After a great day and late night with the Swedish crew here I was lazy enough to take taxis four times (!) in one day (average cost 3 USD). I usually pitch the few Georgian words I’ve learned, “Hello, how are you?”. They answer and toss the question back at me, “kargat“, fine, I says, and trust between us is established. As a rule, they then ask in Russian, “Otkuda ty, brat?” Where are you from, brother? and the conversation is in motion…
Taxi driver 1
This man in his 50’s justifyably complained that there are no jobs around, times are difficult. I know this is true. But sometimes it is easy to see what you don’t have, and less easy to see what you do have, so I suggested to him that it seems that Georgians are rich when it comes to relationships and culture. “Listen, brother, for what do we need love when we don’t even have money for rent?” he asked retorically, reminding me that I probably take my material well-being forgranted. Despite our differences we really connected and just like he enriched my life that day, I think I also may have enriched his, simply by hearing him out and sharing some honest thoughts.
Taxi driver 2
The second driver brought up equally thoughtful philosophical aspects of life: “Many have gotten out of touch with spirituality, materialism is all they care about” he said, referring primarily to my [western] society but also to the modern segments of Georgia. That was kind of the point I was trying to get across to the first taximan, that there is more to life than fine material living standards. But then again, that’s easy for me to say who’s always been able to buy the food, clothing and housing i need..
Taxi driver 3
This fellow shared a citizen’s perspective on the conflict at hand. “Russians are our neighbours. We don’t have anything against them. It is them up there [politicians, people in power] who’s creating these problems.” It is not the first time I get this feeling, that most people prefer much to live side by side in peace, not paying attention to different passports but rather the similarities and the benefits of interaction..
Taxi driver 4
After dancing away to the beats of Erykah Badu live in Tbilisi and a glass of sweet red wine in great company I caught another taxi back to the hotel. It was getting late and I needed some rest. A guy my age pulled up his dented worn out BMW with tinted windows. He was more into his smokes and technobeats than discussing philosophy with me, so we sat in silence for a few minutes until he dropped me off.
Needless to say, taxirides here enrich my perspectives on things.
After 6 nights in Tbilisi – for Swedish contingent meeting and a drivers instructors training – it’s nice to be back “home” in Gori.. Ready for more patrols tomorrow morning.