A Travellerspoint blog

July 2009

Reincarnation in concert

One of my favorite things in Yerevan is a reggae/ska band named Reincarnation (I have referred to them by their Russian name Reincarnacya before). Ever since I first heard their peppy trumpet-laden song “Eli Lav A,” I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. And the fact that it’s one of the most ubiquitous songs of the moment doesn’t help either. The chorus is made up of the words lav a repeated over and over. There was a point when anytime we interns heard someone say lav a we would break into singing “lav a, lav a, lav a, lav a….” It also works with words that are similar to lav a, like lavash. Somehow, it just doesn’t get old.

Large crowds had gathered at the Moscow Theater to see Reincarnation live with the rock group Bambir. A great aspects of Salt Lake City (my home) in the summer is its Twilight Concert Series featuring some impressive performers. Since I can't attend this summer, it was nice to have a similar gathering in Yerevan take its place.
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I had seen them perform before but this concert was especially fun because it was outdoors and during the Golden Apricot Film Festival.
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Kathryn recorded footage of them playing their signature song while Sofia, Liz, and I danced in the crowd. Here’s the video. And here we are with Reincarnation in the background.
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When the more rock-intensive Bambir came on to play, the audience took on a transformation unlike anything I had seen thus far in Yerevan. Before I go on, let me explain that Yerevan is very homogenous city. Whereas in places like America and London it’s cool to be different and a trendsetter, in Yerevan most people follow the same styles. However, the people in this crowd were different! They would probably be described as “emo” with their distinct fashion and hair styles. I loved seeing a whole new group exhibiting unique looks and attitudes. Kids clad in skinny jeans and black attire had come out to rock. Where these people are at any other time, I don’t know. But for one night, it was refreshing to see a diverse side to Yerevan.

Posted by NatalieSLC 06:13 Archived in Armenia Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)

Vardavar in Yerevan

This entry has no pictures. It’s about Vardavar, the one day I felt it prudent to leave the camera at home. Read on and you will concur.

During Vardavar, Armenians are given license to splash, squirt, and otherwise drench each other with water. Everyone on the streets is fair game, so why would anyone be so silly as to leave their house that day, right? To splash around and make sure everyone else gets wet! Well, the reason I had to leave the house was to meet the other interns to go to Water World. Unfortunately I didn't have time to play and participate in the water games.

We have a lot of kids in our yard, so I strategically redirected my route to avoid their clusters. I stealthily took to the streets and immediately realized I had to avoid the little demon kids with buckets. They knew right away we were Americans and felt compelled to initiate us. Also, they hate the sight of anything dry. All I had in my defense was a little water pistol. Despite its size though, I think its neon hues were intimidating to the kids who often hesitated to attack once I pulled it out.

Kathryn said I was being “paranoid” as we walked down Mashtots Street because I was frantically looking over my shoulder. “You’re right,” I thought, since I saw a couple of grannies walking by untouched by water. There was another young girl who passed by confidently. “I’m going to be fine,” was my last naive thought. Just then, the unthreatening boys who nonchalantly stood by became instantly possessed and attacked us with water! “NOOOOOOOO,” we yelled and took off running. Fortunately, they weren’t going to stray too far from the hose, their main water supply, so we got away.

Okay, people, we’re wet. You got us. However, that was not enough for them. Assaults also took place all down Amiryan, including buckets of water from apartment balconies above. A taxi driver even stopped to let us get away by running into the street. Contently unsoaked individuals smiled at us from their dry storefronts. If only I didn’t have somewhere to be, I would do a much better job defending myself. I’m sure I would even instigate attacks. Buckets, bottles, super soakers would all be employed. I love this holiday! Those kids on the street were just lucky I had prior engagements.

I arrived at the destination resembling the swamp thing: sopping clothes hanging heavy, hair stuck to the side of my face, leaving a trail of puddles.

Posted by NatalieSLC 05:38 Archived in Armenia Tagged living_abroad Comments (4)

Swimming in Sevan

Third time’s a charm! I was finally able to swim in Lake Sevan. The first two times I visited were way too cold to even think about getting in, but what a perfect day today was to take a plunge! Some looming grey clouds threatened rain, but the sun defeated them in the end, enticing us into the water with its warm rays.
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It didn’t take long for us to spread out our gear and stake a claim of Sevan.
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The beach in our area was narrow, but we had just enough room to sprawl. Directly behind the beach was a wooded picnic area. The covered tables and grills were all claimed by eager visitors. In true Armenian fashion, each crowd was barbecuing meat and vegetables and blasting danceable tunes.
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Vram had secured all the fixings for an enormous feast. He and his nephew tended to the fire, while I helped Sofia with the grilled vegetables.
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The end result:
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With only a couple more hours of sunlight left after dinner, we took to the sand and sea again.
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And then, it turned cold. Hoodies, blankets, and jackets became necessary.
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And just like that, it was time to wrap it up and head home.

Posted by NatalieSLC 05:23 Archived in Armenia Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)

Blended drinks and brandy brews

Unfortunately, it was all wasted on me. I'm talking about the brandy we sampled at the Ararat Brandy factory. While Ararat Brandy is world-renowned for its distinctive flavor and traditional crafting methods, brandy just isn't my cup of, er...tea. However, I'm positive that if I were a brandy-enthusiast, my drink of choice would definitely be Ararat. We tasted three different kinds: the 5 year Ararat, 10 year Akhtamar, and 20 year Nairi. Intoxication sets in from just sniffing the brew, especially the Nairi. I had a hard time even sipping that one.
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After Armenian language class last week, we invited the interns and coordinators to our house for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Elizabeth, Kathryn, and Sofia were busy bees preparing lavash rolls and blended drinks.
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We made Vram clean up after everyone. Hey, he deserves it. He hardly does anything for us interns. (Just a joke - Vram's ALWAYS got our back!)
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When I saw his washing I exclaimed, "Vram, my mom would be so mad at me if she knew you were washing our dishes!" Vram responded: "I thought you all have American standards." We do, but we have also maintained our Armenian hospitality.

Posted by NatalieSLC 04:01 Comments (1)

Sofia's birthday

Sofia Mnjoyan, one of our illustrious interns, celebrated her 23rd year of birth. She invited us to a party at her uncle's house where we were greeted with a plentiful spread, cake that reminded me of my youth in Glendale (the kind with the fruits inside and nuts on the side), and hoppin' and boppin' Armo-style.
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The interns chipped in to buy a top that was "so Sofia!" In addition, we girls let our creativity flow with odes and songs written especially for the birthday girl. Talene wrote and recited a name poem ("S" is for..., "O" is for...).
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Kathryn performed an awe-inspiring haiku that left us with questions about life and birth. Sweet innocent Liz from New Jersey got crunk with her "we're gonna party like it's your birthday" rap. And I, I delivered two personalized limericks.
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I dug deep and poured out my heart and soul in these limericks.

The Texan-Armenian Sofia
Beautifully sang Ave Maria
And other such hymns
To no one’s chagrin
Until she grew tired of the idea.

(That was in reference to her "sharakan" singing at Haghpat Monastery, then quickly disappearing.)

There once was a girl studying pharmacy
Who traveled to Armenia across the sea
Where she met other interns
And explored without concerns
The eternal land of their ancestry.

Charents and Sevak called; they want me to stop.

Posted by NatalieSLC 03:07 Archived in Armenia Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)

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