Notes From Hairenik
February 2, 2015

Today's my birthday, which coincidentally falls on Groundhog Day. Yes, that indeed is a hilarious coincidence. Good thing no one in Armenia knows what Groundhog Day is, never mind a groundhog.

I have only two wishes for my birthday:

1. Peace and happiness. We're living in turbulent times. Tensions are high on Armenia's borders. The economy is starting to tank. Regional stability is fragile. Let's pray for peace. That will come from inner peace, inner stability, confidence and self reliance. Most of all peace comes from tolerance and empathy.

2. Evenings when both my sons sleep over in their own home together, in their own beds. I never imagined how difficult going through divorce is, probably because I never fathomed having to endure it several months ago. But although my marriage is finished, my relationship with my boys isn't. Our father-son relationship remains eternal, and nothing will ever come between us. Nothing. On my birthday and every day I send my undying love to my boys. I'll see you soon.

I hope that's not very much to ask for.


This month Notes From Hairenik celebrates its decennial, online for 10 years straight. I can’t believe a decade has passed already, seems like I just moved here a few years ago. It’s unbelievable how quickly time passes.

Over the years I have documented all facets of my personal life and observations about Armenian culture, society and politics on this blog, and I’ve told the stories of countless citizens, usually ordinary people no one has really ever heard of. I’ve written about all sorts of subjects related to life in Armenia, what to do to keep busy, how to get around, must-see places to visit, where to have a fine meal. I’ve also documented both my delights and frustrations with living in this often under-appreciated country, one that offers a lot more than what people mistakenly, even sarcastically believe.

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My goal was to portray Armenia and its capital Yerevan the way it actually was, or at least the way I began to see it, having crushed the rose-tinted glasses under foot long ago. The mindsets and even psychology of Armenians have been explored in my posts, some of which were controversial while others fondly appreciated. I thank both my critics and admirers over the years, all of you have pushed me to keep me writing about my passion for this craggy, stunningly beautiful country. I grew significantly both professionally and personally during my stay. I have also seen my share of hardships, which I am not unthankful for in retrospect. I had a health problem five years back resulting in the removal of my gallbladder, thankfully a relatively trouble free ordeal. Frustrations with chauvinism, complacency and fatalistic, jaded personalities have worn down my enthusiasm on more than one occasion. Two marriages have crumbled in the span of a decade.

But I have had real triumphs. The two eternal sunshines in mylife, Areg and Shant, remind me every luminous morning what it means to be alive, to love life and be thankful for every passing moment.  They never cease to inspire and fill me with pure joy, blazing white energy. In September 2013 one of the most important events of my life took place when I spoke at TEDxYerevan. And I have made true, everlasting friendships with people that have endured. I’m truly grateful and lucky for all that I have had in my life.

Thanks to all of you for your support and encouragement over the years. I couldn’t have kept this blog going without you.

With much respect and gratitude,

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November 3, 2014
As I lay in bed trying to finally kick the lingering, sinus-stuffing virus that has swept Yerevan, my children included (they affectionately gave it to me in the first place), I thought I'd post some golden moments from the last six months. Shantig my little one has grown up a lot and after only one year (his birthday is tomorrow!) is ready to start walking already—seems like it's just a matter of minutes. And big brother Areg has a great appetite for fine foods as you'll see. I love these kids more than anything, they're my two sunshines and they fill me with energy and hope every day, even when we're apart.

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