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No! I do not usually stare at people but when I met Karin for the first time I did. I do not really believe in coincidence (even though I should because a lot of strange things have happened to me before). The reason why I was staring at Karin was because she looks like the twin sister of my friend Janina from Germany. She claimed that she does not know her but I do not believe her... Something has to be wrong here! Just look at the pictures. They are not best quality but I think you will understand what I mean.

This is Karin from Austria

This is Janina from Germany

The face, the freckles, the hair style and color. Its all the same only the eyes are different. Karin is a little smaller than Janina and two or three years older.

The weird thing is that just a month ago I met some Romanian guy who looked exaclty like my dorky ex-neighbour from Germany. Only that this one was actually quite good looking and well mannered (in contrast to my neighbour).
7.10.05 15:13

Working in Germany

Ever since I am in Romania people have been asking me if I could help them to find a job in Germany. At some point I decided to do so and started researching. The first thing I had to do was to find employers in Germany that were looking for Romanian seasonal workers in agriculture. This was quite hard because most German farmers already know people from Poland that they employ every year. My Romanian friends were lucky though because due to EU law German farmers now have to pay into the Polish social insurance system when hiring Poles. Therefore the Romanians are cheaper! After contacting a couple of people I found a vineyard owner who had just found out that he was no longer able to afford the Poles he had worked with before. He asked me to find six people for the harvesting season (six weeks) which I did without problem.
After having found an employer a beaurocratic war began on both sides. Luckily I only had to deal with the Romanian one: the battle in Germany was fought by the employer. As for me I faced the following problem: How to get a passport for someone that neither has a permanent residence nor the money for a passport? Luckily five of the six guys already had passports or did not face major problems obtaining one. The sixth one had serious problems though. Since he did not own a house in Cluj he was not considered a resident. His grandmother owns a house in a far away city which under Romanian law means that this is his place of residence. Going to his grandma to apply for a passport was out of question because he would have had to go there at least three times and that would have been very expensive. The only option left was to find someone in Cluj who would declare in front of the police that he was living at his place. This was hard and it took us six weeks to find that person. Person number one was willing to help but the police told him that his house was too small to make yet another residency on it. Person number two wanted to help but he stayed with his parents who did not want to sign, person number three wanted to help but the responsible person at the local police office was sick?. Person number six finally signed after his apartment had been entirely renovated for almost no money at all. Finally: one problem was solved but there was another one: Money! Luckily the employer from Germany gave us the money for the passport without further argument.
With all the passports in order all that was left to do was wait. I started to worry because at the beginning of October I had to leave the country for two weeks. One day before leaving the working contracts from Germany arrived. I called the office for labour in foreign countries and they told me that all six of them had to go to Bucharest to undergo a medical examination for 70? per person. No examination, no contract. After picking up the contract they would have to go to Sibiu to get a visa for Germany (30?). They could not get the visa in Bucharest because residents of Cluj have to go to the branch office of the German embassy in Sibiu. Once again I did not know what to do because none of the six had that kind of money. But again the employer was nice and assured me that he would anticipated the money including the traveling expenses. When I left that night I felt very relieved because after almost three months of fighting for this job opportunity thing finally seemed to be in order and I could go on a vacation without having to worry.
7.10.05 17:04

What you should know about me and Georgia

It has been exactly two years since I have been to the Republic of Georgia for the first time (for all those who wonder: yes there is actually a county called Georgia. It is located south of Russia, north of Turkey and Armenia, and west of Aserbaidshan. Famous Georgian: Josef Dschugashvili ?Stalin?). When I was here for the first time I got married to my husband Avtandil, a native Georgian now living in Germany.
Two years ago the country lay in ruins. The streets were full of wholes, electricity and water were not always available, the police men were corrupt and 40% of the population had left to search for better lives in far away countries. Everyone I met was complaining about president Shevardnadse whom they accused of corruption and nepotism.

Edvard Shevardnadse, the hero of the Perestroika, became the corrupted president of post soviet Georgia

Never would I have thought that change was so near. Only two month later Georgia became the first former soviet republic to rid itself off a corrupt post communist regime and Mikhail Saakashvili became the youngest state president ever in world history.

Mikhail Saakashvili

The ?Rose Revolution? was followed the next year by the overthrow of the Ukrainian regime called the ?Orange Revolution?. The former Georgian opposition played a big role in supporting the Ukrainians.
Of course I was anxious to see what had changed here.

Yushenko and Saakashvili together in Ukraine
7.10.05 17:48

First days in Georgia

Day one: I arrive at Tbilisi airport at 5:30pm. My mother in law picks me up. I manage to understand what she is saying since I know about ten words of Georgian. On the way home I realize that the streets are in very good shape and that some houses have been repainted. Changes are visible but once you go off the main roads things are just the way they used to be two years ago.
After getting home I eat and go to the balcony. My in laws live on the eights floor of a typical soviet block and you can see the whole city from there. I can see that there is electricity everywhere and the main tourist attractions are illuminated.
For the rest of the evening I wait for Avtandil who is coming by car (yeah all the way from Germany to Georgia). He arrives at 1 am. He tells me about his journey. Large parts of Turkey had problems with floods and he was able to scare corrupt Turkish policemen off with my German identity card. Even though I was not there! He just told them that I would complain at the German Embassy if he had to pay for a ticket without receiving a proper bill. It always amazes me how well you are treated when you have a German passport?..

