I have a bunch of free time here in my new home city, and it occurs to me that as an American who is used to a certain set of conveniences, I could busy myself by starting up some projects in Tbilisi that might help others like myself in their travels in this city.
First of all, today I walked from the Greek shuarma cafe near the Polyteknikuri metro station to the Rustaveli metro station. It was a nice night, I wanted to see more of the city, it’s not a long walk, and it meant I could avoid the transfer at Vagzlis Moedani. Anyway, I passed this place called Elvis American Diner, or something along those lines, which promised that it had what was voted the best burger in town. I’ve been craving a burger, among other things, but I had just had a giant shuarma wrap, so I decided to hold off… however, they also had pizza. Real pizza, not that mayonnaisey stuff they serve in Georgian restaurants. Anyway, I caved and bought a pepperoni slice… but they made it with Georgian cheese, not Mozzarella, so it just wasn’t pizza. Until I got to the end, that is – they did the crust just write, New York style thin crust, and as I ate that crust with its traces of tomato sauce, it actually reminded me of real pizza, and I stood out on the plaza and looked at the moon and an odd statue, and I felt homesick. It was kind of like this:
Except, you know, that it was probably the middle of the afternoon where all of my family is now, so I doubt they were wishing on any stars or anything.
I wanted to solve my pizza and burger dilemma. My first thought was to call up my good old uncle Tony and try to get his pizza recipe. He makes really amazing homemade pizza. That would make a great Adventures in Cooking in Georgia post, but I’m not sure the challenges are surmountable. For example, I’d obviously have to find imported mozzarella (or figure out how to make my own, which seems like a TON of work for some freakin pizza). Also, I’d want to get a pizza stone, to get the crust right. Oh, yeah, and actually having an oven might help too… anyway let’s just say I won’t be making any pizza back at the ranch any time soon, so forget it.
My second thought – and this is where the project comes in – was that I could do a series of posts on Dining Out in Georgia, and have categories for Georgian, American, and International restaurants. So this isn’t really novel – I’m basically proposing to do restaurant reviews – but wouldn’t restaurant reviews be fun? I could get a group of Americans together and we could go out in search of pizza and burgers and various other American foods (yeah, I know pizza is like Italian or something and burgers are from Cheeseburg, Germany, gimme a break here) and we could rate them in terms of their deliciousness, authenticity, and other qualities that folks might look for in a food item experience from the homeland. Who’s with me?
The other project I’ve had brewing for a while is to make a comprehensive Marshutka map of Tbilisi. Now, I know that I personally take marshutka 226 to my home in Gldani, which fact, using my remarkable powers of mathematical deduction, I have used to estimate that there are at least 225 marshutkas whose paths I am not familiar with. Do I want to personally map 225 marshutkas? Not even a little bit. Apparently no one in Georgia does, because as far as I know there is no such map. However. I suspect that the marshutkas have to get their route numbers from some agency. I’ll try to figure out which agency this is, get their contact info, and see what information on routes I can get from them to use as a starting point. After that, it’ll have to be volunteers out riding marshutkas and mapping where they go. I’ll have to figure out some way to give out maps that people can record information on, and then some way of integrating this information back into a central source – this will probably involve the GIMP – and then maybe making this available as a .pdf, or if I get really adventurous, as some kind of interactive online resource.
As for now, I’m really craving some sweet delicious New York pizza. I’d even settle for Chicago pizza.
Speaking of pizza and movies that I watched over and over again as a small child:
That’s right. All Dogs Go to Heaven. Which reminds me of an informal project that I have already started, which is naming all the street dogs in my neighborhood in Gldani. So far there’s Phil, the little energetic black dog; Stan, the ugly white dog near my house, Jeff, the gigantic white dog near the police academy, and Leroy, the brown dog who lays around on the grass outside the ranch (which is what I call the gated compound that I live on). There’s also a black puppy that likes to hang out in the middle of the street near work… but I might not name it until it figures out not to try to take its naps in traffic. Wouldn’t want to get too attached. I know, this might be a sign of extreme boredom on my daily commute, but it’s a fifteen minute walk with no iPod! I wonder if I should name the guard dogs that bark at me while I walk to work, or if that would be presumptuous. I could always knock on the owners’ doors and ask “რა ქვია შენი ძაღლი?” which means “what is your dog called” (I think) but I imagine that would get me some strange looks. On second thought, please ignore this paragraph.