Some of the people I know have really good connections. I’ve mentioned Koba on several occasions for his skill at getting us tours of Parliament and entrance to fancy-schmancy clubs and bars. He really is awesome. Another phenomenal source of all things haute-couture (Damn my French is rusty if I can’t recall the gender of “couture”), is the lovely Danielle Baker.
Danielle has been on television more times than I can count and even appeared on a game show! Not as a question, like my dear friend Marissa, but as a contestant! She gets interviewed like every other week and, it just so happens, she lives with the Head of Parliament, David Janiashvili. She’s got the goods.
Last week, she invited me to join her at a Symphony Orchestra downtown at some fancy place. Of course I agreed! She had five tickets and there was only a minor fiasco with the fifth wherein it was promised to multiple people. I take full blame for that one, terribly sorry to all involved.
The downside of my taking the blame was that Joanne had just arrived in town from Chorotsqkhu (Good luck to the folks back home on pronouncing that one!) and had managed to change in the back of a taxi into something wearable for the concert. Unfortunately, it was for her that we did not have a ticket.
I neglected to make that obvious until she told me, “I’m excited for this concert!” as we all headed towards the taxis. “Oh shit,” I said, “I completely forgot to tell you that we don’t have a ticket for you.” Feeling like shit for making such a mistake I was pressured by Joanne to stay and keep her company by getting drinks and cake. This, of course, upset the other girls with whom I had intended on going (and rightfully so! Who bails as you’re all getting into a cab??) and they drove off, potentially and righteously angry at me.
Joanne and I were enjoying our pseudo-desserts while wearing our finest when Danielle called to say, “Hey, we could probably sneak you in! They’re not checking tickets or anything!” Having just received our food we decided we’d wait until intermission. I was glad that things seemed to be working out for the best, though!
Intermission rolled around and we walked over to the National Library and got in with no problems. Joanne checked her coat while the orchestra warmed up and Danielle played usher and led us to where all the girls were sitting.
The concert itself was fantastic. They were playing a familiar piece by…I want to say Mozart? It was called The Italian or some such. I kept the ticket but not the program. The ticket itself, by the way, is a really cool souvenier! It’s written in gold, embossed Georgian, and says, essentially, “The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and his Wife cordially invite you to attend the Concert by the National Orchestra of Georgia to celebrate Day of the Diplomat.”
Day of the Diplomat has a lot in common with the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos. Here’s a brief description courtesy of the World Wide Web:
“Some families build altars or small shrines in their homes; these usually have the Christian cross, statues or pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary, pictures of diplomatic relatives and other persons, scores of candles and an ofrenda. Traditionally, families spend some time around the altar, praying and telling anecdotes about the diplomats. In some locations, celebrants wear shells on their clothing, so that when they dance, the noise will wake up the diplomats; some will also dress up as the diplomats.”*
As we sat there enjoying the music we got paparazzo’ed a bit by some dude with two cameras. One was a fancy camera with a really long lens. I always associate such cameras with official photography. Mostly because I don’t know any better. He also had a small point-and-shoot camera strapped to his wrist. I’m guessing that was his personal camera. He was using his personal camera to take pictures of us.
Joanne and I were looking pretty good as the dude photoed us, but we had some major fashion faux pas going on. To start with the lesser grievance: Joanne had changed out of her heels and into some nice Adidas sneakers. She had on a nice top, but the major enhancement was to throw a shawl over it to make it look even nicer. While I looked very good in my suit, rocking a sweater/tie combination, I also did this:
Joanne made merciless fun of me. I totally deserved it. I should have brought more pairs of black socks to Georgia with me.
So the concert ended and we began to shuffle out. The whole affair was arranged for the decea–I mean diplomats, and we could definitely tell by looking at the crowd around us. Many of them were on and off their blackberries during the concert and most of them looked obviously like foreigners.
Having seen the two most colorful figures in the joint (literally), Joanne and I decided we had to get closer.
A reception in the basement followed the concert. As we filed out of the ballroom, we met an incredibly fat Georgian pianist who wanted his photo taken with us. Danielle met and profusely thanked the orchestra member who had gotten us the tickets and we began to descend to the basement.
On the way, two security guards intercepted us and asked me, “Excuse me, can we have your surname?” Not wanting any trouble, I followed him to the guard desk and gave him my last name and showed him my ticket. “Thank you. It’s just that since you came in late, we wanted to check.”
The banquet room had tables of food piled in the middle (food was piled, not the tables. Thank you Goebbels.) and Western wine at the drink tables. Western wine? What makes wine specifically Western? Well, for starters, you sip it, not chug it. And that’s maybe the biggest difference. I’m pretty sure this stuff was grown, fermented, and bottled in Georgia, but it’s still sipwine and not chugwine. It was a most welcome change of pace.
The food was a delicious mix of Georgian and Western finger foods, which meant that I could have small crab cakes and eclairs on the same plate as my khatchapuri and mtsvadi! It was a great feast!
Finally, we managed to get close enough to the colorful characters to get photos with them. I felt bad stealth-photoing a cardinal, but at least Joanne didn’t follow through with her original plan of “Taking a slutty photo with that priest!”
Joanne and I rejoined our group for another glass of wine and some tasty snacks when we noticed the screen behind the bartender. It was an awesome…quadtych? (I know a triptych has three panels, so is quadtych a four-paneled one? Ar vitsi.)
As we gathered our coats and headed out into the cold night I was stopped again by security who once more asked to see my ticket. We were talking with a diplomat from Sudan when the guard tapped me on the shoulder and asked for my surname once more. I confidently showed him my ticket and he went on his way. Despite my blustering, it seemed like it was a good time to leave.
*Note: This paragraph was stolen from the wikipedia page for “Dia de los Muertos” and altered to replace references to “dead” and “the deceased” with “diplomats.” I really don’t know what the Day of the Diplomats is all about. Although I do believe it was turned into a mildly successful film in the nineteen eighties.