Most waiters and waitresses never paid salary in Yerevan

The people who smile at you and serve you and try to make you comfortable in hundreds of outdoor cafes, cafeterias, restaurants in Yerevan – several hundreds of waiters and waitresses in Armenia, most of them young, good looking boys and girls are usually not paid a regular salary in Yerevan.

Instead, they have to rely on tips, or the so-called ‘tea-money’ to make a living.

I first heard about this on a TV talk-show program. Throughout the past month I’ve been asking the waiters I’ve met in various locations in Yerevan – and they have all confirmed this.

Clearly, it isn’t so bad if so many good looking and apparently quite well educated boys and girls (most of them speak at least 3 languages) prefer that profession.

However, there are several points that make me uneasy:

  1. According to Armenian employment legislation they must be paid some kind of salary. So if all those waiters and waitresses are not paid a regular salary, that means the cafes, cafeterias and restaurants employing them are manipulating figures – which is a crime and should be punished.
  2. There is usually a charge for service – 10% included in restaurant bills. I always thought that is for the waiters, and sometimes I felt I didn’t have to leave any tip. To my surprise – this is also not for the waiters – they never see anything of that money. So now – going to a restaurant, cafeteria, I am feeling more obliged to leave more money… which puts an additional pressure on me… I kinda hate that feeling – because while in the past I considered tip as a way to award good service, now I’m feeling obliged to leave a tip – and a bigger one at that. And feel guilty if its not big enough… and big enough is such a subjective thing… etc, etc, etc…
  3. Bastards!!! The restaurant owners have all that money and they build all those huge buildings and they don’t want to pay anything! What is this? I’ll become a marxist-leninist if I keep feeling like this 😀

Yerevan's tourist-friendly metro. VIDEO

Yerevan Metro after Karen Demirchyan | © Artur Papyan

Yerevan’s metro – the underground transport system (launched in 1981), is a true blessing on hot summer days. The Soviet built metro serves 10 stations and is only 13,4 kilometers long short. I mean – it is quite short actually and mostly serves the central Yerevan. The number of passengers is surprisingly quite low, ranging between 40-42 thousand on regular working days, although it’s the cheapest public transport available costing less than 15 cents (50 drams).
The metro wasn’t very fit for tourists until recently, as all signs were only in Armenian and Russian. About a month ago I met a lost French tourist in “Baghramian” station. The poor woman had no idea where she was and where to go – looking at the map in her hands with a lost expression on her face. I accompanied her all the way to “Hanrapetakan” (Republic Square) metro station, so she could find her hotel.

Armenia Economy

Funny: Iranian governor "provides" uranium to Armenian governor

Iranian Tehran Times daily published a strange story on Sunday about an Iranian governor telling an Armenian governor about Iran’s readiness to supply nuclear fuel to Armenia. As a colleague rightfully noted today, they could as well publish a story about an Iranian village mayor promising to sell long-range missiles to an Armenian village mayor. I mean – these things just don’t happen on the village mayor, governor or even prime-minister levels.
Strangely, the story was picked up by a range of Armenian and Azerbaijani media, ‘experts’ started commenting on what this meant, and so on and so forth… (examples: 1, 2, 3, 4). Is there something I don’t understand? Is this story really actually IMPORTANT?


Updated: Armenia really serious about swine flu prevention

Armenia is taking wide-ranging precautions to prevent the spread of influenza A virus subtype H1N1 and I’ve just experienced those measures myself.The whole thing started on the plane, about 40 minutes before we got ready to land in Zvartnots.
A charming Czech stewardess handed out a sheet of paper, asking to fill it in.
“I don’t need this,” I said, thinking it is an immigration form. “I’m a citizen.”
Armenia Economy Environment

Don't understand the Teghut campaigners, but willing to listen…

from here.

