Hamlet Gevorkyan is a true friend who I had the pleasure of meeting at the end of September 2005. That first evening we made the first of dozens of trips to the now defunct New Delhi, where we were perhaps the restaurant’s best customers. A few days later we were off to Meghri with a mutual friend from Boston who had introduced us just before our first repast of Indian cuisine. Over the course of the last two years we embarked on several adventures together, including a climb up Mount Ara, a road trip from the Georgian border to Kapan with the aim of finding Datev monastery along the way after failing to visit Tbilisi, and two trips to Haghpat. We were together at least three or four times a week, and since late May have even been working with one another nearly every evening.
Hamlet was born in Charentsavan, a former industrial town, 32 years ago but grew up in Aboyan. In the late 1980s his father was able to secure a way out of Soviet Armenia to Los Angeles, where he continues to work tirelessly as a plumber. Hamlet made the decision after attending university to become a dentist and was accepted at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, considered to be one of the best dentistry schools in the entire US. I actually first met him during a span of two seconds in Boston before I left for Armenia in the autumn 2004. In the summer of 2005 he left Tufts to study in Yerevan, favoring life and education in his homeland. Shortly after arriving he immediately forged relationships with cousins located in Abovyan and Artashat, traveling to both towns frequently. But he needs to return to the US to pass his exams and begin an internship. He mentioned the possibility of interning here, hopefully to start a year or so from now if the opportunity arises.
We have become very close during these past two years. Hamlet has become my dear soul brother, one of only a few that I have anywhere, I am proud to admit. Whenever I needed a favor, advice, or companionship he was always there for me (unless he was out of the city, of course). He was extremely supportive when I was stressed during my father’s health crisis last winter, refusing to accept that he was beyond healing (he has made a near full recovery in six months). In fact, Hamlet has only brought me luck with his counseling and his very presence around me. There has never been a time when any grave misfortune had occurred while we were together. Our marvelous appetites for fine foods compelled us to seek out the best cuisine that can be readily found in the city, having shared at least a 100 meals together I would safely estimate.
But as I told him last night, I regret that he did not contact me just after he arrived in July 2005, thereby shortening our time spent together, and that he did not attend my wedding because I did not know him at the time.
As all Armenians arguably are, Hamlet has an emotional character but manages to keep his cool most of the time. Actually the one time that he completely lost it was when my car was hit while we were driving along well over a month ago. He has a fantastic sense of humor and manages to make light of most situations that are not necessarily rosy. His laughter and smile are infectious, and my friends with whom he has encountered have become totally enthralled by his princely charm and wit. I especially admire his candid opinions on life, as he is not prone to demonstrate insincerity or to patronize anyone in the slightest. All of us, particularly his many girlfriends, are wholeheartedly distraught to see him go away. I for one will be feeling withdrawal symptoms probably tomorrow, as it has not yet sunk in that he has gone.
Hamlet jan, we wish you good fortune and anxiously await your return, for you have compassionately admitted time and time again that Armenia your place to be. We love you and will be missing you very much, more than you can possibly imagine. Stay well.
Photo: Hamlet Gevorkyan, Haghpat, 2007