Notes From Hairenik
June 14, 2010

From the spacious balcony of my apartment there is a perfect bird's eye view of the water fountain on the corner of the street. It's one of these fountains that was installed around a dozen or so years ago in memory of someone in the neighborhood who passed away, according to my landlord.

At virtually every minute of the day you find people drinking from it, and sometimes they even wash up or fill plastic bottles. Depending on the time of day, I would guesstimate that on average someone approaches that fountain every 10 seconds. They even wait in line for up to a minute or longer. One of my wife's uncles claims that the water from this fountain is the best in Yerevan, and whenever he's in the center he makes a point of stopping by there. I don't know if they managed to tap into a spring or if it's just ordinary tap water, but when the chilly, bubbly jet rises into the back of your throat on a 90 degree day to instantly cool you down, you don't care about where the source is.

It's always been fascinating for me to observe people hover around the fountain like bees scoping out the nectar of orange blossoms. I've been meaning to photograph the entire sipping and washing process for a while now. And it's always peaceful (although I remember there was an argument over someone "hogging" the fountain last year).

All of the photos below were taken at various times of the day, from late morning to early evening, during the weekend. There were many great shots but I must have taken close to a hundred--here's some of the best ones.

This bald guy was very busy, with about six bottles to fill and his own endless thirst to quench. He must have been there for 15 minutes, all the while letting others have a sip, wash their fruit, whatever.

A cop came by to make sure everything was orderly. Here he wanted to be certain that the man's tomatoes and cucumbers were being washed properly.

Even Chi Chi got into the act at one point (although this photo and the three others came out overexposed, I wasn't paying attention at that moment to the aperture).

The woman washing the containers works at the fruit stand which is located directly below my balcony. She kept going back and forth.

That woman putting her hand over the spigot made the other two do the same. Very pushy lady.

This woman was drinking incognito. Perhaps she didn't want to be seen by the neighbors.

This last shot above was taken at around 12:30 am. In the late hours usually night owls and taxi drivers approach the fountain, once every few minutes or so. I was able to get the shot without a flash thanks to the bright arc lamps just across the street and on the corner.

All of these shots were taken using my trusty Pentax K100D Super DSLR. At one point I mounted one of my old zoom lenses that I bought years ago for my Pentax K1000 film camera. Both of them are great, solid cameras, I've taken wonderful photos with each one over the years. The only complaint with the K100D Super is that I cannot take black and white photos with the built-in settings; I have to convert color photos to grayscale during the photo editing process, which is essentially cheating.

I'll be posting more fun photos as the summer ripens....

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Blogger Annie said...
I am one of those bees !!!!!! I almost every day come to drink from that fountain! The water is really great! And I do understand all those people who prefer that fountain to all the others and also its "brother"(the black one that is in about 10 meters from the white but the water tastes absolutely different despite the fact that the water is the same)! No matter how late it is or how tired we are (I mean people leaving among there) we always walk there to drink water! There is something magical about it, I guess!:)))))) really nice, thanks!!!!!!

Blogger Annie said...
by the way I know one of the children in the photos! it's interesting he knows that is already a "star"! Anyway I will let him know!

PS I recognized the nicest creature too -- I mean the dog!:)))))))))))))))))

Anonymous Anonymous said...
This is a great post! Thanks!

Blogger nazarian said...
Who pays for the water?

Blogger Christian Garbis said...
Very good question. Most of these fountains work 24 hours a day, but now a few of them have valves so water isn't wasted. This one may have a water meter hidden underneath, accessible though a manhole or something--there are some nearby--but I can't say for sure. You would think that the family who had it installed is paying for the water, but perhaps not. Most of the water in Yerevan is going to complete waste anyway, the infrastructure is still in disrepair, even though many areas have 24 hour a day water now, as high up as Ajapenyak. Another Armenian paradox...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I love that fountain! Great story, Christian, on "24 hours in the life of a Yerevan drinking fountain" :)))