Let’s end this shopping frenzy…

Let’s end this shopping frenzy…

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Sydney Central Arcade: shops, shops, and more shops…

I don’t know about you, but I have a problem with conversations that start something like this: “So when do you plan on finishing your Christmas shopping?”, “What are you buying?”, “Have you got a shopping list?” and so on and so forth…

With Christmas being just around the corner, these conversations are becoming commonplace.

Why is it that Christmas is associated with shopping so much? And not only Christmas…Why is it that, as a society, we are so obsessed with buying?

The other day, as I was scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed, I came across an article which was about a kangaroo that had ‘visited’ the newly built shopping centre carpark at my neighborhood. I must admit, at first, I thought about how great of a story that was to tell to my friends and relatives from overseas who would always wonder if kangaroos were freely roaming Australian streets. Upon reflection, though, it occurred to me that it was not the kangaroo that visited our territory.

…It is us, human beings, who get rid of the natural habitat for the sake of building places that hold almost nothing more than objects of desire.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I am not against gifts. Gifts are one of the ways we can express our gratitude, appreciation, and care for our loved ones. Selecting gifts for our friends is about mentally spending time with them, imagining their happiness upon receiving that gift and being sure they will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

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Photo by Roberto Nickson

However, there is a fundamental difference between gifts and ‘things’.

I am sure we all have at some point received ‘things’ that we didn’t know what to do with. I, for one, remember once receiving a ‘thing’ that had someone else’s name in it… Please don’t be that person…I promise it is awkward for both parties involved…

I have noticed that Christmas is one such time where we all end up accumulating a lot of ‘things’.

The bigger problem, though, is that we get ‘things’ not only for others but, more often than not: for ourselves. We constantly desire for and spend on objects that we do not necessarily need and will possibly end up not using anyway.

The first time that this thought hit me was when I was volunteering at a second-hand shop-Lifeline. We would receive boxes upon boxes of donated ‘things’. It was certainly beautiful to see just how people were willing to donate and help. At the same time, though, I have noticed that many of these ‘things’ had tags and were new.

I think we are all guilty of that to some extent. The truth is we often shop to satisfy our desires to feel fulfilled and happy. Nothing more.

By writing about this issue of consumerism, I am hoping to encourage you the mindful spending and thoughtful gift selection. I guess if we all try to modify our behaviors and err towards being less greedy, we can live up to the standards of our past generations, who would fix broken things…who would not buy new things because of their ‘new features’.image-b12213b08b7b77af7aa1ee7b31d477abea7f2bc6d6a86b3d8a4aa03ec06acfa6-v

And perhaps if we modify our behaviors just a little bit, and collectively reduce this spending frenzy, we could all enjoy Christmas with our families and friends rather than having to work long Christmas hours to make the ‘biggest sales of the year’…

Take care and let’s constantly remind ourselves that fulfillment comes from experiences and quality time spent with our families, friends, and loved ones.

Three things that Melbourne beats Sydney in (and vice versa)

Three things that Melbourne beats Sydney in (and vice versa)

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Since moving to Melbourne, the everlasting question of “Is Sydney or Melbourne better?” keeps haunting me…wherever I go.

Mind you, playing safe and answering “Both cities are awesome” does not cut it.

“No, which one is better-pick one?” a typical Melbournian would ask, impatiently anticipating an answer that would give an immense satisfaction.

(I still believe that the reason I got my job was that I answered “Melbourne” in my job interview. I know. A little sneaky.)

This is the very thing I love about Melbourne. It is apparent that Melbournians take a great pride in their city.

Melbournians trust that Melbourne culture is unique…and one of the phrases that you will hear as soon as you step into the city is that “Melbourne is world’s most liveable city” (Apart from the phrase “Four Seasons in a day”).

I have now realised that it is impossible to stay neutral to Melbourne. The vibe demands that you fall in love with the city, take pride in the city. It is almost infectious…and, if it was a disease, I would call it “Melbourne love epidemic”.
The other day as I was browsing the markets, I noticed a large sign that said: “Made in Melbourne”. As I approached it, the woman standing there turned to me and smiled. Noticing my apparent interest in her goods, she said: “Do you know, these are all made here, in Melbourne”. (I know…I couldn’t possibly miss this huge sign). I simply smiled back.

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To sum it up in one sentence, moving to Melbourne is like converting to a new religion.

***

So having lived in Melbourne for a few months now, I reserve the right to put in my two cents into the Sydney vs Melbourne debate.

Three things that Melbourne beats Sydney:

  1. The city is beautiful. If you are an architect or an art lover you will quickly notice that every building that is built here, is built with thought and creativity. Also, the way Melbournians have treasured their old sandstone buildings speaks volumes of the Melbourne culture.e
  2. Trams are awesome! I used to think what was the whole fuss about the “trains that are on roads”, but once you get the taste of Melbourne trams, you will avoid other public transport at all costs.
  3. Food. Melbournians know how to cook well. It is very easy to find a new favourite café/restaurant every time you are out.

