Evening of 3 June

After my workshop tonight, I caught a ride back to the flat with Edward Balassanian, director of NPAK who has lent me the flat I am staying in. I took a brief break and caught up on some reading, uploaded images to my laptop and wrote the blog posting that came just before this one. Then, Edward took me out to a place in the circular park (there are lots of parks here in Yerevan, unlike in Manchester!). The temperature outside was perfect – I am a big fan of the no-humidity heat that they have here. Having grown up in Florida where heat is always accompanied by moisture, I prefer dry heat. Tonight it was in no way hot – totally pleasant for sitting outside at a cafe eating a nice Armenian meal.

Here’s what I had for my main – it’s called Khurjin and is absolutely delicious:

Khurjin is a lavosh (an Armenian flatbread) filled with lamb and other delicious things. Alongside it, at this restaurant, was a pepper stuffed with the same filling. We also had a cucumber and tomato salad for a starter that had fresh oregano and mint on it. With dinner, we drank an Armenian red wine with water.

Dinner was a fascinating discussion ranging from Edward’s background as part of the Armenian diaspora, with an Iranian background and a long history of working, studying and living in the USA, and discussions about politics, contemporary art, food and family. I felt like Edward is a certain kind of kindred spirit from an older generation who is very open to experimentation and new ideas in terms of art. I love experiences like this where any kind of preconceived ideas about culture backgrounds are tossed out of the window.

Here is Edward making a quick phone call between courses:

Edward Balassanian

To end our meal, we had vanilla ice cream with cold coffee poured over it (similar to an Affogato, my favourite Italian dessert but without the Amaretto) and then Armenian coffee (which I’m rapidly becoming addicted to). Here is the coffee in its traditional (and beautiful) metal pot (I need to get one of these before I leave):

After dinner, we went back to Edward’s flat, which is amazing, and he showed me some of the artworks that he and his wife own. There was quite a bit of really exciting Armenian contemporary art along with some ancient furniture, handicrafts and other pieces of art that I was really jealous of. We then sat on his enclosed terrace and drank cognac and talked again about everything from politics (both international and Armenian), art, what I’ve observed so far about how to make more theatre happen in Armenia, and NYC (where he has a house and where his son and wife live).

I ended the evening with a strange feeling of both satisfaction (at meeting an interesting person and feeling like I might have something, albeit small, to offer to the world) and sadness (at missing those I love). There is something very comfortable and homey (homely in UK english) about being in Armenia that I find kind of unexpected. I really hope that this trip opens up more possibilities for future collaborations. It is a truly amazing place, underestimated by the international community.


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