Saturday, June 02, 2007

The history of the peoples of the Soviet Union (part 1)

Part 2 to follow at random. Went to the hairdresser's today, in Tbilisi, where a young man called Telman did my hair very nicely. 'Telman' of course comes from Ernst Thälmann, the leader of the German communist party from 1925 until about 1933. He later died in a concentration camp. (This picture, from wikipedia, is of a statue in the park named after him in Berlin, not far from where my son is going to live. Need I mention that it is former East Berlin?). The sins of the fathers and all that.... what are Telman's chances of getting a visa to the US?

Anyway, it was a long session and I was chatting to Telman and his colleague who acted as interpreter. Turns out that the salon, in Tbilisi, Georgia, seems to be owned and staffed much by Armenians, of which there are quite a lot in Georgia. I'm not sure that either of my two interlocutors were born in Armenia, though. One grew up in Kaliningrad, the other in a Black Sea port in Russia. I did not ask how their ancestors came to be in Russia; sometimes that can be a painful subject. 5 years ago the parents of each of them decided to relocate to Tbilisi. 5 years ago, why? And why Tbilisi, and not Armenia? They did not seem to know. (They probably made the right decision.) Both of them now have Georgian passports, which may be marginally, very marginally, more useful than Russian passports. Given that we Europeans can travel freely into Georgia, one would think that there might be a tit-for-tat arrangement - but dream on! Since then one set of parents has relocated to Milan, Italy. Their offspring has no chance of getting a visa to even go and visit them, what with not being married in Georgia and not having any family there to draw them back. And now even going back to Russia is difficult for them.

Making a living is not easy in this part of the world!