Saturday, October 21, 2006

decisions decisions

So this morning I went out to look at more flats. The first was right on top of the hill (trafficwise, the top of the hill is much much higher up). A flat in a building between the Italian and French ambassador's houses, below both of them, with a fantastic view over the whole of Tbilisi. The flat itself is large, the furniture is fairly ugly and there is too much of it, but there is a piano also and cable TV, not satellite...ah well, we survived that before. Nice people, a vine all over the balcony with grapes...

The next two flats were extremely dark. The first of these was almost nextdoor to the flat I had just seen, very cramped, inhabited by the people who were hoping to rent it out, lots of nooks and crannies, and not right for me. Then another flat near the sulphur baths - I was told the child was asleep upstairs, so looked round the downstairs first. Again very dark, very cluttered, with a balcony, though. After a while I went upstairs, the rooms were dark, with signs of water spillage in the ceiling, darkened wallpaper - how does anyone hope to rent this out to foreigners for good money? Turned out that 'the child' was the son of the lady who looked a good 30 years old.

The last flat turned out to be the flat I had seen the day before, which I had quite liked. In a moment of enthusiasm, and thinking that seeing the same flat two days running is an omen, I said that I wanted to rent it. After that I had a look round the neighbourhood which is quite old. This flat's view, while wonderful in the distance, in the closer distance focuses rather on rusty tin roofs ..... It does have a lot going for it. In the neighbourhood are lots of little shops selling a limited range of food, fruit and veg, and a street with rather nice and expensive looking restaurants....

Anyway, then went for a walk all around the old town, and across the river to Old Metekhi church which was built in the 1270s. I assume it is of the Georgian faith, although just in that corner of Tbilisi, albeit on the other side of the river, there are in close neighbourhood of each Georgian churches, an Armenian church, a Synagogue, a Mosque and a Zoroastrian temple. It was obviously very old, and quite neglected, though the inside had been painted up to a level that can be reached by a man on a ladder. The visit needed a head scarf, and I had something suitable with me.

After wandering about a bit on the left bank, and almost drifting into a funeral by accident, and passing a young policeman with a very old looking machine gun (generally the police seem to be not too menacing here), I went back on the right bank and towards the folklore festival, which took place roughly on top of the sulphur baths. Tbilisi is a place with sulphur springs and a number of baths use these springs; the baths are generally underground, and little cupolas pop up all over the place. Anyway, I wandered along and looked at a rather nice tiled bathhouse, when I spotted some Europeans confused at the entrance. I listened to their conversation with the lady taking the entrance and decided to join them, in a remote sort of way. It soon became clear that they were going to go for private treatment, in a cabin (and there were none available). Then I found out that there was a place for everyone (the women; common changing room) and I went to that instead. So the procedure seemed to be that everyone went for a shower and serious, and endless, soaping down (I had not brought anything, so I pretended to soap myself down) - when trying to turn on my shower I accidentally turned the tap out of its socket, but managed to jam it back in again before anyone noticed.... Then I tried some doors until finally finding the sauna room which contained two women already. It was a dry room rather than a wet steamy sauna. To my surprise one of the ladies there asked if I wanted a massage (which I had paid for in advance). I was surprised because her work uniform was the same as my sauna uniform, ie nothing!

So off we went back into the shower room where I had to sit on a tiled shelf. I first got the peeling - with a rough glove and occasional buckets of warm water chucked over me, and then came the massage. In terms of massages, going on a line from a gentle stroking (0) to very painful (10) it was at about an 8. When the lady pressed down hard on my spine, at roughly breast level, I remembered that I had read about masseurs walking on the 'victim's' backs, and I started to worry. This did not happen, thankfully (it would have been really dangerous in terms of health and safety). But I never knew I had so many painful places on my legs!

After that I went back to the sauna for a bit before finally struggling out. My back has almost recovered now - but this might become a nice routine for future weekends.

When I got home I was thinking more and more about the flat I had chosen, and especially about the flat which I had not chosen. I did an option appraisal on both (one of those fancy management tools) and found that there was very little difference between both (if I was a government the one I had chosen would have been the better option, but I had always had the vision, when thinking about Georgia, of sitting on a balcony with vines of an evening). The fact that this flat also has a piano offers possibilities for evening activities, especially if the TV is only a cable TV. ....So I phoned the estate agent and told them I had changed my mind. I feel bad about this morning's lady, but it is better to change my mind now.... hope I won't regret it.