This afternoon, while waiting for a friend, I stopped into a pizzeria in Queens (outside New York City). The men sitting at the table behind me were talking in a familiar language, which I soon realized was Turkish.
After finishing their lunch, the men headed out of the restaurant. But, one of the men stopped at the counter to ask the owner for something.
The owner replied, “Hey, your grandfather didn’t give my grandfather water!”
Both men smiled and laughed.
Then, the Turk, still smiling, shook his finger and said, “Shame on you!”
(The brief exchange was quite friendly and the men clearly had good feelings towards one another.)
As I was leaving, I asked the owner if he was Armenian.
He replied, “No, I’m Greek.”
I said, “I am Armenian and I heard what you said to your customer.”
He smiled and said, “Oh, they’re Turkish.”
On an individual level, many Armenians and Turks share warm friendships. We are also friendly to one another when we are nothing more than strangers.
I recall an incident that occurred a few years ago when I stopped into a New York City bodega. The clerk (a Turk) actually apologized to me for what happened in Turkey, when he learned that I was Armenian.
So, what happens when the leaders of our governments do the talking and make the decisions for us? Where is the disconnect?