Saturday, January 13, 2007

Settling in (again!)

In for a longer spell this time, I thought I'd check out that shop 'Goodwill' that has been praised by Georgians and internationals alike. It describes itself as a hypermarket, and has a very flashy website. I had looked at my city map, but could not find it on it.

No wonder! I had called a taxi, and found the shop to be about 10 km from my flat, very much on the edge of town. It's a bit of a small hypermarket, probably no bigger than my local Maxima in Vilnius - and it's like a big barn. As my international blogging colleague says, it's like shopping in Berlin - nearly all the goods are German, and mostly well-known brands, too. It even has a whole shelf of all those German hypochondriac teas, for this, that and the other medical conditions. Only in Germany they try to cure diseases with ....tea (or rather, disgustingly flavoured infusions). It was a bit surprising then, to find one bit of a shelf labelled 'German' ....Some of the goods, especially the frozen vegetables, come in catering size packs - my 2.5 kgs of frozen spinach will last for a long time. So now I am sorted on basics for at least a month, saving me a lot of shlepping. I did also buy Georgian goods, like lots of wine, milk, water. But then still I needed to go to the wee wumman in the cornershop to get fresh stuff, and that's quite a nice thing to do.

Later, I toddled around to the sulfur baths for a wash and a massage, passing the Parliament with its Santas on the way. It would appear that there were 4 Santas originally, but the air seems to have gone out of two of them - could that be said about a lot of things?

The baths were packed today, with a heaving mass of flesh consisting of rather rubenesque naked ladies of all ages queuing for the shower stalls. I had forgotten to take my glasses off, so I could see Georgian womanhood in all its glory. It is not so easy to elbow your way in when you and everyone else are all soapy and slippery, but people were very lovely and helpful and ushered me in the right direction to get my turn at the dribble of sulfuric walter (it's a better dribble than I have at home.)

It must be a winter thing to do, and given the temperature in my bathroom it is not surprising that people like to go somewhere where they might feel warmer, and have a good soap down. I felt rather dirty because my showergel does not create as much foam as theirs - and it looked as if I might not be washing properly.

The noise level was amazing; even in the queue in the waiting room conversations bounced round the whole room. A lovely old lady with about 4 teeth, sitting beside me, kept telling me jokes in Georgian and giggling madly. In the baths themselves everyone was chatting to everyone else - what with the tiled walls the sound was meeting itself in the middle. Seeing all those women crowding round the shower stalls reminded me of a concentration camp scene in Rabinovici's book where the naked women are herded into a shower room and they don't know what will come out of the faucets.

After that went round looking for birthday cards (not sure they were 'birthday' cards, and I had hoped to find some originally arty ones) and got some concert, opera and theatre tickets. Thank goodness I can read some Georgian letters - otherwise I might have missed a chamber orchestra concert next week (could not be bothered to decipher the programme, but we'll soon find out). Unfortunately, having bought ballet tickets, I then discovered that at the same time 'Twelfth Night' will be on in the theatre, which I would fully expect to be a riot. With any luck it will be repeated another time. I am looking forward, though, to seeing Hamlet again next weekend, and maybe this time I can work out how to get the British Council funded simultaneous translation. I see it is possible to download the script from here.