116 days: Hakob Shahinyan

This morning I ventured to Vartanants Square, the beating heart of Gyumri, sketchpad in hand, eager to capture the essence of this vibrant city through my art. The square was bustling with locals enjoying the rare sunshine. As I sketched, an elderly man, Hakob Shahinyan, approached me, his curiosity piqued by my presence. Hakob, a retired professor of Armenian literature, shared fascinating stories about Gyumri's architectural heritage and its resilient spirit after the devastating 1988 earthquake. His anecdotes painted a vivid picture of the city's past and added layers of depth to my sketches.

We talked over coffee at a nearby cafe, where Hakob told stories of his students, who, like the city, bore the marks of hardship, yet remained resilient. His pride in Gyumri's cultural revival was evident as he gestured animatedly, pointing out buildings that were ruins decades ago, now restored to their former glory.

Inspired, I returned to Vartanants Square to finish my sketches, this time not only seeing but feeling the pulse of the city through Hakob's eyes. Today wasn't just about capturing scenes on paper; it was about understanding the soul of Gyumri, immortalized through the stories of its people. As twilight painted the sky, I packed up, my heart and canvas filled with the indomitable spirit of Gyumri.

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