Vectoring In: Etseri, Svaneti


March 30, 2020: One thing I’ll say about the onset of The Virus: It gives me, and no doubt millions of other writers, plenty of new material. Especially given the daily changes in everything around the world, with which one can hardly keep up.

My last night’s confused dreams included the idea of a set of concentric, or nesting, circles representing the spread of the virus from first patient to now (ongoing). It will be a different set for each one of us in the world; I’ll demonstrate my set. The picture also illustrates this.

The outermost circle, 1, is the start: mild alarm, initial infections, the jump from Wuhan to outside the city to beyond China and into the whole world; this is in itself a continuing process, getting bigger and bigger.

Inside this we have circle 2: people I’ve heard of but never met or don’t know personally getting infected. For me and many, the first of these was actor Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, diagnosed on March 12, with Sophie Trudeau, wife of Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau, at about the same time. Next was the Prince of Monaco, followed by Prince Charles, and shortly after him the UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. This list too will be ongoing. The virus is clearly demonstrating its disinterest in one’s wealth, status or any other distinctions between the most powerful and the poorest of the world!

Circle 3 is what we might call two degrees away from me (from the popular idea of 6 degrees of separation between any two people on earth): friends or relatives of my own friends or relatives, all of whom I have met and/or know personally. The first one of these to come to my attention was the mother-in-law of one of my friends who died of the virus in the UK on March 29.

Circle 4 is only 1 degree away from me: my own friends or relatives, whether near to or far from me in physical distance, except members of my own household. None of these are infected yet, so far it’s an empty set, and long may it remain so.

Circle 5 is also 1 degree away: people I know personally but located inside my own home. For me, this could only be my wife, as no one else lives with us and we have no children.

Finally, Circle 6 contains only one person: me.

As the circles move inwards and grow in populations, one’s own sense of impending dread (though not necessarily doom!) also grows, unfortunately. It’s likely just a matter of time for circles 1-4 to contain someone for each of us on the planet, although some of us, a majority or not, may entirely escape having anyone in circles 5 and 6. We can all hope so.

It’s good to remember, consciously and regularly to remind oneself and one’s near and dear, that infection with The Virus is by no means an automatic death sentence! People are not only getting infected in huge numbers daily, and quite a lot of those dying, but also RECOVERING, almost certainly with some degree of antibody-powered future immunity as a bonus. Many factors influence this, from one’s age and general health to where one lives and access to good medical help there and timing of treatment, making a nice multi-dimensional graph of probabilities when combined. And there is such a concerted effort to understand and best combat the disease as well, all around the world.

This set of circles does help someone graphically- and literarily-minded like me put things in perspective, quantify and qualify the awful process of The Virus making its way around the world. Sort of like how naming one’s fear can diminish, though not entirely abolish, it. We need all the help and hope we can get in these difficult days, no?

Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer and photographer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 2000 members, at

He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:

By Tony Hanmer

09 April 2020 17:01