Day two: Breakfast is really Georgian: You can find basically everything on the table that you would usually consider lunch.
After breakfast my husband goes to register the car he came with in order to be able to sell it. I stay home relaxing.
In the afternoon we go to the main market, a place I already learned to love two years ago.

It is very dirty and in bad shape but the variety of food you can buy there is great! Georgia has many different climates, mediterrenean at the black sea, mild in the center and quite cold in the mountains. Georgians say that you can go skiing and swim in the sea on the same day. The market really reflects this. You can find soooo many different things and also vegetables and fruits that would already be out of season in October?s Germany. I want to see everything but my father in law is in a hurry and anyways I do not have a camera with me to take pictures. Afterwards Avtandil and me go for a walk in the city center. The streets are new and you can see that the important buildings are under construction. Especially the hotel Iveria is going to be a first class hotel again. It was under soviet times but for the last 15 years it was inhabited by refugees from Abchasia. The Shevardnadse government did not want to provide adequate housing for them because Abchasia is still considered to be a part of Georgia. Therefore refugees were not integrated into society because they were meant to go back some day. Somehow feels like Palestinians in Jordan and Lebanon.

The hotel Iveria when it was still a refugee camp

Police cars circle through town to keep public order. I am told that the police men are no longer corrupt and are actually there to help the people. In the city center on Rustaveli Avenue we bump into a friend of us from Germany. She is also Georgian and home for a visit. It really feels strange to meet someone you know at the other end of Europe. We decide to visit her in the evening.
In the late afternoon we pay a visit to the parents of a friend of ours. He is also studying in Germany and gave us some presents for his family. We arrive when they are just about ready to eat dinner and are immediately invited to eat with them. His father tries to fill me up with dry red wine but at some point I protest and hide my glass from him. I eat too much.
After leaving we try to call our friend whom we want to visit. The number turns out to be wrong and my husband has to talk to an unfriendly Georgian women who thinks he is a pervert.
We go home sad that we cannot go for a visit. When we get there my mother in law has already prepared a typical Georgian fish dish. Since I am not hungry I go to bed. Later that evening my husband comes to me and wants to give my a kiss. I almost start puking because that fish dish contains sooooooo much garlic that he stinks like hell. I tell him to let me sleep and breathe into the other direction??.

Day three: A lazy day at home. In the evening we manage to find out the right phone number of hour friend and finally visit her. We spend a nice evening at her place. Some friends and family are also over. People start to talk abut politics. Two of the present women have worked together with president Saakashvili while he was still minister of justice. They do not have any contact with him anymore because he is too busy. No one seems to like him and they call him ?the crazy? one because he is always screaming when he makes a speech and promises a lot of things which do not happen in the end. I try to tell them that a lot of things already changed and that the people also have to be active instead of complaining all the time. ?Yes, but I am not interested in politics!? is the answer??

During the night I am suffering from Jet lag. I cannot sleep. I stay awake until three am surfing the net.

Day four: My mother had told me a couple of month ago that our Lutheran priest from Germany became bishop of Tbilisi. What a coincidence. I decide to visit him even though the last time I saw him was when I was eight and I am not even religious. We spend more than an hour to find the Lutheran church of Tbilisi and when we get there we learn that he left the day before to Oslo. I understand that he is not very happy in Tbilisi and that he tries to get away as often as possible. Hmmmm, maybe 65 is not a good age to start all over again in a foreign country whose language you do not speak.
Afterwards we go into the city center to eat a Georgian specialty "Khadjapuri". That is bread with cheese in the inside. We find a nice restaurant that offers three diferent types of it. We order two. Very tasty. Almost tastes like Pizza.

Avtandil orders yet another specialty green woodruff (Waldmeister) lemonade. It is quite good and not too sweet. reminds me of Kindergarden times.
Correction! Its Estragon and not Woodruff, but it tastes and looks similar

Tarkhuna lemonade it?s the one on the left up front
7.10.05 18:50


For all of you who do not know about it yet! If you ever wanted to travel cheaply, get to know people or just have some contact data in any given location: join hospitalityclub.org. It is an internet site were members can contact each other asking for a place to stay or someone to show them around town and drink a coffee. I just joined a week ago because a lot of my friends from Romania are already members. I went to a hospitalityclub party in Cluj and got to know very interesting people there.
Unfortunately I did not manage to contact anyone in Tbilisi yet because most Georgian members are living in foreign countries (one guy I contacted is actually studying in Hungary...).
On the 15th of october I will come back from Georgia and since I will fly via Budapest I decided to stay there for one or two nights. I just love Budapest. It is the most beautiful city I have ever seen. Yes I actually do think it is nicer than Paris!!!!

Anyways I contacted some members from there and within a couple of hours I found a place to stay. I will keep you guys informed what is going to happen. The member there sounds nice and interesting and people gave him (actually it is a couple) "trust" and wrote nice comments.
By the way: my nick name is as always tanjawolf
7.10.05 20:09

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