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Old 09-16-2003, 03:21 AM
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Ask the guy in Tbilisi, Georgia

Not that Georgia! You know, the one over by the Black Sea. Yeah, that one. I'm working on pipelines for a big oil company. Got any questions about this part of the world? Maybe I can answer them. Maybe I can't.
Old 09-16-2003, 04:14 AM
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Since when did Alaska become a suburb of Tbilisi?
Old 09-16-2003, 05:39 AM
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Did you fly eastwards to get there? Are they going to do Ireland a favour by taking points off Russia on 10 October? How are relations with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia? Did the Iraq conflict have much of an effect, positive or negative, on the Georgian oil industry? How's the nightlife?
Old 09-16-2003, 06:16 AM
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Yessir, I flew eastwards to get here. My flight was: Anchorage-Seattle-Amsterdam-Tbilisi. The trip takes about 28 hours from start to finish, which won't be a problem when I go home on my normal 28 days off - I won't have to deal with "jet lag" at all.

Are you talking about the World Cup qualifier on 10 October?

Georgia, as you may know, was a state of the USSR until 1991. When Russia left Georgia, they took all the capital and almost everything that they could transport out of the country. I would say that the relations with Russia are strained. Georgia depends on Russia for lots of things, including natural gas and military support, so I think the ties are still pretty strong.

Azerbaijan is another matter; the cultures, beliefs, and backgrounds are vastly different between these two neighbors. I think each considers the other a necessary evil in their attempt to get along with the rest of the world and promote their collective resources to the global market.

Armenia is a country in dispute with Azerbaijan over a segment of land that juts into the Azerbaijan territory. There are "freedom fighters" that want autonomy and, of course, both countries claim the strip of land as their own. Some of the fighters use staging areas all over the Caucasuses, including Georgia. At present, things seem to have cooled down somewhat, but only time will tell about the next development.

The Iraq conflict seems to have had little effect on the Georgian oil industry because many of the projects just now being brought on line have been in the planning and development stages for years. Of course, the less oil that Iraq can bring to market, the better it is for Georgia and Azerbaijan.

The existing pipeline, WREP (Western Route Export Pipeline) runs from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea, and has been in operation for six years. It is a very well-operated and well-maintained system. The next pipeline, BTC (named for the three principal cities that will be involved - Baku, Tbilisi, and Ceyhan) Pipeline will run from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and will provide a means for Caspian Sea oil to reach the world market.

Night life is... different. I have been to a few bars (very Westernized) that cater to European tourists and I have also been to a traditional Georgian restaurant. Old Tbilisi House (the name of the traditional restaurant) was amazing. In addition to lots of food and wine (your wine glass must be drained at each toast made at the table - and there are lots of toasts at the table) we were treated to male dancers performing traditional Georgian "ballet," women performing Georgian traditional dances and Turkish-influenced "belly dancing," and a five-part male singing troupe performing Georgian folk ballads and martial songs. It was a rare treat for myself and eight others of our work team and our Georgian host. Mostly, I just hang out at the bar of the hotel where I am staying, the Sheraton Metechi Palace - a very nice hotel, by the way.

Tbilisi is considered to be "the cradle of wine country" in Georgia, so the wine is quite good. I am planning to take a few bottles home to have for holiday parties. I can't wait to see the look on the face of the hostess when I tell her where the wine came from. I suspect I'll get a few double takes when I say, "Yes, ma'am, the Georgia over by Russia. Not the Georgia over by Virginia."
Old 09-16-2003, 07:04 AM
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Do you know a 20 year old girl called Ketevan?

Tell her a guitar-playing physicist says "hi".
Old 09-16-2003, 07:12 AM
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She says, "Hello. When do I get that Corvette Stingray for the wild week-end we had?" What shall I tell her?
Old 09-16-2003, 08:03 AM
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Let's get to the hard questions, such as, how do you pronounce the "Tb" in "Tbilisi?"
Old 09-16-2003, 06:11 PM
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What do the Georgian media think of their team's chances in the World Cup this year? I ask 'cause I'm kinda counting on them to beat the Poms in their match in Perth.

