We live in a neighborhood called Arabkir. It's named after the town of Arabkir, on Lake Van, in Turkey. There aren't any more Armenians around Lake Van anymore; our neighborhood was settled by refugees from the genocide.
When Arabkir was founded, back in the 1920s, Yerevan was a small city of maybe 60,000 people. Our neighborhood was originally a satellite village. Over the decades, the city grew and sort of digested Arabkir, and today it's mostly just another district. There are some little neighborhoods that still don't feel like a city, though, and we're fortunate enough to live in one of them.
Our neighborhood was laid out in the 1950s, and you can tell. The streets are on a peculiarly inconvenient not-quite-grid pattern with lots of dead ends. They don't have names, just numbers -- "Arabkir Forty-One", and such. There are no sidewalks, no parks, and no playgrounds. Just down the street from our house, someone put a junkyard, right in the middle of a quiet residential neighborhood. And now it's gone from Soviet to post-Soviet: the roads are crumbling, while at the same time hideous new McMansions are sprouting like mushrooms.
That said, it's still a nice neighborhood. It was originally built for families, the Soviet version of a Baby Boom suburb: lots of small houses with yards. And although new construction is steadily eroding it away, that neighborhood is still here.
-- New construction: our house used to have a spectacular view of Mount Ararat. A few years ago, some rich person built a new, large and remarkably ugly house on the lot behind us. That house is four stories high and quite effectively blocks our view of Ararat; we can glimpse it from the window of the upstairs bathroom, and that's all.
This year, some even richer person built an even bigger and uglier building right in front of our neighbor's house, stealing their view of Ararat. And so it goes.
There's yet another ugly house going in further down our street; the construction equipment (bulldozers, cranes... this thing is huge) has been ripping up our already potholed and crumbling street. Driving in and out of our street is slow and getting slower. On the plus side, land values are up!
Anyway. We're the only foreigners on our street, though there are several families with relatives in the diaspora. Most of the non-diaspora Americans in Yerevan live in a few particular neighborhoods, so we're a little odd. On the whole we like living in an all-Armenian neighborhood, though it can be a little challenging sometimes -- "can I borrow a rake" can turn into ten minutes of pantomime followed by forty minutes of coffee and cakes.
-- I said an all-Armenian neighborhood, but there are two asterisks to that. One, it didn't used to be all Armenian; a lot of Russians used to live around here, and (whisper it) a few Azeris. All gone now. Two, there's one non-Armenian group that remains: the Molokans. To make a very complicated story short, Molokans are sort of the Amish of the Caucasus... they're Russian Old Believers who left Russia ~200 years ago. There are maybe 20,000 of them in Armenia today; most live up north, in the "Molokan villages" near Dilijan, but a few hundred still live in Yerevan. The men have long beards, the women wear headscarves, and they tend to be blonde and blue-eyed. So they stand out.
Anyway, that's our little corner of Arabkir.