Sunday, August 7, 2011

Weekend in Tbilisi: Part 2, Sunday

Rustavelli Street

I shared my hostel bunk room with a Russian couple and an interesting guy from Minnesota, “Jack.” For the last few years, Jack has taught English in China, Turkey, and Kazakhstan. A while back, he visited Georgia and fell in love with it, so now plans to teach English here.

My three TLG colleagues, bunking in a different room, had stayed out quite late, so they were still asleep when I arose. I took a shower, got dressed, went into the lounge, and cranked up my laptop.

Rustavelli Street

Presently, one of the Iranian women joined me, then another, then an interesting guy from Turkey here on a holiday weekend from Istanbul. A smiley Israeli with curly black hair exchanged coins and bills with “Ahmad,” the Iranian who teaches English in Tbilisi. The Israeli asked the Iranians about women having to wear burkhas, and they pooh-poohed him immediately, saying, “We’re not Iraq!” They noted they generally wear a loosely-draped scarf over their heads. This prompted an Iranian, Israeli, and Turkish conversation about current alliances and mis-alliances between their respective powers-that-be. 

Rustavelli Street

When the Israeli left, he and Ahmad embraced and slapped each other's backs, Ahmad explaining that two firm slaps were appropriate, no more. I forget which nationality he was demonstrating. Ahmad did note that Iranians kiss each other three times upon departing, as they "love everyone." Ahmad was too funny.

Although I'm not a big fan of sharing a bedroom with strangers, it was so enlivening to participate in the little global convention of such witty, charming fellow travelers. These are the kinds of moments that make me smile and think: "This is why I travel."

Rustavelli Street

Jack and I walked over to Prospero's, where I expected another TLG colleague to show up. While we waited, Jack entertained me with a good story about when he walked to a remote village in Georgia that looked a lot closer on paper than it turned out to be in reality, and how he got up the courage to knock on a farmer's door for food and a place to sleep for the night. And how, in a similar predicament a day or so later, he encountered a girl leading a horse. Who turned out to speak perfect English. And who told him he couldn't go to the nearby village at night. .... because the wolves would kill and eat him. ... and so she took him to her family's house. ... who put him up for the night after producing a feast for him.

Presently, a TLG colleague joined us and for a few minutes, it was a bit of a reunion for her and Jack, as they both come from the upper midwest and have similar accents - Minnesota and North Dakota. 

Rustavelli Street

The wayward TLGers, who'd enjoyed a late night, drifted in, making us a table of six. Over time, only I and two of the other women TLGers remained. It had begun to rain, but nevertheless, we ventured out for lunch at a bakery-cafe. There were delights there that threatened to overwhelm one's senses, but I selected a small container of yogurt and one modestly-sized, crescent-shaped pastry filled with mushrooms. One of my companions bought a large scoop of ice cream in a waffle "bowl," and I had a bite. Georgians know how to make ice cream. This one was Snickers-based.

It was getting on time to head back to Rustavi, and I wasn't entirely sure how to accomplish that - meaning I wasn't sure how to get to a place where I'd find Rustavi-bound marshurtkas. I asked one of the staff at Prospero's, however, and she told me which metro station to get off at. Metro station? OK, I hadn't done that yet, but it looked like there was no good reason not to try it today.

McDonald's in Tbilisi - Rustavelli Street

One of the TLGers had told me that when she got on the descending metro escalators, she found herself wanting to lean forward, and it required a conscious effort for her not to do so. What she didn't tell me was how OH-MY-GOD-THIS-IS-#$%@%$@!-STEEP-AND-DEEP!  the escalators were. I've been on long and steep escalators before. Not like this. It is not for those scared of heights. Or with vertigo. Holy shit.

But anyway, I chose not to look down and instead looked ahead of me and to my side and I survived the descent. With the kind guidance of a Georgian, I got on the train going the right direction and got off at the correction station - Station Square (or Vagswali Station). There I found marshurtkas to Rustavi and I was on my way.

Return to Rustavi

I knew my hostess, Nino, would have prepared something for dinner and indeed she had. I also knew it would taste very good, made from fresh ingredients, and I was right. She made a pasta with cheese sauce (the very salty, biting cheese), sauteed eggplant, fresh tomatoes with basil, bread, and for dessert, plums.

It was good to get back home in Rustavi.

Building Behind Me 080711

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