ArmeniaNow.com - Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 May 16, 2003 




Cultural Exchange: Forget Paris, Buddha Bar Lounge brings the mellow mood to Yerevan


It ain't Paris, but it's Buddha Bar, a la Yerevan.

Near a dormitory where Indian students studying medicine in Yerevan frequently pass the night with their own music, the more contemporary noise of imported exotic ambiance invites attention inside the Buddha Bar Lounge.

Under dragon-like letters announcing the new bar's presence, stairs leading to the basement bar take a visitor into a bit of European pop culture transported to Yerevan.

Different for Armenia, yes, but don't be fooled into thinking this Buddha Bar is a replica of it's famous namesake in Paris. Familiar to ambient pop music fans for its "Buddha Bar" series of cds, the Paris lounge sparked a genre of style and sound.

This is Buddha Bar ala Yerevan. Still, it is a departure from the common fare.

A green soft carpet is slouched in contrast with the shady crimson walls on which there are 15 or so Indonesian paintings. The dark air is tinged with the fragrance of Indian incense. A seated Buddha statue positioned at the end of the room keeps a lid on things and the Buddha-Bar music makes visitors feel like stepping into another world.

Soft long chairs placed around the tables like a lounge invite relaxation and except for a large TV screen near the statue this could be a meditation hall.

Step inside for ambient tunes and the aroma of Indian incense.

In a previous life this Buddha Bar on Mashtots Avenue was a billiard room. On April 7 it was reincarnated by owner Vahagn Ohanyan into the bar. There is also a restaurant which serves Oriental dishes, some Armenian standards and cheeseburgers and pasta. Eventually the menu will lean toward Chinese and Indian-inspired cuisine.

Ohanyan is just 22 and still a student of economics. A visit to the Paris original inspired him to bring the mood of Buddha to Yerevan. His partner Vrouire Khlghatyan joined efforts and Buddha Bar Lounge was born.

"For many in Armenia, the word bar is just another place to eat, drink and socialize, but what I'm trying to show is that Buddha Bar is not only an eating place. It is a special relaxing atmosphere that the ambience and the music make it perfect," says Ohanyan.

He brought more than 30 Buddha Bar CDs from France and is planning to hire a DJ who would liven up the special Buddha Bar parties intended for once a week.

Opening in spring, when café season is in bloom was not the best timing Ohanyan says. But he hopes by the time cold days come again he'll have Buddha Bar Lounge just the way he wants it.

Visitors at Buddha Bar are already constant clients, even though many first visitors hesitate to stay.

"Some people enter the place but refuse to stay after they find out that we don't have booths," Ohanyan says, referring to the popular style of many Armenian bars.

Until other Armenians get used to open-spaced restaurants, the Buddha Bar offers some privacy anyway, with transparent curtains between the tables and dim lighting.

Barman Vahram Yeznikyan has concocted a special drink to match the Buddha mood. "Buddha" tea, he reveals, is a mix of three teas, honey, ice cream and whipped cream served with a separate glass of ice.

There is also a special cocktail blended from whisky, rum, vodka, cream and coconut flakes - intended, perhaps, to make a customer smile like Buddha, whether in Paris or on Mashtots Avenue.


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  Photo of the week
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Dr. Lord George

He is already a Lord, and Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. And as of Wednesday George Robertson adds an honorary doctorate from the French University of Armenia. Following ceremonies at the university Lord Robertson spoke with students and media.

 

 





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