Monday, January 30, 2006

Snow Gangs of Rustaveli

Indignities upon indignities.

The snow was general across Tbilisi. I was coming from the gym, for which I'd braved the blizzard—or to be more precise, I'd braved the blizzard for the hot shower at the gym. But the buses were no longer running as the streets were solid ice, and the taxis weren't stopping. Hordes stood on the sidewalks waving down cabs with increasingly frantic gestures, but none would stop. It was a long walk home, my feet were wet, my hood was falling off, I'd lost my hat, and was in a bit of a foul mood.

Then, as if I were in a Charlie Brown cartoon, about 40 minutes into my walk, two grown men pelted me in the back with snowballs. Good grief. I mean, what the hell. Actually, I was a bit more impolite and turned and yelled "What the fuck, you guys?" because that is not the time to politely attempt to use the native language of your host country, and they realized I wasn't Georgian and this was newly sidesplittingly hilarious to them.

Next day, on Rustaveli Avenue, the main boulevard of Tbilisi. I noticed that almost every single person on the street was carrying a snowball. Five times, five times I tell you, I was nailed with snowballs in the space of three blocks. Two separate times, young teenage boys ran at me and pretended to slip and grabbed me around the middle and spun me around. I'd see groups of young kids bouncing snowballs in their hands, waiting for my approach, and I'd just hold out my arms in resignation. "Fine, just do it." If you average it out, I think I was assaulted about every 30 feet.

Is it because I wasn't carrying a snowball? Should I start packing heat? Do I need to pre-emptively start tripping small children as they come at me? Did somebody open the gates of the juvenile delinquency center for the snow day? Should I take this all personally?

So on the one hand, the streets are ruled by roving gangs of snowball-toting hooligans, and on the other we have sidewalks and streets that aren't shoveled or plowed and have been melting and refreezing every day into thick sheets of solid ice.

What's a girl to do?

Go skiing. Photos from a ski weekend in lovely, charming Bakuriani to follow.


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