YEREVAN, ARMENIA: This 84 year-old Armenian, born in the disputed territory of Nagorny Karabakh, was playing chess with two men half his age at his summer house. He said chess is good for your health, so I asked what he meant. He said it keeps your mind sharp and if your mind is well, then your body will be well. You can argue with his logic, but he is the only one of his mother's 9 children still alive. The 1st one died in WWII. "He didn't return," he said of his eldest brother. An economist by education, he likes talking global economics and spits out random facts like the square meters of China, the US & Russia. His youngest grandson wants to be an economist as well.
YEREVAN, ARMENIA: Astxik, 28, was running an errand in the center of Yerevan when I noticed her t-shirt that read '1915 A Failed Genocide.' A waitress at a Pizzeria, Astxik said the shirt is part of their work uniform for a month to commerate the 100th anniversary of the mass killings of Armenians by Ottomans, something that Turkey denies. Astxik said she is half Russian and that many relatives, including her parents, live in Russia. She would like to move to Russia as she said its tough to earn a good living in Armenia.
YEREVAN, ARMENIA: These cousins, 26 and 17, said they sometimes work more than 12 hour shifts at a coffee shop in central Yerevan, adding the salary is better than factory work. Both said they are studying, one in university, the other finishing high school.
YEREVAN, ARMENIA: The TV screens in this Yerevan coffee shop were airing an American baseball game (LA Dodgers), which is very unusual as the sport is not popular in ex-USSR. I thought that maybe the workers were Dodgers fans because many Armenians live in California. But I was told it was because the barista Pierre liked sports. Pierre, 22, told me he played professional basketball ... in Syria, where he was born to Armenian and Syrian parents. He was a foward for Al Aroube (A.G.B.U), but left 4 years ago to escape the war. He said there is little opportunity to play organized basketball in Armenia.
Ruslan, 22, a geology graduate student, said his most memorable event last year was hitch-hiking around Armenia for two weeks with his girlfriend. ‘’Armenians are very hospitable - they were not only willing to pick us up along the road, they would invite us for coffee, offer food or even to stay at their places.'’ Ruslan said he met his girlfriend through a rockabilly dance school, where they both take lessons.