Women’s blue jeans on mannequins are skillfully worked with sand paper to get the partly worn-out effect of almost white faded-blue. Young Syrian Armenians Aram and Shant work in silence, instead their hands run quickly, and soon mannequins dress into their next pair of jeans.
Karabakh war veteran Hakob Tadevosyan is tired of moving from house to house, which he has to do pretty much regularly due to being unable to pay the rent.
“I’ve changed 10 homes within as many years,” says the 41-year-old resident of Hrazdan, showing a small room where his large family consisting of his wife and four children has gathered to cope with winter cold.
Gavazan, a rock-fortress that always keeps its head up amidst the endless mountains of the Armenian plateau, is the rightful lord of northeastern Armenia as for more than two decades now it has separated two hostile neighbors.
The menacing hill completes the scenery of an Armenian village, Berkaber, which is 160 kilometers to the northeast of capital Yerevan, in the Tavush province bordering on enemy Azerbaijan.
While the main protests in Yerevan rotate around fighting the “internal enemy”, with various campaigns for the conservation of architectural and historical monuments, saving the environment, etc., residents in remote villages bordering on Azerbaijan have silently waged their fight regarding more vital concerns as they have to organize their lives under Azeri fire.
From a cover adjusted in a dark brown business case Gor carefully, takes out his duduk, moistens the reed, holds the mouthpiece tightly with his lips, gives a sign by eye-contact to his partner Vaghinak and starts playing Armenian folk song “Sari Aghjik” (Mountain Girl; the alternate name is “I Fell in Love with a Rose”).
For two weeks Khose Teperjian, a jeweler in the recent times, is mastering a new profession of a taxi driver in Yerevan.
"The best part in this job is the attitude of the clients. They are very sympathetic. Many people would ask my phone number, as they say they appreciate the service and want to keep in touch,” says Khose.
The horizon holds abundant forest and blue skies. A gorge, like a wedge, divides the forest into two parts. Similar-looking redish tufa houses can be spotted on one side. In the settlement embraced by the woods like an island in the sea, serenity reigns with the undisputable authority of a monarch. Knocks on the door remain unanswered – no one to hear them – no adults, no children, no cheerful screams of excitement in the yards. Only the river flowing in the depth of the gorge, some stray dog barks every now and then, and the buzz of bees challenge the otherwise solid silence…
Hrach Ghukasyan overcomes his deficient mobility with the aid of a piece of wood – but that’s not a walking stick. It is 13 years that the 32-year-old resident of the border village of Nerkin Karmraghbyur in Armenia’s northeastern province of Tavush talks to wood every day as he shapes it into various items.
At the carpet-weaving workshop the smell of the forest is everywhere, oozing from threads. Colorful bundles hang from the walls over a workbench from which they are skillfully woven into traditional Armenian ornaments.
Summing up the hotline calls received from citizens of Armenia, the Chief of Staff at the Ministry of Healthcare says 94 percent of the calls have been from people who wanted to learn about their rights, free medical assistance, how to make use of various privileges.
The introduction of so-called co-payments for certain services at polyclinics that health industry officials believe will help fight against corruption and improve the quality of medical care in general, has become another cause for concern among citizens who view it as just another way of “extorting” money.
The mandatory accumulation pension system continues to be one of the most controversial issues in Armenia today. On March 28, Armenia’s Constitutional Court is to decide whether the element of the pension reform envisaging additional pension contributions by citizens aged below 40 should be mandatory or voluntary. A majority of people in Armenia insist on the voluntary principle being applied, while the government, backed by some international organizations, wants the element to be of a mandatory nature.