A Visit to the National Gallery of Armenia

Even after a full afternoon there, I still feel like I missed some parts of this massive collection.  I admit hurrying through a few sections, mostly because a small group of Armenian schoolchildren had formed around me and were asking me a lot of questions I couldn't understand.  I'd made the mistake of responding in Armenian to the few inquiries I understood.  I still don't know how to say "Please, schoolchildren, I don't understand what you're saying and your teacher looks very angry at me - move along."

Ready for the Armenia Football Cup

OK, so it's not like I'm in Brazil, but I'm still looking forward to my first football (soccer) match here in Yerevan.  Armenians are notoriously good at individual sports like wrestling -- not so much when it comes to teamwork, or so goes the joke around here.  This really puts my eight years as a goalie in perspective (like most Americans, entirely played during childhood).

The Diamond Formation: Making sure your side wins the sound-byte battle

I recently rediscovered an old email I received from a pal that I thought merited sharing.  It has nothing to do with my Kiva fellowship or Armenia, but might come in handy the next time you're at a protest or public speaking event.  I left it anonymous just because people like a little mystery in their lives (if you'd like me to credit you, anonymous person, let me know and I'd be happy to):
From my days as a College Republican, I bring you.... The Diamond Formation.
  • Find 8 or more people
  • Place one front and center
  • Place another at the back and in the center
  • Place the remaining throughout the sitting area to create a diamond shape... so two behind the front man, slightly out towards the edges... two more behind them, further out... then two more behind them, slightly back in towards the center... and so on.
  • Tell the person upfront to clap or boo at appropriate times
  • Tell every other person to mimic the person in the row closest to and in front of them.
Now, whenever the front person claps, it will appear to most as though people all over the room are clapping - so almost everyone else will, too!  Sound bites will rule the day, good or not.

</cynicism>
I haven't gotten the chance to try this out yet - please report back to me if you've had success with the Diamond Formation.

The face in the palette

One of Armenia's many famous artists, Martiros Saryan left this charming self-portrait in his palette, on display at the Martiros Saryan museum in Yerevan. I visited this sleepy little museum last weekend, toured the great collection, and snapped a few photos, but this was my favorite.

Trip to Kond, a glimpse into the Yerevan of old

Not long after I arrived here in Armenia (or maybe before?) Albert Poghosyan reached out to me and extended a kind invitation and welcome.  He'd seen my TED Talk and learned not only that I was at least half-Armenian, but also going to be spending three months volunteering in Yerevan as a Kiva Fellow.

True to his word (thanks again, Albert!) we spent the better part of Sunday together, touring through some splendid museums and a shrinking historic district in downtown Yerevan: Kond.  With all the new construction going on and the rising value of the land there in the city center, these Armenians have been relocated to make way for new development.  It's been a controversial matter here and I was just thrilled to see these winding streets while they were still here (reminded me of my tour of a Hutong district in Beijing).
The massive derelict structure you'll see at the end of the collection is a Soviet-era hotel, now ruined.