Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Cell Phone and Contrasts

Nino Zhvania, a young woman with a degree from the University of Nebraska, and a former student of mine, helped me with the loan of a cell phone. To register this phone and buy some time on it, we went to a very modern building on the busiest street (I think) in Tiblisi. The phone company is called Magti—you can probably google it if you so wish.
There in this very clean, tiled place I got a contract for a cell phone—a debit type deal. For 10 lari I get what I am promised is a lot of time. A lari is the equivalent of about $1.70 although it fluctuates. I am charged about 10 cents a minute to send and receive calls. The picture is of the attractive and competent sales person who sold me this contract. I am wondering if the public spaces in Georgia have a very different character than the private ones. Perhaps there is some large economic lesson here. But the very few private enterprises I have seen appear very efficient and modern while the public spaces appear as if from another time. I wonder if this possible pattern will also be observed in education, i.e. that education as a private and public good will show a similar difference between the public and the private.
Later I was driven about by Natia and Maia (landlady’s daughter and landlady). They took me by a confectionary and patisserie where they had purchased the box of samples they brought to me earlier. Sweet and fattening and delicious. And more importantly they showed me a small storefront where I can get fresh veggies. If the group at this little market there cooperates, I’ll post a picture after I have established a reputation as a regular. Every little grocery shop/stall/store into which I poked my head over the past two days seems to have multiple people waiting to sell me something—even if the store is just a small 12 x 12 room.
I am not sure how to describe the experience of being driven about the streets of Vera (the area where I am living). Many of the intersections are blind. Cars pull out from blind allies. Little is predictable as cars weave about to avoid pot holes and stop suddenly as if an arresting thought had struck the driver motionless. But, Georgians don’t drive at a reckless speed so they generally seem to be able to avoid each other. Automobile brake pads must be a good business in this country however.
“Georgians are a nervous people,” Natia Mrashvili told me(on the matter of her not stopping in the middle of an intersection when I asked if I should exit the car there). She meant by this that I would create a commotion—a cacophony of horns honking.
I saw what appears to be an upscale avenue around Tiblisi State University and Ilia Chavchavdze University. I’ll go there tomorrow I think.


  1. Miles: Thanks a lot for taking the time to describe your initial experiences in Georgia. I look forward to further posts. Your apartment looks good. Please describe your experiences food shopping and cooking; plus whatever ever else you think would be of interest to us back here in the USA. Very cold outside, public schools were closed in Lincoln and Omaha, UNL was open, we had about four inches of snow today.

  2. Glad to hear you have arrived safely and are settling in well. In your absence, Scott B and I are 'harassing' each other about our dissertation progress. The only thing you have probably missed here is the weather and that is not much to miss. Look forward to hearing more of your travels and adventures, the prose is smooth - it shows a good bit of your English background.
    Take care, Enjoy, Melissa