Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Chandeliers in the outhouses

The interiors in the homes here are confusing and crazy. Armenia was previously one of the richest Soviets in the USSR. After a huge earthquake, the crumbling of the Soviet Union and the disintegration of their economy, Northern Armenia (where I am located) is a hodgepodge of shells of shaken down buildings, quickly constructed Soviet buildings (built in the brief period between the earthquake and Soviet collapse)and those homes that withstood the earthquake and are still precariously standing. New buildings built with western money withstanding, the villages are an interesting sight to behold. But the interiors are the truly informative and haunting things.
Instead of wallpaper the interior walls and ceilings of most homes are painted with intricate designs and patterns. Most done by hand and with a high level of craftsmanship. From almost every ornately designed ceiling hangs a fancy chandelier.
Beyond the chandeliers, in most homes you have this amazing mixture of very high quality items like dishware, intricate rugs, finely carved furniture, etc... But nothing of quality or worth is less than 15 years old.
The walls are all severely cracked (some poorly-patched), the chandeliers mainly hang precariously from exposed sockets with few functioning bulbs, and many of the rugs are matted and fading.
With this said, it has been my experience that most homes are meticulously kept up and these older items are cherished and kept up as well as possible. The pride of ownership shows through, but much like this country, the slouch into decay has been inevitable.
But in the cities I have found a much different scene. Many new buildings not only have every modern convenience, but show the first signs of comfort and excess... an eye towards being stylish. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, and it will only be a matter of time before some degree of wealth transfer from the cities to the villages occurs.

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