The Two Sides of Tbilisi, Part II

I have too many adventures.  I’ve a great deal of catching up to do!  Unfortunately one of last weekend’s best adventures is not yet ripe for the telling, but rest assured, I still have several excellent stories to share!

When Joanne, Marissa, Cristen, Ian, Stephanie, and Pauli all came to town last weekend, I knew it was going to be an excellent weekend.  Marissa and Stephanie arrived on a night train early Friday morning.  They had a terrible time on the train getting propositioned by a skeazy guy and sleeping poorly.  Luckily they rapidly found an excellent place to stay and drop off their bags.  Their mission was to get fingerprinted at the US Embassy.  I searched online and found them directions to the Embassy.  It was kind of close to where I lived so Joanne and I agreed to meet them on the platform at the Sarajishvili metro station when they were done.

We rolled into the station and I poked my head out of the train to see if I could find Marissa and Stephanie.  Sure enough they were farther down the platform and came running when I signaled to them.  Stephanie jumped in the first door of the car Joanne and I were on.  Marissa headed for the second door, full speed.  As she arrived at the second door, the PA system announced “Karebi igedeba….” and the doors closed in her face.  Though it sounds terrible, we all got a good laugh at the dismayed expression on Marissa’s face as she slid past each successive window while the train pulled away.  We now refer to missing the train as “Pulling a Marissa.”  I won’t spoil what “Pulling a Stephanie” means.

So we met up again on the next train platform and successfully headed in to Prospero’s.  It’s a very nice, expensive cafe/bookstore on Rustaveli.  They serve Western-style coffees at Western-style prices.  After a stressful, unsuccessful, and tiring morning, Marissa and Stephanie were in desperate need of lattes/cappuccinos/espressos to perk them up.  Prospero’s was happy to oblige and we sipped our coffee-drinks (delicious!) and watched a now-infamous video, “Vin Aris Tomas Fletcher?”  I don’t want to delve into such weighty issues, so instead I’ll share an even better video we watched, Laibach’s “Life is Life“–seriously, this is the greatest thing ever.

Following three hours of chatting, drinking caffeine, and watching epic videos online, we decided to get up and boogey.  That is to say, we decided to go shopping!  Being the kind, patient fellow that I am, I was more than happy to accompany three beautiful girls on their various shopping missions.

We headed over to Vagzlis Moedani where the girls claimed a great Bazaar and Shopping Mall could be found.  Sure enough, we found it!  First we hit up some second hand shops looking for boots.  No dice.  I had some tasty khatchapuri and waited on the street by a cactus-vendor while the girls tried on various used-shoes.  When we got to the mall, the shopping kicked into a much higher gear.

Joanne wanted a netbook laptop.  We found one and successfully purchased it.  It was pricey, hence the “higher gear” claim, but it wasn’t terrifically interesting, so I’m breezing through this part of the story.  We met up with a friend of Joanne’s who was a…nice guy.

The park between the shopping mall and the football stadium (Soccer, to my fellow Americans) had a nice little playground with several tetanus-inducing seesaws! Luckily, no Tetanus was to be found that day.

Outside, we entered the bazaar continuing to search for boots, laptop in hand.  I found a killer leather jacket but couldn’t get them to lower the price below 160 GEL, so alas, I remain besweatered for the time being.  Marissa bought herself an excellent leather handbag “Below cost!” (or so the saleslady insisted to me in Russian).  Moving out of the bazaar, we left behind our…nice guy…and Marissa fulfilled a long-standing dream of hers: to hit a Gypsy child.

The kid came up behind our group and Joanne and I brushed off the beggar’s prying fingers.  Seeing an opportunity, the child ran forward towards Marissa (she must have looked weak or sick) and grabbed her by the elbow.

Marissa loves children, generally, and she has a very kind soul.  Gypsy children, however, are another story entirely.  Unlike most beggars who stand or sit on the sidewalk, hand outstretched, chanting, praying, or singing, Gypsy children attack.  When they set eyes upon you, the hone in and grab your arms.  I’ve absolutely seen them cling on to people’s legs as well and wail as they get dragged down the street by their victim.

There’s one section of Rustaveli that has a whole family of Gypsy children who work in tandem.  My best experience ever was when we were accosted by them immediately after returning from Kakheti.  The children approached us and began their assault from two directions simultaneously.  After several shouts of “Ara!” we remembered that we had a huge plastic bag full of grapes we had picked!  Instead of handing them money, we gave them our bag of grapes.  The Gypsies immediately transformed from menacing, aggressive beggar/thieves into smiling children delightedly eating grapes and praising our beauty.

Last weekend was not such a time.  Marissa had been grabbed by a Gypsy child just outside the bazaar and tried to shake loose.  When the child’s grip tightened around her elbow and started to claw its way up her forearm, Marissa swung around and palmed the boy right in the chest.  Shocked, the boy let go and floated off into the crowd, glaring at Marissa.

We wandered on, meandering our way back to Vagzlis Moedani where we expected to encounter Ian, Cristen, and Pauli.  On the way, the girls found some nice accessories and we may or may not have witnessed a man die in the street.  He was dancing like a crazy person with a blood-stained bandage wrapped around his head.  After a while, he sat down and slumped against a wall.  He’s probably fine!

You remember Halloween's Mall-Walker Moms? This guy was totally rocking a windbreaker in Tbilisi. We chased him down to stealth photo him. Also, get ready to see some awesome Windbreaker photos in the near future!! Actually, on closer inspection that might be an exact duplicate (!!!) of Pauli's windbreaker!