And yes, I actually spent $20 on a Georgian team supporter's cap.
Old 09-16-2003, 08:13 PM
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Hey, I've got some of that wine! I brought some Georgian troops back to Tbilisi after a stint in Bosnia (1996), and we were greeted with a VERY warm reception! They treated us to a full, multi-course meal with the Chief of Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces. We gave them some patches, and they gave us wine. I've still got it - saving it for a special occasion.
Old 09-17-2003, 12:04 AM
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Well, BigNik, I doubt that I would find anyone here in Georgia who would say they don't have a good chance to win the World Cup.

pilot141, which wines do you have? I've been told that the Kektechi is very full-bodied, but one of the best. I have a few bottles set aside that I will be taking home this trip, but I don't really know how good they are. BTW, 141 as in Starlifter? I reckon you're in the B model, eh?
Old 09-17-2003, 12:12 AM
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Sounds like an interesting place. Still Beyond Petroleum?
Old 09-17-2003, 12:21 AM
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radar ralf the wine I have is a white wine....everything on the label is in Cyrillic letters, so your guess is as good as mine!

And yes, the 141 in my username refers to the Starlifter (B model). You're only the second Doper to make the connection - Bravo! I left the 141 in 1998 and left the active duty Air Force in 2000, though. Great airplane, great missions, lots of fun.
Old 09-17-2003, 12:39 AM
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What is the city like that you are in? Old-New. Old-Old, Semi-new-medium Old?

How are the people when they realize you are a forgiener?

What is the time difference there if it is, say, noon in NYC? six or seven hours behind?

How long do you expect to be there?

How's the weather?

Why would your flight fly that direction, rather than over Russia since you were practically over there anyways? It kinda makes no sense. Couldn't go ANC-TKY-something-something? I dunno. My world map has been taken by my midget vandels.

What is the TV like?

Can you send me a post card
Old 09-18-2003, 11:18 PM
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Ringo - Yessir, still the same big oil company. I'm surprised you remember that.

pilot141 - Did you ever have any "tailgater" missions?

Shirley Ujest - Tbilisi is an old city that was on the Silk Road. It, and the country, was modernized by the Russians when it was a part of the USSR. When the Russians left in 1991, everything started going to hell in a handbasket. The city now is pretty much in a bad way.

The people of Georgia are very friendly, even when they find out I am a U.S. citizen. I am amazed that they seem to be so upbeat in the face of such disarray in their country.

The time difference between here and my home in Alaska is thirteen hours. So the difference between Tbilisi and NYC is nine hours.

I work a rotation of 28-and-28, so I am here for four weeks and then home for four weeks. I am on a 3 to 5 year contract, so I'll get to see a lot.

The latitude of Tbilisi is roughly the same as South Dakota, so the weather ain't bad. This trip (which started in the middle of August and endstomorrow!), started out hot and is finishing up wet.

The flight that I took was pretty much dictated by my company. I'm happy with it, though, 'cause I only had to change planes three times and the return flight will do away with jet lag (I'll be flying westward).

The hotel where I am staying in Tbilisi (the Sheraton Metechi palace - they have a website, BTW) has fifty television channels. The ever-present CNN is what I watch most. There is also a Showtime channel that airs a mix of old and new movies in English. I sometimes watch the National Geographic channel, 'cause it's in English. The rest of the channels are either local-language broadcasts or movies made in English, but dubbed over into the local language.

