Tag Archives: Friends

Independence Day, Armenia-style

On September 21st, Armenia celebrated its 20th anniversary of independence from the Soviet Union.  There were concerts, dance performances, and a general party atmosphere all over the center of Yerevan.  In the evening, Republic Square was transformed into one large concert- and show venue, where a full orchestra played while dancers danced, singers sang, and a visual history of Armenia was projected onto the History Museum of Armenia as well as the two government buildings flanking it (the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Finance).  I’ve never seen anything like the light show played on the buildings; these photos don’t do it justice.  It was really remarkable.

The History Museum of Armenia

I had spent the evening with a couple of friends, talking, eating fruit and treats, drinking cognac and rose liqueur, and I decided I needed to witness the events in Republic Square.  A 20th anniversary only comes around once—and I figured that such a milestone would be perceived a little differently than, say, our 235th anniversary of independence.  I started my investigations into the holiday by talking with friends and colleagues, asking what they thought of the anniversary—both in general, and specifically, of the celebrations the government was planning.  The celebrations had clearly been in the works for a long time, including not just that day’s activities, but also an entire printed campaign with signs proclaiming “Hayastany Du Es!”, or, you are Armenia!, as well as a music video that played frequently all summer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dULlTcVjNk . Continue reading

Warm receptions

When I last wrote, I started by saying that I missed the food in Armenia while I was away, which kind of makes me sound shallow (if you haven’t tried it, that is).  I can’t let another entry pass without mentioning my friends, though.  Armenia, like its neighbors, has a tradition of hospitality.  The very first time I came to Armenia, in 2006, I was immediately treated like family (the fact that I kept hurting my ankle probably helped: I was fussed over and cared for like a clumsy child—although probably the cognac remedy isn’t tried out on kids).  But while anyone entering another’s house would be treated to Armenian coffee and treats, possibly an entire meal (how they manage that with surprise visitors is remarkable), my polite acquaintances quickly became fast friends.  Every get-together (or at least, every get-together with archaeologists; I’m not sure about generally) involves toasting, by the hosts and/or by the guests.  Now, it seems like I nearly always give a variant of the same toast, thanking my hosts, and in the case of my closest friends, thanking them for becoming my family in Armenia.

One example of Armenian hospitality is the egg lunch that my husband and I were treated to last week.  He and I don’t eat meat, and while some meat-loving Armenians shake their heads at us, our friends understand—and remember.  After not seeing us for a year, our friends remembered that we don’t eat meat, and so perhaps contrary to the typical pattern of hospitality, instead of meat, they made two different egg dishes as the main courses.  And of course, like everything else, it was fresh and delicious (I even enjoyed the fresh peas, despite the fact that I don’t really like peas—they squish unpleasantly).  Another friend knows I’m lactose intolerant, and she always goes out of her way to bake splendid dairy-free treats or prepare amazing dairy-free dinners.  I’m very lucky to have such thoughtful friends.

This post was supposed to be about my friends, and how I missed them, and somehow, it’s become about food again.  It is true that socializing nearly always involves food, or at least, drinking coffee—even the work day is punctuated by breaks to prepare Armenian coffee (even as I write this, a colleague just asked, “Elizabet—surtch kuzes?”, Elizabeth, do you want coffee? Yes, please!).  I guess food and friends are inextricably linked in my experiences here, so perhaps it’s not so bad to discuss them both in one breath.

in medias res

It’s hard to know exactly where to begin, or how to introduce this blog.  If a blog reflects the interests of its writer, then this one will be difficult to categorize.  There will be some ruminations on history and archaeology; thoughts about friends and relationships; information about beer and tasty food; pictures of various journeys; and anything else that pops up, really.  I studied all the liberal arts in college (at a “Great Books” school), I debated between psychology, philosophy, and history for a career, and now I find myself pursuing a dual degree in anthropological archaeology and ancient history.  In some ways, it seems like I’ve been all over the map, trying to figure out what I find most compelling, what I want to do in life.  But through it all, I realized that at the center of my investigations, driving my curiosity, is an interest in people: in our history, in the ways we tell each other about what we think is important, in the ways in which we build our lives and our cities or environments that reveal our values, in personal relationships, and in societal structures.  This blog is perhaps an attempt to synthesize my longstanding interest in people and the world we make (and how we write about it), an inquiry into (and observations about) the social, and the science.