I travel to the capital by minibus to attend to some business with our apartment, and also to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones. Behind me in Upper Svaneti, the café construction continues in fits and starts, and winter prepares similarly to descend, snow coming and going but much more on the way. But my wife is fine. There’s never a “perfect time” to leave her there, and I go in peace.
Tbilisi has by now lost most of its tourists, between the full-on autumn glory season and the arrival of whatever sprinkling of white for a day or two passes for winter here. It’s warmer than my highlands of course, but the city is still dealing with the chilling and furious discontent of Misha’s situation. When his hunger strike was approaching 40 days, I thought he was going to make a comparison with the OTHER 40-day fast of history, one 2000 years gone now, but he did not, and probably a good thing too. Nor do we need jokes (playing with the name of a long-running Russian cartoon series) about “Misha and Medved” (Bear)!
One of my new friends offers to make me a proper food smoking apparatus as a gift, a nice big one. Very generous and useful; we need things which will make our guest house unique, and art and cuisine are two of these.
A good friend of mine who has been here more than a decade is returning to his home country elsewhere in Europe, burnt out, utterly fed up and needing to get out of here, probably for good. Otherwise his pessimism will ruin him, he says.
Giorgoba (St George’s Day) comes and goes, November 23. Rustaveli Avenue, having had a chain of protesters occupy its center line from Freedom Square to its namesake writer’s statue, is being decorated with fake icicles for the Christmas holiday season; a huge tree is going up outside Parliament.
Soon, in less than a week now, we will all need green passports to enter many interior places, in a new effort to reverse the spread of Covid. My wife and I were able to get ours online with no trouble. Some of my friends can’t travel out of Georgia, though, without somehow getting the right vaccination certificate, international situations on this differing from place to place, various vaccines and their acceptance or not here or there, and so on. Europe prepares for a disastrous winter virus-wise.
It feels as though a tinderbox is sitting, waiting for the spark to set it off in a massive explosion.
But who has the energy AND the will to protest further? And what will arise if there is yet another revolution? Can it be bloodless? Can its successors keep their hands clean for good?
This country in which I have lived longer than anywhere else in my life, made home, settled and built something, married, even chosen my grave’s location should I die here in some hopefully far-distant year. My heart is here, and I can only hope that my hopes are not misplaced. I don’t want to live anywhere else, but it’s not a blind, blinkered love. This side of eternity, between “The Show Must go On” and “Last Call”, nowhere and no-one on earth is perfect.
In the meantime… #mishavs means “it matters to me”. It really does.