The Little Things: Gyumri

-Max Gouchian

What was I saying about how we shouldn’t give President Monkey a hard time? Yeah you can pretty much forget I said that. So its been 100 days and no major change or political action has been taken apart from a few boisterous jurisdictions that were shut down in courts. Sure the man got a justice appointed but he also failed at getting his health care plan passed. With recent developments it doesn’t even make sense to call him president, seeing that his son in law is doing all the work (what’s with that). I guess we are safe of a government shutdown for now, but its only imminent. With that; Marine La Pen… Just… Whatever, I wanna talk about Gyumri.

Right, so I went to Gyumri yesterday, around the time I should have been writing this blog. Most of my friends pretty much know how I feel about Gyumri and the stereotypes I have about the people from their. I always have arguments with my friends from Gyumri as well. My cynicism, however, did not serve me well as my recent trip to the city proved a revelation.

I guess it’s easy to look from the side and judge something you have no physical contact with. For a long time I though the people of Gyumri were violent, lazy, and complaining people who boasted about revolution and the poor economic system and yet did nothing except protest. Of course it was difficult for me to asses where the frustration of the people was coming from.

My trip started in Yerevan’s railway station aboard a soviet train that reminded me of that one scene from “Sprinted Away,” you know the one. The wooden seats, Russian writing on the walls, and hunters with rifles in bags, accompanied me and my friend on our three hour long ride. When we arrived a cool calm air greeted us and taxi drivers with mustaches tried to coerce our group. Of course we chose to walk.

The city landscape revealed itself to be something of a scattered composition with demolished masterpieces hanging from threads engulfed by a hopeless sense of nostalgia. Newer buildings pervaded upwards with a metallic look and un-pertaining fashion. As the cracked and sizzled roads gave way to rows of trees neutered for some unknown purpose I felt a cozy grasp along my waist, the city itself greeted me. The warnings of bored men waiting around looking for a fight proved to be smiling faces eager to introduce themselves and give directions. In all honesty none of the directions were actually legitimate nor served some sort of purpose in fact some seemed counter intuitive to others, in any case… smiling faces.

While the earthquake had to great extent destroyed many of the national gems that once stood tall and the black Tuf bricks had crumbled to the floor as the inside of these homes were infested with chipped paint, rusted steal, and wooden furniture guarded by dogs and rats alike, the people had some how preserved what remained. Everywhere I looked stores decorated the terrain with no clear theme; a barber shop also sold fresh bread and ice cream while a bar or pub kind of deal was also a kids party area. I think Jim Morrison wrote Strange Days after going to the perfectly misplaced city of Gyumri.

I felt so embaraced to have thought the people of Yerevan were some how above those that lived in Gyumri, when in fact the way the community as a whole has developed and decided to preserve the beauty of the past is remarkable. I will definitely be going back soon, very soon.
















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