I’ve been living in Georgia for well over two years now and I’ve seen (and catalogued!) a lot of changes in that time. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the ingenuity of Georgians making things work. It’s cliche to point out that I come from a culture of replacement–vacuum breaks? Buy a new one! Pants get worn out? Buy a new pair!–but that doesn’t make it less true.
Last month as I put on my Methodology Trainer cap and chaperoned the shopping tour for TLG’s 46th group of volunteers, I helped a pair of girls get their laptop cables repaired. One had shopped around a bit and found a licensed Mac store in town that would’ve sold her a new cable for 200 lari (that’s just over 100 USD). The other girl’s PC power cable had blown out, exposing the wires about midway down it and rendering it inoperable. Obviously you need a new cable. Head on down to your local computer store and see if they sell your brand of power cable. Not! Why not take it into the Kidobani Mall at the train station and get each cable repaired for 10 lari! What a steal!
But I didn’t sit down to write about getting computers fixed. Like I said, that topic is so cliche. No, indeed I am loathe to rely on cliches to get my writing done.
Today I decided to walk home from the deep end of Saburtelo to my house. It takes about an hour to an hour and a half, depending on my route and my pace. I took my favorite long route today up and over the hills of Saburtelo. I noticed something new, this time!
Along the broken old footpath that comes down one hill all of the handrails had been replaced and painted! The road had been paved! We’re not talking Rustaveli Avenue, here, either! This was some dead-end, poorly lit, semi-run-down residential neighborhood on the side of a hill. And the roads were lovely!
The hill is quite steep and I always find myself leadenly clopping down the road, grinning at podcasts like a simpleton. Some kids were playing soccer with one standing against a wall and the other trying to score against him. Us local kids back on Brookside Dr. in Cumberland used to play a similar game. We called it “Pokemon” or “Pokemon Tennis” but probably a better name would have been “Firing Squad” Everyone would line up against the garage door and one person (sometimes two) would play tennis against the garage, trying to peg the others. I was usually the one with the racket.
A fun variation was often requested by my brother when we went to the tennis courts. Basically the same game, but he would be on the other side of a tennis court from me. He loved this game. That is, until he didn’t. That is, until I won. It always ended in tears. For that matter, Pokemon Tennis usually did too.
So anyway, these guys were playing Georgian Pokemon Soccer. “But how do you play soccer on a steep hill?” you ask. Simple! Use a mostly deflated soccer ball! The kicker could plop that sucker down on its dimpled bottom and just lay into it without fear* of it rolling downhill. Plus it probably caused fewer tears upon impact!
A couple hundred yards down the hill I found another ingenious little workaround for a local problem. Though the road had recently been paved, it still had a giant pothole in it. The pothole had been paved as well, but it was still probably a foot deep and had a three foot diameter. Someone had placed a tire in the crater and laid a piece of wood across the hole in the tire. It was so simple, but so brilliant! In case you don’t manage to see it and avoid it, you won’t bottom out your car by hitting it! You’ll just sort of awkwardly drive over the tire-filled dimple in the road! Unbelievable!
I walked past the zoo and through the dark stinky underpasses of Hero’s Square (much less dark and stinky than my previous visits, I might add!) and continued homeward. As I got closer, I encountered a precariously leaning building that I’ve passed a million times. It’s not my favorite building-that’s-leaning-on-the-building-next-door-for-support and it leans less than my own house, but it was noticeably leaning.
What made it more noticeable was the solution its inhabitants had. The street corner was laced with iBeams that formed a web of buttressing for the house! I wove between them and thought what a clever idea that was! And then I was eaten by a velociraptor.
*Note, “Plop that sucker down on its dimpled bottom and just lay into it without fear” is not something I blanket endorse. Dimpled bottoms don’t deserve being laid into by kickers. I need to stop before this gets dangerous.