Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Becoming a Local

When you go to the local market and they no longer charge you 700 Dram for a lettuce and their faces light up when they see you and they call you "sister" and charge you 150 and throw in some spinach, when the taxi no longer charges you 1000 Dram for a central destination and you get there for 500, when you start filling up bottles of water to prepare for the hour when they shut down your water, when you systematically get up early to get laundry done and hang it on a washing line, when you start craving a nice strong Armenian coffee in the morning, afternoon, and in fact anytime their might be an excuse to drink it, when you stop trusting the traffic and bolt across the road when the walk sign turns green (in actual fact it is a "run" sign), when you start carrying a torch because you know the electricity is bound to go at some point, and when you start talking to everyone around you and start randomly meeting people in all sorts of places,....I reckon you start becoming a local.
3 weeks into my project and I feel a buzz and excitement that things are happening around me. I have had the priviledge of having some friends here as well as the priviledge of meeting many new ones. It amazes me that while walking the streets of Yerevan you can meet an Armenian celebrity and they will stop and have a conversation with you and invite you around for coffee. Yesterday, Armen Movsisyan, one of the musicians whose music inspired me to do what I am doing invited me to his house so we could listen to my music and think about my "poetry". I have been listening to his CD's since my return last August and I feel his music is pure and speaks to the soul. After introducing myself to him at the Art Institute he kindly offered to look at my music. I sat in admiration, awe, disbelief, and mostly with a great feeling of kindness, love and gratefulness while he shook his head, sang along to my songs, rubbed his head and commanded several things from his children that were clearly within reach. He chain smoked I think an entire packet of cigarettes in the 6 hours that he spent analysing my words but he paid me the greatest compliment. He mentioned that he thought it incredibly brave to do what I was doing as I am not a native Armenian and that he thoroughly enjoyed my style and music. When I spoke to him earlier today he asked if the time we had spent looking at my work had been helpful. When I said of course he replied by saying, "Well thank God for that"!
I had a nice chuckle!
The above picture is at Oshagan - where the inventor of the Armenian alphabet is buried. The letter I am standing in front of is an "S".
Currently I have got one of the girls from the village of Martz (Leili) down here for a few days. She is ill and the doctor has prescribed 6 different medications for her to take. I am not quite sure how this is possible or why but the cost is about 28,000 - which is close to $60.00. How they expect these people to pay for their medication is a mystery to me.
Armenia is still a mystery for me in many ways but I am learning about its beauty, its hardships, its history, its fears, its hopes, and its communion with the everlasting spirit of survival. They are survivors here - each and every one of them.
We shall see how I do the next few days!


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