I’ve been living in Tbilisi for one week as of today. It’s still kind of unreal. Some days are rather dull as I sit in my room reading and playing chess on my laptop. Other days are full of adventure! Take Friday, for example.
On Friday I decided to tell my host mother, Tina, “I want to go for a walk,” and left the apartment. I wanted to explore my neighborhood and find things like the metro. I also had an urge just to walk around and climb something, if possible. I saw a medium-sized hill not too far away and figured I might be able to see the Tbilisi TV Tower from the top, if I climbed it.
I could not. Instead, after climbing through some labyrinthine slums to the decrepit apartment buildings atop the hill, I had a very nice panoramic view of my neighborhood, though no TV Tower, alas.
It was a fun climb with a nice view. I could see pretty much in every direction from where I stood and felt inspired to climb the bigger mountains around Tbilisi sometime. Maybe later this week, who knows?
I struggled to find the path back down the hill (a process that took me, probably, 45 minutes or so) and met an old, old lady climbing down some steps. In passing, I called out, “Gamarjobat!” to which she responded with a hearty hello of her own. Switching quickly to Russian, she asked me where I was from and proceeded to tell me all about her family. She’s Armenian and insisted that Armenian and Georgian were much easier to learn than Russian (I object!) and that they were the most beautiful languages in the world (I less stridently object!). She has a sister in New York, (where food is not from the ground but from places that make you fat!) and was visiting her son who lived on the hillside. We shared a pleasant, sunny hike down the hill and braved such perils as a washed-out dirt road and a stray kitten in order to deliver the old Armenian safely to her son’s apartment. I was a little sad to say farewell, but also pretty ready to get home and relax for a bit. She was such a nice old lady! I wonder if I could’ve used her for my Masters thesis….
Another fun adventure I had was the time the power went out all over Tbilisi! Hey! Look at that, it just did it again! Literally. As I wrote the phrase “the time the power went out all over Tbilisi!” there was a click and the power went out all over Tbilisi once more. I wish I were kidding! Seriously. It keeps coming in and out, killing the WiFi at this cafe making this blog post more of a slog post. Wakka wakka!
The time I was thinking of, however, the outage was the prelude to an epic thunderstorm. I had to walk maybe four blocks after getting off the marshrutka (mini bus) near my apartment and nearly killed myself falling down some invisible stairs in the dark. When I got home, my host moms were very worried about me! I was safe, if a bit damp. Luckily, little Ana (whose room I am occupying) had a very nice pair of candles that I lit! Check out the sweet candlestick, too!
Also, to give you a sense of how hard it was raining, here’s a photo I took from my balcony at the most epic part of the storm:
But now for the meat of the post. I know, right? It’s already plenty long enough. Sorry! Bear with me though, I don’t want to make a dozen little posts about my three weekend adventures!
Yesterday, my host brother took me along to a basketball game! And not just any basketball game, but Georgia vs. Bulgaria for admission to the European League!
A big qualifier game! The sports hall looked very small to my untrained eye but it very well could’ve been comparable to an official NBA court, I don’t know. We got there and waited outside for a good while. It seemed that we didn’t have tickets! Luckily our friend and neighbor, Koba, some sort of parliamentarian (?), showed up, tickets in hand. He only had three tickets, though, and there were now six of us. Brother Ilya and his friends had some more tickets coming so they told me to go with Koba while they waited outside for their friend. Koba beckoned for me to follow him and his friend Nino. She was a very attractive young woman and did not seem to be interested in basketball. I was worried that she was my first Georgian “date,” but I don’t think that was the case…. I’m pretty sure anyway….
Now, maybe I haven’t spent enough time in the Balkans, but never in my life have I seen such anti-Bulgarian vehemency. Nothing too serious, but booing and hissing anytime the Bulgarians were in possession of the ball. An arrhythmic Georgian enthusiast beat upon a large drum the entire game, rallying the crowd and leading cheers of “Sa-qart-ve-lo!” (Ge-org-i-a!) Koba helpfully pointed out to me as we arrived that the Georgian team was wearing White with Red trim while the Bulgarians wore Red with White Trim. Hard to mix that up right?
The first half of the game was pretty close. Bulgaria had some very good shooters who consistently sank three-pointers. The second half opened with a bang, however, and Georgia came back from a seven point deficit to maintain a 12-15 point lead right through the end of the game! Very exciting for everyone!
As we drove home, Koba asked me if I liked Formula 1 Racing and pointed out the racetrack. I told him, “Mm, kind of.” “Okay, maybe next weekend, maybe the next weekend, I will take you and we will drive.” “WE will drive?” “Yes. We will drive some racecars.” Oh boy. I sense another adventure coming on….