Armenian News-NEWS.am presents below an abridged version of traveler Amrah Ashraf?ˆ™s article, which was published in Hindustan Times.
Oh, another trip to Europe?" quipped a friend, after I told him I was visiting Armenia. "Err?ˆ¦ Armenia is in Asia!" I said. He laughed and placed a bet that it was in east Europe, next to Georgia. "But Georgia is also in Asia,
I pointed out. We raised the stakes.
Long story short: I won Rs. 5,000. Armenia is in Asia. And so is Georgia.
I can hardly blame my friend. Armenia
is incredibly obscure. But it's got plenty to talk about. The country
was the first one to adopt Christianity as its state religion (as early
as the fourth century!); it has its own script and language and it was a
part of the Soviet Union. The Kardashian family originated from Armenia, though I doubt it?ˆ™s a point of pride for any of its three million population.
much I knew even before I visited. What I didn?ˆ™t know was that it would
only take only three days for me to be mesmerised by its beauty,
seduced by its history and fall in love with its people. Here?ˆ™s how it
My love affair with Armenia started in the most unusual way. Not a big fan of air travel,
I woke up, startled, to bone-rattling turbulence. A vast expanse of
blue, motionless water stretched out below, reflecting the sky above.
Lurking somewhere in between were mountain peaks so close to the
aircraft, I was certain we'd have speed breakers of the fatal kind. But
one peak rose higher than the others, haloed by clouds, and glowing with
a sunny amber hue. And there, amidst the jolts and bumps, I had my "at
first sight" moment ?ˆ“ and we hadn't even landed yet!
Back on terra firma at the capital?ˆ™s YerevanZvartnotsInternationalAirport,
I took in a big gulp of fresh air, grateful to be alive. I spotted that
gorgeous sun-kissed peak again, far away, between the clouds and the
We spent the hot afternoon indoors at the Matenadaran, one
of the world?ˆ™s oldest repositories of ancient manuscripts. A giant
statue of Mesrop Mashtots ?ˆ“ the man who compiled the Armenian alphabet
in 396 AD ?ˆ“ greeted us at the entrance.
The following morning, as
we drove south through the arid Ararat valley, I didn?ˆ™t think much of
the surroundings. But a sharp turn sprung a surprise. Something rose
from the horizon, something large and majestic.
And there they were ?ˆ“ the biblical Mount Ararat, the twin peaks where Noah's Ark is said to have come to rest after the Great Flood. This time, the mountains were free of clouds.
last evening,? when everyone retired to their rooms, I decided to step
out, one last time. I walked past Republic Square, sat outside the Opera House, walked along the boulevard ?ˆ“ there was silence around me. The air was still reeking of brandy, but the bar stools
were empty. I knew my love affair was coming to an end. This was our
last night together. Break- ups are hard, but this was always meant to
be a very short love story.