Frankly, I don’t quite understand what all the Teghut cause is about. I have a bunch of friends engaged in a movement to stop the Armenian Copper Program (ACP) from establishing an open pit strip mining operation for copper and molybdenum ore in Teghut’s forest. They say the plan includes clear-cutting over 1,500 acres of Teghut’s forest.  Clearly that’s bad. But – in this economy you’d think it’s justified to cut some forest to help the exports and the economy, and provide jobs to the people.
The Teghut campaigners, however, say “ACP plans to create a “tailing dump” in a nearby pristine gorge, where heavy metals and other toxins from mining waste will leach into the ground and into the river flowing through the gorge, ultimately contaminating the local water supply. Furthermore, they make a valid point:

What do we know about Armenian Copper Program’s track record? ACP owns the infamous Alaverdi Smelter, which processes copper ore for a consortium of mining companies in the region. No birth anomalies were recorded in Alaverdi in 1992 when the factory was idle, but in 2001, 28 cases of birth defects were registered and 107 cases in 2004. How will birth defects benefit Armenia’s next generation, Armenia’s future?

I really don’t know – but this slideshow and the music in it are beautiful, and I’m willing to at least listen to the people who are putting so much effort and creativity into their campaign. Don’t think ACP could come up with something like this – do you?

Armenia Politics

The 'correct' and 'incorrect' maps of Armenia and Karabakh

The 'correct' map of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh
The 'incorrect' map of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh

I came across today a Facebook group which, according to its description, is “dedicated to the promotion of using correct maps of Armenia and Artsakh.” The group’s description further runs:

When using or displaying a map of Armenia, Artsakh should not be left out! They are Armenian lands that should be properly included into every single map published. We live there, we govern it, we liberated it and therefore it is an integral part of the Armenian world.

With rather detailed descriptions, the group further explains the use of the terms ‘correct’ and ‘incorrect’ maps, saying the ‘correct’ one should “show Armenia and Artsakh as united” and not depict Karabakh “as an enclave, which is not the case.”


Karabakh negotiations. What happened in Moscow?

High level talks on Karabakh conflict resolution concluded on July 17th and July 18th in Moscow. Armenian and Azerbaijani sides didn’t comment much. The OSCE Minsk group mediators sounded disappointed, even if they tried to accurately conceal that with phrases like “very open discussion took place” and “there was no progress, but there was not step back either”.
It seems like the reason for failure in progress was Armenia’s stance. There was a serious backlash in Armenia following the release of Madrid principles by the Presidents of OSCE Minsk group co-chairing countries at the G8 meeting in Italy.
Calls demanding resignation of Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian and reversal of policy on Karabakh by ARF-Dashnaktsutyuniun, criticism from Karabakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were followed by Nalbandian’s statement, which made clear, that there is hardly any point in the upcoming negotiations in Moscow.
Interestingly, it seemed from the side, that much of this halabaloo on the Armenian side was carefully staged by the authorities ahead of the negotiations. It seems there was pressure on them and they needed this backlash to adopt a more hardline stance.
The question than remains – why all this circus? Why don’t they just say – we don’t need no negotiations?


Gyumri mayor's son likely involved in a fresh shooting incident

Scandalously famous son of Gyumri mayor seems to be responsible for yet another shooting incident near Sarnakbiur village of the Shirak region, which resulted in a 55 year-old being wounded and taken to hospital.


Passenger plane crashes in Iran killing 168

Armenian bloggers were taken aback as the Caspian Airline flight 7908 heading from Tehran to Yerevan, crashed 16 minutes after departing from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport, killing all 153 passengers and 15 crew members.
The news was initially spread by Armenian twitterers and facebookers, Unzippedblog being the most informative of Twitter users on the tragic event.


Armenian bloggers call for Foreign Minister Nalbandian's resignation

Following the release of a statement on July 10, 2009, in Aquila, by presidents of OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries, containing the so-called Madrid basic principles of Karabakh problem’s resolution a group of several dozen Armenian bloggers have launched a campaign demanding the resignation of Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian.

"These people will surrendur us to orcs", Freedom Fighter says