Other Recent Miscellaneous Pics

Dato with a sombrero I found in the flat.

Dato with a sombrero I found in the flat.

Dato came by the day after I’d moved in to say hello, and here he in my new living room trying on a sombrero that had been hanging on the wall.  Since moving I don’t see him quite as regularly as I did when we were neighbours, but we still meet a couple times a week.  Occasionally I get a phone call around 2 or 3 pm in which he greets me with a tired, broken voice–“oh, Steffo, I am spoon…”, which means (as he explained a while ago) that he’s so hung-over that he wants soup so much he’d like to be a spoon…  Sometimes we go to a Chinese place just up the street from Rustaveli, opposite the opera, where he pours quantities of spicy chili sauce into his hot and sour soup and washes it down with a large glass of vodka and grapefruit juice.  Other times we go to Georgian restaurants catering specifically to those in “pakhmeliaze”, or hung-over: lots of soups, pickled vegetables, and, naturally, kharcho, the proverbial hang-over dish of clear soup with chunks of intestine and

Dato, again

Dato, again

other unidentifiable organs (one menu describes it as “boiled cow’s begs”).  On another occasion we’d been out to various bars most of the night, and found ourselves driving around (Dato driving very carefully and slowly, fearful of the numerous police that patrol the downtown at night and who are well-known for having little tolerance for tipsy drivers) at 4 o’clock unable to find any places that were still open.  After circling Rustaveli a few times, we were in fact finally pulled over by a police car; Dato, initially nervous, breathed deeply and lowered his window.  As the policeman

Dato & Ben

Dato & Ben

approached the car, he recognized Dato and began to chat in a tone of mixed hail-fellow-well-met camaraderie and a sort of garrulous respectfulness.  Dato explained that he was showing me, a foreigner, around Tbilisi, and that we were looking for somewhere to eat.  With a glint in his eye the policeman said he knew a decent all-night cafe where they served kharcho, and that we should just follow him.  Dato could only agree, shrugging with a resigned smile as he started the engine.  The policeman went back to his car, turned on his rotating police lights, and escorted us to the cafe, where he first went in and presumably spoke to the staff before coming back out waving us inside the place, and with a friendly salute to Dato drove off.

Me & Khatuna

Me & Khatuna

Since Khatuna moved from her old apartment in the sticks closer to the centre of town, I’ve been able to see her more frequently, which has been nice.  Aside from the length of time it took to get to or from her house, the intervening journey was usually pretty tedious: either a 40-minute trip on the metro, followed by another 7-8 minute marshrutka ride, or a dangerous 25-minute taxi ride.  I’d frequently take her home, and on the way back get into conversation with the driver–as much as my beginner’s Georgian would allow, anyway–about football, about Italy, about Georgia, Russia, the war, etc.  At least twice they offered to take me to a prostitute, one young driver gesticulating excitedly with his hands and exclaiming “40 Lari!  40 Lari!”  Khatuna wasn’t keen on my accompanying her home after that.

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