Notes From Hairenik
September 19, 2005
Today while at work our system administrator Arthur came in and told me that the building in which I live was on fire. It didn't sink in at first as I thought he was joking, but he assured me that he was dead serious. I went running down towards Republic Square and saw that Nalbandyan Street near the metro station was completely blocked off by about three large fire trucks. Three more were in the back of the building, wedged in the space between the entrance passage and the small secret village that is situated there.

I live on the third floor of the “Gastronom” building, directly across from the Republic Square metro station. From below I could see the billowing smoke rising from just behind the “Gastronom” sign that spans across the middle of the roof. It turns out that a wooden shed caught on fire when one idiot neighbor decided to make a barbeque up there. The fire thankfully did not spread to the lower floors, although our building entrance is completely filled with water. But at least the stairway is now shiny clean.

Although I was very concerned, people in the building were not. The roof is above the fifth floor, and I saw a family come out onto their balcony to see what was going on. They all looked up in turn, shook their heads, then went back inside without a care in the world. I told a fireman that they should get those people out of there, but he said that "it was not yet necessary." Armenians love to live on the edge, especially when it's time to eat the sacred “khorovadz.”

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2 Comments:
Anonymous Knarik said...
After reading your piece on the fire, I have a question. Do you live in the area people are being evicted from their homes so that apartment buildings can be built by the oligarchs? The people are getting paid, but only a third of the value of their homes...

Blogger Christian Garbis said...
I live on the corner of Arami and Nalbandyan Streets. Several buildings on both Puzand and Arami Streets, which run parallel to one another and stretch from Republic Square to Mashdots, are facing demolition, and many of these buildings are historic, dating back to the first republic. Virtually all signs of "Old Yerevan" in the city's center are being destroyed with no accountability, and the city's historical society is helpless.

In the meantime, people are simply being evicted or are being paid insignificant amounts of money for their homes, and thus there is a huge rise in homelessness.

The area of the Northern Boulevard, which for some reason was never constructed during the Soviet era, was completely occupied with private homes for decades--in the last two years all of them were completely destroyed, their residents having gone to destinations unknown. The secret neighborhood just behind my building will sooner or later face demolition, as it is prime real estate.

A good article about this situation appeared on ArmeniaNow a few weeks ago, "Futile Fight: Angry property owners use barricades as last defense against “elite homes for elite guys", but unfortunately the link will not open.

Go to Hetq online and read the following article, which is also very good and addresses the situation:

http://www.hetq.am/eng/society/0510-flash.html

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