The dog’s tail never straightens
There are people in life whose behavior never improves. The tail of a dog can never be straightened either.
You cannot make good sweets with onions
Sogheen kahtzuhruh chuhleer
This saying is used for people whose bad nature is (or seems) irreparable.
You can’t cook soup in a crooked pot
Dzour tengerehov abour chepvir – you can’t cook soup in a crooked pot
I visited my aunt Manoushag (Violet) who was my mother’s friend. My mother was staying with her a few days and I went to bring my mother back home. Manoushag, who was also referred to as khev Manoushag (crazy Violet) was a real character. She had a body that was twisted with arthritis so that she walked bent over and crooked.
She liked to drink wine, smoke, cuss and was often talkative and sometimes she became argumentative and stubborn. She also had a friendly and jolly side to her that made up somewhat for her odd behavior. I was sitting down talking with her and my mother when it occurred to me to poke some fun at her.
I said, “Auntie Manoushag, have you heard the old Armenian proverb that says, “Dzour tengerehov ahbour chepvir – you can’t make good soup in a bent pot.” She listened and immediately replied, “yes guhrnam, yes dzour tengerehov lav ahbour gehpehm, yes guhrnam – I can do it. I can cook good soup in a bent pot, I can do it.”
She gave me a dour look as if I said something that was stupid and perhaps insulting. Since her body (and soul) was all bent up, she obviously understood the banter in my question and became adamant to disprove such a proverb.
This proverb has a deep meaning for me. I was driving my car on Rue Faubourg Poissoniere in Paris, France. It was in a section of Paris where there were many wholesale furriers. I noticed a man standing on the corner with a big, old country mustache. He was surrounded by a group of people. I felt attracted to him and experienced an intuitive impulse to meet him. There was a distant voice in my mind that said he might be William Saroyan. I had never met him, but felt a kindred attraction to his writing which reflected somewhat my Armenian heritage.
I grabbed a book that was I was reading. It was a spiritual book the Hare Krishna’s had given me. It was volume two of the Srimad Bhagavatam, which describes how we human beings are entangled in this world by false conceptions of identity and total ignorance of our spiritual relationship with God, Krishna. I parked my car and approached the group of onlookers. I asked someone who the man with the mustache was. The person replied, “William Saroyan.” I was amazed by my intuition. I sidled close to him and after a few seconds he turned to me and smiled. I smiled back and introduced myself. “I have read your books and I so happy and honored to meet you. Would you please accept this book as a gift from me. It is free and I want to offer it to you.” He quickly asked what the subject of the book was. I said the book is about our spiritual existence beyond this body as pure souls and how to re-establish our eternal relationship with God by practicing Bhakti-yoga, or the yoga of devotion and love for Lord Krishna. By such practice one can be liberated from the sysle of birth and death.
His countenance turned dour and he flatly refused the book and asked me to go away. I was stunned by his disdain and slowly walked away disappointed. Some years later, I read a communique he sent to an international news service just before he died. He said, “I heard about death, but never thought it would happen to me. I am fast approaching death, “What now?”
I realized the deeper meaning of the Armenian proverb “Dzour tengerehov abour chepvir – you can’t make good soup in a bent pot.”
I had seen firsthand the bent up soul of William Saroyan on that corner in Paris. He was a great writer, but something in his life had bent his soul so much that he was repelled by spiritual life, spiritual knowledge and God. Yet, he inevitably had to face death and its uncertainties like all of us. Is it not wise to prepare for death? With all his knowledge and experience he was not prepared.
While I was a student at the University of Pennsylvania, I encountered a black drunkard on the campus one day. I sat next to him and began to listen and converse with him. At one point, I asked him if he had a wife. He then referred to his wife with the most demeaning words I had ever heard. He called her a urinal (he said piss hole). I had never heard such a disgusting way of describing a woman before and it stunned me. I couldn’t talk to him anymore and just walked away in a daze trying to shake off the scum of his imagery.
What had bent his soul to portray his wife with such horrible words? “You can’t make good soup in a bent pot.” When the soul of man is bent or twisted by life’s bitter experiences, it is much worse than the contusion of the body due to disease or accident.