When I was in primary school, my family visited Lithuania twice, on vacation. The memories of that time are very vivid, although I can recall only certain details with clarity. The unforgettable part is the general feeling of that “Lithuanian happiness”. Recently I realized accidentally that now I am of the same age my father was when we were visiting Lithuania. Strangely, I don’t perceive myself as grown-up as my father seemed to me then.
My return to Lithuania happened more than 30 years later. In May 2014, I went to visit my friend Linas in Kaunas. I spent half a day in Vilnius before getting back to Yerevan, and my main target was Gediminas’ Tower, although not in the touristic sense. I began thinking about it long before coming back to Lithuania.
Gediminas’ Tower is a sacred memory of my childhood. The tower or, more exactly, the memory of it has been a reminder of one of the happiest times of my early life, when my parents were young and energetic, and the trip to Lithuania was a glimpse of an “almost European life” for them. Gediminas with his unusual name was a fairytale character to me.
The return to Lithuania three decades later turned out fantastic. As soon as we drove up to Linas’ house in Kaunas and got out of the car, I immediately recognized the “smell of Lithuania” from my childhood. Later we made BBQ with Linas and played basketball with his kids, and I realized that my parents spent time with their Lithuanian friends in nearly the same manner 30 years ago.
On the following day, Linas and I went to the Sabonis Basketball Academy to support his sons, who won the final match and became the champions of Kaunas. It happened so that a week later my father’s favorite player Šarūnas Marčiulionis arrived in Armenia. Of course, my father couldn’t have guessed that a member of the USSR team we supported in 1988, which made a miracle by winning the Olympics in Seoul, would come to Armenia so many years later.
Šarūnas Marčiulionis would have never visited Armenia if not for the Lithuanian Ambassador to Armenia, Erikas Petrikas. In the five years of working in Armenia, this man, whom I am proud to call my friend, did an incredible job to restore and develop the relations between the Armenian and Lithuanian people. And he does that out of sincere affection, not just duty.
Last summer Linas and his wife Akvilė visited Armenia, and I invited them to the dinner at my house, which Erikas also attended. It was a wonderful “Lithuanian evening” and at some point, my mother said pensively, “I wish we could go to Lithuania again.” That idea lodged in my mind and as soon as in August, my mother and paternal aunt were on their way to Lithuania.
Every time an acquaintance of mine travels to Vilnius, I send with them small presents for Šarūnas Marčiulionis and his wife Laura. Naturally, I sent some with my mother too. Laura not only welcomed her and my aunt, but also invited them to a country club, where she and Šarūnas were holding a tennis tournament for friends. They spent the whole day at the club and my mother later commented, “I think the entire upper crust of the Lithuanian society was there.”
I am infinitely grateful to Laura and Šarūnas for their consideration. I am grateful to Linas and Akvilė, who hosted my mother and aunt in Kaunas. With their help, my “Lithuanian cycle” came to a full circle in the best possible sense. My parents gave me the Lithuanian happiness when I was a kid, and many years later I managed to give part of it back to them to the best of my ability. Thirty years ago my parents’ friends took care of me, and last summer my friends took care of my parents.
Since something so magical is possible, let it help the Vilnius authorities to solve the problem of landslides on the hill where the Gediminas’ Tower stands. No harm should come to it!
Ara Tadevosyan is Director of Mediamax