Thursday, March 25, 2004

They are trying to kill me

I have been assured by various and sundry that nobody gets a first night in Georgia like I had. That I survived my hazing, I hope, is enough to get me into whatever club they run in this place.

After touching down in Tbilisi, I was raced down the labyrinthine, medieval alleys that pass for streets to my hotel. My suitcase was tossed upstairs, and I had five minutes to change shirts, wash my face, and be ready for Dinner. I capitalize that for a reason.

So, I trot my bewildered jet-lagged torso up and down the stairs, and then it's off to the restaurant. Entering, I see an enormous long table with place settings for thirty. All seats were filled in short order. In no time, this table was buried in fruits, cheeses, breads, olives, and vegetables. Pitchers of wine appeared at our elbows every few minutes and just as quickly disappeared. The tamada, or Georgian toastmaster, would rise every few minutes to lead us in praise of friends, life, women, love, wine, and we'd chug our glasses dry. The light were turned out and flaming plates of what I called "fajitas" were brought out - delectable chicken in a creamy sauce. Then the shashlik, then the cakes, then the french fries (?). Each bite washed down with the wine that spontaneously refilled itself throughout the evening. (Chief suspect, "Soso," the Russian-speaking chap on my left.)

The plates of food, many barely touched, were soon stacked three deep across this massive table. The singing began. The dancing followed in short order. I stumbled out on the floor flapping my arms in imitation of the Georgian dancing style. Did I mention jet lag?

By the end of this five-hour meal, I was nearly delirious and unceremoniously dumped back into my hotel room. I'm still fairly unclear on where I am and what I'm doing here, but hopefully this will clear up along with my hazy head.

If last night is any indication, this is going to be an interesting time...


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