Monday, September 22, 2008

Notes from Tbilisi

TBILISI -- Here is a collection of observations since I arrived in Georgia's capital last Wednesday morning.

Most of the movies on television here are American and dubbed into Georgian on the cheap. The sound is basically turned down on the original, and the dubbed voices recorded over it. So you can still hear the original audio to some degree.

No one wears seat belts here, and very few cars seem to have functioning seat belts. But driving is practically a free for all, so they definitely have a much greater need for seat belts than drivers in the U.S.

I finally saw a car accident this evening, well I heard it and got there a minute later. An SUV tried to turn left across three lanes of traffic, which it cleared, but then it t-boned a hatchback as it tried to merge with the traffic headed the direction it was trying to go. The accident shut down three of the six lanes on the road, forcing cars on one side to cross over the double yellow line into opposing traffic to get around the accident.

The police who showed up let the situation be for about five minutes before one of them thought it would be wise to direct traffic in hope of avoiding a head-on collision. It was quickly apparent that the police had no idea of traffic control or securing an accident scene. These are skills that are considered basic, integral skills to police doing their job in the U.S., but apparently not so here.

Furthermore, an ambulance had not arrived when I finally left after ten minutes.

To be fair, only four years ago police forces were largely seen as corrupt services that existed to collect bribes rather than provide for the public safety. They were cleaned up after Saakashvili swept into office in the Rose Revolution.

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