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Geogrian Hospitality – Tbilisi

We drove into Tbilisi under the cover of night and pulled over for directions. The gentleman I asked immediately dropped what he was doing and made our priorities his priorities.

“Has the driver drank?”

“No.”

“Is the driver drunk?”

“No.”

He walked over to make sure. Somewhat surprised, he said, “Well then, this is what we will do. We will call the police. Please do not be worried. This is a little bit unusual for us as well, but given that it is the way it is, I really want to demonstrate it. You see, over the past four years, the Police have become — like dog shall we say — a true friend of man. They are not here to bother you, but to help you. They will take you to your lodgings.”

When the police arrived a few minutes later, he kissed me on the cheek, called us his “dears” and invited us for dinner. “The political situation in Georgia (with regards to Russia) may be complicated,” he said, “but the situation of guest in Georgia is always good.”

“You are my dears,” he said when the police arrived and kissed my three times on the cheeks good bye. “We shall meet again and I will have you over for dinner!”

The police gave us a prompt sirened escort to our lodgings, made sure it was the correct address, shook our hands and drove away. We were following the directions sent to us by our couchsurfing host, and fumbled around in dark crumbling stairwells to the third floor courtyard where I asked for Luka’s lodgings from an elderly woman. She pointed, and we knocked. A young man opened the door and I said, “nice to meet you Luka!”

He said, “Don’t you know?” It turned out that Luka was such a gracious host that he hosted people at his appartment even in his absense using couchsurfing as an agent!

Everyone in the building complex and coutyard seem to know this, and where the hiding place for his keys was. One time when Tristan tried to surreptitously fumble through the drawers within view of construction workers in a neighboring apparment, one of them ran over, pushed him aside and confidently took out the key, “here you go my friend.”

The apparment was charming. There were maggots feasting on a month old stew in the kitchen. The toilet did not work flush without buckets of water. But such is the lot of Abusrdistan. Strangely, this may have been what we came for.

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  • Elspeth

    That is such a classic Georgia story! The bit about the road police is especially charming– Saakashvili made corruption in the police forces a top priority, so one went from getting shaken down daily for bribes, to a genuinely useful police force nearly overnight. If he’s done nothing else right, that was a good first step.

    The South Caucasus totally are Aburdistan, too.