Sure, I can send you a postcard. It would be my pleasure. Is your postal address on your profile? Help me figure this out, and you'll have a picture postcard of Tbilisi on the way.
Old 09-18-2003, 11:23 PM
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Are the people racially Slavic like the Russians or a Middle Eastern blend like surrounding Azerbaijan and Armenia?
Old 09-19-2003, 01:14 AM
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What's it like being from a country that created Stalin? Does it irk you when people bring it up?
Old 09-19-2003, 01:17 AM
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I have another Stalin question. When your people were creating the greatest mass murderer before Mao, did they leave any blueprints on how they did it, so that I may borrow them to look them over and totally get them back to you by Tuesday?
Old 09-19-2003, 02:42 AM
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Does the population generally speak English?
What's the country like, in terms of safety/crime?
Old 09-19-2003, 04:23 AM
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CaptBushido - the people here in Georgia are very much like the folks in Azerbaijan and Armenia. Georgia is a place where many cultures and backgrounds have come together. If I had to make a calculated guess, I'd say that Georgians are a blend. Sorry I can't be more precise - I've only been here for five weeks.

Eternal - I beg your pardon? I am not from Georgia; I am working here on assignment with my employer. The blueprints you refer to must be a closely-guarded secret, as I have not heard of anything such as you suggest. You might try to contact S. Hussein for guidance.

Tusculan - Most of the folks I work with are very well educated. There is mandatory education for children through what we would call high school in the U.S. It is state-sponsored and generally adequate to prepare young people for the world. Higher education is usually reserved for those students who show special aptitude in the lower grades and that, too, is state-sponsored. There is, of course, the option to attend excellent schools both inside and outside of Georgia, but that is beyond the financial capabilities of most Georgians. English is spoken with some regularity, but most of the craftspersons and professionals prefer to speak Russian because it is a more technical language.

There seems to be some organized crime in Georgia, possibly a hold-over from the days of the Russian Mafia. Generally speaking, the masses suffer from the same kind of low-grade crime found throughout the world. Having said that, there was the instance just last week of a large prison break of over one hundred inmates from the Rostavi internment facility. I'm not sure how many have been taken back into custody, but it was the hot topic of conversation for several days. As for personal safety, it's just a matter of exercising common sense in an unfamiliar area. That, and staying close to your bodyguard carrying the submachine gun! Just kidding - it's really not all that scary here.
Old 09-19-2003, 08:42 AM
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So, how do you pronounce "Tbilisi", anyway?
Old 09-19-2003, 03:30 PM
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Stalin was born in Georgia. Does his ghost haunt the city? Does it even want to?
Old 09-19-2003, 03:39 PM
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Does it drive you insane when you say you're in Georgia and people assume you mean the one containing Atlanta?
Old 09-19-2003, 04:49 PM
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MwGG: One of my very good friends here in the states was born raised and educated in Georgia, this Georgia, and yes it is annoying for her to always have to add, "the former Soviet Republic" or something like that (Hell it is even annoying for me when I introduce her to others.).
Old 09-19-2003, 08:29 PM
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Can I just tell you how incredibly jealous I am? You must, must, must go hear lots of live music and see lots of dancing and drink lots of wine...and climb some mountains, and visit some really old monasteries...

For everyone else, the Georgian language is not Slavic, and has its own alphabet. The Georgians are not Slavs (or if they are, even in part, few would admit it). They have been in the Caucasus for a long, long time.

Will you ask some Georgians if they know Dodona Kiziria? She was a grad school professor of mine, and word around campus is that she was a very well-know poet in Georgia. She also worked with Andrei Tarkovskii on Solaris. She is one hell of a wacky and interesting woman.

Also, [b]ralf,[/i] can I get you to ask for some recipes for me? Particularly for lamb kebabs, lobio, and khachapuri? (The latter is an extremely yummy bread stuffed with cheese. There's also a version stuffed with kidney beans, onions, and cilantro.) Also for walnut sauce (bazha), or pretty much any traditional Georgian food.

And if you find any really good CDs of traditional Georgian a cappella singing, is there anything I can do to get you to send me some? (A girl can always hope!) Or anywhere in Georgia that will do reliable mail-order, preferably online? (You never know.)
Old 09-19-2003, 08:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by slortar
So, how do you pronounce "Tbilisi", anyway?
tee-beel'-ee-see, according to my sister, who has lived there some 6 years or so. The first and third syllables are similar to the 'schwa' sound in the english language. Barely even count as syllables.

