Friday, December 02, 2011

Hello Nigger!

Tuesday, 29 December A cold and rainy day in Sarpi (my new neighbourhood) and Batumi. I had my first few lessons and a break. I asked the Computer teacher if I could use the internet, I needed to fill out a visa application. No problem. I was almost done when the bell rang. I had a lesson and my co-teacher hadn't been to work for days. You can't save the application form, I had to log off and come back later and do it all over again. My teacher was at work that day. Great! I should've finished my application. The next lesson was replaced by a Maths class. Cool! I ran back to the computer room. I finished my application, printed out everything I needed online. And the visa application requirements. The first one was: please complete the form in CAPITAL LETTERS. Fabulous! This meant I had just wasted 2hours of my precious time. I kept it either way. And I had printed out a blank copy just in case. I thought that if they didn't accept the printed copy, I'd just re-do it by hand in caps. I had a 2class break where I quickly dashed out to Bank of Georgia. Where my friend told me she got her Travel Insurance. It started pouring. I was facing the direction of rain, which can't be good. I wasn't sure where the bank was. I had to ask around and hope for the best. Where they say something is, isn't necessarily where it is. So you've gotta ask a few people and still hope for the best. They could all be wrong, there are no guarantees. It was pouring into my eyes, I battled to keep them open. I found the bank. An English speaking Georgian lady offered to translate for me. They told me they don't sell insurance, and gave me a piece of paper with the insurance institution's number. More walking! I saw a dead body! I came by an intersection where I had to wait for a funeral procession to pass. A few man held an open coffin up. There was a middle aged woman in there, all made up and hair styled. A very disturbing site if you ask me!I kept walking. Two guys in a nice, black Mercedes ML SUV, drove by, the passenger, opened the window and yelled 'Hello Nigger!' Out. I generally don't react to such behaviour, but I did show him the middle finger. Note to self: don't do that again. Don't let them get a reaction out of you! I came by a branch of Liberty Bank on my way, and decided to ask if they sold insurance. There was an OPEN sign on the door. I walked in, there were 3 ladies in there (staff). Me: Hi, do you sell insurance?Them: Closed! Closed!Me: Do you sell insurance or not?Them: The bank is closed. Me: Obviously not! You are in here and so am I. Couldn't you just tell me if you sell insurance or not?Them: Power, no. Isa... No power! Me: Do you need power to tell me if you sell insurance or not? Do you speak English?Them: No. Pissed, I walked out, opened the door and left it wide open. It was freezing out and their little bank was nice and warm. (This is the same bank where, they told someone that was translating for me before to come back 15minutes later. They were closed and couldn't tell us if they had an ATM or not). I passed the street where my school is, and just kept walking. The roads were flooded because there are no drains here. If it rains, which is daily, the streets become flooded. I finally found the Insurance place. 'Hello! Please have a seat. How, er, what do you want?'. I need travel insurance, please. She called someone else, 'hello, I'm listening'. Man! This people use the strangest phrases in here! What happened to how may I help you? Or just plain, can I help you! I told her what I wanted, she told me to go BACK to Bank of Georgia and apply there. MAM! I JUST CAME FROM THERE! IT'S POURING RAIN, I HAVE TO GET BACK TO WORK, I CANNOT KEEP WALKING UP AND DOWN THE CITY! 'You didn't have to come here at all, we could've done the whole thing over the phone'. HOW WAS I TO KNOW THAT? THE LADY AT THE BANK TOLD ME TO COME HERE, SHE EVEN WROTE ME THE ADDRESS ON A PIECE OF PAPER. HERE IT IS! 'What I can do is, I'll take your information and give you the papers, but you'd have to go back to the bank and pay, come back here, give me the proof of payment before I can activate your insurance'. CAN I FAX OR PRINT IT TO You? 'Yes you can'. She had my passport in her hand and asked me where I'm from. IT'S ON MY PASSPORT IN YOUR HAND! She took down all my details, including what my job was before I came to Georgia. Go figure! In less than 5mins, I was done! Back to school! One class and I had another break. This time, I went to Liberty bank on the main street, I know that some of them kinda speak English and the manager definitely speaks English. I needed banks statements. I got to the bank, and they had three notices stuck on the door. All in Georgian. And the doors were locked. I had to keep walking to find another branch. It wasn't that far from there. They air conditioned the living daylights out of that place. It was boiling! I waited my turned, hoping not to die in there. When I was second in line, the teller just wouldn't finish. I waited! 