Saturday, July 22, 2006

Interesting Back Rubs and Pagan Preparations

And yet another week of mayhem has flown by with splashes of colour and unique moments of Armenian insanity. I have been in the studio every day from 11am until 4pm trying to wrap up the CD so that I can get on my flight back to London on the 8th of August with CD in hand ready to be mastered and duplicated.
This week we finalised the string quartet recordings, wrapped up the Qanun, the Shvi, the Clarinet and Oboe and finally the percussion. We are left with a phenomenal piece of music which will be played by an incredible Cellist Artyom Manoogyan and accompanied by guitar and of course vocal. I am excited for Monday mornings session which will entail the recording of this piece. We have finalised the mix for one song which will be the music video (pictured in last blog) and the light at the end of the tunnel is definitely looking brighter these days.
Two days ago I thought I would treat myself to a back massage after a month of hard work. I should elaborate that a half hour back massage costs 3,000AMD - as in $6.00. I thought it was worth splurging :) I noticed a guitar in the corner of the massage place and wondered why it was there. The ladies that work in the establishment know that I am a singer and while being rubbed I was told by my lady that she played the guitar years ago and someone recently gave her a guitar as a gift. She proceeded to ask me if I would play a song for her before I left. Judging that saying yes would be favourable and would lead to particularly good attention on my aching muscles I consented. It was a good call as I was reduced to a mound of jello not long after. I picked up the guitar and started tuning it and was told that another client had come in and could I perhaps go back into the room in which I was massaged to play my song so as not to disturb them. I am not sure if they thought that I was going to break out into something like Nirvana but I sat back up on the massage table, guitar in hand, in almost darkness, scents of oil in the air, all the romance and love surrounding me and with my newly invigorated muscles sang them a love song. It was an incredibly random moment that went over very well! Next I will be singing in hair salons and supermarkets - stay tuned!!
Apart from that I was at a cafe in the week when a young boy approached and asked if I was indeed "Sona". I must elaborate that Sona is a typical Armenian name and for some reason these kids can't get their head around the name "Sonya" and I am called Sona often. In any case I confirmed and he proceeded to tell me that he has been trying to play my songs on the guitar for the last 2 weeks. When I asked him where he knew them from he told me that he had come to my concert and recorded the songs on his cell phone. I've been bootlegged! - but sweet nevertheless. Perhaps I should think about publishing one of those guitar song books??? :)
Apart from that I had a productive meeting with the principal of the village school today. He proceeded to tell me his worries about meeting deadlines in time for the kids to start classes in September. In general he expressed his gratitude at the project and stressed that it is not often that aid reaches remote villages like Marts. So once again to all who participated - you are really making a difference for these people. Thank you!
I need to apologise for killing off the old lady (she appears in my May Blog of the village). Apparently she is alive and kicking and it is her husband that has passed away. I don't have a photo of him but last time I saw him he was taking sheep up to the top of the mountain at the crack of dawn and was back very late in the evening. He was living until he died - if you know what I mean. He embraced me with his very rough whiskers and drank a shot of vodka to my health the last time I saw him.
I met with a young dancer named Tsolag yesterday who suggested collaborating with me for the September concert. His dance group do some very interesting Avante Garde type dancing with interesting costumes. I managed to view one dance called "Love" that was set to one of Arto Tuncboyaciyan's duduk pieces. This particular dance was so beautiful, erotic, emotional, fluid,... It has been playing over and over in my memory since I saw it. It really was a fantastic representation of what I think love is if expressed to its fullest capacity. Hmmmm. There is so much talent here.
Finally the country is getting geared up for "Vartavar" tomorrow. This is a holiday that dates back to pagan times. Essentially it began when people tossed roses at each other (hence the word Vart=Rose). Unfortunately for conservatives, the roses eventually were replaced by large doses of water - ie. bucketfuls. In essence, if I decide to step out of my apartment tomorrow, it is very likely that some invigorated youth will pour a bucketful of water off his/her balcony right on to my head. It is also likely that children will run up to me and throw water at me or that at some point I might get tossed into the fountains in Republic Square. Black will be the colour of my t-shirt tomorrow and all electronic equipment will remain at home. I actually have an escape plan already. I am leaving to go to Saghmosavank to my friends parents house in the village. Last time I was there was in May (see Interviews and Dreams) and had a splendid day with them. In the villages, each family tends to go up to the mountains and slaughter a lamb and have kebab. Maybe they throw vodka on each other instead of water.... now we're talking!!
So - we shall see what the next week reveals. I have attached some random photos of Armenia that I have taken since being here. Some of these photos were taken by a friend Manoog Caprielian on the Ijevan weekend. The one in the studio is my sound engineer Arman. He is a barrel of laughs and makes recording an altogether amusing experience.
Regarding Lebanon - prayers go out to all of those with family there. I hear more and more people are getting out. I hope this brings some of the Armenians there back to Armenia. I wish them all safety and Godspeed.
Will be back - no doubt fed and watered.
Peace and love


Anonymous rayna said...

Can I just say that I love the fact that you have embraced the word "mayhem" and I think that you should do the same with vartavar!!! Let me know if you start these impromptu concerts at the local grocery stores/hair salons...hopefully you can fit some in before you leave!

2:53 PM  
Blogger Sonya Varoujian said...

Hi Rayna :)

I have come to understand that Vartavar and mayhem are synonymous words in Armenia! How drenched did we all get? I was told a skinny little European girl with a very little black dress was walking down Proshyan St. when she had several bucketfuls of water thrown on her head from the balcony above. This resulted in her completely stripping off her dress, wringing it in the street in full nakedness bar a thong and screaming the appropriate "F--- YOU!!!" to the boys above. Only in Yerevan.... Will keep you posted on supermarket and hair salon concerts of course!

1:20 PM  

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