70-year old accordian is a rare source of
Abandoned villages with five or six ruined buildings
each, reached by a dirt road that takes a four-wheel-drive
three hours to go 40 kilometers is what the war
in Karabakh left the region of Berdzor.
Here, there are no sounds of cars, alarms or
related noises of civilization; only quiet and
incredibly beautifully chains of mountains, untouched
by war's destruction.
says he has learned jobs previously assigned
to women . . .
Forgotten nature, once preferred by Armenians
who since have moved to the cities, has become
haven to some who wanting neither a past or a
future, chose to start all over in abandoned villages
like Vazgenashen. It is a location that fascinated
Samvel Gyulizadyan from the first moment he arrived
Lithe and tall at about 1.90 meters, with long
hair and long beard, sly but kind eyes, and a
constant smile, Samvel looks as if he isn't from
Vazgenashen at all. And he wasn't until 1994,
when he decided to leave his lush life on Sayat
Nova Avenue in Yerevan and move to the place that
offers him an isolated and peaceful living.
He is married and has two children but his family
was less passionate about moving to Vazgenashen.
So, he is visited by his beloved once a year.
Samvel traded the life of an urban architect
for the life of a hermit: "In Yerevan, when
it was time to go to sleep, I would only get noise,
while here I found the harmony I needed."
. . including making lavash..
Was it difficult for Samvel to accommodate to
the isolation of Vazgenashen? As a traditional
Armenian man who is not used to cook or do the
cleaning, it is still difficult. But being apart
from his wife, he learned things that men usually
Baking lavash is one of Samvel's favorite occupations.
Unlike many women in Armenia who cook bread once
a month, Samvel doesn't makes it as often as three
times a week, so he eats it fresh and crunchy.
Still, he would love someone to do the things
he doesn't like.
likes having the bread fresh . . .
"From all the things I do in the housekeeping,
most of all I hate doing laundry and cleaning
the dishes", he giggles. "Consequently,
my wife has a lot of work when she visits me".
During summers Samvel fishes and hunts, and in
winter he lives off beans, cheese and canned vegetables.
He also keeps a cow and three dogs, and only
a year ago he began bee-keeping. He says he should
have learned bee-keeping earlier.
"Moving into a tiny village doesn't exclude
mundane ambitions like making money," Samvel
says, referring to his goal of making a business
out of bee-keeping.
. . so he makes it often..
Samvel doesn't have a TV or a radio and the last
news he heard is that the US-British military
entered Baghdad. "Less news you hear, the
happier you are."
When he feels bored, Samvel plays his accordion,
a 70 years-old Hohner that he got from a friend
who actually never got the chance to learn it.
His accordion, together with his older dog and
a small bag of food were all he brought when he
arrived in Vazgenashen nine years ago. The rest
Samvel found here.
the noise of Sayat Nova Avenue, Samvel enjoys
the quiet of life in obscurity.
The house he found was abandoned, like many others,
and included all the necessary furniture needed
for living. It even had a small library with books
in Russian that perfectly fit with Samvel's life
style: "Without Family" by Malo or "Lost
Illusions" by Balzac. "These are not
my books," explains Samvel. "I just
keep what I found here."
Samvel doesn't miss the abundant city life. He
travels to the closest city, Berdzor, a couple
of times a year to buy flour, salt, sugar, cigarettes
and coffee - the needs nature cannot give him.