Grab as many of the Georgian Chant albums as you can. We love ours.

Eva, there 'were' two Georgian restaurants in Chicago area. One, in Winnetka, seems to be no longer there. The other one, whose name I cannot remember, is roughly in the Devon/Kedzie area. I can't really remember better. My sister said it was very authentic, although she was heartbroken when she found out the cook was Russian.
Old 09-19-2003, 09:08 PM
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Abe, I know exactly where you are talking about. The first one was called Stariy Tiflis [Old Tbilisi], and it was on Green Bay Road. They closed a couple of years ago, but I was never that impresed with them anyway. The other one is called Tbilisi (creative, huh), and I've been there. Ick! It may be authentic, in the sense that it was a truly post-Soviet experince: the place reeked of cigarette smoke, they were serving vodkla, although I don't believe they have a license, and they were out of 2/3 of the items on the menu. Plus the chicken tapaka was still bleeding when we sliced into it. Never again.

You must, however, check out the Argo Georgian Bakery, which is down the block near the intersection with California. Big brick oven, bread that fights back, and AFAIK the only khachapuri in the Midwest (besides the aforementioned Dodona Kiziria's secret recipe, and the stuff I made out of a cookbook; good, but not quite the same, because I haven't tried it with the proper local Georgian cheese yet). You can buy the cheese down the block at Ted's produce market, but the name of the cheese is escaping me at the moment.

Plus, there are numerous local variations on khachapuri. I believe the Ossetians bake theirs open-faced, with an egg baked in the middle.
Old 09-19-2003, 10:42 PM
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Have you been to Stalins birthplace? And to the city where his statue has been re-raised?
Old 09-20-2003, 12:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Abe Babe
tee-beel'-ee-see, according to my sister, who has lived there some 6 years or so. The first and third syllables are similar to the 'schwa' sound in the english language. Barely even count as syllables.
Ah, thanks. Believe it or not, I've been wondering for quite a while now.
Old 09-20-2003, 02:46 PM
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Lukoil conspiracy theories? and the CES

Any thoughts on Lukoil's pullout from the BTC and the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oifield? Do you think it was the result of political string-pulling on the part of the Russians, or just a normal business decision? What do your co-workers generally think?

For those who aren't IR nerds (you're lucky, by the way): linkey-link-link-link(pdf-style): http://csis.org/ruseura/ponars/p...os/pm_0286.pdf .

Also, do Georgians have any thoughts on the new Common Economic Space? (http://cdi.org/russia/274-17.cfm)? I know that Georgia isn't joining it, but is there concern, as mentioned in the article, that this is an attempt at Russian economic hegemony? Or do people just not care?

Finally - will you be my friend? I've just set up a forum for my school's polisci students to discuss international relations - even though you're not a student at Roger Williams University, I would be honored if you'd like to register at the forum at post occasionally with your on-the-scene knowledge. URL is rwuir.tk if you're interested.

Thanks for starting this thread!
Old 09-20-2003, 03:42 PM
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Do they still have the big wrestling tournament there? It used to be the biggest international meet besides the Olympics and the World Championships.

Regards,
Shodan
Old 09-20-2003, 06:08 PM
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Earlier this year I saw a documentary called [url=http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0358647/]Power Trip, which is about the purchase of Georgia's formerly state-run power utility by the Western company AES, and the company's attempts to modernize the facilities and move the country toward a Western model of generation and supply.

Focusing primarily on the situation in Tbilisi, the film shows a population that to a large extent hasn't yet gotten used to what might be labeled public commodities; they smash their meters, and haphazardly rig connections from power lines outside into their apartments. There's one stunning scene showing an apartment project with an electrical shack out front; the door to the shack has been pried off, and hundreds of stripped cables have been twisted onto various terminals and around each other, leading to a mind-boggling spiderweb of potential electrocution danging in the open air and up to almost every individual window on the side of the apartment building.

