So I resolved to ignore the protests and just go on about my business as usual. I was sitting in the Elvis American Diner – my habitual lunch and after-school wifi haunt – just minding my own when suddenly I became aware of an event occurring in my right periphery. Hundreds of people in blue hats were strolling down Melikishvili behind a mobile truck stage, chatting with their friends and letting loose with an occasional round of “Gaumar-Jos” call and response. This! This was the Rage! I rushed outside to take pictures and video.
There was a lone camera crew who had set up outside beforehand (I had been wondering why they were here…) and they were filming the event. The demonstrators looked very peaceful – actually they looked mostly middle-aged or older, and they looked like they were having a pretty good time. Passers-by were totally ignoring them. The other people eating at Elvis were totally ignoring them. Some of them were carrying signs, and some had formed a neat little phalanx with big blue posters and white plastic batons waving. I have to admit it was exciting to be witness to this extremely insignificant and probably completely unhistorical event that everyone has nonetheless been talking about incessantly for the last week.
I guess rumors of the Day of Rage’s cancellation were greatly exaggerated.
Anyway, I did have a concern that someone might take issue with me photographing or recording them, but no one did. Most people ignored me; two young dudes waved to me and flipped me the peace sign, which I returned – I mean, who can disagree with peace, right? I also noticed that there was a small crowd on the front steps of my school watching the events… but this crowd is basically always there at 3pm on a school day because that’s when school is over.
After the march passed, I ran back inside Elvis, popped my SD card out of my camera and into the SD reader slot on my long-term-borrowed netbook, and began furiously uploading pictures and footage. I wanted to get the photos up before anyone else did – mission accomplished so far, which is cool – but my sense of urgency reminded me of nothing so much as being in one of those early cyber/spy thrillers, like Hackers or The Net, when the protagonist had to hurry up and upload the data to the internet before being caught by the evil conspiracy and their stooges in and out of law enforcement.
It was actually really cool. Nice to have my taste of danger for the day.
Video: Jonatha Brooke and Davy Knowles, Taste of Danger
Disclaimer: Everybody with any sense is telling foreigners to avoid the protests. I think this is good advice – we can’t understand what words are being said by the protesters, or instructions by police, and we can’t communicate effectively in the face of danger or angry people, which means being caught in the middle of anything is extra dangerous for us. I’m not going to Freedom Square to watch this and I had no idea that it would pass this way. Although it passed without incident, and although I’ve been making light of it, it’s better to be safe than sorry. And I have absolutely no desire to experience tear gas.