Tag Archives: life in yerevan

Surviving Yerevan’s Sizzling Summer

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It’s been a nasty summer in Yerevan, with temperatures hovering at 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) or higher for at least two months straight, with an occasional dip to 85-90 degrees now and then. The 10-day forecast according to Yahoo Weather shows that the trend will continue through the middle of September.

In my 10 years (can hardly believe it’s been that long) of living in Armenia there has never been such a brutal summertime, a relentless heat wave from the boroughs of inferno. And thanks to the stone buildings in my neighborhood walking down the street in late afternoon often feels like strolling through a brick oven. The only thing missing was the treat of a fragrant, rich fresh mozzarella and cherry tomato pizza waiting at the far side.

My boys, Areg and Shant, and I would often take strolls in the early to mid evening, the only somewhat tolerable time to go out with them. Naturally we’d almost always make it to a water fountain — one of at least a dozen in the city center — to cool off in the refreshing, kissing mist. Charles Aznavour Square seems to be the least chaotic in the evenings for fountain lovers and very appealing to toddlers as well as babies who are stroller or carrier bound (I use either/or, but I rather favor my Baby Bjorn “kangaroo” as carriers are called here). The often breezy Cascade steps were always a nice getaway from the apartment, too.

Being the proud father that I am, I thought I’d post some photos of the boys from the last two months,  loving every moment that life brings, damn the heat.  They indeed always make me feel refreshed whenever I’m with them, their sublime smiles pleasant breezes to soothe my soul.

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Yerevan’s 2794th Birthday

In celebrating Yerevan’s 2794 years of existence — I am assuming that beginning with the founding of Erebuni, or perhaps later since I am very bad in history — the government decided to hold festivities, children’s art exhibits and concerts all over the Kentron, which was closed to traffic for the better part of the day. Fortunately my wife and I managed to walk around with a camera in mid-afternoon and evening to capture some images.

I have never seen so many people out on the streets of Yerevan for any event before. Every year they throw some kind of bash in honor of Yerevan, but I don’t recall anything on such a grand scale. Well, the presidential elections are coming up and I’m sure President Sargsyan wants to prove to all that he’s not a spoil-sport.

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All of the main squares were open to pedestrians only. It was unprecedented. There was something to see and hear in nearly every commonly frequented public space, from Place e France adjacent to where the Opera House is located to Republic Square. The throngs of people kind of reminded me of the crowds at Mardi Gras, without the stumbling drunks and flashers. Great to see that so many people were having a wonderful time, celebrating with family and friends. A very impressive, pleasant day all around.

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No Privacy Allowed

Last night while I was staring at my laptop trying to develop a chapter from the albatross of a novel I’ve been writing off and on for several years, a vehicle pulled up in front of my building with the radio blasting. The music being played was some kind of swinging dance tune with a repetitive mambo-like theme that didn’t go anywhere., it just repeated over and over. The volume level must have been at ten, it was extremely loud even with all the windows hermetically shut. After about half a minute I heard a woman cry out in some kind of excited, yet a bit reserved yelp of excitement, and she repeated her performance about two more times, once as they were driving off. It was as if they were trying to deliberately get the attention of the residents all around. Indeed, after two minutes of that nonsense I approached the window, and I noticed that some of the neighbors were on their balconies wondering what was the ruckus about.

I live on Hanrabedutyan Street, in central Yerevan, which is generally quiet in the evenings. At least it used to be before so many rich-bitch brats started driving expensive cars gifted to them by fathers and uncles that they never could have afforded otherwise. At all hours of the evening now you can hear horns sounding when a car is about to run the red light to warn motorists driving perpendicularly. They also make the point of driving down the street in the low gears to make the engine rev louder in a feeble, yet in-your-face way to show off. They don’t realize that they are not impressing, but are instead simply annoying anyone that bothers to be in ear’s reach.

About two weeks ago, at around 1:30 am (my wife claims it was later) two vehicles pulled up along the sidewalk on the corner and started dancing right below my balcony. They had opened all the doors of the tank-like Mercedes-Benz SUV they were driving to make sure the music was plainly audible for the entire neighborhood to wince in bed. They were playing this typical wedding music, with the drum, keyboards and clarinet; it was some riff that didn’t get anywhere, it just kept going on and on without ever seeming to end. Two guys were prancing about, evidently drunk, waving their arms above their heads. There was another car, a white Toyota sedan, parked just behind with the driver talking on the phone, refusing to get out. They were infuriating me and arguably everyone on the block that could hear them — it was difficult not to. Then one of the guys opened the tailgate wide and the license plate number was in clear view. It contained three “7s”, which meant that they were probably linked somehow to the mayor of Yerevan. Purportedly any car with a plate showing a series of sevens belongs to a member of his inner circle, or his crew.

My wife says that our neighbor who moved into the apartment directly above ours only eight months ago is a cop. In any case, those clowns were dancing and singing for what must have been twenty minutes. When I looked down below from my balcony one of them was looking up at me, but later I realized he wasn’t concerned about whether I was observing. At first I thought they were doing this simply out of entitlement, that they felt they could indeed get away with this behavior since they didn’t answer to anyone, placating their own egos and not giving a damn about what others thought or felt or whether their privacy was being violated.

It hit me that their actions were deliberate, that they were antagonizing the policeman. Just why they were doing so is anyone’s guess, but when they finally left it became clearer to me than ever that I or anyone for that matter living in this area is powerless to do anything about it. They simply do have the right because the law authorities cannot stop it, since that would mean challenging the former president directly, something no one would ever think of doing — not the neighbors, and certainly not the police. In other words, in such cases there is no such thing as employing self-empowerment.

It’s not possible to beat this behavior down directly, but through covert channels, such a victory can be won. Whether that can be accomplished through a change in power or by simply making a lot of noise in public forums in an attempt to embarrass the culprits and thereby thwart such ill-manners is up to the residents of this neighborhood.

But until something’s done to stop this foolishness, I realized that the only thing that I can personally do about it is to merely identify the problem. Let’s see what the good citizens of Yerevan will try.