Three things that make Sydney unbeatable:

  1. Sydney Harbour. It is one of the most beautiful places to be at. You fall in love with this place over and over again…even though it has been featured on every possible postcard and travel advertisement. Nothing compares to sitting near the Harbour and observing the calmness of the water and the reflections of lights from the buildings.
  2. Sydneysiders. They admit that Melbourne is better in order to keep Melbournians happy. The signs and tags here say “Made in Australia”, not “Made in Sydney”.
  3. Sydney University. I may be slightly biased here…but objectively speaking, it is Australia’s oldest University. Its architecture is an icon of Australian ancestry.

***

I would like to leave you with this.

I believe that it is not the city or location that counts.

What matters the most are the experiences that you have had, past fleeting moments that make you nostalgic, future hopefulness and anticipation and present adventures…

What matters the most are the people who were once in your life, the people who are there now, and people who you are yet to meet.

Take care xxx

The book lover…

The book lover…

The cardboard said “Homeless, please help with ANYTHING you can. GOD bless”. It grabbed my attention right away…not because we don’t see enough of these cardboards around us, but it seemed to be floating in the darkness. I was almost convinced it was hanging in the air by itself when I saw the dark hand that was holding the cardboard…not dark-skinned, but different kind of dark…dark that is a result of eight long years living in streets.

I pulled a packet from my bag and handed it to him. He wasn’t too eager to speak. Perhaps he was tired. Or cold. He did mention it was cold, but I caught myself on the thought that it was one of the warmest and sunniest days. Or maybe he was too engulfed in the book he was reading.

Books are always great ice breakers!

“What are you reading?”

“It is a sequel to …”

I cannot recall the name of the book because it was not why I was here. I had questions boiling in my head, questions to which I was trying to find answers.

But I continued with the ‘ice-breaker’.

“So, did you read the first one?”

“Yes”.

He answered in short.

The time had come, a voice in my head was telling me. I gathered my whole courage and finally asked the question.

“How did you end up…how did you become…” I tried to be polite but failed at every attempt of it. Thankfully he finished my sentence…

“Homeless?…well bad decisions in life”.

He refused to continue. All I could do was to guess from the list of possible bad life decisions. What had the most dramatic impact on me was this… he didn’t put blame on other people but himself.

He lowered his head to continue reading.

I felt it was the right time to leave.

We remember and we demand!

We remember and we demand!

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Making my speech at the Armenian Genocide commemoration night in Sydney (2015)

April 24th, 1915, is etched as one of the darkest days in humanity…

Every year on April 24, I get shivers…thinking of innocent men, women, and children whose lives were destroyed by the atrocities of Ottoman Empire 101 years ago. One and a half million lives…and their generations were destroyed.

April 24 is the remembrance day of the Armenian Genocide, a historical fact that Turkey, unfortunately, continues to deny. Imagine Germany claiming that Holocaust never happened? It is absurd, isn’t it?

In fact, Adolf Hitler cynically used this phrase to justify his horrendous acts:

Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?

Both Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide are historical facts. The only difference is that one is recognised, and one is yet to be recognised.

Twenty-nine countries accept the factuality of the Armenian Genocide. 44 US states do too…and the only two governments that directly deny the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide are Turkey and Azerbaijan.

The injustice is what bothers me. Not the politics. The pain that Armenians still feel is incredible. Each and every year for 101 years Armenians walk to the memorial to show their respect and tribute.

I first visited the memorial 10 years ago. With red tulips in my hand, I slowly made my long walk to the memorial. It was an opportunity to reflect and feel the pain of those who were victims of these atrocities.  This was when I realised that it was my responsibility to remember the past and to demand justice.

 

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Armenian Genocide Memorial

 

I was humbled to be part of the Armenian Genocide Commemoration Night in Sydney, last year and have my say through my speech.

 

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Commemoration night in Sydney

 

Let’s treasure our bonds…

Let’s treasure our bonds…

Part 2

Have you noticed that as years pass by, the bonds and relationships that you have formed in different points of your life either break or weaken or get stronger? Over the years, our bonds change, either going downhill or blossoming into something beautiful.

I believe, the key is to be open to the changes that our bonds will undergo, be it negative or positive. When we realise that both broken bonds and stronger bonds help us grow, we welcome these changes wholeheartedly. Read more

I visited my home country because…

I visited my home country because…

Part 1

Do you like to travel?  Let me ask you why? There is a good chance that it is to see the world and to experience new things. But sometimes the motif behind travelling is to relive your previous life, to bring back childhood memories and to test yourself.

How much had I changed since I came to Australia? Had my values and principles changed? What had I gained from living away from Armenia? What had I lost?

With these questions in mind, I boarded the plane from Sydney International airport and began the journey to my past. At least, that is how I saw the trip that I had planned for a considerable amount of time.

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The view from up above

Read more

Because remembering your inner child is necessary…

Because remembering your inner child is necessary…

Have you ever felt you are bored? …Every now and then most of us experience that feeling. They have more places to go, more things to experience, they have more interesting jobs than us, they have more means etc. Isn’t it far TOO often about them and too little about us? Especially as we are becoming more social (with Facebook and everything…), the gap between them and us widens. Read more