5minutes, nah, not done, then I stopped counting. I had to get back to work. Me: Do you know how much longer you're gonna be?Teller: NoMe: you don't know how long you'll be?Teller: NoMe: Do you have an idea? I've gotta get back to work?Teller: No. Me: Do you speak English?Teller: NoA kind lady in front of me told me she speaks English 'what do you want?' (Which makes you wonder because she'd been there the entire time, she should've heard and understood what I was trying to ask the teller). I told her I need a bank statement and want to know how much longer before someone helps me, I've got to get back to work. 'Aaahhhh!' To the teller 'er, isa..(Fill in anything. Anything at all because I don't think she understood me). Back to me '*##@$"-+ *#R+!!:/;' (translate to something something in Russian'. Me: sorry, but can you say that in English? You said you speak English remember?'+@@?/62*6!o*#' (more Russian, maybe in her head, she's convinced she's speaking English. Poor thing was lied to all her life. She thought Russian was English. Aaawwww). She signalled for me to follow her into another office. I assumed that that lady spoke English. I told her I needed three month's bank statement. She told the 'English speaker ' that she doesn't speak English. LISTEN THIS IS NOT HARD, (I pointed at the PC monitor) SEPTEMBER, OKTOMBER, NOVEMBER (then I pointed at the printer). 'Aaaahhhh' I handed her my passport and my bank card. She printed out the statement, gave it to me and I was a gonner! SUCCESS! not. I had my last two lessons and an hour's break before my English club. During my last lesson, I double checked my paperwork and realised my names were spelt incorrectly on my bank statement. All three of them! Babalva Bruk (instead of Babalwa Brook) and my first name was spelt with a k instead of a c. Which means my initials were no longer CB but KB. How can that be right? I had to go back to the bank! I rushed there, in the rain, sooooo frustrated by how these people can never get anything right! Goddarnit!When I got there, I was fuming. 'Mobdzandit!' (Come here!). Dajeki (sit). I took a seat, pointed at my name on my passport and my bank card and pointed at the name on the statement from the same bank. Why would I think to check if my name is spelt correctly by my own bank? I have a bank card, with all my names spelt correctly from the very same bank. What happened? Ugh!She told her friend that she doesn't speak English and called another lady that also doesn't speak English. That lady repeated everything that lady said to me in Georgian. EXCUSE ME! DO You SPEAK ENGLISH? She called a third lady who also doesn't speak English to come 'translate'. She repeated what the other ladies were saying in Georgian. EXCUSE ME, DO You SPEAK ENGLISH? 'No!'WHY ARE YOU GUYS HERE? THIS IS SIMPLE, CORRECT MY NAME ON THE COMPUTER AND PRINT OUT THE STATEMENT. HOW HARD CAN THAT BE! They called another lady, into the mix. She looked like she could be the manager or something. She didn't speak English. I tried to explain to her in my non-existent Georgian (when I'm pissed off, I go completely blank and forget all the Georgian I've learnt over the months) that I cannot present that statement and my passport as proof that that's my statement if all the names are spelt differently. All that proves is that that's Not Mine! She said no problem and showed me the door. I called my regional rep and asked her to tell those people why I was there. She did. The teller, started typing in some stuff on the pc and I heard her ask where I was from, the other one told her America, as she was typing that in, I said EXCUSE ME, MY PASSPORT IS RIGHT INFRONT OF YOU! I'm FROM SOUTH AFRICA! 'Aaah!' Then she called someone, who I think speaks English, and asked me, 'are you married?'. NO I'm SINGLE, BUT WHAT'S THAT GOT TO DO WITH THE PRICE OF EGGS? PLEASE JUST CORRECT MY NAME AND LET ME GO!!!! (Ignored) 'What is your phone number?' NO! NO NONONONO! YOU'RE NOT GETTING MY NUMBER! THIS IS NOT AN APPLICATION FOR A BANK ACCOUNT! YOU'RE NOT GETTING ANYMORE EINFORMATION FROM ME! I called the rep again, and told her to tell those people what I wanted and to let me go. She talked to them for like 2minutes. Which made me wonder what they were talking about. She didn't give them my number. Then they gave me a form to fill in. It was in Georgian. I told them I wasn't going to sign it. I called the rep she said, 'uhhhh Hello Kanisa. ... Ok, Kanisa, in Georgia, if you want your name to be changed, you have to sign a form. It is just to say that you authorise the bank to change your name'. UHM, THAT'S NOT WHY I'm HERE! MY NAME HASN'T CHANGED, I'm THE SAME PERSON I WAS WHEN I CAME HERE! I JUST WANT THEM TO CORRECT A MISTAKE THEY MADE ON THEIR COMPUTERS. I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO FILL IN ANY REQUEST FORMS.'Please give them back the phone Kanisa. Five minutes later, my statement was printed with the correct names. I thought I had died of frustration, I called Michelle to see if I was still alive and whether someone on the other side of the phone could here me. 'Hello'. MICHELLE! 'Hello! Hello! Brook are you there? Hello? Brook! I can't hear you! Hello?