Moved from Istanbul, Turkey in 2015
Findikian’s very first visit to Armenia back in 1999 made him realize that one day he would be living here instead of visiting as a tourist.
“I started visiting more frequently after that. Visiting once a year turned into two, two into three. Later, I had decided I’d apply for an Armenian citizenship. I got on an airplane and left Istanbul in 2015, on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.”
“I felt at home with my people. Even glancing at the Armenian alphabet felt different, inexplicable. Only a person from the diaspora would truly understand what I mean by that.”
Alex was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. His father was only 4 when he had moved there. According to Alex, the last wave of Armenians who moved from Western Armenia’s territory to Istanbul in the 80s mostly knew Turkish and Kurdish, but not Armenian. It was difficult for them to learn Armenian in schools in Istanbul, and unfortunately, Turkish is the more common language among Armenians in Istanbul.
“The community there is united. There aren’t any political parties, so they are not as divided as in other communities. Everyone attends the same church, the same school, everyone reads the same newspaper, etc. I can say that the greater part of Armenians now live in Istanbul.”
“Many people left the country after the Istanbul riots in 1955. A lot of my relatives also parted to Europe, USA. I was frequently asked why I wouldn’t join them too, to which I’d always reply that if I were to leave my birthplace, it would only be for Armenia.”
Growing up in a community consisting of 60.000 people, Findikian knew the people around him, but swapping that for a country of 3 million population, he perceived many changes. For example, in a community, he had to be a lot more careful since everybody knew everybody. Another difference Alex noted was that people weren’t that open to trying new food, drinks. Although Alex has visited Armenia as early as late 90s, he witnessed most of the abrupt changes after 2006.
“I’d love people to focus on manufacture and production. The market is worth 80 million, but nothing is sold. Unfortunately, the state has to take care of these affairs in Armenia. What’s worse is that even tissues are imported from Turkey. Tourism can also have great success if it is actively focused upon. The country should create conditions that allow Armenians to live here and not leave. Armenians should stop emigrating, and when they do, there would be no need to get others to do our job. We should be the ones building our country.”
Armenia isn’t limited to only Yerevan, says Alex. The city center shouldn’t be the only area to concentrate upon renovating, developing and modernizing. There much work to be done in the rest of the cities and villages. “It hurts me to see Gyumri in such state,” says Findikian.
“The diaspora has a bigger budget and has no problem in aiding Armenia, but the state must take of these cases. They should take responsibility in making Armenia a proper place for living not only for local Armenians, but also diasporans.”
As to why he moved to Armenia, Alex was extremely passionate about having the complete Armenian experience and hopes the same for his future family and others.
“Firstly, I am Armenian. That is the number one reason why I moved here. I want to get married have children, raise them here. I want them to grow up in their motherland, and I, in turn, want to be an example for them.”
For 14 years, Alex worked as a mechanic in Istanbul, but quit his job in order to fulfill his dream of living in Armenia. Not knowing how the mechanical field worked in Armenia, he decided to dig into other spheres. Months after seeking, he decided to open a cafe and scouted for appropriate places, eventually settling in Cascade. After renovating the place for 2 months, Cosi E La Vita was opened in April, 2016.
“The biggest issue I have faced is that we pay too much money for so little space. It is almost the same amount as it was in Istanbul. You can open a more successful business with the same amount in another country.”
“We should try and be more diligent if we want to succeed. We must let go of the laziness and unpunctuality. I’d go to work in Istanbul as early as 6 am, but here, most places open at 10 am. Some people don’t bother to show up. We should learn to be more responsible and exact.”
Armenia has provided Findikian with mental ease, something that many repatriates experience upon returning to their motherland. Indulging in Armenian culture, seeing an Armenian church with the view of Mount Ararat is how he defines “mental ease”.
“It doesn’t matter if you see Ararat everyday, you’d still take a picture every time and never get tired of it. Armenia is where I belong. I believe I have reached my final destination.”