Friday, January 22, 2010

Produce stands and cacaphony

I had a good meeting with Nino Zhvania today and learned many things about Georgian education that I did not know.

These are pictures of produce stands all on one intersection near where I live. There are hundreds of these in this part of the city--little holes in the wall where local entrepreneurs sell wonderful apples, zucchini, mandarin oranges, potatoes, leeks, parsley, coriander, etc. Produce shelves are right on the sidewalk, sometimes taking up so much space they force the pedestrian into the street. This fact inspired a conversation with a man who works at the Ministry of Agriculture about Georgia and America's different form of capitalism. I said in Lincoln we would never permit a small time produce seller to take up public space on a sidewalk to sell stuff. City codes of all sorts would not permit. He wasn't surprised at this. In Georgia he said this was the custom and it was okay. Clearly is okay. So, I get pushed into the streets and have to keep a wary eye out for autos speeding toward me. Where lie the benefits and the competing claims of people? For me, I get good fresh fruit that is recycled daily--no cold storage for these businesses. They make a living. Less government regulation. Less safety. Hard to find the balance between these kinds of competing systems.

Cacaphony--last night I awoke slowly from a sound sleep about 1. There was this steady rising sound coming from the street outside my window. I tried to ignore it but eventually it was just too loud and too angry. So I got up. Outside at a very particularly hazardous and blind intersection of very narrow streets was a huge melee. Looked like two cars had had an accident and there must have been over 30 mainly men and a few women just screaming at each other. In America I guess this would have to be akin to a small riot. Maybe this thing goes on at bars in Lincoln some time when a bunch of people get into a row. In due time seven police cars came screeching up--skidding to a stop inches from the gawking pedestrians and combatants. I was amazed that no one was struck.

Georgian I think prize their cars and clearly there was ample insult to animate the participants--for close to an hour. Finally the police must have taken away the loudest of the loud because the mob dispersed.

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