The film was shot in 2001-2002, and shows a city plagued by frequent power outages, largely caused by bureaucratic inertia and just plain corruption: The guy in charge of the biggest power plants in the area is basically a criminal, an electrical mafioso if you will, and he refuses to cooperate with any of the modernization schemes because it'll impact his bottom line. Barely half of the bills mailed out by AES are even acknowledged, let alone paid; there's a daily line of angry people at the home office demanding their electricity be turned back on because (they say) they didn't get the bill, they didn't know it had to be paid, they did pay the bill but the bank stole the money, or, well, or else they'll freak out and beat somebody up right there in the office if the power isn't turned back on.

There was also mention of an investigative reporter, maybe even an anchorman, who was putting together a story for broadcast about corruption in the utilities, but that he was murdered by persons as yet unidentified and unknown.

I don't really have a specific question, but: Does any of this ring a bell? Does it sound like the documentary oversold the country's problems? It came off as being pretty grim and hopeless; I'm just wondering how accurate it was.
Old 09-20-2003, 06:13 PM
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Well, I munged up that link, so here's another one.
Old 09-24-2003, 11:52 AM
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Wow! What a nice response! Let's see if I can get some of these questions answered...

slortar - I have heard people pronounce Tbilisi as Abe Babe describes and I have heard it pronounced ta-blee-see. Take your pick, I reckon.

Eva Luna - I have not heard of Dodona Kiziria, but I will ask about her when I return to Georgia in three weeks. I have all the dishes you mention, Ms. Luna. I am especially fond of khachapuri - it seems to be a staple of all the lunch spots that I have eaten in around Tbilisi. Except for the two (yes, two!) McDonald's, of course. I would be happy to look for recipe books for you, and I am sure that some of my Georgian co-workers can help me find some good albums. I did participate in a traditional Georgian supra (Georgian for "table," or dinner), by the way - I kept a glass of water and a glass of soda pop close to my wine glass so I could sneakily drain a less potent liquid than the wine at each toast. Here's how it works: the toast passes around the table and at each one, the diners are expected to drink the entire contents of the wine glass. We had ten guests at the table, and we made several circuits of the table when the toasts began. There is a protocol to follow, but each guest made at least two toasts. Besides three pitchers of the house wine, we opened fifteen bottles of wine that night.

Ryan_Liam - No, sir, I have not yet been to Stalin's birthplace, but it is on my list of things to do.

Shodan - I am not familiar with the wrestling tournament you mentioned, but I would not be surprised if it is still held. The Georgian people are very competitive and they are proud of their athletes. I'll keep you posted about the sports scene when I return in a few weeks.

Mr. Excellent and Cervaise - I am very interested in discussing these topics with you. I am late for an appointment, but I promise to log back on this evening to discuss what you have posted. I have seen what you are describing, and since I am working on the BTC pipeline, I can give some details about it and other energy-related topics. And, yes, I am interested in being a contributor to a polictal forum. I am sorry that I have to rush off, but I'll be back later.
Old 09-24-2003, 12:41 PM
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Hey ralf,

Very cool! I don’t have my e-mail posted on my profile, and I see that you don’t, either. But if you should need to communicate with me off-board about any of the above, just post here and I’ll find a way to get you my e-mail address.

Someday I’ll make it to the Caucasus…I think I was a Caucasian in a previous life or something. (I’d thought about doing a 2-week traditional Georgian singing camp there this fall, but I chickened out, mainly because the airfare is so damn expensive.) But have you ever heard the legend about why Georgia is so beautiful? (I’ve got a published version at home somewhere, but I’ll try to do my best from memory.)

Once upon a time, when God was creating the universe, he was deciding which peoples should get which pieces of land. There were thousands of peoples, all standing in line waiting for their handout, so it was a very long day.

