Taking it easy in Gyumri…

An attraction park in Gyumri

We were the only family getting the tickets for “autorally” at Gyumri’s City Park – an all time favorite attraction for Gyumri kids for decades. I remember the days, when as a kid I had to stand in the line for 15-20 minutes to get on the little electric car…

“Where are all the kids?” I asked at the ticket counter.

“It’s like this now, few people come to the park and even fewer buy the tickets,” the fat lady responded from behind the freshly painted bars of the counter.

The park used to be  crowded even after the tragic earthquake of 1988. Back in the 90’s it was all in ruins, there was often no electricity so the merry-go-rounds and attractions were forced to a halt. But when electricity came back, the park would spring to life – with kids standing in lines to the “autorally”.

We bought two tickets and drove for 5 minutes. For 5 minutes the sound of a working attraction filled the area. It was the only thing working…

The park is shining new now. It is taken good care of. Gyumri’s powerful mayor’s family has privatized most of it, put up new attractions, built a big restaurant in the middle. The attractions in the park are rather cheap. The “rally” costs 200 drams, which is half of what it costs in Yerevan. Most other attractions are cheaper. But there are very few kids…

“They don’t want to spend the money to bring their kids to the park,” my  dad explains, when I tell him of panic I felt in the park and tell him once again – it’s time for him and mom to move to Yerevan and live with me. “The people are cash-stripped here. They can’t afford it.”

But I don’t think money is the only reason.

Few of my friends live in Gyumri now. There were 5 of us growing up on our street. One died in a tragic accident, 2 are in Russia, 1 is in the Netherlands and I’m in Yerevan. Some of us have kids. Those kids only ride the merry-go-rounds in Gyumri’s parks when we come to visit parents.

I’m taking it easy… even though I occasionally have a fit of despair or two…

I’m taking it easy, because I live in Yerevan now and come to Gyumri only to visit parents once or twice a year.


13 thoughts on “Taking it easy in Gyumri…

    • ապ ջան, ըդիկ առայժմ ուղեւորահոսք է, տարվա վերջին նոր կարելի է ներգաղթ համարել… ախր դաժե նախագահի մակարդակով մարդիկ բացատրեցին՝ նիուժելի նիպանյատնը, չեմ հասկանում ։Ճ

  1. I must be honest this article shed some tears in y eyes. I gre up in Gyumri and we were and still are good friend with Arthur. The situation is beyond critical as I can see. Being in Europe we do not realise how dreadful the life conditios are in Armenia and especially in Gyumri. Not being able to afford a kiddy rally for your own child is outragous. What on earth is the government thinking about? Do they realise that soon will not be any more people left to govern…..

    • Ara jan, I’m glad and happy for those tears. You’re a good friend and I’m as sorry as I can be to know, that Armenia lost a great guy like you. But I also remember, how you left, under what conditions and I absolutely can’t blame you. I know you did the right thing and I’m glad you’ve made it in Europe, got brilliant education you’d never get here and are engaged in serious business. And I will keep writing these blogs, hoping, that one day excellent friends like you will read and have a motivation to come back.

  2. in america its known as “bumper cars” you use those mini cars as a way to crash/bump into others. I remember when I was small boy, I lived to get on that ride.

    I agree with Ara Manukyan, the conditions of our homeland (outside of Yerevan) are dire and critical now more than ever. I mean it was bad in 90’s, but because of manipulation of prices, markets on all levels, our currency, and heavy depopulation it is worst now than it was in 90’s. you all may believe/think: “what the hell does he know, he never live there”… I dont need to live there to understand and see the pain of my ppl. I’ve been there enough times and seen the bad and worst conditions that can make a grown man (with a good heart) cry.

