Wednesday, September 14, 2005


And here's the post in which I do nothing but whine.

I was just going to delete it, but if Tom can do it so can I.

I had my first meeting today with a prominent local scholar with whom I'd been corresponding about my research, and I was a little intimidated. The meeting went fine. The going there and returning did not.

What follows is a chronicle of my travails.

I thought I had mapped out the location of his office, and I thought I had figured out the bus system. Wrong on both counts. When the 21 bus veered off in a direction markedly different from the route it had taken on my last sojourn, I hopped off and hailed a cab. The driver had no idea what street I named, he couldn't understand my attempt at directions, so I called the office and his assistant directed the driver in Georgian.

So far, so good. This is all pretty normal. The office turned out to be in a derelict building on the ass side of nowhere. I arrived intact, but when it came time to leave, it was a pretty safe bet that no cabs would be coming by. We'd driven around in cricles back there on the way in, so I was pretty disoriented and just decided to stake out confidently in an arbitrary direction.

I was humming along, fine as you please, until I ran smack into a honest-to-god shantytown. I mean, just one rung up the settlement ladder from refugee camp. Tbilisi proper isn't exactly Tomorrowland, but this was squalor. I was also, I should add, standing in freshly pressed Theory by Tahari pinstriped pants, black kitten heels, and a spunky Mazrahi for Target shoulder bag, staring into the face of children who could eat for a year off the resell value of my pants. I felt terrible.

I zipped around and tried another direction. Dead end. I basically wandered for ages through the wasteland, past abandoned buildings with jagged glass everywhere, until I commited a winding road with potholes so deep that trees were growing out of them. This led me to a main thoroughfare that I recognized. It was only after I found this winding road, rather than before, that I was informed that this particular road is infamous for prostitutes and it is dumb luck that there was not an attempted pick-up. Or maybe that guy wasn't asking for directions after all?

Thirty minutes later, after one unfortunate traumatic trudge through an underpass that turned out to be freshly carpeted in wall-to-wall sewage, (in which, to my unending horror, my heel stuck, ohgodkillme), I finally made it back to a regular street on my route. A street that I knew regularly fielded buses that would whisk me directly to my apartment.

Except something had changed since this morning. The street was, inexplicably and suddenly, one-way in the wrong direction.

All in all, one bitch of an afternoon, but while I would never say that everything happens for a reason, I'll maybe concede that this happened for a reason. Post sewage sludge I decided to reward myself with a grocery trip, and I popped into a market I'd never visited before. And what to my wondering eyes should appear? There with the lavash and the loaves of bread? Tortillas. Fresh. I'm sure if I return tomorrow, like a mirage in the desert, they'll be gone.


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