The Georgians, meanwhile, had better things to do than stand in line; they were all sitting around the table, eating, drinking, singing, and generally merrymaking. In fact, they were having such a good time that they completely forgot to get up and stand in line. When one of them finally remembered and got up to talk to God about getting a Georgian homeland, God had already handed out all the land. “Oh well, no hard feelings,” said the Georgians. “Why don’t you come sit down at the table and eat and drink and sing with us?” God agreed, and more bottles were opened, more songs were sung, and more platters of delicious food brought out. Finally, God decided that the Georgians had been so wonderful and hospitable to him that he would give him the piece of land he had been saving for himself.
Old 09-24-2003, 02:17 PM
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Why didn't the Georgians sign the agreement with the Vatican?
Old 09-25-2003, 12:49 PM
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Eva Luna - That's a great story! I'll have to tell that story to the Georgians that I work with.

S.A.L. - That's a good question. Unfortunately, all the newspaper articles I have read say that no one knows for sure what the agreement is about. Apparently there were some behind-the-scenes discussions between the Vatican and the Church of Georgia that were not open to the public, so I don't know what's going on with that agreement. When I return, perhaps I can find out a little more about this; that kinda stuff intrigues me.

Mr. Excellent - As you are no doubt aware, the BTC pipeline will at first augment, and then replace the existing WREP. If I understand it correctly, LukOil was not happy that the Caspian Sea crude will be available for the global market via the BTC Pipeline project. The relationship between Georgia and Russia is shaky at best. Georgia relies on energy resources from Russia, but Georgia is desperate to become energy-independent. As I said earlier, sir, I would be honored to join your discussions. I will go to the site you have posted and get involved. Thank you for inviting me.

Cervaise - Well, how do I start? I have seen buildings in Tbilisi and Rustavi that are now little more than human warehouses. Some are former hotels and some are former apartment buildings, but all are crowded with out-of-work displaced persons, some of whom are hopelessly stuck in a no-win situation in regards to income and resources. As a matter of fact, the hotel that was brand-new when the Russians left, the Iveria Hotel is now a huge slum, populated with "refugees" and "homeless people". Many times, these buildings have single wires running from another building or from a tranformer on a power line pole - in other words, illegal tie-ins to the electrical system. Street lamps on the main streets of Tbilisi have open terminal boxes with wires sticking out; this is so street vendors can tap into the electricity to run their bare bulb lamps and coolers for their wares.

Utilities in Georgia are rather unreliable. In Tbilisi, we experience at least on electrical power outage every single day. The water is turned off at night for about six hours in most parts of the city. The natural gas line from Russia is sometimes closed, so heating for some of the residents of Tbilisi may be non-existant this winter. Most of these problems occur because of the wide-ranging corruption throughout the country.

Surprisingly, the citizens of Georgia are remarkably optimistic about the future of their country. They are counting on projects like the BTC Pipeline and other economic improvements to change their lives for the better. All the Georgians I talk to say that the first step is to change the existing political regime to a younger, more honest group of men and women who will deal with the existing problems instead of taking advantage of the turmoil to make more money.

Unlike some other third-world countries I have worked in, Georgia has a disappearing middle class. Here's what I mean by that: In most third-world countries, there is an emerging middle class. This is happening because people are learning a craft or skill and becoming the folks that make the country run - a real departure from the "haves and have-nots" two class system that existed in the past. In Georgia, however, the middle class that used to be employed when the Russians were in power now have no jobs, no direction and no real future. The middle class is well-educated and ambitious, but they have no jobs. This is because the Russians crippled the infrastructure when they left. All the factories are idle and there are no self-generated Georgian goods available. The country at present is essentially an agriculture-based society. All the existing transportation, mercantile, and utility systems are based on left-over Russian technology or imported foreign products - much of which is gratis.

As an outsider from the U.S., I am amazed at the conditions that exist in Georgia. The Georgians, however, realize that they have a pretty tough road ahead of them and they know that they cannot continue to rely on donations from Western aid societies and corporate exploitation from the U.S., the U.K. Russia, and other industrialized nations. Is it grim? Most certainly. Can they get beyond this to a brighter future? I really think they can; it just won't be a fun trip.
Old 09-29-2003, 12:08 AM
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Mr. Excellent - Well, I have tried the url for your political science international relations forum several times, but it doesn't seem to work for me. Please post a correction so I can register and participate.
Old 10-21-2003, 04:13 AM
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Just some ramblings....

