I am Armenian
“In 1992, I have visited Turkey together with one Australian. My grandparents were Armenians from Turkey, but I was living in Greece, and it was a dilemma for me – to travel to Turkey, or not. It was very difficult for me, especially when we arrived in the port and I saw the flags. Anyways, I was traveling around, but without mentioning that I’m Armenian.
Eventually I ended up in the city of Van. I wanted to visit the Akhtamar island in Lake Van. I took the bus to the lake in the morning, but the boat trip ticker was 50$, which I wasn’t able to pay at that time. One guy said I can wait for other tourists to share to price. But nobody came. I’ve waited until evening. There were no buses, so I walked along the road for two hours until a bus stopped and I returned to Van. I was walking in the streets looking for a place to eat when a stranger approached me and offered me chestnuts.
“Tourist, tourist. Eat. Eat.”
I wanted him to leave me alone, but something changed within me, I accepted his offer, ate the chestnuts, thanked him and walked away. But he followed me, saying:
“Restaurant. Restaurant. You want eat. Eat. Eat. Come with me.”
I was angry, but decided to follow him. We entered a restaurant, he ordered food and ate with me. I paid for the dinner, and when I was about to take my leave, he asked me in which hotel am I staying. I named the hotel, but he said it’s a bad one and suggested a better one for me. He didn’t want to leave me. And by that time I was interested myself and didn’t want him to leave. We went to a hotel, but it was full.
“I’ll help you move into this hotel tomorrow. Now let’s go drink tea,” he said. And so we went to this place, sort of storage room, full of smoke.
“Why are you here,” he asked when we sat around the table.
“Came to see Van cats, heard a lot about them, wanted to see myself.”
“No problem, I’ll show the cats tomorrow. But really, why are you here?”
“Well, I’m a tourist,” I answered. Now it was my turn to ask questions. He was smoking. I took his cigarette pack and started drawing a map.
“How are the relations with Kurds here?”
“How about Iraq?”
“Bad, bad, bad.”
“Ah, well, not bad.”
“And Armenia?” I ask.
“Very bad,” he says.
He keeps looking at me, very attentively, then takes the map and whispers to me: “I’m Armenian.” And he told me his story, that his grandmother is Armenian. And then I told him that I’m Armenian, too. We spent four days together. He showed me everything around, churches, cemeteries. This is the story. I don’t remember his name. He gave me his phone number and home address, but I think there was some mistake. And so we never met again, and the connection was lost.”