About this time three years ago I was in Armenia, in the capital, Yerevan.
I really liked Yerevan. It’s being developed, of course. With soulless shopping centres and hotels and office blocks that could be anywhere in the world. But there are plenty of scruffy corners left where you get a real idea of what life was like during the Soviet times and long before that.
Like the Megerian Carpet Factory on Madoyan Street.
Carpets have been an everyday necessity in Armenia for centuries. Many are considered heirlooms and are passed on down through the generations.
In 1917 the Megerian family set up a business to repair them. 30 years after that they started making reproductions. They used natural dyes and reproduction looms to keep hand-made Armenian rugs at the forefront of the brave new Soviet world.
Today, the factory is a brilliant time capsule of those times. Stepping through the door to the factory is like steeping behind the iron curtain.
The only nod to modernity were the phones the workers listen to music on and the branded blue t-shirts they wore.
The t-shirts looked box-fresh, so I suspect they were put on especially for our visit.
But do you know what really made it feel like the old Soviet days?
No-one bothered to try and sell me a carpet.
They’d be all back and their looms tomorrow, regardless of whether I bought one or not.
HOW TO VISIT THE MEGERIAN CARPET FACTORY
Address: 9 Madoyan Street, Yerevan 0006, Armenia