Disclaimer

This blog does not represent the position of the United States government or the Peace Corps as to any matter. All expressions of fact or opinion contained herein are solely those of Mark and Lisa Lebowitz and of no one else.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Internet and lines................................

We have internet at our house! Actually, I should say we HAD internet at our house. It worked for one day (Thanksgiving Day) and has been on the fritz for the three days since then. Hopefully it is a temporary problem and we will be back up and running soon. At least now I know for sure that it is possible to get a connection here. Our street is about 5 miles long and we are the only connection on it (actually, I suspect that we are the only connection in this part of town). It is a DSL connection, although the speed is about the same as dial-up (I'm not complaining). Getting the internet has been a long involved process. As I mentioned in earlier posts, I was told at one point that we could get an internet connection in a week. Subsequently, that estimate was extended to a month, and in actuality, the process ended up taking about 2 1/2 months, which is still well within the "time-estimation parameters" for getting something done in Georgia. In order to make the necessary arrangements, I first had to go to the telephone office, where all the records for Zugdidi are maintained manually, on ledger cards. Arrangements had to be made to change the type of line servicing our house and that required that the phone number be changed also. Then the people in the internet office had to put the order in through the central office in Tbilisi and we began the 2 1/2 month wait. Once I learned last week that the internet office in Zugdidi had gotten whatever they needed from Tbilisi, I stopped over there and they gave me some pieces of paper, which I had to take to a different telephone office than the one I had been to previously. The woman in the new telephone office stamped the pieces of paper with a rubber stamp of some sort and then gave me back all the papers along with a bill, which she also stamped a few times with a different rubber stamp. Then I had to take the paperwork over to the Bank in order to pay the bill. At the bank, bills are first presented to a person at a desk. That person enters something into a computer and waits for their printer to spit out another piece of paper which is then stamped a few times and given back (Georgians love stamping stuff.....I'm convinced that if wax seals were readily available here they would be a big hit too). All the pieces of paper are then taken over to another area of the bank known as the "Cash Desk", where payment (in cash) is made and a receipt is given. All of this would have been fine if it were not for the crush of people seeking service at each step along the way. Unlike America, where people line up and are served when their turn comes, here in Georgia the concept of a line does not exist. At each of the stops which I've noted above there were many other people who also wanted attention for one thing or another. Instead of lining up, everyone stormed the desk of the person providing the service and then wiggled and jockeyed for position in front of everyone else. As a result, things took much longer to accomplish than if everyone simply waited their turn. Also, the whole process here is considerably more stressful, since you invariably become angry at people who have unjustifiably butted in front of you ("line rage"). I had to go to three separate offices and spend over two hours one afternoon in just trying to pay our internet bill. Imagine my surpirse when I learned that this process much be repeated each month. Here, people don't get bills in the mail (there is no home mail delivery). You must go to the telephone office at the correct time each month, make your way to the front of the crush of people there, get your bill, take it to the bank, make your way to the front of the crush of people there, and then again repeat the process when you actually pay the bill at the cash desk in the bank. People must do this to pay their electric bill as well as their phone bill. If you forget to go get the bill and make payment at the proper time of the month, your electricity or telephone is simply turned off. With the exception of the bank, which is located on the first floor of a recently renovated building in town, the locations where these agencies maintain their offices are also eye-opening. For example, the telephone office that I had to go to is located in a very large old Soviet style cement building which is largely abandoned. I had to climb a very narrow staircase until I reached the proper floor and then walk down a narrow hallway which runs the length of the building (two people walking in an opposite direction can barely get by one another without turning sideways). The entire hallway is illuminated by just one or two lightbulbs hanging from the hallway ceiling, which necessarily means that a considerable length of the hall is almost completely dark. On both sides of the hall are many doors, none of which identify the office which lies within (you must have precise directions in order to get to where you want to go). Some of the doors are missing and you can see offices inside that have been abandoned and the entire contents (including the windows) looted. There is no heat and there are piles of trash in the stairwells and hallways, all of which combine to give the building a very haunted house feel. I was happy to get out of there after my business was done. Fortunately, next month it will be Lisa's turn to pay the internet bill !!

3 comments:

Craig said...

I can't believe you are going to make our poor mother go through that! Great description, I enjoyed this post.

Here's hoping to a quick return to your internet connection. I will give you a Skype call when I get to work today.

Eddie said...

Macabre. I hope you don't have to pay with cash.

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