    I can share this with all of you, we as Hays are a strong ppl collectively, but separately we are some what semi-weak or forced to bow down to others to get ahead. notice how more & more of our ppl are migrating going where other fellow Hays have collected/settled and are succeeding/flourishing, but place an Armenian in an otar situation with unfamiliar ppl and you will see he/she can NOT fully succeed by him/herself. we need our ppl because we trust each other at a minimum level that we can build a community and succeed from that collective effort. if you were to spread out all the Hays in glendale/LA across california or in america general, no Hay could be successful enough to live that a-list celebrity luxury westernized lifestyle they living in now. at best they would be living mediocre. Hays make their money & success off the backs and greed of other Hays, this is the common and most used practice of getting ahead in our nation. also, if a community of Hays rejects another Hay, you will see that lone Hay can not make it on his/her own, unless he/she sells out his/her identity in whole and completely assimilates to another group of ppl/race. I would know this very well, I dont have that connection with the wealthy-elite Hays who are able to sit around, shop all day, go vacation and some how miraculously the money comes pouring into their pockets and bank accts. all from DOING nothing. (i.e: meghavornere tv show on USArmenia). unlike the wealthy & elite, I am exactly as a citizen of my homeland who is poor working class that I make just enough to have a roof, eat, and sleep ok at night. however, I dont have that extra money to take children to bumper mumper cars/attraction sites or go ice cream place or buy the iPads myPads or the new overpriced techno mechno gadget e-crap or drive car that I want or buy the clothes that I would like to wear or go to eat at some fancy expensive overpriced eatery. if anyone recalls back in Dec I even posted a comment that I had to file bankruptcy and couldn’t afford internet until I get back on my feet, 2 months later I was able to get back online, get my phone turned back on, and get back few necessity things, but I let go of things I dont NEED to live, only wanted. hele I’m just using myself as an example to show at very least 1 Hay outside of Hayastan understands and shares the pain of his Hayrenkicner back home. in fact, I am willing to bet I’m the only Hay outside of Hayastan-Arcax-Javaxaq ( temp. permanent) who is poor and doesn’t have a pot to piss in because other Hays dont accept me in their community so I can get ahead and be part of the team, because I dont have that BIG MONEY or GOOD LOOKS to offer to them for them to benefit from. then again, to get that BIG MONEY and GOOD LOOKS one must be part of a collective/unity

    when I was in Hayastan, even with the little to no money I had back then, I was accepted by my own ppl in my own homeland, for that I will never forget and love/respect them forever. and these were NOT the wealthy/elite arrogant egotistical Hays, these were/are the villagers, the poor, the hungry, sick and dying Hays who were living outside of Yerevan and are of humble pleasant attitude and good heart. maybe thats why I have a very warm soft spot for my ppl and homeland? or maybe its just the natural trait of being HAYQakan

    the point to all of the above is simple…
    if we collect and unite with each other, be more accepting of each other, we can become a stronger better wealthier nation and ppl. stop denying each other, stop being against each other, stop fighting with each other, STOP STEALING from each other, stop trying to ruin each other. ARA JUST STOP ALL THIS BULL**** and YOU WILL ALL SEE WE CAN HAVE A BETTER PPL and HOMELAND, lav?

    anyway, thats my 2 cents
    if you want you can drop it into the donation jar
    maybe someone will benefit from it, ayl ch’gitem

    de lav, vonchinch
    dzer cavner@ tanem im Hayer jan
    yes dzer masin MISHT em m’tacum

    Artur jan, you must to see your parents more often
    Aper, 1-3x/yr is not enough, they are your parents
    if you love them and are close with them, plz see them more often
    plz visit them once a month at very least, let them see and play with their grandchildren, make your parents happy

    • I see my parents quite often. They visit me at least once a month in Yerevan. The reason I’m travelling less frequently to Gyumri these days, is because I got two kids in my hands, who get rather tired riding 120 kilometers to Gyumri in my old, shaky NIVA.

      Once the kids grow up, I’ll frequent Gyumri more and I also have this dream of one day starting a newspaper/media business in Gyumri and going back, once I have enough capital and experience/know-how to do so.

  3. This is to everyone complaining about the government:

    You probably dont realize how pathetic and laughable your complaint sounds coming from Europe/USA. Dont take it personally, because what I am saying applies equally to many many Armenians. You sound like a soldier who has ran away from the battle field and is complaining about how his general and his fellow soldiers are conducting the war. And if you follow the Turk/Azeri rhetoric, I hope you’d agree that it is nothing short of a battle field.

    To me its actually rather very simple: you want a strong country — you go and build it. As simple as that. And dont be surprised if tomorrow Turks occupy Gumry and either kill or expel the population there. Because as we can see, whoever is left behind is strugling in building the country. And this is true not only of Gumry — its same for Yerevan and all of Armenia. Most of the strong/educated/intelligent/successful people left the country. The ones that were left behind — as you can see from this article, this is the best they can do. Everybody should do their part. Critisings

    And please stop all this unification bull shit. Its not about unification. Its about every person taking responsibility for themselves and doing their part. Its every person loving fellow Armenians enough to do their part for the greater good.

    As far as the corruption in the government — I am not excusing it. But it should also not be an excuse not to do anything. The way I see, many people use the corruption in Armenia to not do their fair share. Corrpution exists pretty much in every government, even in the West. Look at all the bailouts to the banks both in US and Europe — thats nothing less than corruption and favoritism.

  4. This is indeed a very moving post.

    I personally can not imagine a father, who pays for his cigarettes almost everyday and refuses to take the kid to attractions park at least once a month….

    I agree with “everyone should do his/her part”.

    I am eagerly looking forward to a day when our ex-citizens return home to help, build and share their good and bad days with us.

    Increased immigration is a dream for corrupt government. The less thinking people live in Armenia the easier it is for corrupt government to “govern” it. So critics or even appeals sent from abroad make little or no difference.

