Friday, April 15, 2011

Running Errands, Running Scared

Another week of trying to outsmart the weather (no, Tbilisi, the ability to lie on my terrace in a bathing suit on a sunny day only to spot snow-capped hills in the distance is NOT NORMAL), to get strings for my new guitar (50 lari at the Dry Bridge!), and to acquire boxes for my loose tea.

Yes, that's right, I managed to defeat the pesky
language barrier and acquire churckhela.
Mostly by creative use of mime.
One of the wonderful things about living here is that I feel so gosh-darn-ain't-that-swell proud of myself whenever I accomplish something that would require absolutely no mental stimulation in Oxford. Getting my prints framed, buying flowers, explaining precisely how much jasmine tea I require (something between "small" and "big"...) - all these things make me feel like the most accomplished, skillful, brilliant, fabulous person in the world! I mean, clearly nobody else in the entire world is capable of pointing at "ispinakhi" and gleefully chanting "erti kilo! minda es!" until said spinach has been procured! Just me - I'm just that special! (To be fair, the smug self-satisfaction I get out of running errands in broken Georgian manages to last for a good few hours, and is in fact redoubled when I come home and manage to ARRANGE said spinach in a picturesque manner in a wicker basket alongside some equally picturesque tomatoes!) That takes skill, damn it!

Furthermore, errand-running usually turns into finding-exciting-new-things.
Exhibit A: I had been told that there was a Populi located in Ortachala, much closer to my house than the "nearest" one on Orbeliani Street. Now, this Populi was in fact in no way closer than the other one, but walking there took me through the single most bizarre street in Tbilisi (and that's saying something.) The Ortachala end of Gorgasalis Street is not just "Tbilisi-odd", it's "Kafkaesque nightmare" odd. Ruined caravanserais give way quickly to an Art-Deco-esque faux-Egyptian obelisk (WHAT?), followed by some enormous shards of pseudo-Classical pottery, including a massive Trojan horse (WHAT???) followed by what appears to be a (pseudo) Ancient Burial Ground (WHAT WHAT WHAT??). Followed, naturally, by a pharmacy and a Populi. Odd.

A house near the intriguing one in Betelmi. A house I
*WANT*, damn it.
Exhibit B: Not quite an errand, but bears mentioning. An attempt to go to Mtskheta with my friend N., and her Georgian husband on Sunday is delayed by three hours because N's husband wants to look at a potential house he wishes to buy in the lovely district of Betelmi. We drive up to the address listed and discovered that the house is, in fact, not a house but rather a pile of rubble. The workmen explain that the house is in the process of being rebuilt, but that in order to avoid a price increase the money should be paid immediately. N's husband considers the rubble. "I think we should get this," he says, stroking his chin and surveying the empty, rubbish-strewn lot. "It's a good deal." He is completely serious.*

Though the delay forced us to rather rush through Mtskheta, it all worked out in the end, because Saakashvili bloody turned up at our restaurant - Salobie - while we were eating, with the world's least secretive Secret Service/posse imaginable,. (Hint: if a passerby asks "Is it Misha?" it's not exactly discreet to wink and say "Yeah...").

Don't ever change, Tbilisi. (Except for clearing up the rubble between Botanikuri and Median so I can walk up that street in heels. And more permanent electricity would be good. And I'd quite like a Populi and an Indian restaurant near me.)

*Upon further reflection and research, it IS actually a good deal - a good enough deal that my mother is considering returning to Tbilisi and buying a being-built house herself! This in no way diminishes the hilarity of the moment.


Anonymous said...


Donovan said...

I just found your blog.
Nice to see I'm not the only theology graduate volunteering in Georgia!

C. said...

Nice blog- am trying to do some online recon re. moving to tbilisi (nyc at the moment) Would it be possible to zap you an email with questions about the place?