Life is full of ridiculous coincidences. Take this one, for example. I am sitting in my apartment with no internet waiting for my ride to the airport. My iTunes is on shuffle and I decide I’ll turn on the TV. I just plugged it back in for the first time today after solving my outlet-shortage problem (Not a shortage in the electrical sense! I just don’t have enough outlets!). Cee Lo Green came on shuffle as I shuffle through the channels that basic cable in Tbilisi provides me with. Wouldn’t you know it, but not five channels in, and what do I find? A Cee Lo Green music video! Huh. (Unfortunately, it wasn’t this one:)
With my clothes smelling of Barf,* my affairs in order, and 400 Canadian dollars in my wallet, I am ready for my next adventure. A super catchy Natakhtari ad is playing on TV and the apartment is clean. Angela arrives tonight! She’s getting here around 3 am! She’ll probably arrive at the apartment around five, but, tragically, I will have taken off for Montreal an hour earlier! (More on that later, I promise!)
Let me take this opportunity to give you some details about my living situation this year. I love my old host family, but I felt that it was time to strike out on my own. This became infinitely more feasible with Angela’s support and with my new job at the Ministry. I’m a 30 minute walk from work, and a three second walk to a conversation with my dear friend and apartment mate. But I’ve already gotten ahead of myself after only two sentences!
My first week back in Georgia was a discouraging one. I viewed apartment after apartment. Angela and I had been searching online for apartments for a few weeks. I had an in with a very kind, English-speaking realtor who offered to show me around his properties.
On my second day in the hostel, back in Georgia, I walked to Isani metro and viewed a lovely, if a little small, well-equipped apartment. At 350 DOLLARS a month, though, I wasn’t exactly thrilled. A day later, a dingy, run-down, dirty, poorly-equipped apartment in the heart of Tbilisi (one block from the Rustaveli McDonald’s) tried to tempt me with it’s low, low price of 300 dollars a month. It almost got me, too.
After struggling to find anything after a week, I was beginning to get a little antsy. It was difficult to collaborate with my partner-in-crime (and far too many hours spent using McDonald’s WiFi) I had nearly run out of options. As a last resort, I bought a newspaper full of classifieds. With the help of several Georgians (to whom I am forever indebted!) I managed to visit a few more apartments. One luxurious house that could easily sleep six was perched on a hill above the train station. Sad to say, the landlady wouldn’t budge on her listprice of $1000 per month! WHAAT? Yeah, definitely not going to happen! (Catchy Natakhtari ad is on again! I wonder if I can find it on YouTube….)
And so, the next day I walked in to old town, searching high and low for so-called “Nishnianidze St.” Shawarma in hand, I gradually found myself being pointed in the right direction. None of the street signs said “Nishnianidze” and no one seemed to know where it was. “It’s back up the hill!” said one shopkeep. (Gosh, English is all over TV! And wow. Who is this grotesque mash-up of Zooey Deschanel and Lady Gaga singing “Do It Like a Dude”?)
I wandered back up the hill and had another merchant point me down a side street. I’d walked this street a hundred times before. I never knew its name, but I hoped that it was Nishnianidze.
It wasn’t. I neared the end of the street (just south-west of Freedom Square) and asked an old woman standing by the road. “No, I’ve never heard of that street before.” A working man confirmed her sentiment. Discouraged I turned.
Just then a second laborer came out from behind a doorway and said, “Nishnianidze? It’s that street right over there!” Sure enough, a stone’s throw away was a side road. I walked onto it and found, clearly labeled “ნიშნიანიძის ქ.” How could that lady have missed it?
I met Nino after a few minutes. She let me in to the apartment and I nearly became giddy with joy.
CLIFF HANGER! Time for a flashback. Eight or nine months ago, I was walking with Tatia from Freedom Square towards the river. I pointed up at a row of historic, beautifully lit balconies above Baratishvili St. “Does anyone live there?” I asked.
“Yeah, I guess so.” came Tatia’s response.
“Like, normal people?”
“Probably super rich people.”
From the moment I entered Nishnianidze, I has a suspicion that I was about to become one of those “super rich people.”
I entered the apartment and began my tour of the place. Nino happily showed me around the place. Now let me pay it forward and give you all the same tour (albeit three full weeks after the fact).
And so, welcome to my new life! It’s changed immeasurably. Some of my closest friends are in distant parts of the world, others are living within spitting distance (Angela, I promise I won’t spit on you!). I don’t teach anymore and I don’t live with my host family anymore, either. I’m having a far-from-typical TLG experience and loving it. So, let the adventures continue, let the joy keep spreading, and let the wonder never end!
*Note: A common Iranian Laundry Detergent. NOT the vile substance commonly known as puke, vomit, upchuck, liquid laugh, technicolor yawn, or any of a number of other endearing puke-emisms.