Tuesday, March 11, 2014

On Being Armenian in Spain

Contributing Blogger Nilla offers the following true story:
My grandparents, who were both Armenian, were adventurous travelers. Between World War II and the late 1970s, they drove their car all over Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. In 1953, I think, they accompanied an American representative to Iran from Tehran to Cairo. What a trip that must have been. On one of their many trips, they were lost in the mountains of southern Spain. They drove and drove and finally saw a couple on the side of the road. They pulled over to ask for directions... First in English, then in French, then in Persian, then in Turkish. No use. They couldn't make themselves understood. They then switched to broken Arabic, broken Russian, broken German. Feeling that they were getting nowhere with this inquiry, my grandfather turned to my grandmother and said in Armenian, "Inch anenk, ban chen haskanoom?" (What shall we do?  They don't understand a thing!) to which the Spanish couple jumped and, in fluent Armenian, joyfully asked, "Amman, dook al hayek??"  (Oh my goodness! Are you also Armenian?)


  1. the only explanation is that the armenians referred to above were from soviet armenia. if they were, they would have been fluent in russian and armenian. of course, russian was not one of the languages proffered, so we do not know. by the way, do you know the origin of these armenians?

  2. If you notice, the bandied pleasantries, in the story above, between the two parties is of eastern Armenian. So, those characters could very well have been Soviet or Persian Armenians.

    1. correct, sprezzatura, therefore, they would have been fluent in russian and or farsi, which is why the story is hard to accept as it has been relayed.

    2. Sherlock would have agreed with you as well, James.