Posts Tagged ‘family’

[Disclaimer: I am probably making it sound like all I do here is drink vodka with the copious references to the friendly clear fermented-potato substance.  but it really is a big part of the culture here.  and after all i’m going for that whole immersion thang.  but i promise i’m helping to spread some microfinance too, even if it does involve tasting a borrower’s varietals of moonshine mulberry vodka. seriously.]

So 11 days after commencing, Armenian New Year’s is officially over.  I feel so discombobulated and and confused that I dont know what day it is or if I will ever be able to weigh less than 263 lbs again.

The new year here is a big celebration.  Its family oriented, involves lots of visits to friends/neighbors/relatives and lasts for a week.  New Years Eve is usually spent with family, and, like most Armenian celebrations involves a table packed from edge to edge with all kinds of tasty foods and booze.  In the center is the horovatz (grilled pork) with all kinds of cheeses, dried cured meats, veggies, and often cakes.  I dont know how these families do it because they basically have to be on call for visitors for 11 straight days while anyone can show up at anytime and the table gets loaded up and feasting and drinking recommences.  Everything in the city shuts down (president’s orders – where were you on that one OBAMA?!?) and you can get arrested by the cops if you dont have proof that you’ve gained at least 15 lbs.

12:01 new years at the square....

I was lucky enough to get to experience several different families’ new years.  NYE itself involved hanging out with a fellow group of international orphans at a friend’s apartment, then going down to the central square to see the fireworks, followed by an indeterminate amount of hours at the bar.  And that was day 1 of 11.  The following days were a tour de table of different friends and families, each of which constantly had a table full of meat/cheese/greens/booze on standby for any potentially arriving visitors.  At each stop copious amounts of Horovats (bbq’d pork and always the centerpiece of the table) was consumed with lavash (national bread, like a tortilla with bounce), all kinds of cured meats (I find pastrami to be the most sensual of all the salted cured meats), greens (parsley again, dominates every bite), with lots of wine & vodka with thoughtful toasts to family and friends.  At one point I tried a jug of tasty homemade Georgian wine.  At another I had a delicious banana cake.  Also some delicious dolma, accompanied with yogurt sauce.  On Armenian Christmas itself (Jan 5th into 6th) I was invited to a good friend and co-workers to eat with her family.

Her younger brother and his 3 friends were very intrigued having an American at the table.  Basically I was treated as a pet tamagachi, and the boozing got taken up a notch or five.  It was kind of like those house parties when a bunch of idiots think it’s a good idea to try and get the cat or dog drunk, that’s a little bit how it worked….”yaa lets make the American drink a shot every 3 minutes!!!” However, as a stand for all the dogs and cats out there I decided I was not to be shown up.  I kept shoveling food in my mouth between every shot and lasted lasted lasted until the 19 year-old ringleader eventually started to slow down a bit.  Somehow I survived until they got bored and moved to the couch.  Victory, America.  I was so proud of myself, I had passed the official Armenian booze test.  Next stop, Russia.

All in all the New Years break was a whirlwind of barbecued meat and celebrations with friends and their families.  It was great to experience the holidays overseas in such an authentic and traditional way.  Plus it was a ton of fun, too.  While I don’t think I’ll let myself accidentally miss Christmas/New Year’s at home next year, this one will definitely always stand out as a great memory…….The Christmas/New Year’s that lasted 11 days and when I lost my six pack.  I’m gonna have to really start pounding my core again.


kaaaa boom

one of the many new years table spreads


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[from, yes, you guessed it, the Fellows Blog]

By Brian Kelly, KF9, Armenia

The symbol of Karabakh, grandmother and grandfather

I wrote about a week ago before embarking on a trip to Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous region southeast of Armenia known as being a conflict zone between Armenia and Azerbaijan.  I left in hopes of better grasping the political melee between the countries in the South Caucasus and how this plays into the Armenian identity.  Hopefully this would garner some insight into the role of microfinance in Armenia as part of my 4 month crash-course to this completely new part of the world. (more…)

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