Wednesday, March 19, 2008


"Ch-ga" means don't have. This is a very popular term here in
Armenia. For example some popular uses; choor chga (no water), gaz
chga (no gas), luys chga (no light or power), pogh chga (no money),
afto chga (no car), khords chga (no work), voch me ban chga (don't
have anything). What we do have here is a lot of time to discuss
politics, the pros and cons of both Armenia and America, business
ideas, and drink coffee. I recently learned that "Armenian" coffee
(served in small cups with fine grounds mixed in), was introduced to
Eastern Armenia in the 60's, by neighboring countries, and was given
out free on the streets for the first year or two. Back to the chga.
The reason I write this is because our power was off again tonight,
and the power is the worst of all the utilities to go out. When it
goes out it takes with it the water (storage tank on first floor, with
electric pump), and the water radiator heating system which has an
automatic electric pilot, the oven, our fancy electric garage door
(with no release), the internet, our computers, our phone to America,
and the lights!
This usually sparks the conversation again with our landlords or
cousins, about America and why we would come to Armenia to live. I
share with them the misnomers of American freedom, namely credit and
insurance, let me just name them all for you, car loans, personal
loans, home loans, home equity loans, credit cards, retail debt, cash
advance, and life insurance, auto insurance, fire insurance, theft
insurance, liability insurance, disability insurance. On the other
hand you have the misnomers of Armenian freedom, no need for
insurance, no definite lines of traffic, no seat-belts or car-seats,
no littering laws, limited building codes, time to talk politics,
owning what ever structure you live in. Each time I have this
conversation, I struggle to make sense of these two very different
systems as the lines are blurring everyday. -Kalem

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