Last winter was tough all over Georgia... we went a week without gas in January (flat got down to about 3C). From about mid-Nov to mid-March it was VERY cold - coldest winter in some time.

The trip up to Kazbegi on the Russian border is quite a ride... did that last December.

I would think the Metechi would have better power than say Vera or Vake... McDonalds on Rustaveli always seems to have power.
Old 10-21-2003, 11:00 AM
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Radar Ralf, or indeed your fellow Tbilisite, [b] Trygve[b], I would appreciate some menu recommendations and, more importantly, wine (name/year) recommendations for Georgian food. There is a place in North London I have been to and want to go back to called Tbilisi, on the Holloway Road, which seemed pretty authentic to me. Well, the staff all seemed to be Georgian and there were Georgian expats eating there too when I was there.

Anyway I have a sneaking feeling I did not order well when last there and am determined to do better next time with your help. One problem - I like walnuts but a little goes a long way with me. Any distinctive dishes that have less walnut than the average (if I wanted NO walnut I guess I would go elsewhere). I am fine with the offal.

By the way Radar Guy we work in the same industry but I am not on rotation here - only 23 more months to go.

Seeing the response to your thread I may well start an Luanda, Angola, thread of my own.....

Good luck, and keep safe!
Old 10-26-2003, 05:47 AM
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Join Date: May 1999
Location: Alaska
Posts: 923
Well, first off, I apologize for being so lax in my responses to the recent questions. I have been fortunate enough to attend two Georgian dinner parties (supra) and I have eaten all over the country now. I can recommend the following dishes as being particularly tasty, notquitekarpov: lobio - red beans cooked with onions, peppers, and spices; khachapuri - cheese between two layers of thin dough, sometimes called "Georgian pizza"; khinkali - meat dumplings. Much of the cuisine is very similar to dishes around the world, but with different seasonings. I am very fond of the fresh produce found at every meal. It is pleasantly surprising to find field-fresh cucumbers and tomatos at every meal, including breakfast!

Since Georgia is considered by many people to be the birthplace of wine, there are a great many good wines to try. Kakheti is thought by many people to produce the best wines, but others I have spoken with also recommend Old Tbilisi wines. As a general rule of thumb, you should not be disappointed with wines in the medium price category. I am sure that Trygve will be able to help us out with specific wine brands for you to try.
Old 12-22-2003, 08:59 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Chicago-ish, IL
Posts: 10,342
OK, I’ve received the cookbook, and it rocks! What can I send in return? Or should I just surprise you?

Some especially choice bits of text, with typical grandma-style, not terribly precise instructions (it reminds me of my roomie Irina’s blini recipe, which was something like “take some flour, some baking soda, and some water…” and got sillier from there):

On khachapuri of various sorts:

Regular khachapuri: “Take some young soft cheese, smash it with hands, mix in an egg, and add salt…put the khachapuri on a pan, and bake. At due temperature [whatever that is], the khachapuri will be ready in 10-15 min., when the surface is well roasted.”

Adjarian khachapuri: “Take some Adjarian cheese, smash it, mix in one or two eggs (some cooks also add curds, but tastes differ.)…Shape the piece into a so-called “boat…”

Ossetian khachapuri: “The recipe for the Ossetian Khachapuri is similar to the Georgian Khachapuri, but for Ossetian Khachapuri only Ossetian cheese should be used.”

[Ossetia and Adjaria are regions of Georgia with secessionist leanings.]

Khashi (ingredients: 2 kg beef guts and knuckles, 15-20 cloves garlic, salt to taste)

“Cut well-cleaned beef paunch, pork hooves, and knuckles into pieces. Put them into a saucepan, pour water and boil for approx. 4-5 hours…Khashi is usually served early in the morning. It is especially tasty the day after a feast, relieving your headache and hangover. Better served with vodka and mineral water.”

Omelette with Tomatoes:

“This dish is easy to prepare, which is mostly valued by men.”

