Friday, November 10, 2006

Regular Supplies

Life is a bit unpredictable in Georgia. Electricity often fails though usually for brief periods. At work every day I like to drink a litre of Borjomi, the local sparkling spring water with that little hint of salt - the blurb says it's rich in natural mineral salts - I'd say! It must also be great during those little moments of intestinal catastrophe, none of which has happened to me here so far, in five weeks. Pretty impressive!

Anyway....so every morning I try to pick up a bottle of the stuff on the way to work. There are lots of shops on the way, and it should be easy, no? One morning I discovered a wee stall, under a red canopy, huddled at the side of the road. Two women were sat behind a row of newspapers and I clocked a few bottles of Borjomi beside this. When I asked for this, an ancient grubby fridge was opened and the Borjomi appeared (it's in a sealed bottle). This went well for another couple of days and I thought I was establishing a relationship here. Last Monday only one of the ladies was there, the fridge was away as was the Borjomi. Strangely, the same morning all subsequent stalls, the little market and even the wee corner shop were all a bit in a state of disarray. For some reason shops here are always very short on change, so although the cornershop had the stuff, it did not have the 70 tetri to give me in change.

As the week wore on the little stall became smaller and smaller; yesterday I spotted the remaining lady, without her canopy, talking to a resident in the flat above, whose gas heater outlet was just above the saleslady's head. Great for the health. Today the lady was there with her papers, no canopy, and I noticed the socket for the fridge which had been screwed on the outside of the house (I was not always convinced that the fridge was actually connected). So, what is going on - is it simply that it is getting too cold to sit outside? Have they been 'cleaned up' by some kind of police? The corner shop is still not fully sorted; there are empty shelves, lots of ladies on camping chairs sitting in the shop. It's all very strange.

Tonight went for a meal to the Zandukeli restaurant, which had been mentioned laudibly on the Goethe Institute website. Not having paid much attention to the house number when reading the website, I wandered up and down the street outside the Goethe Institute about 6 times before I finally found it at a distant corner. It is owned by a German, together with a number of other locations, and the food is very Germanic; sauerkraut, knoedel, that sort of thing - I went for the Italian stuff and got some huge portions, most of which I left. The waiter speaks, it seems, fluent German, although he looks Georgian. Only I and a couple of men were there; one of them possibly Austrian. It seems in Austria they say 'der Scheiss' (rhymes with 'chase'). The wine seemed a little thin and acid.

I had contemplated going to see the Midsummer Night's Dream in the theatre, but I would have been too late, once I had eaten. I see there is another interesting play - one based on the Beslan catastrophe (not that far from here), and played by children of the same age group. It must be unbearable. In any case, I won't have time - that evening the opera house is putting on an evening of Balanchine ballets.