We arrived in Yerevan a few hours ago – a lovely, relaxed, small city, where we have been wandering, trying to keep ourselves awake, to fit in with the new time zone. It was a long, hard and fascinating journey of 30 hours. I appreciated the reminder that we were high up in a vast, heavy machine, when the plane would shake with turbulence in the middle of our sleepless night. The Regional Terminal at Dubai airport at 1.00am had people, mostly men, from Iran, Afghanistan, Muscat, South Asia, sprawled all over the floor, asleep and covered in colourful sheets, or in seated clumps, in their white salwa camises and brown short vests and jackets, or in full gellabaias, or young dark men, in organised clumps summoned and dispersed as a whole.
The city centre of Yerevan has beautiful 19th century two floor buildings made from stone, called tufa, volcanic, pourous, with shades of pink, brown and grey and wrought iron balconies. It is late autumn here, and while we were imagining sharp cold, there has been a gentle sun, and autumn leaves falling. Kako can see herself mirrored in others, her Armenianess, and she says it is ‘weird’. That may become clearer. My curiosity the first time I came to Armenia (10 years ago) was on trying to understand what it would be like to ‘be Armenian’ as a people in the majority? My ancestors and I have only known Armenianess as a minority experience – vulnerable or unknown. I sensed today as I had before, a confidence, an assuredness of identity that I assume comes from not having to explain yourself.
My broken Armenian gets both welcoming and perplexed looks. But I love hearing it all around me, even if it is a different variation of the language that I have known ( Western Armenian).
Exhausted and very, very happy.