Friday, March 30, 2007


Belted home from work, wolfed down half a tin of beans (cold, with mustard), shot down the hill...to find that my Friday evening fix of 'Hamlet' had been cancelled. Bit weird anyway, it had only been put on the programme relatively recently. Had they not sold enough tickets? I'd looked forward to a relaxing evening watching my favourite dialogues, but well... have seen it before, might see it again. And anyway, the theatre gave the money back for the tickets without any problems.

Not in my case.

The Rustaveli Theatre has the habit (it's a Soviet thing, I think - I have seen in many non-EU post-Soviet countries) of printing books of tickets, for every show. These books are multi-purpose, and you identify the show by stamping the date on the show on it, as well as the starting time and the ticket price. Let me rephrase this - the date of the show is usually stamped on the back of the ticket. Picture the person sitting in the box office, stamping sheets of paper on the front, with two different stamps, and then turning them over and stamping them on the back, with a further stamp. She will not make a mistake by eg forgetting to change the date on the stamp because if she does, she will probably get punished for it, eg by reduction of salary. In case you ever wondered why certain things work only slowly over here. Labour is cheap.

So, in case you had not noticed, I am a frequent theatre goer. That means I have piles of tickets for different performances. Usually I try to arrange them in date order, but it's difficult when the date is on the back of the ticket. Also the person checking the tickets at the theatre is busy, looks at the front of the ticket which most people usually show, and does not check the date on the ticket (but tears off a strip, in case you were beginning to have smart ideas).

Thus it happened that a week ago I had two tickets in my bag, and on 25 March I handed over the ticket for 30 March, and had the control strip torn off. Discovered my mistake as soon as I found someone else in 'my' seat. The girl suggested then to buy another ticket, I said I had it at home (in fact I then found it in my bag and I found my correct seat). So today I was prepared to tell my story in case the lady looked at the back of the ticket. But then this did not arise.

What did rise, however, were the eyebrows of the person at the ticket office when I showed her today's ticket, with no control strip, and last week's ticket, complete with control strip. She wasn't having any of it. I tried to explain in best Russian what had happened (I could see her point to some degree); there was a man in the box office who tried to shoo me away...but, as an experienced social security administrator, I know what our customers would do if we were to try to shoo them away. So I stayed, and blocked the tiny box office window....until I got my 10 laris back....It's all a big mix-up, but the fact was that I had paid for two shows, and been able to see only one.....

It's time the Rustaveli Theatre follows the Tbilisi Opera House which already has those new-fangled ticketing machines which print everything on the ticket. But perhaps the Rustaveli needs to use up lots of ticket books first?

Ended up going for a drink at Betsy's hotel, the Friday night hang-out for expats. But arranged a hike for Sunday, which is not bad, even though I will have to cater for about 20 people in our choir practice on Monday night, after a day's work....


varske said...

Oh I'm pleased to see that Betsy's Hotel is still there. I stayed there it must have been in 1996, when it was perhaps the only hotel catering for expats. I remember having dinner on the roof terrace and finding that the article on Georgia in the Economist the following week had been written entirely based on the conversation at the next table.