We’re back after a happily uneventful, if hot and a bit long, drive from Yerevan. Went past one of the air bases that was bombed, and saw what looked like a burned field, but otherwise no damage visible from the public road.
The city itself is more difficult to judge, and I’ve been too preoccupied with personal things to manage to do anything like a general taking stock. Quick impressions: lots of visible police, some with submachineguns prominently held; traffic seemed lighter, but then again it’s mid-August; jets flying by at odd hours in the afternoon. Our corner grocery didn’t have any Parmalat milk; on the other hand, it did have pizza kits. Even under regular circumstances, consistency is not the strong point of the Georgian market. (Winter promises to be more interesting than I really wanted.) Our local swingin hotspot is swingin again, after a couple of very quiet days last week.
Down the street, work seems to be getting close to finished on a small office building. There was a night watchman, and a lot of leftover material was piled at the front so as to block the entrances that are still open. Is this a regular precaution, or are the builders worried about refugee squatters? There are said to be 60,000 refugees in and around the city, and lurid rumors about their attempts to occupy houses and other buildings. Lurid rumors are, in fact, something of a general commodity. Makes me more than usually skeptical.
The default screen on several ATMs that I saw was an appeal for donations to help people from the zones of conflict. A local mobile company was a major vector of organization for the patriotic rallies of this last week. Political mobilization in the 21st century.
We’re glad to be here.
Update: Forgot to mention: There’s a pretty widespread assumption among the internationals that a fair number of phone lines are, shall we say, shared. The three candidates for listening in can be transparently called the Hosts, the Neighbors and the Friends.