Friday, January 30, 2009

Tiblisi

When we arrived in Tiblisi we were surprised at the beauty of the country side. It looked more like California than the USSR. Vine yards and farm lands. We were taken to a hotel almost as large and imposing as the one in Moscow. I was an odd number of our group and I had informed the everyone that I snored which gave me a room of my own everywhere we stayed. It was great in a way but I lost out on some of the camaraderie. But I had nothing to complain about. It was a fantastic trip.

We had a date with our guide, who wanted to take us up in the hills to see a very small, very old church. On the way out of town I saw sheep with lambs eating the grass in the center of of the two lanes of the highway. I thought: How smart. Saving money on the mowing of the grass. Everything was so green and healthy looking. On our way back, I got a totally different feeling. Life is cruel! I saw the sheepherder shoot one of the animals. I had really been looking at their meat market. Someone had just bought the meat for dinner.

We were taken to a wine tasting place and two of us decided we would rather visit a huge market held in an enormous tent. It was mostly a vegetable market. It was nice to see that they grew almost the same kind of vegetables as we had in the US. On this trip and on another trip that Sam and I had taken to the USSR we were given cucumbers for every meal. It happened that both Sam and I loved cucumbers but many of our fellow travelers griped about the monotony. So we wandered around and tried to chat with the elderly women who sold their stuff.

Then it was time to meet with our gang who had tasted the wine. They had all been given a hand painted silk scarf. They had been given two extra for us. We stood on the street corner admiring and comparing and after a moment of this we looked up and a fairly long line or Georgian women had queued up behind us, believing something was for sale some place. Long lines were seen everywhere. And many stores had empty shelves.

When we returned to our hotel we two none tasters decided we would stay below to have a cup of coffee in the front patio. We sat down and the doorman said he would get the coffee lady. While he was gone, two extremely inebriated men came staggering out from a side exit of the hotel. They were wondering where the doorman was and were speaking to the two of us, sitting there waiting for the waitress. They were falling down drunk and scary and we were about to beat a retreat to our rooms, when the doorman returned.

The doorman apparently knew the two men, and tried to reason with them to try to have them go home. Nothing helped, so he called the police. By then we were not about to leave. We had to see what was going to happen. The following happenings were like a slap-stick movie. It was great fun until a gun came into the action.

The police arrived on a motor cycle with the higher ranked man riding in a side car. He was a very short man but had many ribbons around his hat an medals on his chest. Both men were young, probably in their thirties. They began arguing with the drunken ones. Looking back on this event, I think the drunk ones and the police men and the doorman had gone to the same class in Tiblisi High School. The police didn't want to take their old friends to the local prison or jail. So they put on the tableau because they had an audience.

Remember it was like watching a silent movie, for we did not understand a word spoken. The police tried to force the two drunks into a corner but in the melee one of the drunks got hold of the gun that the nr. 1 policeman was brandishing. The drunk had it pointed it in all directions and we two women were then really alarmed.

Suddenly the police were in charge of the weapon and decide to go back to the station to get something bigger to haul their criminals away. The doorman then became the man in charge. He pleaded with the two trouble makers to flee even though he had promised to keep them there till the police returned. Finally he shooed them over to the hedge, by which were sitting and pleaded with them to jump over the bushes. Both of them fell over the thing and struggled off somewhere. When the gendarmes returned he tried to convince them he had tried to keep them, but they escaped. The police left, the higher ranking man on the motorcycle and the Junior one in a paddy wagon.

We finally got our coffee. A woman came with a dirty cart on which was a primus to heat the water, two cups and a container of instant coffee. I don't think either of us tasted the drink before we went upstairs.

It had been a day full of rich happenings and I am personally sorry that Georgia has trouble with Russia.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a scene! Thank you for sharing that story. I agree, it is a shame that Georgia and Russia have such differences. We <3 your stories!

Emiana said...

About what year did your trip take place?

AmyM said...

These are such wonderful stories. I will admit that I wait until you've written several before reading. Otherwise, I am so disappointed when they are over - I want to go on.