Although I recently learned that there is a version of Uber in Armenia called MobiTaxi (though you can’t pay through it yet), I’ve also landed on something just as cool: a personal driver. Well, sort of. Around the corner from our apartment, a 50-something-year-old man named Tikran parks his Benz with a sign on it that reads “Armani Gold” (ironically his car is silver) and waits for customers. Usually when I come out, he’s parked there ready to go. Actually more like hanging out and smoking with other drivers. He’s driven me around a bunch of times now and we’ve shared some great conversations as he’s taken me everywhere from the dentist to cafes. A month in, and we already greet each other and chat like old friends.
Recently he shared a great quote regarding having good customers: “Amenorva hatzu mi orva hatzov chi kareli pokhel,” which means you can’t swap your everyday food for one a one-time meal. Or, in this case, you shouldn’t ditch your loyal customer for a one timer. Though I can’t request Tikran through an app, I do give him a call with my 1990s Blackberry — old fashioned style. For the record: Dikran isn’t really my personal driver, but I’ve heard that for a few hundred dollars a month, you can actually have your very own 24-hour driver. Not a bad deal if you earn a decent salary.
While some shady taxi drivers do try to rip you off, there’s also something really refreshing about being able to have a conversation with a nice Armenian taxi driver who might as well be your uncle. The only time it can get annoying to be friendly with your taxi driver is when you don’t feel like chatting it up, but that’s rarely the case for me. I enjoy learning things from someone like Tikran, who has a completely different perspective on life than me. Bonus: Tikran has become my dictionary of sorts, too; I’ll ask him what certain words mean and then jot them down as he’s whizzing through traffic . . . or should I say khtzanoom.