And to think that I saw it on a city bus…

Funeral prcession in Yerevan; copyright Susanna Melo, 2012.

 

Story by Susanna Melo

I hopped on Yerevan city bus #72 not knowing where it was going to take me, but I knew it would bring me back to Republic Square where I started. This non-traditional way of getting to know a new place has become a habit of mine. The bus took me to the outskirts of the city, near the Biblical looking rolling hills of Yerevan. At the terminal, I waited 10 minutes with the bus driver, who kindly offered me some coffee, before going back into town.

On my way to this far end of the city, I observed a street where outdoor vendors sold a lovely array of flowers. I guessed that I was near a cemetery, but I never saw one. On the way back, our bus got stuck in traffic along that street. Perpendicular to us, cars were also stopped as a funeral procession went by. First, men carried a double-door sized photo portrait of the deceased; next, 20 to 30 men carried individual funeral wreaths nearly their size; then, some men carried the top of the wooden casket; and finally, to my amazement, men carried the open casket above their heads, and I saw the young man who had died.

I have been to many funerals in different countries, but I have never seen a funeral procession honoring the deceased in such an elaborate way with an open casket paraded through the streets of a major city.

Dr. Seuss’ “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” reminded me of what unusual and surprising events you can encounter when hopping on a city bus!

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About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

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