    Please come to Armenia. Actions, proper business plans, fair and precise demands, creative ideas implemented in Armenia, lessons brought from abroad, best practices taylor-made for Armenia, “community-thinking”, clever PR actions, taking regional initiatives, engaging our best and smartest guys, not depending on any pro-government or opposition parties, learning each and every day, developing and educating our friends and neighbors = these are much better keys to fighting our problems.

    Love Armenia, develop Armenia, promote Armenia…

  5. Mike, you need to clarify who youre addressing. [direct offences not acceptable, edited by moderator]I can’t talk for the hyrenatogh runaways, because that’s all they are. I can talk about gor-gors and will tell you that they are not welcomed by the so-called “government”. Your point is equally laughable from our perspective.

    Since 20 years we thought oh now we are “free” and quickly found out what Armenia is all about: Mafia Rule. With what you are suggesting, would you like to see a bloody revolution? most Armenians don’t that’s why they complain from USA and Europe, because they are not from Soviet Hayastan, they are survivors of the genocide.

    Instead of trying to make excuses for the lousy un-patriotism that’s in Armenia, you should find ways to make repatriation to Armenia from the diaspora more comfortable and desirable. Until that happens, I guarantee you Armenians will not move to Armenia, at least in any significant number.

  6. Dear Gor gors rule,

    Sorry, but I am not quite understanding your points or your claims. I think what you are saying is that if we take 2 Armenians both living in say Glendale. One moved there from Yerevan. Second moved there from Lebanon. You would classify the one from Yerevan “hyrenatogh runaway”. The second one is simply a victim of circumsntances.
    To me, there is no difference between these 2. One of them should have no more or less duty/obligation to contribute to Armenia. They are absolutely equal. Are only people living in Karabagh supposed to fight and protect Karabagh? Your logic is absolutely unacceptable to me. I am curious to see what others think of this logic.

    Let me also point out the factual errors in every single one of your paragraphs:
    1) “I can talk about gor-gors and will tell you that they are not welcomed by the so-called “government”. ” There have been many diasporans both in the government and the business circles in Armenia. In government — Tashjian, Hovanissian, Oskanian. In business — Hovnanian, Yirikian, Deb-Boghosian, Eurnekian, Izmirlian, Cafesjian and many others.

    2) “because they are not from Soviet Hayastan, they are survivors of the genocide.” Many many people in Soviet Hayastan are descendants of survivors of genocide.

    3) “you should find ways to make repatriation to Armenia from the diaspora more comfortable and desirable”. Would you like frys with that? ;) The situation is what it is. Why should I try to make it more comfortable for you? That was the whole point of my post — dont demand something, do something.

    In the future, when addressing my posting, please use the correct terms and do not use vague generalizations such as “lousy un-patriotism” or even “gor-gor”. Those are OK for Elementary School nick names, but not for serious discussions.



    • Dear Mike,

      You ask others to comment on the logic of gor gor’s previous reply. I saw no logic there so I will skip, sorry.

      Instead, I will say that I get overwhelmed when I see a thinking person  ready to help Armenia.  Please never give up.

      Everyone needs to understand, that criticizing the government can be changed to mentioning the exact problems that need solution.

      Criticizing the opposition can be changed to providing them a chance for being more constructive and demanding.

      Blaming the president can be changed to recommending him/her exact solutions.

      Blaming the parliament can be changed to bringing best examples from most productive parliaments and creating a healthy competition.

      Blaming businessmen can be changed to advising them on ways forward.

      As mentioned before, plant a tree along with criticizing those who cut them.

      As just an example, I would offer “oligarchs” each to take 5 poor families under their umbrellas. To pay their bills, help with jobs, help with their kids’ education, sports, help with rent, bank credit, etc. Provide food, clothes from their numerous supermarkets, productions, etc. On monthly basis. Society will know the names and addresses of those families and will monitor them.
      Let’s promote that project. Not because oligarchy is great, but because criticizing them gives nothing. And because it will help Armenian families. Just write letters to our MP oligarchs with 5 exact families names and addresses and see what happens next. You can find emails of our MP oligarchs on parliament.am
      What is beautiful, we can shuffle oligarchs every month so those poor families do not create Gods for them. Eventually, the family will not know which exact oligarch paid the bill this month…
      Again, this is just an idea, forget it and create yours if you want. But do something.

      Remember the very simple truth, no government can be good if nation does not help. 

      Have a great and productive Monday, everyone.

  7. What I meant to say dear Gor Gor, is that Armenia is all Armenians’ homeland. Dont feel like an outsider. It belongs to you as much as it belongs to any Yerevantsi. The corruption and other diseases rob both locals and diasporans.
    I had noticed and never understood this phenomena of some diasporans thinking that Armenia somehow belongs to or is the responsibility of people living there only and the diasporans are somehow connected only to Western Armenia.

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