Archive for the ‘ Conflict ’ Category

Good Mourning

There is this game called Mafia. It’s played in groups–the more, the better between an informed minority and an uninformed majority. Some players get Mafia cards, others Citizen ones and they play. The Mafia pretends not to be the Mafia, while the Citizens try to guess who’s the gang. The main point of the game is to fool everyone.

Can you guess two countries in which this game is the most popular? Right, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

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There are many common things between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Culture, mentality, temper and drama are only some of them. But for me, the main thing that proves the presence of genetic likeness between these two nations is the maniacal obsessiveness they suffer from…

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With a Little Help From My Friends

Ever since I was a school kid discipline was my main problem. Waking up early, coming to the class in time, doing homework between drawing I loved so much and cartoons I could never miss – all these things were unbearable and torturous sides of my happy childhood. My bad grades have never been about not knowing or not understanding the lesson, they were always about the lack of discipline.

So, now that you, dear followers, know me better, you will probably understand one of the main reasons I wouldn’t update my blog for more than a month.

Yeah, now we have no secrets between each other.

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There are two main questions we ask ourlselves when no one is watching: “Am I a good person?” and “Do people like me?”. Yes, however confident and independent we are, we still feel a need to find answers to these questions over and over again.

And this is what makes us human.

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During the last month my life was pretty much about my friends.

I went to Georgia again, where I met some new, saw some old, lost some pretty important and rediscovered some friends I knew for a while now.

I came back to Baku to send off one friend who was leaving to do Master’s degree at the age of 20 and to support two who’ve been in prison for more than 90 days now.

Right now my life is pretty much about my friends, hence, borders, prisons, pride and disapoinments, unconditional love and the same old unity you read so much in this blog about.

Many years ago a big guy named Soviet Union came to this region to conquer and make us be friends no matter what after dozens of massacres and clashes happened in the beggining of the 20th century between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. For a while we became friends again but didn’t quite understand why and what to do with the memories of killed ancestors.

70 years later we decided to find the answers through war and new killings. 20 more years, several years of war and thousands of more victims have passed and we’re still in the search, so drowned in guilt of the past mistakes, that being friends again seems like something unbelievably nasty and betraying.

Today, when my inner borders have disappeared, and I can actually enjoy my friendship, I face many others – physical and moral ones, and have to be strong here.

So yeah, since my life is about my friends – the border is one of my problems.

People always get shocked when they see 900 friends on my Facebook, saying this is not normal and I probably don’t know most of them. Well, actually I do know most of them, moreover – many of these most are my actual friends.

“No”, people say, “One can’t have so many friends, it’s impossible. You can’t know them all well, you’ll get disappointed”. Well, what can I say? Whenever I actually FEEL like calling someone a friend I do it and I’m not sorry for that. Whenever I get disappointed – I move on. Should a friend that has let me down change my life views? No. In fact, the only time I ever got disappointed was a bit more than a week ago. And the only thing I can say here – it happens.

Disappointment – a new feeling discovered during this month of absence.

October 14th, 2008 will always be one of the most special days for me – the day I rediscovered people I’ve known for a while, the day I’ve found my TRIBE.

I was fighting my fall depression when my boss called me to say that he and his wife are on their way downtown to celebrate the birthday of our friend Emin Milli. And even though Milli himself was in NY at that time, people still decided to gather and have fun. I wasn’t very excited about it but decided to go as the depression was kicking pretty hardly.

The moment I arrived something clicked. I realized I was talking to people who actually dig me and are at the same page with me. That night I came back home around 4am after several hours of talking and was absolutely happy.

Ever since – my life has changed.

In several days, on October 14h Emin Milli is going to turn 30 and will probably still be in the prison. Did it change our plans? No, he would never let this happen.

Emin’s birthday is going to be celebrated not only in Azerbaijan but all around the world. It’s been only one day since we’ve created an event and we already have groups in UK, US, Turkey, France and even Thailand. 🙂 Yes, whether Emin and Adnan will join us on 14th or not, whether the trial that turned into an endless comedy with bad actors and fake proofs is going to end or not, there will be a celebration for their freedom and Emin’s jubilee.

During the last month my life was about my friends. As well as unity and loyalty we have always needed so much.

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Am I a good person?
Do people like me?

Now, that we became that close, dear followers, let me teach you another word in Azerbaijani language – “dostluq” (dostloogh), which means friendship.

I’ve had a wonderful month which was all about “dostluq”, realizing how much it means to me and how special my friends are.

I’ve also realized one main thing: the only people who can answer my two main questions simply with their EXISTENCE are my friends. Whenever I feel proud of them – I feel happy about myself too. Whenever I feel that there’s someone standing behind me just to be there – it’s the best confidence one can ever dream of.

