cariaso (cariaso) wrote,

The locals, the diaspora, and the embassy circuit

P1050683Yesterday was a nice Armenian lunch of stuffed peppers and roasted aubergine. I overheard English from a table nearby and asked the gentlemen if they could point me towards the museum/home of Sergei Parajanov a Soviet film director. They were happy to offer directions, but with a light rain coming down insisted that I join for 1 beer before I left. Two of them were around 35 years old, and the third was their Father / Father-in-Law. He was part of the diaspora living in Glendale, Los Angeles and visiting for a few weeks. When I mentioned I'd visited the Genocide Museum the previous day, the father was happy to explain to me his personal experiences with the after-effects, while the sons seemed to have a "oh there he goes again" reaction to a conflict which was not their own. This seems a natural and healthy process, but gave me my first real interaction with some of the true culture of this place.

P1050657In the evening I joined my host at his office, the US Embassy. After surrendering my cell phone and passport I was admitted into a brief and rather lifeless office party, followed by a paper airplane contest mostly for the kids. A bit later, some of the guys in the office had brought in their amps, guitars, and drum kit, and they were practicing for a show at the office christmas party. Songs included Tom Petty, Blind Melon, and a few other rock covers from my high school years. Afterwards we headed over to the onsite bar where the Marines relax and pour the drinks. We swapped travel stories and let the whole evening slide into a very pleasant Vodka-Redbull fueled blur.

P1050663Today was some code and some downtime, with a rooftop Octoberfest at sundown. The atmosphere was great, the beers were homebrewed in 3 styles, and even the sausages were handmade. One of the guys I met, and his Palestinian wife, are 2 weeks away from his next assignment, in Thailand doing aid work for Burma. He doesn't yet know much about the place, while after 10 years of following what's going on there I perhaps know a bit too much. Tomorrow we'll probably do brunch and continue to talk and plan.

P1050678Wageningen, the Netherlands had nothing open on Sunday, and therefore there was no way to do a brunch. I really missed that familiar pace of wandering to a favorite restaurant, eating a big meal with coffee refills, bacon and eggs, and skimming the paper while planning the day. Tomorrow will be the first time in many years with that particularly American tradition.
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