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Day nine

Avtandil, me and my father in law, Omari, are driving to Borjomi. Borjomi used to be one of the most famous resorts of Russia. The last tsar build a summer residence there which is now used as the summer residence of the Georgian president.
On our way driving I am getting aware of how far away I am from Europe (well, Georgians argue that Georgia is part of Europe but geografically I feel like I am at the end of the world). South Ossetia, Baku, Yerevan; all theses cities are very close to Tbilisi. The distance from Tbilisi to Yerevan is no more than the distance Cluj-Budapest but yet Tbilisi and Yerevan seem to be two different worlds to me. Baku is a little further but the break away republic of South Ossetia (No! Beslan is in North Ossetia which is part of Russia) is only 60km from Tbilisi. To me it is such a frightening thought: Living so close to a place you will never be able to visit. South Ossetia is a dangerous place to go to especially for Georgians and it is not even entirely safe for UN or OSCE officials. I realize these things today in a much more realistic way. When I was a kid a never even thought about how close I lived to the other Germany. All I new was that there were two Germanys and it did not matter that the other one was less than 60km away from my home. I simply never thought about it. I remember going to the city of Schwerin in 1989 with my mother. Back then Schwerin was an entirely different world but it certainly did not impress me much. All I remember is that they had weird clothes in the stores and I saw three girls my age on the street who were yelling ?Look! They are selling bananas!?
No, I am not as adventurous as to be willing to go to South Ossetia but the thought just fascinates me: two different worlds divided only by some fences and soldiers.

We drive through Stalin?s hometown of Gori but I am not interested in seeing a museum which shows him as the most glorious person in world history. I had been warned before: ?If you go to Gori, don?t you ever talk badly about Stalin!? Well, maybe today people are more ignorant than fanatic about him but still I don? t feel like going there.
When we arrive in Borjomi we drive to the Park. The Park has recently been reopened by president Saakashvili and his best friend Yushshenko. I still don? t get why they did not get the nobel prize for peace?. Who cares about some atomic agency in Vienna? Who had even heard about it before? Well maybe I am just being to supportive of Saakashvili, but believe me, if you had been in Georgia two years ago you would understand that things could not possibly have gotten worse. Of course a revolution will not change a country including his society over night but I think it is also not fair to expect one single person to change everything.
The first thing we do in the park is to go to the fountain to drink some of the world famous Borjomi water. And of course, it tastes disgusting. It is warm like pee, it is salty and it contains sulfur (have you ever smelled rotten eggs?). I decide that I am already healthy and spit it right out after it enters my mouth. Generations of Georgian kids must have decided to do the same. After going for a walk we take the funicular up the hill to enjoy the view over the city. It is so relaxing. Now that I am getting older (yeah, I am already 25) I start valuing nice views, silence and natural beauty. If you had told me fifteen years ago I would have probably thought that watching tv was more exiting than seeing a mountain. Well actually I don? t know what I would have thought because the first time I saw a mountain was when I was 16 (remember I am from Hamburg!!!).
There are a lot of walnut trees and the park is actually being kept clean by some ?Babe? like pink pigs.
Downhill we decide to take some Borjomi water home. We go to a fountain were the water is cold instead of warm and refill some plastic bottles we brought from home. Even though the water is cold it still tastes nasty and the floor of that fountain is reddish brown because of that sulfur.
The tsar? s summer residence is located in yet another park which has suffered a lot under the soviet regime: there are a couple of block buildings which simply do not fit into the nouvelle ?poque style park. The residence itself is nice and pretty and it makes me understand why the Russian revolution broke out.
Later that night we go for yet another portion of Dumplings and Estragon lemonade.
14.10.05 19:30

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