Toilets

Garen Yegparian

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

Bathroom, boys’/girls’/men’s/women’s room, can, crapper, head, john, latrine, lavatory, loo, outhouse, potty, powder room, washroom, WC, ardaknotz, bedkaran, cordzaran, lvatzaran, zookaran… with so many words for it, you’d think these places would be ubiquitous, easily available.

It turns out, they’re not. At least not in the Republic of Armenia, and not where they’re most needed.

This stinky situation came up last night at a program with Edik Baghdasaryan, of Hetq.am— the investigative journalism publication in Armenia.

An expert in tourism, a man who has been in the travel industry for decades, broached this subject. He noted that he’d raised this issue with the relevant authorities, and his entreaties and proposals had gone unheeded.

Tellingly, Edik cringed as he described dreading “the question” when he had visiting friends with him at touristic sites in Armenia. He noted that neither our greatest churches nor other touristic attractions have conveniently located facilities for when his guests needed to go. He also said they’d addressed this issue at Hetq. Finally, he suggested starting a campaign for toilets in Armenia.

So here it is… the first odoriferous salvo in the great toilet war. Please, start telling the Armenia Fund, church leaders, enemies, friends, government officials, hosts, hotels, organizations, parliamentarians, political parties, relatives, and basically anybody else that will listen “we want toilets”.

For a country that is betting on tourism as one of the drivers of its economic growth, the absence of toilets is inconceivable. It’s high time the Front for Armenia’s Respectable Toilets (FART) was established!

Of course we all know that every joke has its kernel of seriousness, so despite the humorous way this piece is written in (hopefully you agree), I am very serious that we must act on this issue and bring it to a positive, beneficial, bathroom-building conclusion.

Let’s do this folks, let’s embarrass the Armenia’s leaders into doing the right thing for the country, its tourist industry’s visitors, and all our bowels and bladders.

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18 Comments

  1. Onik Tchertchian said:

    It’s about time that someone raised the issue officially. Bravo! Well done! I hope that the ROA Ministry of Tourism will take this into consideration.

  2. Johann Tanzer said:

    Instead of FART, can you use the acronym CNN (crappers needed now)… Some of “Armenia’s Leaders” might take you more seriously.

  3. Arthur Grigyan said:

    Great article and a great story. But do people really believe that changes come by telling the authorities to do something? No they don’t. Even if they do, they come too slowly. Is there a chamber of commerce or a tourism bureau that should lobby and demand this? Why aren’t the tourism agencies in Armenia join forces and get this done?!?!?! Because they don’t care… So the gov. does not care…

    Our nation has got some basic things wrong in what’ needed to make changes happen!

    Unfortunately only maybe 3% of us are as brave and caring as Edik and Garen are.

  4. Alex Postallian said:

    The first time you go to a public place check out their toilet facilities.If I go to a restaurant,the first thing is to wash my hands,case the joint,if its dirty,not up to date facilities,I am out of there.How can these people in the old country,expect tourist to visit there.Im glad he brought that up.

  5. Arsu said:

    garen i do not know how often you can see a church in armenia .if we talk about turkey, you can see a mosque wherever you are and every mosque has many toilets which is run by someone who actually make money. obviously, mosques also get their share from this business. so everybody is happy

  6. Rosalyn said:

    Armenia needs a good cleanup, officials who will do WHAT IS IN THE BEST INTEREST for their citizens. Clean working toilets at NO CHARGE would be a start for ALL citizens in Armenia. The well being of a nation and it’s people are most certainly connected to their toilets especially when their people must endure sub-standards for a basic necessity!
    Don’t waste time, citizens of Armenia, cleanup the many layers of human waste.

    • Christo said:

      Here we go with the old soviet mentality of everything being FREE. Why should it be free? The only free rr in the states are rest areas and pretty much everyone knows what goes on in there! In case of an emergency you head to a mc or bk or if u want to put up with the stench head to ur nearest dirty gas station! By the way nothing is free not been in America!

  7. arziv said:

    It is amazing that the authorities have ignored or neglected to see the appalling and disgusting conditions of toilets in public places in Armenia. During my last visit to Khor Virab I wanted to go and wash my hands in the toilet. As I entered in I was catapulted out by the incredibly filthy conditions and foul stench of the precint. And so it goes with toilets in other public places, restaurante, parks, etc. It is high time to act, not because of the tourists, but for our own well being and health.

  8. Hrair said:

    Wonderful article and I couldn’t agree more. I have visited a number of touritic sites in Armenia with vatious tours, The condition of the toilets are either completely non existance or utterly disgusting. I also heard similar coments from other tou=rists on the tour bus/coach. Those who had to use the toilets (the very few that were available) were totally disgusted and disappointed. This is not acceptable and the Government must do more if it has asperations for thenation in the tourist industry. Rollon FART and lets encourage the Government to do the right thing please.

  9. Peter said:

    I have no doubt this is a serious piece, designed to lead to results. The next step is for some resourceful Armenian journalist, our some other interested individual, to take the next step beyond complaining: provide some numbers.

    NUMBER ONE: Take the top 20 tourist locations in Armenia and get a general idea — from a reputable construction company — as to the cost of an adequate number of state-of-the-art permanent facilities at those 20 locations.

    NUMBER TWO: Contact the best outhouse company in the region and ask what it would cost for an adequate number of state-of-the-art portable toilet at those 20 locations. And, I mean, top of the line.

    That would be a good starting point toward taking action.

    I must confess, though. During my two trips to Armenia (2006 & 2011)…I never ran into this problem.

  10. elpe4457 said:

    was in Armenia last September with my Australian friends , we did some hiking in Khosrov reserve, we were enjoying the beautiful scenery……..by trying to ignore the rubbish surrounding us……..soft drinks botlles were swimming in the river , the villagers tip was around the river…..who to blame? the villagers that don’t have anywhere to put there rubbish?
    this is the main pathway where all the hikers pass to go to Havouts Tar
    not impressed

  11. Moogleeg said:

    This is a great and very funny article. I think we should set up a non-profit organization and start “planting” these toilets (like trees) around Armenia.

  12. Telo said:

    I’m glad Edik — a native of Hayastan — brought up this shameful issue in a public forum and is being cited here. Unfortunately, when “outsider” Armenians bring up this topic, we have been called holier than thou!

    Today, a lot of infrastructure matters (garbage collection just one) and institutions (the Pag Shougah and Ararat Brandy Factory just two) have fallen/are falling from our hands, However, the lavatories did not reach an acceptable standard even in the Soviet heyday, the exception being exclusive locations. Obviously, this is not the way to show visitors from the four corners of the world that Armenia, or Artsakh for that matter, are progressive and civilized.

    Garen is right to call upon readers to put pressure on the charities and benevolent groups who donate annually to the development of Armenia. To expect the Armenian government to do the right thing is beyond wishful thinking.

  13. ArdeVast Atheian said:

    Garen, this is so relevant I’m surprised it took so long for somebody to raise the alarm about this shameful condition. Who to blame? It is the old Soviet mentality of ‘it’s beyond my level work, let someone else do it’. Don’t leave it to the locals to do it. A Diasporan like Kirk Kirkorian, ahould make a contract with a waste disposal company here to build as many public toilets as necessary and charge half a dollar for anyone who wants to use it.

  14. Kristine said:

    It’s a shame that you can’t find public restrooms in most of the cities in Armenia, including Yerevan. just have them available and charge for it, too. since they try to make money off tourists left and right, I am willing to pay for a much needed basic facility. how hard is this to figure out. trash cans are another issue – leading to the constant littering. it’s just embarrassing.

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