October 22, 2006
Armenia part II
You know you're in a different country when - people don't speak your language, or don't dress the way you do, don't eat what you usually eat. I also realized Armenia is very different when I got off the plane, in the parking lot waiting for the taxi, I saw several souped up ladas, but also many other cars that I didn't know of, but I'm not a car expert. There was one car that didn't start up, so several people in the parking lot started pushing the car so that they could start it under compression. This is not people the driver knew, people who were there waiting for their cab, left the luggage on the sidewalk, and just started pushing. More community oriented, less individualistic. During one conversation where we were talking about people moving a lot, from city to city in North America - his first reaction was: So how do you get to know your neighbours? What I understood is - how can you create deep linkage with your entourage if people move around so often. Touché! Armenia is a very small country - 3M population - but with a large ex-pat network. If they were to leverage the ex-pat network as well as the indians do on the business side of things - they would become very successful very quickly, because they know their neighbour, or the guy down the block and they talk, this guy knows someone else, who know a guy who could help with your problem. I haven't seen a whole lot of news paper reading around. At breakfast or anytime for that matter I haven't been able to find a paper or people reading a paper. Every body smokes like a cheminee and they smoke everywhere. Often I find myself looking for air, I'm not used to it anymore. The food is excellent - very mediteranean. They have a lot of meat on the menu, and you order veggies separately. The fresh herbs, and marinades they use for BBQ or other plates are very re-freshing. I ate most of times in Armenian restaurants - I even got initiated to Beef brain on a toast, I tried it out of a dare more than anything - but I won't try it again. They have the taboule, babaganoush, and homus - which are all very good. The babaganoush especially with its smoked flavour is my favourite. The big drink is Vodka ofcourse, but it's not everybody who drinks it at lunch, but I saw some. One side note food wise, there is this nice little lebanese restaurant near my hotel - one day I was in a rush, and I asked for a shawarma. I got the best shawarma I have ever had. It was a beef shawarma, steak strips marinated in yogurt and hebs, again very simple, but so fresh.