Reportage: In the Shadow of Ararat by Nuriya Fatykhova

In the Shadow of Ararat

by Nuriya Fatykhova

There are still a few hours until the late night bus to Yerevan, and the airport where I am waiting slowly fills up with travelers. Most are men in black suits, part of the vast network of Caucasian workers in Russia. They settle down in the corners of the airport and do their best to sleep until 7 am, surrounded by their suitcases and bags loaded with high-tech devices from Russia. Too impatient to wait for the bus, I give in to the demands of the taxi drivers who haunt the airport day and night. My fellow passenger, Ella, is a well-dressed woman.

We come out to the road. Sometimes, the taxi brakes and wheezes, but continues onward. Ella begins to provide my first impressions of Armenia.

“Look here, we have something incredible: all those are casinos!” Ella says. We drive through two staring walls, behind which stand the casino archipelagos.

“One Million!” a sign flickers before our eyes. “Two Million! Every Weekend Ten Million!”

Ella continues, “Iranians gamble here, because they are not allowed to at home. Our oligarchs do too.”

“But why are the signs in Russian?” I ask.

We fall silent, my question unanswered. We keep driving along the main road, covered unevenly with the mystic shadows of trees. Yerevan.

Now, the taxi driver and Ella ask me questions: Why, how, how long… They tell me how much I will enjoy Armenia and invite me to their homes. We drive up a mountain and arrive at Ella’s small home – where she gets out. I ask the taxi driver to let me out for a moment as well, to see Yerevan from above at night. The sky begins to become lighter, while the streetlights of Yerevan still shine below.

“Do you see this shadow? That is Mt. Ararat,” my driver says and points with his outstretched arm. “Of course you know about Noah’s Ark. The Ark is said to be here. This is where Paradise may have been….” He trails off. We travel onward; it’s too cold here…

(To be continued..)

The complete reportage “In the Shadow of Ararat” by Nuriya Fatykhova

will be published in the next issue of Fluster Magazine

Nuria Fatykhova is a young Russian journalist and freelance photographer living in Moscow.  Born in Uzbekistan, her idea is to record all 15 of the former Soviet republics with her camera and pen and build stories with images and texts about each of these countries’ people.

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