And that’s just the beginning…So who’s coming for dinner? More importantly, who’s coming over for hair of the dog the next morning? Maybe for that January mini ChiDope, guys?
Old 12-22-2003, 09:57 PM
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Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Staring blankly at my GPS
Posts: 11,874
I'll chomp on an omlette, but pass on the hair of the dog - I've got very fuzzy memories of a three day hangover caused by a magnum of Armenian brandy a few years back

I'll even help cook - we can swap recipies using my Ukranian cook book
Old 12-22-2003, 10:06 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Dallas, Tx
Posts: 669
Why is the flag so ugly? And whats with that other flag I've seen being waved that looks like the flag of England with St George's cross only with little red things in each box? Is that an official flag at all? It should be.
Old 12-22-2003, 11:23 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2000
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pilot, there is a 99% chance the wine you're saving is undrinkable. Almost no white wine is aged for very long. I hope you don't break it out at an occasion with other folks.
Old 12-23-2003, 12:33 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Mostly Texas
Posts: 1,540
essvee the wine has survived me leaving active duty, getting hired by an airline and three moves. It's more decoration value now than anything else: "Ooh, look at the wine with the funny letters!"

But on your advice, I'll make sure that I open it with only people who know of it's dubious consumption value. Or I might never open it at all and keep the bottle as a conversation piece!

And since this thread has been raised from the dead:

radar ralf you asked me earlier about "tailgater" missions but I never saw the question.

I flew several types of missions that were "out of the ordinary". We called them "heavies" or "lofties", depending on when they were flown. They were flown by our squadron only (the 6th AS), and they were a lot of fun for the crew. If you guys called the regular "State Department" run the "tailgate" mission then yes, I flew them but not to central Europe. I flew those missions to South America, Asia and Africa.
Old 12-23-2003, 02:35 AM
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Join Date: May 1999
Location: Alaska
Posts: 923
Eva Luna - You really don't need to send me anything. Just seeing your excitment about the cookbook is reward enough.

TitoBenito - I'm not familiar with the flag you describe. Can you post a link to an image of it? It could be the flag of one of the break-away states that are trying to achieve autonomy: South Ossetia, Adjara, or Abkhazia.

essvee - I had to chuckle when I saw this: pilot, there is a 99% chance the wine you're saving is undrinkable. To my uneducated palate, nearly all Georgian wine is undrinkable. That's just my opinion, I could be wrong. Just kiddin' - suffice it to say that Georgian wine is an acquired taste.

pilot141 - By "tailgater" missions, I meant "lo & slo with the tailgate (aft ramp to you jarheads) down", the better to hurl otherwise-knowledgeable humans and fully-functional equipment out of a perfectly good and airborne-capable aviation vehicle.
Old 12-23-2003, 02:39 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Gumi, S. Korea
Posts: 9,130
My dictionary says that Georgia and the other Transcaucusus republics are part of Asia, but the map in this same dictionary says they're in Europe. Do Georgians consider themselves to be Asian or European? (It's like picking a US region that will claim West Virginia!)
Old 12-23-2003, 02:49 AM
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Join Date: May 1999
Location: Alaska
Posts: 923
Hang on, I'm checking with my co-workers...
Old 12-23-2003, 03:00 AM
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Join Date: May 1999
Location: Alaska
Posts: 923
Okay, short answer: it's a melting pot. Some of my associates say that they have two sets of M.O. - one for people from countries like Azerbaijan, and another for people from countries like Germany. You raise a good question that I must explore in detail. Georgia has been influenced by so many cultures that it is not easy to get to an acceptable answer, even for Georgians. As some people here have told me, all Georgians will answer that they are more European than Asian, but in manner and thinking, they are sometimes quite the opposite.
Old 12-24-2003, 03:36 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Dallas, Tx
Posts: 669
In a news article about the president resigning people were shown waving this flag. I remember thinking "I'm glad they finally replaced that hideous flag". From the link I sent it appears to be an older flag that is probibly used by a political party.
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