Among the large variety of transportation means - luxury SUVs, modest sedanes and modern convenient minivans, etc - one can notice distinguishable yellowish and round small buses that move people from place to place in Armenia. Produced over 50 years ago in the Soviet Union, these cars, called PAZ, serve the needs of the people till today. Piruza Khakapyan and Nazik Armenakyan take us on a journey from Artik to Yerevan in one of the few remaining PAZ buses, which are still in use. Even though it is not the only means of transportation, villagers see it as the safest one, since they trust the driver. The latter, 52 year old Farhadi has been driving this bus for already 20 years. When he started, there were many other PAZ buses in Armenia, like in other Post-Soviet countries. During the journey which lasts for almost three hours, the yellow 'Pazik' transforms into a public space where people share their stories and worries.
The Yellow Buses of the Past
I covered my head with a scarf, as it was the law of the country I was going to. It’s difficult to simply imagine the lives of Armenian women in Iran - a country where a clear red line stands between what is and isn’t allowed. The Armenian community has a rich, historic past. However, the forced relocation by Shah Abbas in the 17th century gave new color to the community that used to live there for centuries. Around 300,000 Armenians from the Ararat valley were relocated into three main directions to: Aterpatakan, Tehran and Isfahan. A variety of crafts, art and trade started to newly blossom with the arrival of the Armenians.
A Portrait of Armenian Women In Iran
Every year unemployment and poverty force Armenians to leave, seeking work abroad, mainly to Russia. The migration has deeply shaped the country’s population and the traditional Armenian family – it is men setting off, leaving wives and children behind. Entire villages end up populated by women who raise children often conceived during their husbands’ visits. Some of them never return, simply vanishing. Most come back, bringing with them the scars of long periods away - including sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV, which will then transfer onto their wives.
Armenian Women’s Half-Life
At the top of a twisting, eight-kilometer-long dirt road in northeastern Armenia lives a man with a vision for his mountain village. The concept is simple: See opportunities in obstacles. “We do not have a [paved] road, and there isn’t even a shop in the village. There are many problems,” 36-year-old archeologist-biologist Robert Ghukasyan says of his village, Kalavan, about an hour’s drive north of Lake Sevan. “If we look at it from that angle, it is simply impossible to live here.”
Kalavan: A Village Reborn in Armenia
It’s 7am. As I try to wake up, my feet drag me to the kitchen. The timid morning light sneaks inside the kitchen. From the window, I watch large clouds gathering around Mount Hatis, just outside Yerevan. The birds hover on the morning breeze.
A Space of My Own
The road to Dzyunashogh is long and rough. The aging memories of the inhabitants of this remote village, nestled in the mountains between Armenia and Georgia, are like these wrinkled roads -- they tell you that there is no easyway back.