The Big Picture: Armenia, in Faces and Stories
Armenian faces are hard to miss. The same is true with the greater population of the region known as the Caucasus. Their intricate lines tell stories like the rings on a tree branch, their eyes truly live up to the “windows of the soul” cliché. They live the struggles and successes of their lives with their smiles, cheeks and noses.
Here are a few of them.
Khatchig Lyndyan sells postcards at the entrance of Zvartnots Cathedral. Originally from Kesab, Syria, he’ll recite poems to anyone who is willing to listen.
A vendor at Vernissage, Armenia’s open air market where you can find anything from art work, handcrafts and vintage Soviet-era memorabilia.
A gata (sweet bread) seller at the entrance of Geghard Monastery. Because her husband died fighting in the Nagorno-Kharabagh War, she supports her entire family by selling homemade delicacies at tourist sites. “What kind of life is this that we’re living?” she said to me. “We live with a lot of difficulties, we have nothing.” Despite her situation, she perked up when I mentioned the Armenian Diaspora. She wished health and wealth to Armenians worldwide.
Four members of the Garni A capella Quintet sing inside Geghard Monastery.
Serjik the host and Edik the driver. In the early 90s, Serjik was visited by a television crew from France. His gaunt figure caused by tough times led to the crew to use his image as an example of poverty in the region. Now, with his wife and daughter (below), who do bread baking demonstrations, Serjik runs an inn-type operation right out of his home. After dining and wining us, he wished us a safe journey back home. “This is our home too,” a voice called out. It took me a few seconds to realize that it had been me. I was as surprised as he was. “We barely have one home and you want two!” he retorted back, laughing. I wondered about what I had said the entire bus ride back to Yerevan.
Gohar (center) and her daughter (left) run a bed and breakfast in Yeghegnadzor, the capital of Armenia’s Vayots Dzor province. Eating her homemade walnuts steeped in syrup was an experience that words cannot do justice to.
Men from the village of Gndevaz. The man on the left invited us into his home for coffee and the one on the right said if we had just 5 minutes to spare, he’d run back to his house so that he could give us the number of a close friend in New York that we could contact on his behalf.
Photo © L.Aghajanian/ianyanmag