The Bachelor Life in Armenia

So the past week has been my first one living as a foreign, very eligible bachelor in a small town of homogenous people. Maybe the only time I will live through that in my life? Quite possibly.

As I mentioned last time, I’ve been shopping every day. Between the potatoes Varditer gave me, the lecho (think homemade canned tomato and pepper product) my tutor gave me, the PB and parmesan I’ve received from the states, and the stuff I bought, I have been eating like an oligarch. Meals have been simple so far, but I realize that I will have lots of time on my hands for experimenting in the kitchen. You might think it’s sacrilegious, but in my 4+ years of cooking for myself I had never made mashed potatoes. I just was not a fan of the tater back home. But I successfully made some pretty good mashed taters this week. I’m sure I will find many other ways to prepare the glorious potato during my time in Armenia.

Along with increased shopping comes increased staring, questioning, and even vodka shots. Yes, it happened. I was walking home from language class and stopped to buy some bread in a nearby store. Most of the shops in Vardenis, and Armenia for that matter, have the same basic array of foodstuffs and drinks. But this shop is funny because you walk in and it looks like a messy walk in closet. There is a room to the left with pointy leather shoes. In front of you are disheveled racks of clothes. Before the clothes have a chance to draw their border, there are household goods like toilet paper creeping into the picture. Then the food section is a random collection of cookies, toothpaste, batteries, and some other stuff you might find in your garage when you decide it’s finally time to have a rummage sale. On this particular day, there was the clerk and another guy in military garb (fairly common to see). They asked where I was from, and when I answered them in Armenian you could see the surprise. As they were already drinking vodka, and here was an American plopped down right in front of them, of course the occasion called for a round of shots. They toasted to our acquaintance, and then I paid for my huge pack of toilet paper (I’d rather be really embarrassed once than be embarrassed 8 different times buying TP. Look at that American! He poops a lot!). As I walked out, the only thing I could think was, “A vodka toast at the checkout line: something you will never find at WalMart!”

Most of the week has been spent getting things in order and buying supplies. Today I bought a couple buckets, some clothespins, and did the first load of laundry. As I was hanging out the window pinning the laundry to the line, people on the street below were staring up at me. For them to see a 20 something dude doing laundry is like a Twilight Zone episode. It just doesn’t happen. Even if I don’t accomplish much during my service, maybe I will have some sort of impact on these people just by showing them that a young man doesn’t have to be dependent upon women to take care of every need.

I must say, my transition has been aided by some wonderful packages I’ve received this week. Thank you thank you thank you to everyone! It might have taken a long time, but the wait was worth it.

Since I am now in a Soviet style apartment, I thought a good stoic moustache picture was in order. Please enjoy:

I think it adds at least 5 years


7 Responses to “The Bachelor Life in Armenia”

  1. Emma J. Says:

    YES. Excellent picture. When can we expect your collection of depressing poetry?

    P.S. While we’re talking about food adventures, I’m having a traditional mud-brick oven built in my back yard. Wood-fired pizza anyone?

  2. Emma J. Says:

    YES. Excellent picture. When can we expect your collection of depressing poetry?

    P.S. While we’re talking about food adventures, I’m having a traditional mud-brick oven built in my back yard. Wood-fired pizza anyone?

    P.P.S. One of my good friends, Prince Amadou from Nigeria, needs some help. Can you send me your bank account number?

  3. Peter Says:

    OMG, the Molestache! Instant classic!

    Remember – “Not all people with mustache’s are pedophiles, but all pedophiles do have a mustache”

    I can’t wait for you to come back in America and show us how you shoot vodka.

  4. icenugget Says:

    @Emma – Sad haiku is on the way; stay tuned. I will send your friend my bank account number if you send me a wood fired pizza. Deal?

    @Hambone – Thanks for remembering that not all with moustaches are bad people. It makes me think of the Dave Chappelle joke, “Just because I am DRESSED this way, DOES NOT make me a whore!”

  5. Wayne Burt Says:

    Kevin – When I first saw this picture attached to your Walk Armenia website I could not believe it was you. Seeing this one in it’s larger form I can just about see the old you. Maybe it’s the lack of a smile, I hardly saw you without one. Your stories are like dejavu for me. I also got the looks up at my window as I hung out the clothes. The store you mention sounds like the one I often frequented, but I doubt it is it.

  6. icenugget Says:

    Maybe you would recognize me now. After a trip to Murat, a shave, and contact lenses, I look more like a Marine. Plus I am usually smiling 😀

    The store, you might remember it, is near the Post. It has a round red Coca Cola sign prominently displayed under the awning. And the stairs are one of the most uneven, awkward rise over runs I’ve seen in Armenia.

  7. Sarah Krumrey Says:


    I am so happy that you are on your own. I bet it is so nice to have some privacy. I also really enjoyed the picture. You do look quite old in it. I do miss the smile. 🙂 Good luck with your food and laundry adventures.


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