Friday, 26 August 2011

Yerevan Diaries: Banned book

My reputation follows me. Even presents I receive in Yerevan are pretty much X-rated. Not complaining :) It's Unzipped, after all.

This book has been reportedly banned from Armenian book stores for using not 'normative' language, that proved to be too shocking for book store owners.

Here it is. Unzipped.

Haven't read it yet, but will do upon my return to London.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Yerevan Diaries: no poster Opera

Have to admit. I missed the view of Opera area surrounded by posters & ads of performances and so on. They were good and bad, tasteful and tasteless. But they were part of the 'deal', and fitted the area perfectly. Without them, the only 'filling' for Opera area (& Liberty sq) is provided by cafes. And it looks empty to me.

Yerevan Diaries: Swan Lake

Glad to see Swan Lake area in downtown Yerevan looking nicer and taken care of, much better than 2 years ago. Bonus: the addition of new art works.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Yerevan Diaries: ...when hall = հոլ :)

Still can't stop laughing whenever I see these examples of using Armenian translit to refer to English words re venue names. Some of them are hilarious.

Here is just one of such examples :)

Monday, 22 August 2011

Yerevan Diaries: PanArmenian games closing ceremony - #Fail

I am so glad that due to personal circumstances could not make it to Liberty sq for a closing ceremony of PanArmenian games (open air event/concert). Instead, watching it on TV. That was the better/safer option, considering what was on the menu.

Throughout the ceremony, it was full with pathetic, pseudo-patriotic speeches. They sounded so fake, with artificial smiles and 'special expressions' on the face of those on stage, that the only appropriate tag to describe the happening was #FunnySad.

[Btw, I didn't know that PanArmenian games is also a beauty pageant with prizes for "Miss Beauty".]

And finally... When you see Armenchik - 'king of rabiz' - chosen as a headlining act for PanArmenian games closing ceremony, no more comments needed, indeed.

This was one of the most boring, pathetic and tasteless ceremonies I have ever seen in Yerevan.

Verdict: #Fail

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Yerevan Diaries: newspapers; Google maps

Morning papers
In past, whenever I was in Yerevan, always started my morning with a pile of morning papers. Newspapers of broad range of affiliations or 'independent' ones were part of my daily routine. No longer. Have no desire whatsoever to purchase them. For now, my quick glancing at online outlets seem sufficient enough. Still, downloaded digital versions of The Guardian and The Independent.

Google maps - Yerevan
In past, I was looking at Google maps - Yerevan as something with more of a sentimental value, not for practical purposes. Yesterday, for the first time, I used it to find a particular street in downtown Yerevan. And it worked. And I loved it. From now on, its practical value seem more important to me.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Serj Tankian in Yerevan: Dorians, the audience, messages, and the most bizarre 'weapon of mass destruction'

Yerevan Diaries

Bottle cap as a 'weapon of mass destruction'

The weirdest thing happened before the concert started. Security or stewards demanded bottle caps to be separated from plastic bottles and thrown away before one can enter the concert area. I & friends could not get it: why bottle caps? Someone suggested that they could be thrown at others during the concert, but plastic bottles could be used for the similar purposes too, if one had such a desire. Whose 'genius' idea this was, I wonder?

Dorians - more than an opening act

Absolutely loved Dorians. Always liked them via their YouTube clips, but now that I managed to enjoy their performance live, I am 'officially' their fan. Top class rock performance, in line with best young rock groups elsewhere.

Serj Tankian

Despite criticism re not powerful enough sound and choice of music, Serj Tankian was good too. I expected higher energetics, but he didn't disappoint me. And I loved the stage design, very tasteful, and organic with the outside environment. And symphonic orchestra from the Yerevan Opera House was pretty good too.

Messages & the audience

The audience was very mixed. Not in a good way mixed. Quite a few young people didn't REALLY know why they were there. They probably came in for a free concert and/or to say 'we were at Tankian's concert'. They were minority, perhaps, but a sizeable minority. This group typically had no clue what Tankian was singing about, and was funny to observe how they followed others' to start clapping etc. :)

There were some powerful messages from Serj Tankian about ridiculousness of borders - between people, countries and nations. He made it loud and very clear that "all walls are f*cking empty". But it seemed to me, that for a sizeable proportion of people present at the concert, the only message they got from Tankian was one with the G-word.

Calls for universal recognition of the Armenian Genocide, expectedly, followed by huge applause. But immediately after, Serj Tankian mentioned that we should pay attention to problems within Armenia too, without specifying them. Much weaker applause followed.

(just one of those problems) Environmentalists managed to make their point known during the concert by waving a huge poster "Mining is killing".

And the least applause of the night goes to... Armenia president Serj Sargsyan

People were shouting Serj (meaning Serj Tankian), accompanied by the huge applause for his performance. Then he mentioned that there is another Serj present at the concert - Serj Sargsyan, the president of Armenia, that is. No shouting of his name, and only very weak, hardly noticeable applause followed. This was yet another message of last night, but this time from the audience...

Yerevan diaries: London - Tehran... via Yerevan

Now I know why it became so difficult to impossible to book BMI direct flights from London to Yerevan.

I've heard it before as a speculation that this flight became unofficially a transit route to connect London with Tehran.

However, I can confirm that there is nothing 'unofficial' there. Indeed, London -Yerevan BMI flight turned into "London -Tehran via Yerevan", as featured at the Heathrow airport, and most passengers were Iranian or heading to Tehran. I am actually amazed with the numbers of Iranian passengers to and from London taking into account the relationships between these two countries.

Anyway, here I am, in Yerevan... via London - Tehran :)

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Full of contrasts and surprises. 'White Illusions' concert by Karen Grigoryan & co at Royal Festival Hall in London – 1 September 2011

Essential date for your diary, if you are in London that is: Thursday 1 September 2011, Royal Festival Hall.

This will be the most unusual Armenian concert you may have seen in London. Full of contrasts. With the mixture of classical music, experimental beats and pop rock.
Renowned composer and producer Karen Grigoryan presents White Illusions, a concert consisting of 20 of his greatest experimental classical works and performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra. This gala is an opportunity to gain an insight into the work of one of today's foremost Armenian contemporary classical composers, performed by one of London's premiere orchestras.
Grigoryan is joined by Juice, a uniquely versatile Armenian vocalist who released her debut album Kix in 2010. The Philharmonia Orchestra is led by the acclaimed young conductor Marius Stravinsky, Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Karelia Philharmonic Orchestra (KPO).
Karen Grigoryan’s muse – Juice, will perform KIX and Save Our Love. The latter is about emo girl. Btw, liked the latest tribute by Juice to Amy Winehouse.

*picture - by Artashes Martirosyan (EL Style project)

A version of Sirusho’s song for organ will be performed by Artur Bobikyan. More surprises await you during the concert. Don’t miss.

For tickets, follow this link:

South Bank Centre

Karen dedicates this concert to the 20th anniversary of Armenia independence.