The title of this post means “do you want sex?”, and it’s what I thought I heard a woman say, quite loudly, as I was walking to my friends’ flat in Saburtalo the other day.
Startled, I looked around, and saw a woman in a taxi cab, with the door open, who looked like she might be on the phone. “Oh”, I thought, relieved, “clearly I must have misheard her.” She yelled something into the phone, and to my untrained ear it sounded like she’d said “sexi gindat?” I decided to ignore the unfolding drama – in my experience, once someone in Georgia starts yelling, there’s hours of yelling still ahead. Normal conversations become yelled conversations because I think there’s some kind of cultural norm against de-escalating increased conversational volume.
I made my way around a car that had been parked on the sidewalk – because where else would you park cars? – paying careful attention to the snow and ice underfoot – because why would you shovel a walkway for pedestrians? – and when I came around the other side of the car I tried to ignore the shouting woman.
Despite my best intentions, I apprehended the following bit of monologue: “Hello!!! Sexi gindat? Do you want sex???”
Now, I could say to myself “she didn’t just say what I think she did, did she?” but once she started in in two languages I had to admit that I had indeed heard her correctly. There’s just a really compelling level of redundancy in the two-language approach. I glanced over my shoulder. She was looking at me. So was her friend, and so was their cab driver. And do you know what the first thought to enter my mind was?
It was, “these people are trying to lure me with sex so they can rob me.”
And do you know what my second thought was?
It was, “and take my kidneys.”
I only had about 15 lari in my pocket, but I really need my kidneys – I use them almost as much as my liver – so I turned around and tried not to be too obvious about picking up the pace. From the sound of it, I’m fairly certain that they smelled my fear, and my fear smelled hilarious.
As it became clear that the people did not intend to follow me down the street, the flight response gave way and a little bit of curiosity crept in. I thought that I should have at least stopped to assess the situation – to find out if she was a prostitute, or an escaped nymphomaniac, or the bait in an elaborate scheme to steal my laris or kidneys – just so that I wouldn’t leave my readers with this giant question mark. I’m sorry to say that cowardice got the better of me and I don’t have an answer for you.
I’m going to go with “prostitute”, since it’s the most plausible (despite being like the last thing that occurred to me) and also since my search results stats tell me that literally hundreds of people have visited this site looking for prostitutes in Tbilisi. For those (presumably) guys, here’s your payoff: if you want a prostitute in Tbilisi, you might find one if you wander down Kazbegi avenue at around 9:30 on a Saturday night. Or you might get your kidneys stolen. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
But of course the upshot of this experience is that now when all of my female friends talk about hearing “sexi ginda?” yelled at them from the inside of a taxi cab, I can join in with my own story! I feel like this is a part of the Georgian experience that I’ve just been missing for so long.
Jokes aside – even if you’re a dude, being propositioned for sex by a stranger, at night, from a car, is pretty intimidating. There’s something about a person breaking the normal social contract against propositioning strangers that lets in a whole bundle of other anxieties, like the dark underbelly of the city is opening up to swallow you. I wouldn’t say that it’s scary, but it definitely makes you feel less safe.
I made it to my friend’s flat in Saburtalo safe and sound, both kidneys still intact. We went to Canudos afterwards, though, so I’m sorry to say that my 15 lari didn’t survive the night.
This video is, I imagine, the fever dream I would have had if I’d woken up in a Georgian hospital with no kidneys:
(Video: Lika Zeender, Sexi Ginda)