Swapping slopes: From Hollywood hills to Sochi Olympic thrills
An Armenian taxi driver has turned his back on the bright lights of Hollywood, to share in the limelight of Sochi - the venue for the next winter Olympics.
Vardan speaks Russian, English and Armenian. A man of the world, he came back to Sochi after a decade in Los Angeles, where he learnt that his hometown was being propelled on to the world stage.“When the boys said ‘Vardan, there'll be Winter Games in Sochi,’ I did not believe them, I said ‘it can't be, it's in the very South, on the Black Sea coast’, but then I found out that it's true, and hopefully, it's going to happen as planned,” he told RT.The massive Olympic construction effort in Sochi attracted 42,000 skilled workers from all over the world – four times the construction staff of the 2012 London Games.As well as those, there are people like Vardan, taking support jobs – working in restaurants, for taxi firms and stores. He says being a cab driver in Sochi is nothing like his home-improvement job back in Los Angeles. “The traffic here is too much. For a city of this size – too many cars. There's traffic in downtown Los Angeles, but it dissolves much quicker,” he says.Even so, Vardan hopes the new roads and bridges being built for the Olympics will help solve the problem.Although much of his family are with him in Sochi, Vardan misses the relatives he left behind in LA – as well as the Tinseltown magic, where he occasionally brushed shoulders with the stars.Bringing countries together is what the Olympics are all about. Vardan’s homecoming shows how a family spread from the Hollywood hills to the mountain slopes of southern Russia can be close, despite being a world apart.