When we arrived at the train station, Cristen and Ian were waiting for us.  (Wait a second!  That’s not true!  I just remembered the falsehood of that statement after finishing the below paragraph.  How mysterious!) Pauli arrived shortly thereafter wearing a beautiful hat and jacket combination.  It was really a sight to behold.  Fortunately, you will be able to behold it shortly!  But not today.

I’m going to fast-forward twenty four hours, pausing only to mention that we had a pretty chill but classy evening wherein we spent too much money, visited three or four bars, swung danced in a small cafe-bar (where the proprietors told us to come back because they loved our dancing and music!), and used all of Saturday to do something amazing.  Ian made us some delicious pasta with some minor input from Cristen and Ilia kept Joanne and I awake until six am, when I literally fell asleep playing bass guitar in a Duet concert.

So, Saturday night.  It starts with a bang!

It didn't really, Joanne and I chilled in a bar waiting for the others. But check out this sweet statue of a man jumping off a building!

My near and dear neighbor Koba had arranged for us to get in to Two Side once again.  He called me after dinner to tell me about one minor problem: “I can only get you guys a VIP table.”  That sounds awesome!  “VIP tables are great!  You get free food and drink all night long and a comfy place to sit and leave your things.  But the catch is that it costs 500 lari.”  Holy crap, that sounds terrible.  Having spent nearly all of our October paychecks within six days of receiving them (by the end of the weekend Marissa was down to her final 40 lari!!), we could not at all afford to buy a VIP table.  But next time, ahh next time, if we can get 15 people together to split the cost, a VIP table sounds awesome!

So we got in to Two side, sans table, and let the epic begin.

The more ties, the more epic.

Tragically, Pauli was feeling a bit under the weather and did not seem to be enjoying himself at first.  He lacked luster as he swayed to the music and seemed generally unenthusiastic.  Until, that is, the unbeatable, phenomenal, hands-down perfect, live Boney M. Medley came back to lift everyone’s spirits!

Ian knows who Daddy Cool is.

Nonetheless, after a brief surge in spirits for Boney M., Pauli retired for the night.  We were all pretty sad to see him go, not gonna lie, but we still were happy to get our party on!  We bought some drinks and managed to snag a table right in front of the subwoofer and below a wall-mounted speaker.  My ears were still ringing twenty four hours later, but it was worth it to have a home-base.  Besides, it’s not like we did any permanent damage, right?

The music was nearly as good as last time, and though the club appeared to be letting in all sorts of riff-raff (what good are connections if anybody can just walk in off the street? [Am I becoming an elitist?  {Yes, and I think my nested parenthetical notations is a sign that I always have been!}]), it was still a phenomenal place to be!

Two Side really is a fantastic place to dance, and despite the man on the left edge of the photo, it's generally mostly free of creepers! Tonight was somewhat exceptional in that respect.

We ordered a bottle of Medoff vodka and some pineapple juice, but if I recall, I mentioned that like two paragraphs above.  I have ceased editing my blog posts, so please forgive such errors.  I also took like four hours off between writing this post and am only just no picking it up and getting back into the swing of it.  If it sucks from here on out, you have my sincerest apologies.

So we continued dancing to a wide range of hits until the band retired.  Then we simply continued dancing to the DJ!  We only had four shot glasses and there were six of us so we would do shots as foursomes and tardy pairs.  The pairs would invariably toast something slightly different than the foursomes and the combinations were in constant flux, which led to many excellent and diverse clunks.

You may have noticed Pauli and I rocking some suspiciously awesome facial hair. If only I could tell you why!

It was difficult to hear each other over the din of the sound system that we were literally sitting in, which, among other things, led to my face getting chomped on at one point.  ‘Twasn’t too bad, especially because I could just as easily have gotten chomped by a TRIPLE DRAGON!!!

There's a matching photo of this shot that cuts off Cristen's head and includes all of Marissa's. If only I had both, I could make a dragon collage!
What I love most about this photo is, in actuality, Stephanie's look of curiosity/interest at the antics of her two friends. Also, I think that's Cristen creepin' up the background.

Sadly, it wasn’t long until Marissa approached me with a sad look on her face.  We apparently had run out of vodka.

We'll buy more! Although truth be told, we probably didn't need more.

After buying some more (for bottles of vodka in a fancy club, it was pretty cheap!  God bless you, Tbilisi!), I went and had a chat/cool-off-from-sweating-on-the-dancefloor with Ian and when we returned we found some very nice-looking creepy Georgian guys dancing with the girls.  Marissa had sat down, complaining that she shouldn’t have any more vodka.  She also was cold.  These two in combination resulted in the following photo:

This should be an advertisement.

At the same time, Ian, trying his best to protect the other women, found himself caught up in the crazy dancing of one of the Georgian dudes.

Maybe "lifted up" would have been a better turn of phrase.

Shortly thereafter these two men approached me and said to me in English, “We have our own club thirty meters from here!  Come to it!”  This seemed as good a cue as any that it was time to leave.  We didn’t want to finish our vodka and we were, as a group, getting propositioned by Georgian men on the dancefloor.  If I understand Georgian men correctly (admittedly, that could be a big if), they were propositioning the girls through me and Ian, neglecting to proposition us, except as necessary.

We gathered our coats and headed for the door and the taxis.  The men followed us, insisting, “Our club is only twenty meters from here!”  When we kept refusing they kept insisting, “Come on, it’s only ten meters.  Just come for a little bit!”

Ian stepped up to the plate to patroni their asses and told that “bitcho” (It means “boy,” not “bitch”) that we were not interested at all.  Ian’s aggressiveness got the message across and put some tension in the air, though we all soon made up.  We said our farewells to the Georgian men and got into our respective taxis.  Though it may not have been quite as epic as the first visit to Two Side (I blame the absence of Koba and Ilya) it was still, to quote Marissa, “One for the books!”

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