Friday, January 12, 2007

Welcome to Tbilisi

It would appear that the costs for excess baggage have increased considerably in the 10 years since I last took lots of stuff out to foreign postings.....For my longer stay in Georgia I had blithely packed a second case with lots of books, study materials, comfort foods, small but effective spices, music listening equipment, that headtorch for those power cut moments ... only to be faced at Vienna airport by a very large bill for excess baggage (about 25 Euros a kilo). (The nice folks in Vilnius had just let it go, but the overnighter in Vienna meant a second check-in; aaarggghh). The stuff will have to comfort me well, then.

Georgia, of course, is under boycott from Russia, and last month was under threat of having its gas turned off - this was averted at the last minute. Its tangerine merchants are, as we speak, trying to break the blockade to Russia (how?). Coming in from the airport, you would not notice such oppression!

The entire road from the airport into the town was garlanded with chains of multicoloured lights; in the town lightning displays had ringing bells and holly leaves from every lamp post, but the best are the two gynormous (inflatable?) Santas, about 5 m high, standing and sitting right in front of the Parliament. Like a Christmas tree, or a hundred Christmas trees lit up - global warming? I wonder if Santa Claus is part of the Orthodox faith? What signal is this supposed to give, apart from a laugh to the population? Why outside the Parliament and not on Freedom Square? What gifts are the Santas supposed to bring to Parliament? Questions should be asked.

And why are they still here? The Orthodox New Year will only be on Sunday, 14 January...if there is an Orthodox Twelfth Night, it will be almost a week later, so it might be a while before the whole spook disappears....