Monday, December 24, 2007

It's not enough that I gave him Karabakh?

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been in an official state of war for twenty years over a disputed territory, Nagorno-Karabakh, that is entirely enclosed within Azerbaijan but has a majority Armenian population. Though there has been a cease fire since 1994, people are still plenty mad about it, and citizens of each country are generally excluded from visiting the other, and even Americans with Armenian-sounding last names like Petrosian, Egoyan, etc. are often refused visas to visit Azerbaijan.

That's the backdrop to a recent post by Gregory Levonian on his blog describing interactions between these two peoples when they are in a third country, Georgia, which has friendly relations with both of them:
One of Tbilisi's [the capital of Georgia] most famous attractions is its sulphur baths... I've gotten to know the owner of the particular bath I go to, Gulo, quite well.

The thing is that Gulo, like almost of the people that work at the Sulphur Baths is Azeri, and thought she certainly knows I'm Armenian (and this usually surprises many Armenians and Azeris from Armenia or Azerbaijan), in Georgia Azeris and Armenians from get along great. Well, at least most of the time...

Gulo: "Don't hand me the money like that!"

Me: "OK, then how?"

Gulo (showing me): "Like this!"

Me (Switching my hold on the money): :OK, here, Can you change this?"

At this point one of the guys that works there giving massages , also an Azeri, comes over and in a good natured way says: "Gulo, why do you always hassling this guy, huh?

Gulo looks up at him smiling and says: "What? It's not enough that I gave him Karabakh?"

...The week before last, an Azeri taxi driver, when he found out I was Armenian, pulled over and made me listen to his favourite Armenian singer before he would let let me out of his cab.