Sunday, August 28, 2011

Rustavi: The Patriarch Comes

A business man had a new church built in Rustavi. The workmen used only the old ways of building the stone church. I used to think it was an old church, being restored, but no, it's new. I'm thinking it's taken 10 years to build it, but I don't really know ...

On Saturday, the church (and its compound) was officially completed, and the Patriarch of the Georgian Christian Orthodox Church came to bless it.

I think it's possible Nino and I saw the hint of the Patriarch's white head piece within the black car he rode in, but that's all. Here's a slide show:

As we awaited the Patriarch's arrival, Nino and I started out on the ground with the masses. But she looked out over the horizon and saw a few people standing on prime balcony real estate. She instructed me, "Modi, modi, modi," which means, "come, come, come!" Nino grabbed my hand and we crossed the street (a common occurrence between a Georgian host and his/her English-speaking charge). Nino looked for a way up to the balcony, and finding none, called up to the inhabitants, using me as her leverage. The best I could gather, it went something like this: "I've got this American here. She teaches English to the police. And then she's going to teach English to our children in the public school! Did I say she's teaching English to the police? No? Well, she's teaching English to the police! And now she's taking photos of the Patriarch. Let us up, please!" And, by God, they did.

I found myself walking right through these strangers' new flat (a damn fine flat, it was, too) and onto their wrap-around balcony. A great view!

We waited and waited and waited for the Patriarch until finally we saw a short caravan of black cars come down the street. It wended its way into the church compound, the bells rang, and I suppose the Patriarch emerged from his vehicle and went into the church. Interestingly, much of the waiting crowd seemed to lose interest as soon as the Patriarch arrived, and the numbers dwindled pretty rapidly.

At some point, the Patriarch left, and Nino and I went into the flat. We had coffee and watermelon inside, tendered by our gracious hosts, strangers until just a half-hour or so earlier. We discovered that some of the other people on their balcony were also strangers to them - the owners just invited them up to share the view.

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