Notes From Hairenik
October 29, 2008
I have finally come to accept that summer is over. The fantastic weather up until last weekend had me lingering in denial for well over a month, but with November just around the corner it is time to face up to reality. The year has flown by, it seems like summer had only just started. Now with the temperature lingering around 63 degrees F/17 degrees C, you cannot be mistaken about the autumn advancing onward. However, this season is wonderful because of the changing foliage. When you drive up to Dilijan for instance the hillsides are bursting with hues of yellow, light green, and red. I drove up there a couple of weeks ago with my friend Kenny Tomasian who was visiting from the States and it was magical. We also trekked up to "Bars Lij" which is a tiny lake situated high up in the mountains concealed by deep forest. There was more of the same in the area between Vanadzor and Alaverdi. Autumn is simply fantastic in Armenia, notably in Lori and Tavush.

With the coming of winter only a month or so away it is time to start weatherproofing the windows. This is usually done using narrow adhesive foam strips which I affix along the balcony door jamb and the folding end of the windows where the hinges are located. Across the gap where the folding windows meet I affix two or more layers of wide masking tape. Last year this method was highly effective as the living room retained quite a bit of heat during the daytime, especially with the sun beating on the stone walls of the front of the building. The kitchen, however, is always warm. I use two oil-filled portable electric radiators to heat the apartment which does the trick. Although I could keep the place warm with radiators hooked up to a natural gas supply using one of several innovative European heating systems available on the marketplace, installation would cost at least $1,000. Too bad my gallbladder had to be removed, otherwise I would probably have been able to afford it.

Apart from enjoying the weather as well as occasional day trips through the countryside, nothing particularly interesting has been happening here--except for some recent dramatic shootouts. Politics are uninteresting at present, although there are new expectations of a peace deal being signed to formally end the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict by year's end. I can't predict what will happen exactly but history has shown that not much will come out of a new round of negotiations. There are thankfully no slowdowns in the economy from what I can see--construction is moving forward and people are spending money. New European chain clothing stores continue to pop up in different areas of town as well as are supermarkets. Speaking of supermarkets, they are even opening up in small towns located 40 kilometers out of the city, like in Hrazdan. The number of cars and trucks on the roads seems to keep increasing by the day. Despite that, a third wagon has been added to some metro trains as the number of passengers are going up for some reason. Perhaps it's because the general conditions of the stations and trains are vastly improving, most likely attributable to revenue generated from an ongoing commercial advertising blitzkrieg, thus attracting new commuters. In mid-morning the trains are packed mostly with students attending university who get off in droves at the "Yeridasartakan" station. Buses always seem to be full as well. Crowded public transport may be an indication of rising wealth since new jobs are obviously being created and people need to go to work or do some shopping with the money coming in from whatever source of income people have now. During a recent ride through Vanadzor I couldn't help to notice that one of the stagnating factories there was up and running full blast. In its wake was billowing white filth that had filled the air in the entire lower part of the city. Seems like old times to many there I imagine.

But with the economic meltdown raging throughout most of the world, including Russia, it may be only a matter of time before the microeconomic bubble bursts in Armenia. No boom lasts forever no matter how lucrative. Things have been progressing abnormally here, much more quickly than one could forecast for a country which is still technically at war with its neighbor, and considering the fact that only 10 years ago people were still struggling to put food on the table not to mention keep warm. Here's hoping that Armenia and also the entire region will not suffer terribly from the current global recession that has been doing some major damage to the US and Asian economies especially.

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Anonymous Garen said...

Just discovered this blog via Ditords's recent podcast.

Just getting started to read through your articles. I must say, all very interesting and diverse. I especially like the perspective. Fresh!

Are you on (it's a new Armenian portal for bloggers and newspapers to submit links to their articles and vote the best conetnt. Sort of like Armenian