Don’t say that word!

I found a locust in the garden this morning. It was sitting on a leaf on one of the lower branches of a tree. I didn’t disturb it but I alerted the tall person. He came to look and took some photographs.

He told me that the long hot summer had encouraged lots of creatures to look for food where people live. He remembered a story published in early August in the New York Times that reported that residents of Tbilisi were becoming alarmed by the numbers of scorpions, snakes and giant locusts in the city. Some people said that the apocalypse was coming. Others said that the giant locusts were caused by fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster.

The tall person told me not to panic. He remembered seeing locusts in the city but they were normal size. He also said that the one I had found in the garden was also normal size. He should know because he once kept a chameleon as a pet and fed it locusts.

I haven’t seen a scorpion yet but De saw a large snake when we were walking in the forest recently. The tall person said it was almost certainly harmless. However, he went on to say that the story in the New York Times reported that many Georgians traditionally associate snakes with the devil and try to avoid using the word ‘snake’ as they feel it might cause something bad to happen to them. When the tall person asked De about this she said many people are superstitious about snakes and will not use the word.

Interesting. I asked the tall person why the locust I had found in the garden was by itself. He said it could have happened for many reasons but the wind had probably separated it from its swarm. Ah, I hope it finds its friends again – in someone else’s garden!

Going underground

No, I am not going to dig a big hole! The tall person travelled on the Metro yesterday and he thought you might like to know what it is like.

When it opened in 1966 the Tibilisi Metro was the fourth Metro system in the former Soviet Union (after Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Kiev). It consists of two lines with 22 stations on 26.4 kilometres of track.

The Metro is a great way to get around the city and avoid traffic jams. It is also convenient as trains run from 6:00 a.m. till 12:00 a.m. This is an entrance to a Metro station.

Until quite recently, entry to the system was by small plastic tokens which could be purchased at kiosks inside the stations. However, these have now been replaced by plastic smart cards that can be topped up. There is a flat fare of 40 tetri (about 24 U.S. cents) but the tall person read somewhere that if you make more than one journey in a day the price reduces – the second journey will cost 30 tetri and the third 20 tetri.

Most of the stations are deep and reached by long escalators. It sometimes takes a while to actually get down to platform level. The tall person says that the escalators remind him of the ones in the Moscow Metro, which are also very long. This is a picture of one of the platforms.

The platforms are often quite busy (an estimated 300,000 people use the Metro each day) but trains are regular and you rarely have to wait more than a couple of minutes. Notice how clean and shiny the platforms are.

Signs on the platforms and in the underground corridors are in Georgian script, which can be very confusing for foreigners but when you are on a train announcements for arrival at each station are made in both Georgian and English. However, the tall person suggests that you take a map of the system and count the stations as it is easy to get confused!

This is a picture of one of the train carriages. They are rarely this empty and sometimes you will have to stand! Notice how clean the carriages are!

This is our stop! I hope you enjoyed the tall person’s guide to the Tbilisi Metro.