Last year, Kapan finally finished construction on a singing and dancing fountain to commemorate its 70th year as a municipality. Two unfinished buildings sit on two sides of the fountain while the “Syuniki Marzpetaran” (or the Syunik Region Governor’s office) sits to the other side. The river runs past coming down from Mt. Khustup finishing off the square. This is Kapan’s first summer with the fountain.
It was a Tuesday evening, around 7 o’clock, and it was overcast. Mt. Khustup was hidden in a blanket of clouds, but even though it wasn’t sunny, it was comfortable enough to be outside in only shorts and a t-shirt. I walked into the square, retrieved a cup of coffee from the vending machine by where all the cabbies park, and went towards the cascading fountain to try to find a place to sit. All of the benches surrounding the fountain in the square were full, so I placed myself upon the granite siding of the fountain with my notepad and cup of coffee and began to observe people. It was my own little Kapan-esque Starbucks.
These are some things I saw:
- A mother and a child. The child is maybe two or three years old. The mother holds the child up steady, with the child’s arms above their head while the child tries to walk slowly on the ground. The mother shadows the child’s steps as to make sure he does not become unbalanced or try to run away.
- The fountain is a societal track of sorts; people- mostly teenagers- walk circles around the track (or fountain in this case) for hours on end without any purpose. It is an opportunity to be seen by comers and goers as they approach the social center of the city.
- A grandfather sits with his granddaughter on a bench. They, too, are just watching people go by.
- In the distance, you can hear the piano playing in the Cultural Palace- one of the two unfinished buildings. During my time sitting by the fountain it plays a variety of songs; most notably, it plays “Let Her Go” by Passenger, the “Edward and Bella Piano Ballad” from the Twilight movies, and the Titanic theme song- all of which are very popular in Armenia.
- Every so often, one of my students will recognize me, they will gather up the courage to approach me in the “it’s awkward seeing a teacher outside of school kind of way” and say “Hello, Mr. Daniel.”
- Young couples walk side by side without touching, but they still manage to keep eye contact the entire time they are walking and continue to smile at each other.
- A family takes a portrait at the front of the fountain. Two men, maybe brothers, in this group embrace and hug for a long time as if they haven’t seen each other in ages.
- Mothers push their children in strollers.
- Children with hoverboards roll around. (I secretly hope one of them falls. I don’t want them to get hurt, but I just think that would be *probably* funny.)
- Sitting by himself on the wall by the river, a man eats popcorn by himself.
- Popcorn is the concession choice of the evening, and a few people also pluck away at their cotton candy.
- Men pull up and ride away in their remodeled Ladas.
- I realize I really, really want cotton candy.
- A baby in a blue jump suit runs away down the stairs from his mother.
- A little boy with a blue newsboy cap wraps his hands around a yellow wheel and runs around as if he is driving a car. As he passes me, I can hear him humming the sounds of his own engine. In his own imagination, he is maybe driving his very own Lada?
- I realize I really would like my own Lada, too.
- A guy rides by on a motorcycle. A blonde woman holds onto him as they breeze past.
- A honeybee, as if broken, rolls around down the steps by my feet. It is as if it cannot fly.
- A mother slowly walks by with her daughter with disabilities. She gently hands her daughter pretzel sticks to eat as they wander past.
- A mother and a daughter take pictures of each other standing in front of the fountain with their cell phones.
- I get the look-down from a tatik. She frowns at me until I smile, and then she, too, smiles back to me.
- It is now 8:00, the crowd is becoming more populated now.
- A young man who had arrived at the fountain in a sweater has now taken his sweater off to reveal a sleeveless hoodie that, in turn, reveals his bulging biceps.
- A brother, sister, and mother trio sit on the far side of the fountain. The brother wraps his arm around his sister and begins to tease her and hug her tight without letting her go. He repeatedly kisses her on the cheek. The mother laughs.
- A little old man in a blazer and white baseball cap slowly walks by.
- Off towards the front of the fountain a circle of teenagers hit a volleyball.
- People keep staring at me, and I can hear them and see them commenting on my left-handedness.
- I still really want cotton candy.
There is also a great array of graphic tees tonight. Some of my favorites read:
“RISKS”, “MANGO”, “BASIC TEE”, “NOOO PLEEEASE NOO”, “BOYS”, “IT’S NEW LIFE”, “YEAH”, “I’VE BEEN TWELVE FOREVER”, “WRITE A BOOK ONE DAY”, “VISUALIZE 25”, “CHOOSE TO HAVE A GREAT DAY”, “HAVE A GOOD TIME FOR YOU PARIS”, “JOHNNY TUPY TACO”, and two separate Green Bay Packers shirts.
It is now 8:30 PM, and the fountains have begun to sing and dance. My particular favorite is to the Moulin Rouge! version of “Roxanne”.
In some parks in this world you can see the world go by you, but here it is just one community. Not a lot is changing or happening, it simply just is and it’s happy to be there– and that is pretty nice.
Happy Summer, Kapan.
(I never got cotton candy…maybe next time.)