Monday, October 31, 2005

Excuses, Excuses

Well, there's a friend in town visiting, for one thing.

My first visitor.

Since his first day here, on Thursday, the sun has not even bothered making an appearance. Steady drizzle for four days running, and I cannot tell you what a dreary, mucky, boot-sucking mess Tbilisi is in the rain. 24 hours after he arrived, the electricity went off. This is pretty normal in Georgia, but on day 2 sans light, I noticed that all my neighbors had power. So as we sat in the dark, shivering between candles, I made frantic phone calls and accomplished things the Georgian way: I know somebody whose brother knows somebody who works at the power company Telasi and poof! Electricity was back at once.

A Georgian friend said that back a few years ago, when the electricity situation was really terrible, his pal was one of four dispatchers for Telasi in charge of determining the schedule for which sectors of the city would have power on which nights. When this guy would show up at a party, he'd knock on the door and the lights would all come on. I'm sure he had a packed social calendar. Besides, says my friend. You cannot imagine how much these Telasi guys can drink. As a result of this, some innocent billpayers will be cut off by mistake.

So: mucky rain, no electricity for an entire weekend, and on his first night out on the town my mobile phone was pinched and somebody tried to steal money straight from my guest's pockets. "Give it back!" he said. And they did. I find, so far, the thieves in Tbilisi lack a certain gusto, or commitment.

Furthermore, there is the trip to Azerbaijan on Wednesday night. It's an overnight ride and we will be traveling in a compartment with a group of friends, which sounds pretty fun. I will be in Azerbaijan for about a week, or exactly a week since that is all the visa I could wrangle from the consulate. The elections should be interesting, and I hope to share some thoughts on those soon. I fully intend to stay out of violent clashes, but I can only imagine that some sort of trouble with the riot police would only be the icing on this crap-cake of a visit that I've concoted for my poor guest. Don't let it be said that I don't provide the true South Caucasus experience!

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