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Open { Somewhere Between } Closed

Erbent: petrol station flags

It appears that every day in Turkmenistan is flag day – this flag arrangement appears outside various ministries, retail outlets and the occassional gas station – which (I think) is to indicate that the building is active. The flags were not removed when the buildings were shut so its not an accurate open/closed indicator.

During a recent study in the UK and Brazil I spent time exploring the future of mixed residential/retail streets – and hanging around in the early hours watching the streets wake up noticed a wonderful state between shops being open and closed: a bakery kitchen door half-ajar with the smell of fresh bread wafting onto the street; a shutter pulled up just enough to drag a bundle of morning’s newspaper inside; a light behind the counter – all provide a level of ambiguity that with the right relationships can be leveraged by a customer to obtain service.

Erbent: petrol station

Standard Turkmenistan gas station above – compare to this California equivilent. Incidentally both en route to time in the desert.