A couple of weeks ago we had a concert in Zugdidi which was sponsored by the American Embassy. It was a concert put on by an American jazz pianist named Dan Tepfer. This kind of stuff doesn't happen often here, and the concert hall (a/k/a the movie theater) was packed. As Peace Corps volunteers, we were contacted in advance and asked if we wanted to invite any particular people from the community to the concert. I'm proud to say that 53 of the approximately 250 to 300 people in attendance were our invitees. I didn't think we knew that many people! Unfortunately, Lisa had to be out of town on the day of the concert, so she didn't get to go, but I did, and it was very interesting experience from a cultural perspective. First of all, as is the case with every scheduled event in Georgia, it didn't start on time. Georgians are notorious for showing up late, and the concert was no exception. I wasn't keeping my eye on the clock, but it was at least an hour after the scheduled time before the concert actually got underway. Just prior to Mr. Tepfer getting started, there was a brief introduction (in Georgian) by someone from the Embassy. Everyone was reminded to turn their cell phones off or to put them into the "discreet" mode so they wouldn't cause a distraction during the concert. However, telling a Georgian to turn off their cell phone is the same as telling another person to sacrifice their first son. Notwithstanding the very emphatic request which was made, cell phones continued to ring (loudly), AND CONVERSATIONS CONTINUED TO ENSUE, all through the concert. Only in Georgia!
The music itself was a bit too avant garde for me, but I am not really a jazz aficionado, so it may have been perfectly fine for someone who knew what it was they were listening to. In any event, toward the end of the concert Mr. Tepfer asked if anyone had any requests, whereupon a portly woman made her way to the stage and, in Georgian, said that she wanted to play a piece of her own! Somewhat befuddled, Mr. Tepfer found his way to a seat and the portly woman began to play. Surprisingly, she was quite good, and at the end of her number she got a loud round of applause from the audience. I didn't get a chance to speak with Mr. Tepfer after the show, but I would bet dollars to doughnuts that it was the first time in his career when, upon asking if anyone had a request, it was suggested that he sit down and allow someone else to play!