My Blog List

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Why I Skipped this Election

Once, I wrote a paper on political apathy in college. Using lengthy words and complex sentences I analyzed why Americans are reluctant to vote.
Many years later, here I sit, paralyzed with work and responsibilities, unable to move my butt to the voting center. Political apathy washed over me.
It’s learned helplessness, you know. How many times have I gone, standing in line, crossing out everybody and for what? Some asshole gets elected anyway.
I am tired of having no position and no preference. I am tired of voting against everybody. I don’t know who is worse, Margvelashvili or Bakradze. As a matter of fact, if I didn't know who Misha is, if he were to appear for the first time, I would vote for him. We need a talking, energetic and travelling person. The position is supposed to be symbolic. He would do nice. Though I wouldn't vote for current Misha, after all the prison scandals, raped and nose-broken lovers, money-spending, partying, city “reconstruction” and media-controlling. Bye-bye, this is the end of our uneven, bumpy relationship. I have never voted for you, but others have, so you were my president regardless.
The only thing I know for sure is that Burjanadze is pure evil and Targamadze is a two-faced so-and-so. The only thing I care for is their loss. Please loose! Loose, I said!
I hate this situation so much that I am trying to avoid it. I skipped the debates. I watched the ads only this Friday – they were horrendous. I’ve seen better campaign in my high school in Utah. Low-quality footage, stupid slogans, hell, even the posters in the street are ugly!
The same speeches about unity, gay marriage (like that is even an issue), who did what and where, blaming each other, Burjanadze claiming men should resemble men and women should resemble women, this endless shit of meaningless words, god help us all!
And really, none of it matters, they won’t be able to fulfill half of their promises, since they do not hold such constitutional power! But nobody cares, since constitution is for sissies, and god knows, it all may change tomorrow and we will be stuck with Margvelshvili as an actual decision-maker and our military leader. Then what are we going to do?!
Honestly, I don't have time for their games. Where's my sand, I need to stick my head in it!

Giant facepalm.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Chasing Ghosts of the Ancient: Part 2

 I am in love with Turkey. I like the views, the people, the ruins, the food, I like relative comfort. The second day of our trip included all of that, as we rushed out of Erzurum (nothing too interesting) and continued our quest for ancient stuff.
Passing gorgeous mountains, we reached the Hahuli monastery, erected in the 10th century, now serving as a mosque. The monastery is in the middle of Turkish village and  local teenagers rudely pestered us to buy candles. We refused, joined a group of French tourists, walked in, looked at the wall ornaments. We found a stream of water and I was so thirsty I drank it, despite the threat of becoming a lamb (familiar with Russian fairy tales? Anyone?). I am still alive.
We climbed down to more civilized roads, to a water dam, for a picnic of olives and Turkish bread. Life was good. Adventures all around. Afterwards, we toured Oshki, a spectacular basilica, the first one of four great Georgian churches: Oshki, Svetistskhoveli, Bagrati and Alaverdi. The three ones that stand on Georgian ground have been changed and remodeled several times, but Oshki pretty much looks like it did – except, it is on a verge of a collapse. The 11-century-old icons are exposed to wind and rain, the roof has caved in and one of the hollowed-out pillars is supported by a wood log. It is big, it is beautiful and it is devastated. Once more, our extreme nationalism and intolerance is harming us; Turkey and Georgia negotiated about reconstruction of three historical monuments – including Oshki – in exchange for reconstruction of an old mosque in Batumi. This was followed by national outrage…a mosque in Batumi, what for (maybe for all the Muslims that do not have enough space in existing one)?!…and as a result, Oshki stands orphaned and sad. Villagers build houses using its walls. Tragic.
Our next destination involved massive canyon, were rocks seemed to inhale us, crush us and eat us alive. Cliffs hanging over our car, brown, scary, looking like a crumpled cardboard, like old man’s skin…we took a long, unpaved, one-car wide serpentine road in the sunset, hoping to make it alive. As we reached the top of a very remote village, we discovered that the final point of our destination – the Ishkhani monastery- was closed for reconstruction. On one hand, we were glad that Turkish government decided to take care of the monument. Even in the dusk, workers kept busy. On the other hand, Ishkani has interesting 11-th century icons that we wanted to see. Thus, we risked our lives for no reason. We turned around and raced the remains of daylight to get off that scary, but thrilling road.

By the end of the day, tired and sweaty, we opted out of planned camping and crashed in a hotel in a small town of Usufeli. The room was cheap but clean. It was placed on a cliff and our windows directly overlooked the river that lulled us to sleep. Our journey was almost over. 
Pic: the lake where we had our picnic

Monday, October 7, 2013

Chasing Ghosts of the Ancient: Part 1

Officer at the Georgian border asked us if our tank was full. “It costs twice as much on the other side, you know”. We knew. We were equipped with personal and Google knowledge and maps and guides and GPS. The day 1 of our Turkish adventure, we left Akhaltsikhe behind us and ventured into Anatolia.
We soon learned that visiting every church, castle and ruins makes no sense. Too many of them. So we chose ones of historical significance. The first day we drove all the way up to Kars, looking at the fields of hay, mountains, horses and enjoying the wonderfully paved road.
Based on Pamuk’s “Snow”, we expected to find a town where depressed hotel owners don’t dare to walk the poverty-struck streets and scarf-covered women commit inexplicable suicides; instead, we discovered a cute little town, with its share of comfort.
The city was under Russian siege in late 19th century and thus contains beautiful Russian/Baltic style buildings. As my hubby took out a tripod to take a pic of the governor’s house, secret police materialized and started inquiring about the nature of our pics.  I guess tripod meant spying, since no one minded our picture-taking before. Anyway, we promised to leave governmental buildings alone and resumed circling the old town.
The next morning we toured Kars Kale, a pretty impressive castle, looked over the city and old Armenian church of 10th century, now turned into a mosque. We consumed a breakfast of baklavas and other carb-loaded Turkish yummies, replenished our supply of Turkish tea and drove towards Ani.
Ani was much more impressive than its descriptions. We just stood in amazement in front of the city walls for a while. We had hard time reconciling the ancient city with cows grazing at its gates, local children playing with dogs and our car in the parking lot.
Ani was established in 5th century and by 9th century it was a capital of Armenia.  It was big and prosperous, and according to Wikitravel, was known as City of Forty Gates and the City of a Thousand Churches.
No wander it was attacked by everyone with a functioning army, including our own Queen Tamar, who rebuilt it and made it nice and ready for the never-ending Mongolian attacks. Finally, the area was conquered by Ottomans and now their descendants charge 5 Lira for the entrance.
We walked around almost all day, looking at all the magnificent ruins, breathing in the 10,15,20 century-old sand. As we finally rested on the floor of an ancient church, one of the workers (the complex is being reconstructed) gave us some of his tea. This kind of hospitality followed us everywhere in Anatolia.
We drank tea, found a prehistoric Zoroastrian temple ruins, photographed tourist scribblings made in 1903, marveled and awed and picked up a hitchhiker. Cool and nice-looking (ahem), a teacher from Istambul, he talked about Turkey and we compared our countries. Turns out he just came back from Batumi and showed us a Borjomi bottle in his backpack as a proof. We parted ways - he was going to see some sultan’s castle by the sea. We were headed towards Erzurum. We still had a shitload of ancient churches to behold.
To be continued…

P.S. the pic: Me stomping the ancient ruins