Georgia Year Four: Cooking in the Dark

Sometimes things don’t work as they should in Georgia.  You don’t live here for more than three years without figuring that out.  Even in my palatial downtown apartment above the old fortress wall and a stone’s throw from Freedom Square, things break down or go pear-shaped not infrequently.

Let’s linger on this topic for a moment.

My apartment is great.  I love it dearly and keep improving it from year to year.  It still has a ways to go before it will be truly perfect.  It needs a fresh coat of paint on the balcony, it needs a new kitchen floor, and I suspect there are some drainage problems still in the bathroom.  But nothing dire, anymore!  (We’ll ignore my building’s distinct lean…)

This summer, my landlady redid my kitchen.  It’s truly a thing of art, now!  There are enormous, too-tall-for-anyone-except-Ian cabinets, tiled walls, and the door is missing.  This is indeed an improvement!  The kitchen is a bit more spacious now, with the old plywood cabinets removed and the door unhinged.  I had to flex my painting muscles a bit more to cover up the fresh plaster, but we have a nice little portal into the kitchen now!

Unfortunately, we had a slight problem with the lights.  That is to say, they didn’t work right.  The Kitchen and Hall lights were inexplicably linked.  Sure, they shared a light switch panel, but you should be required to turn on the hall light in order to turn on the kitchen light, right?  And it seems unnecessary to have to smash the switch to get either of them on in the first place.

Well, one day, both lights just gave up the ghost.  We should have seen it coming, but somehow we didn’t.

It wasn’t a problem, really.  During the day the light hits us from that side of our house anyway and the kitchen is warmly flooded with sunshine.  And at night, well, who needs the kitchen at night?  Actually, it turns out that two people who regularly work until 7, 8, or 9 pm need the kitchen at night.

We didn’t let a little perpetual darkness stop us, though!  When Pauli and Vivien were visiting they just opened the cabinets and propped their phones there like mini floodlights.  When we had them, we used candles.  When we needed to, we would double-check our dish-washing progress by bringing a dish or two into the living room.  No biggie!

One evening, Jenni came over and the three of us decided to cook up some pasta.  We made a delicious sauce to go with it too!  How did we manage this in the dark?  We’re quite masterful.

The trickiest part was seeing into our pots and pans.  (Hilarious typo: “The trickiest part was seeing into our pots and pants.”)  We had a great 4-armed system for doing so, however.  I would stir the pot and hold the candle above it.  The candle was a scented one in a glass jar, so if I held it directly above the saucepan enough light shone through to let us see what we were doing.  Jenni would scoop the vegetables, or tomato paste, or sour cream into the pan using both hands.  Meanwhile, Morgan was working on the pasta or chopping vegetables or preparing the chicken (did this have chicken?).

At the end of the night, when we first brought our concoction into the light of the living room, we got to really see the beautiful orange shade of the sauce for the first time.  When we tasted it, we were exceedingly proud of our cooking-in-the-dark skills.

A few weeks later, Nino came by to collect rent money while I was hosting a private lesson in the apartment.  I invited her in to show her the broken switch and she began to insist that I could “very easily” go to the underpass and get a dude to come fix it for “only five lari”.  This seemed pretty typical of Nino, getting out of landladying by foisting the apartment’s upkeep onto me.  My student, Vaso, would have none of it.

“You go,” he insisted, “You get the man to come fix it.”  Vaso knew that as a foreigner I would probably be taken advantage of and charged a higher rate.  Plus, she’s the landlady.  This is 100% in her wheelhouse.

A few minutes later, she came back with an electrician and he rewired the switches, granting us the light we’d so sorely been missing.  Things are bright and cheery now, regardless of the time of day, and we no longer have to cook in the dark!  It’s like an October Surprise!

We still go into the kitchen without turning the lights on sometimes…

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