Notes From Hairenik
February 8, 2006

Yesterday when leaving the office to go on an errand I wiped out and fell hard on my lower back. There are three steps leading to the entrance of our office that seem to be made of slate, and I didn’t realize that they were completely covered in ice caused by water dripping from the slanted roof and freezing on the stairs. Luckily I didn’t hit my head and receive a concussion to boot.

Generally because of the unusual amount of snowfall in Yerevan this winter season the streets are covered in snow and ice. Most of the streets are usually black the day after a storm by the time the plows drive down them a few times, but the left and right sides of the streets including the sidewalks are usually not cleaned at all. Now there is about 8-10 inches of snow on the ground in central Yerevan, depending where you walk.

Usually the owners of shops and restaurants take the initiative to keep their parts of the sidewalk clean but this is not always the case, as some just don’t care whether people slip or not. In areas where the sidewalk is not cleaned anywhere from 4-8 inches of snow can be tracked through, and if you are unfortunate the snow has been mixed with salt and sand, which can make the passage treacherous. Most sidewalks are made of square or diamond-shaped cut stone, arranged in various patterns, and some surfaces are more slippery than others.

There is a regular pattern of danger in relation to snow-covered sidewalks. The snow arrives, lately amounting to at least three inches per snowfall. The snow goes uncleaned on most sidewalks throughout the city. Depending on the amount of pedestrians along a given street, the snow becomes compacted and slick. Dripping water from thawing icicles and ice buildups hanging from clogged or broken drain pipes and balconies cover the sidewalks with a slick layer of ice. The warmer the weather, the more apt you are to see blocks of ice falling, which means you must walk along the edges of the street usually covered in thick snow until the sidewalk becomes somewhat safe. Snow falls again and covers the sidewalks’ ice, thus providing some traction for pedestrians who are then less apt to slip and fall. The snow becomes compacted again forming a second layer of ice, and so on and so forth. I have seen ice as thick as six inches, judging from the difference in height between the surface and the newly cleaned sidewalk cleared of ice that someone with a sharp-tipped shovel managed to chip away in clumps.

After I ran my errands, my wife Ariga and supervisor Tigran convinced me to go to the hospital to have an x-ray performed, as my back was in excruciating pain. Tigran advised us to go to the Nairi Medical Center located on Proshian Street. This hospital has recently been renovated and meets modern European standards of healthcare. Apparently, much of the funding to renovate the hospital came from various sources based in Europe as the doctor that I saw told me. I’ll have to say that the treatment I received was excellent, the service prompt and the staff extremely friendly. I was x-rayed using a sophisticated machine that tilted 90 degrees, so they took shots of me from both horizontal and vertical positions. The x-rays showed no damage to my spine whatsoever, and the doctor we saw just told me to take it easy and swallow some pain relief medication.

When I went home I took some Aleve, ate a good dinner delivered by our buddy Sanjiv from the fabulous New Delhi restaurant located on Tumanyan Street, and had plenty of rest. Today I have mild pain and am able to tackle the icy sidewalks of Yerevan once again.

Photo courtesy of Onnik Krikorian

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Blogger Ara said...
Apparently the funding for the renovation came from sources in Europe? Is that what they told you? Well now we know where the Kocharian's are keeping their money these days.