And when it comes to discipline.. well.. once you have it all you become disciplined just out of grattitude 🙂

Georgia on my mind: Gudauri

Yesterday I made a “To do” list for September and October. Realizing the load of work I’m going to do I started thinking about cloning.

Yes, I wish I could be cloned.

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The very first Armenian (except Bakuvians) I met at the very first Conflict Resolution conference I attended was a guy named M. He sat next to me, introduced himself gave his business card. I would stare at it for several seconds, then brought myself to say “Hi” and kept shocked silence till the end of the first session.

What was I thinking about? “Ermeni” (az. Armenian). An aggressor, someone I can’t trust, someone who betrayed my people is sitting next to me. It wasn’t hatred. It was the fear, soaked so deep in my mind I couldn’t bring myself to say a word.

As I went through a difficult but exciting process of analyzing my own personality during the last year, I was able to notice the difference in my attitude on August 4th, when I arrived in Gudauri, Georgia to join Imagine’09 Azerbaijani-Armenian retreat.

Two groups – 7 Azerbaijanis and 7 Armenians, facilitators, one trainer, one hotel.

After 8 days of discussions about general history, significant dates in Azerbaijani-Armenian relations, personal stories, future planning and countless teambuilding activities, including several hours of hiking (which proved the incompatibility of Fatalin and nature), horseriding (and weird way of walking of all the group members the next day) and jakuzi evenings (personal thanks to the inventor) the spirit of CHANGE filled the Marco Polo hotel.

We would talk for hours, get emotional, cry and laugh together, realizing how much we have in common and how beautiful our world could be.

Watching my new (both Azerbaijani and Armenian) friends laughing and drinking together on one of the last days I realized that even last drops of my fear vanished and today the word “ermeni” makes me think of a thoughtfull roommate; a confident beauty; a brave and protective girl; a political junkie; a reliable and supportive friend; a dancing diva; of my 17 year-old brother; of my crazy curly mirror and her bracelet – seven wonderful friends of mine living on the other side of the border

And as my roommate – a talented journalist – mentioned in her speech about us on our last evening together: “You’ve changed my perception. You are my Azerbaijan.”

Yes, 8 days under one roof made us succeed over two main enemies – the load of history on our shoulders and Azerbaijanis and Armenians inside of us.

And it’s only a beginning.

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I wish I could be cloned. There would be two Fatalins, who’d be able to run all the projects the current one loaded on herself.

One Fatalin could’ve done Conflict Resolution, another one Culture.

One Fatalin could’ve met with friends and family members left unattended by her, while another one could’ve kept on working.

One Fatalin could’ve left the country and live happily-ever-after in European comfort, only caring about social care and taxes. Another one could’ve stayed in Azerbaijan and fight for the freedom of speech, democracy, reduction of corruption and etc.

One Fatalin could’ve fit the society, another gone against it.

One Fatalin could’ve been a Turk. Another one – a Caucasian.

One Fatalin could’ve had Armenian friends, another one – drown in hatred towards them.

I wish I could be cloned.

There would be no choices to make, no attitutes to fight, no critics to endure, no balance to keep.

Life would be quiet, measured, regular and so damn boring.

Karabakh conflict a.k.a. Eurovision contest

So, yesterday after few margaritas we decided to join the Eurovision Party organized by a close friend of mine.

We arrived at the place, ordered drinks, took pictures, listened to the songs, which, I have to admit, were mostly much better than all the other Eurovision contests I remember.

Anyway, then came the Armenian girls.
The crowd started whistling, boo-ing and finally demanded that the organisators turn off the sound. They did. Armenian girls danced and opened their mouths in total silence to the accompaniment of Azerbaijani whistling. As I expected such thing to happen, the only question I asked my friends was: “Is it gonna help return the lands?”. Of course, no one have had the answer.

Then there were Turkish chick and Azerbaijani legs with Arash jumping up and down around them. Have to admit, Aysel looked gorgeous.

And of course, my favourite Norwegian who kicked the big Eurovision ass with his simple but adorable song and forget-about-your-boyfriend smile.

When the traditionally predictable voting started the crowd stood up on their feet cursing one countries and making plans on visiting the most generous to Azerbaijan ones. They were happy to discover they are still alowed to love Ukraine and Netherlands.

I didn’t notice the picture Sirusho held in her hands but I saw it today on TV and it made me think. I finally realized that there’s no chance for this region to become a civilized one unless we rewrite the whole history which makes us all think we’re fucking special.

We might have had plenty of lands and legendary kings but what do we have today? 3 major and several minor conflicts in a tiny region and headlines in the world news? Is this something to be proud of? Are hating-the-neigbor zombie generations good future for us? Not for me or the kids I will eventually have. Not for any of us.

Perhaps, it’s time to switch from Kindergarten approach to the real Conflict Resolution one, don’t you think?

Our kids need fairytales not war tales, love, not hatred.

Our kids deserve the peaceful happiness we have never had.

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