Tuesday, October 05, 2004

I came to Yerevan for the weekend to celebrate my birthday with my fiancé and I was going to return today to Artsakh, but the car I was suppose to return with, broke down, so I ended up staying an extra day.

Tonight since I was stranded, I ended up visiting with an old friend (Vahe, the president of he Monte Melkonian Fund, Inc., USA) who just flew in from Califronia a couple of days ago, called me on the phone a half-hour before I was expecting to depart for Artsakh, who I then called back as soon as I got word of our delay.

I was planning on meeting up with him in the evening when he finished with an evening engagement, but instead, he told me to join him at the Marriott Hotel (the former Hotel Armenia), to a 10th year celebration of Raffi Hovannisian’s Armenian Center for National and International Studies.

I asked Vahe if there was an issue of invitations, tickets or anything of that nature, suggesting that we meet after the event at the lobby bar, to which he said he was not sure, but in the event of complications, we will meet at the bar.

My fiancé and I got all dressed up and in Armenian tradition and of course after warning Vahe, we showed up to the gathering an hour late and registered at the door, giving our names, of which this really nice girl who I didn’t know, seemed to know me and said that she had been waiting for us and added our names to the list and placed us at Vahe’s table.

We went into the lounge area to find Vahe, who was talking with someone named Ashot, who I had met in 1999, right after the Parliament tragedy, while he was hanging out with Mesrop Srpazan (I only figured out where I had seen him when the event ended and we left together, so you can only imagine what a strain that was to me for the night, trying to figure out who he was).

As we were talking in the lounge and even before we had arrived, I mentioned to my fiancé in the cab on the way to the hotel that I bet Stephan Demirchyan will show up and sure enough, as we were talking, in walks in Stephan, who was alone and looking around the room with a blank, confused look on his face.

I spotted Emil Danielyan of RFE/RL, who I greeted with the traditional Armenian kiss. As we talked, I asked him about the new homosexual scandal in parliment, to which he said that he hopes that no one got a picture of us kissing. I noticed the security camera, pointing to it, to which we both started to laugh. I shared my thoughts of the stories that covered that event and the shooting which followed, to which he said that Hagop Hagopian mentioned to one of their staff that they shot at his house and by the time he got his pants on, they were gone, but he fired a couple of shots in the air anyway. This means that no one broke into his house.

Before we went in to sit down, Emil and I were laughing at just about everything and sharing our finding with each other about the various people in the lounge and what we know they do in their spare time (gamble, fool around, own this or that and so on).

It was a very interesting gathering with some very interesting faces and prominent key figures of Armenian society and all I could think of was the Ricky Nelson song “Garden Party”. The only thing that was missing was Kirk Krikorian in Dillon shoes.

We made our way to our table (#28) to join some other prominent figures (one who if I’m not mistaken I’ve seen before and know him as Aram Abrahamian’s (the President of the Armenian Businessman’s of Russia) right-hand man) and some other interesting people who you could tell are important and connected in circles I usually avoid.

Raffi made his way to every table, greeting each guest and shaking their hands. He blessed my fiancé with a kiss on her forehead after Vahe introduced her as Saibek’s daughter, who Raffi my have met during the war, or maybe learned of after his death, but from the praise he was giving, it seemed that he knew him. My fiancé immediately relayed to me that it shows in Raffi’s eyes that he is a good, honest man. My fiancé is rarely wrong from her first impressions and I guess got a good look at his eyes.

When the people sitting at our table learned we were from Karabagh, during one of the toast, one of them said a toast as someone from Karabagh would say, pointing out to the rest of the people at our table that this is how they would say it in Karabagh, to which one of them responded that yes and in a couple of years they will be saying it like that here too. We laughed, but it was clear from the guy that made the comment that he was not happy with shift in power in Armenia today.

The keynote speaker was Finland's foreign affairs minister Erki Tuommio, to which he talked about globalization and security. I won’t give my opinion on his speech, but will just say it was long and I was not all that impressed, since it touched on the standard stuff and from what I was hearing, had the same solutions of how to fight terrorism, which I don’t see as being the solution.

I saw many people who I have not seen in ages, a few who know my parents, one who I’ve never met before, but said she was a classmate of my father’s in Iraq. Her husband was the founder of some Armenian school back in the 1960’s (I didn’t get his name, but know that he must be important, since Raffi made mention of him when he was recognizing prominent people in attendance and when he stood up when his name was announce, the clapping that he got, was up there on the clap meter). We took a picture together and he said something about his father, who worked with my grandfather Shahan on some operation in the early ARF days. He asked my fiancé how many children we plan on having, to which my fiancé said as many as God wants us to have, to which he wished us many children. He told me I was very lucky to have such a beautiful fiancé.

The evening ended and as we left, we were each given a 755 page book, which is titled “ACCOUNTING FOR THE DECADE”. It’s in Armenian, Russian and English and will make for some very interesting reading.

Anyway, a very nice unexpected evening, to which I congratulate Raffi and all those involved with the Armenian Center for National and International Studies on their 10th anniversary. I’m really glad I was allowed to be a part of their celebration.

BTW, on Saturday, I went to Square One for a late dinner with my fiancé and a friend. While we were there, we saw Salpi G., Raffi K., Edith K., Madlene and Arthur, Apo B., of course Sam (one of he owners) and a bunch of other familiar faces.

One suggestion I make to Sam was that the signage on the backroom he should think about changing. The men’s restroom has a mustache, which while I was using, I though a woman tried to enter into. On the woman’s restroom there are red lips, which I guess is okay, since I don’t think parliamentarians frequent Square One yet. Sam said that he will leave the signs as is for now, as a 5% margin of error is acceptable in his opinion.

Anyway, I highly recommend Square One to everyone, especially for those that are looking for a friendly and clean restaurant with good service.

No comments:

Post a Comment