Oberammergau | Stories of Life

In October, Armand, a young Armenian fellow together with his wife, Aida and their baby girl, Talin, arrived from Tehran to Oberammergau, Germany. Already that early in the fall, the weather was freezing cold. White, shiny snow had blanketed the ground, trees, and rooftops. Aida, who hated cold weather, wondered if it was that cold in October, then how it would be like in the winter months. Oberammergau, tucked high up in the bosom of the Alp mountains in Germany, was and still is a wonderful ski resort. It also used to harbor an important US military base. Armand, who worked for the US Corps of Engineers in Tehran, had been transferred to Oberammergau to help the Iranian officers with their training at the US Army base.

Aida did not like Oberammergau at all. To her the Alpine village, compared to the lively and bustling Tehran, was like a graveyard. She thought that the only thing that brought that village slightly to life was the echo of the chimes of the church bells. She could not wait for her husband’s two-year work term to come to an end so that they could return to her beloved Tehran. What’s more, she badly missed her family members and friends.

Noticing how depressed his wife was, Armand advised her to apply for a translator’s job at the US base; which she did and was immediately hired. Fortunately, they were able to find a friendly and nice Danish young woman to take care of Talin.

Aida really liked her work and the atmosphere at the office. As long as she was at the office, she was contented. However, when they returned to their resident, both, husband and wife felt like they didn’t have a real home. They lived on the top floor of a three-story large building belonging to the US Army called, House Osterbichel. In wintertime, the temperature in their room was almost as cold as it was outdoors. Their bedroom, where they and their baby spent most of their time while they did not work, felt extremely. For some reason, the heat failed to reach the top floor in that immense building, and sometimes, Aida was forced to have her baby run around in the room with her overcoat on.

To cook and have their meals, the couple like the rest of the employees who lived at House Osterbichel, used the communal kitchen and dinning room. Being fed up with their living conditions, Aida could not wait to go back to return to Iran. Despite being an Armenian and a Christian, she preferred the country of her origin, which was Muslim. One should think that Aida should be happy to be living in a Christian land. However, she loved Iran and its friendly people.

Her mood worsened, when their little girl came down with a terrible chest infection and high fever, thanks to their freezing bedroom. Thus, one morning, when she arrived to the office, Aida decided to go and see the commander of the US base to talk about their living conditions. Of course, she did not mention anything about her decision to Armand.

Normally, you are not supposed to go directly to the commander. In the US Army, regulations demand that you talk to your direct supervisor, and let him handle your complaint in an appropriate manner. However, Aida decided not to abide by the regulations. So, that morning, she waited by the commanding officer’s office door.

In no time, the commander arrived. Seeing Aida at his doorstep, he asked, “Can I help you?”

“Yes, Sir. Colonel,” she answered bravely.

The colonel invited Aida into his office, while narrowing his eyes quizzically. Then, he motioned her to take a seat by his desk.

Aida didn’t waist any time and immediately dived into the subject matter, “Sir,” she said. “When the US Corp of Engineers was transferring my husband to Germany, they promised us a great life here.”


“And, we are not having such a great life! In fact, our living conditions are horrible!” she shook her head, and went on, “Today, I came to tell you that we will not stay here under such uncomfortable conditions.”

The colonel seemed extremely annoyed with the manner in which Aida had approached him. She could tell it from the way he creased his brow.

He soon began pacing the length of the office floor, looking angry. Aida thought that he might be thinking to himself how a young woman would dare to insult an important personality like himself in the organization.

Presently, the colonel stopped pacing the room, and retorted, “OK; you can go back to Iran if you want, but I wouldn’t want to lose your husband.”

Aida laughed, “Are you joking, Sir? If I go, he will also go.”

The commander of the US base, upon hearing Aida’s words, smiled and dropped his tall body into his seat and laughed, “You are so right. What was I thinking? Of course he will go. Who would want to separate from such a pretty and charming lady?”

Aida sniggered happily, feeling triumphant. Hooray, she thought… She had done it all by herself. Yes, without the interference of his immediate boss. So, what would you call this if not the ‘women’s power?’

Sure enough! Within less than a week. Armand and Aida were granted a small cozy house, right next to House Osterbichel.


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