Friday, October 14, 2011

Lettre 34: Armenia 2 – Ireland 1, but the Irish moved-on to qualify because I brought our flag early

Letter 34: Armenia 2 – Ireland 1, but the Irish moved-on to qualify because I brought our flag early

Vachik, our young corner grocer, about 150 meters down from our house, asked to borrow our large Armenian flag to parade it in Yeghegnadzor at 1:00 am Wednesday Oct 12, if Armenia wins the game against Ireland and qualifies for the 2012 World Soccer Cup.
I agreed, but the issue was: Would we be up at 1:00 am so he can borrow it then. I told him that we usually go to bed before 10 pm.
On the evening of Oct. 11, I was going to buy milk, so I decided to take our flag down to Vachik, to save him coming to get it that evening. He felt a bit uneasy accepting it, because it is bad luck to brag before actually winning a game. Nevertheless, he took the flag and told us he had planned to watch the game at the Vayots Dzor Café, down on the main Yerevan-Artsakh highway, where it was to be projected on a large outdoor screen.
We don’t have a TV here, but when we heard of the large screen, we thought it would be fun to go and watch the game with a group of locals. The main point being that, since it was an outdoor cafe, we would not be bothered by tobacco smoke!!!. We therefore booked a taxi for 10:30 pm and we got there in time for the national anthems.

It was a beautiful clear and cool evening and the full moon was shining. There was a crowd of about 40 people there and Sheila was the only woman, but Vachik was nowhere to be found. I thought to myself, wouldn’t it have been great if I had noted my friend Berge’s cellular phone number. Berge had planned to watch the game at the “Sports Bar” on Yonge and College, with a group of TorontoHyes. I could have called them to give them impressions from the locals… They would have surely been impressed to know of the 150 TV’s at Toronto’s “Sports Bar”.

I was impressed how well the Armenian team played right from the start. Theirs was a fast-paced tactic with short passes on the ground to compensate for the height difference with the Irish team.

One of the most fascinating moments for me was when, early in the game, S. Cox managed to get almost alone in front of our goalie and midfielder Mkrtchyan stole the ball from him at the last moment, without any foul play (see photo), and saved us from a quasi certain goal.

Things started going bad for the Armenian team in the 26th minute, when the referee red-carded our excellent goalie (video replays showed that this penalty was unwarranted). Nevertheless, our outnumbered team continued to play valiantly and respectfully with one man short.

Ireland’s forward Simon Cox, the closest man to the play, remorsefully but nevertheless ‘honestly and magnanimously” declared after the game that it was not a handball by the keeper as seen and called by the referee and that the ball had accidentally touched his own hand immediately before.

In the 43rd minute, V. Aleksanyan scored a goal in Armenia’s own net, giving Ireland the lead.

The first half ended 1-0 for Ireland.

In the second half, Ireland’s Richard Dunne (who reminds me of my nephew Patrick) scored a beautiful goal at the 59th minute, and put the hosts 2 goals ahead. Look at him in the photo consoling our (second) ‘debutant’ replacement goalie!

At this point, the odds were overwhelmingly stacked against Armenia: facing the Irish on their home turf, with only 10 players, and needing three goals to qualify.

Three minutes later (62nd minute), Mkhitaryan (#18), linking up neatly with striker Yura Movsisian, scored a beautiful goal for Armenia. Our honour was safe!

The subdued crowd at the Vayots Dzor Café dispersed without much fanfare, behaving just like they did during the game. The final score was: Aleksanyan (Armenia) 43rd minute; Dunn (Ireland) 59th minute; Mkhitaryan (Armenia) 62nd minute. Like I said: 2-1.

Vachik returned our flag today. He said he didn’t use it. I told him I had been at the Vayots Dzor Café but did not see him there. He said: I was told there was no room left. He obviously did not want me to feel bad about having given him the flag ahead of time. He said: so you know we lost. I said: no, we won: the respect of the Irish team and that of all those who watched this game around the world. Our team played well and clean to the end and, in the spirit of the sport, did not make a scene contesting the referee’s decision (a request was made to UEFA after the game to annul the ban linked to the red card wrongfully awarded our goalie).

A video of the match highlights can be found in the following link:

Antoine S. Terjanian
Went there to help keep our heads up!

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Letter 33: The Legend of Yeghegis

We all know that Yeghegnadzor, the town we chose for our residence on top of the mountain in Armenia, is named after the Yeghegis River, which flows along the Silk Road, down below our house. This same river gave its name to the ancient town of Yeghegis which was destroyed by the viith century earthquake and volcanic eruption and which was reconstructed by Orbelyan princes as their capital and it is there that we inaugurated the re-opening last year of the medieval Jewish cemetery.
I was wondering where the river got its name, for ‘yegheg’ means ‘reed’ in Armenian and I was not able to find many reeds along its banks. Meruzhan Khoyents, the local bearded old bard, told me his version of the legend before he died. I thought it was too simple a story and it was left sitting somewhere in my memory. Until,... Until I read the lyrics of the song by Patricia Carli (Carlikian), born in Taranto, whose family has roots in our region and, I guess, must have known about this legend. Patricia’s song is almost word for word the story I heard from our bard.
You can read Patricia Carli’s lyrics at:,le-roseau-et-la-riviere,61945.htm . You can also listen to this song (or download it) free from a Russian website (if you can't read Russian, the song to download is written thus: "Камыш и речка" on this website: ; you can listen to the song by clicking on "СЛУШАТ ПЕСНЮ".)
The legend Merouzhan told me went like this: There was a little reed who was in love with the river. He was skinny and not so handsome, while she was pretty and proud. Night and day, the little reed declared his eternal and simple love to the river. The river liked to flirt. She made fun of his love. She sometimes went out of her bed and flooded the glade, tickling the little reed’s feet. The little reed thought it was reciprocal love and couldn’t wait till the spring for the flooding to repeat. One sad day foreign invaders came on horseback, slashing and burning everything on their way. The little reed got scared and jumped in the river. The little reed died in the arms of his river while repeating the same simple and sincere words of his love towards his river.
According to the legend, the river was since called Yeghegis (which means: to my reed)
Antoine S. Terjanian
Went there to move mountains, and why not, rivers too

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 Yeghegnadzor changed names several times. It was also named Migoyan (after Anastas Migoyan the former President of the USSR - Անաստաս Հովհաննեսի Միկոյան) and his statue is still standing in the middle of the town’s central park, but historically, it was known as ‘Yeghegik’ (little reed). p.s. January 2014: Hanyvakios has just uploaded a video on Youtube of Patricia Carli singing this song. Thanks to my friend Van who brought it to my attention. Here is the link:  you can see Patricia in person as well as others of her famous songs.

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