directly at me. I couldn’t help but to catch the eye of a young man. He happened to be very good looking and when our eyes met we both blushed and turned away. As time passed I became aware that my seat mate was trying to get my attention to talk to me. I tried to ignore him, but as Sophie reached over and sniffed his face, I could no longer pretend he didn’t exist
Your dog likes me, he said. I smiled politely and nodded. Do you speak Armenian? Yes I speak a little I replied. He began asking me the usual questions, where I am from, why I am here and if I am married…
If only people would not ask me that question!! Of course I said no because it’s a small town, if I said yes he would most likely know that I was lying. I tried to look away because I knew we were about to get into a huge discussion about why I wasn’t married. I was aware that everyone on the bus was listening to our conversation and laughing at parts that they found amusing. No such Luck, I was already sucked in and there was no way out…
But instead of drilling me on the specifics of why I was not married, he pointed to the very attractive boy across from him. This is my nephew he told me. He will make a great husband for you. I looked up, face filled with embarrassment and saw that my proposed fiancé was staring at his shoes, presumably just as embarrassed as I was. No, no I tried to explain, I don’t want to get married.
Everyone wants to get married he told me. He is a good boy, he has a good job and has money. You will not find anyone better. I begin to giggle a little, as I sometimes do when I am in extreme awkward situations. He began to tell me about the kid’s job, and what a good husband he would make. Then he began to whisper something. Now I am not going to pretend to know what he said, because I couldn’t understand a word of it… but I do know tone and body expression, I feel I read people extremely well, and I am pretty sure he was talking about something inappropriate. I told him I didn’t understand and he repeated it with a huge grin on his face followed by a wink… yeah you get the picture.
I pretended to be completely clueless and claimed that my Armenian was really poor. I looked back to the cute boy, he was still staring at his shoes, filled with embarrassment. He is a good looking boy isn’t he, the man asked me. I began to giggle again. No I said followed by giggles. Well yes, but I mean no, I don’t know. Then more giggles to the point that tears were coming from my eyes. Marry him; he will be a good husband. Come with us, we shall make a khorovots to celebrate. I giggled some more and said I couldn’t, that I was meeting a friend. I deliberately left off the suffix that means girl friend. A few minutes later as the man was still trying to sell me on his nephew his stop came up. He told me once more that I should come with him, but I declined. We will find you the next time we come to town. You live in Luscines building don’t you?.... Great!