Kevin Covert: Unbelievable! ( )

11/25/2003 |
Sun, 23 Nov 2003 14:24:21 -0500

Tbilisi, Georgia.

Today I watched a revolution from my balcony. It was unbelievable. At first, it felt like a European soccer match - dozens, then hundreds of people walking around, hanging about, drinking beer in the streets, loitering. You know, your usual Sunday afternoon in the former Soviet Union.

Then, suddenly, there was cheering, singing, honking horns, waving flags...and, remarkably, there was fireworks. So they were ready... Shot like a cannon from the top of the parliament building 200 yards from my room, the white fire flew while I stood and watched with an open mouth and an open mind.

Shevernadze, hated by the people here after years of corruption and collusion, theft and graft, had resigned with a shaking hand and a calm voice that belied his obvious distress. And the people rejoiced.

The reaction was immediate and it was euphoric. Something to tell your grandkids about. I knew that I was witnessing something historic, something Georgians have dreamed about for the past 10 years or their entire lives: the freedom and fear of the unknown. And it was all unfolding in front of me. No one - no protestor, politician, or pundit - knew what was going to happen, not in any real, meaningful, this-could-hurt sense. But everyone on the street knew what was happening at that moment. It was pure joy. A nationwide get-out-of-jail-free fraternity party of release and relief.

Lesya's not going to like what I have to say next, but I just couldn't restrain myself. I had planned to go down to the bar and watch it all from behind darkened glass (the bar looks out onto Rustavelli Avenue, which is the main street of Tbilisi and is just 1 block from the Parliament). But I couldn't do that. You know that. It's just not in me. When I was a kid I just had to grab this new toy even though it was hanging from a nail on a shack overlooking a snake-infested lake. I grabbed the toy, fell in the water, and got wet. Ten years ago, I just had to go up on the roof of my apartment building to watch Russian tanks fire shells into the parliament building and take pictures. So naturally, now, I just had to go outside and see what all the fuss was about. I am a historian and I was witnessing history. What did you expect?

So I stepped outside and into the river and got swept away. I saw a man walk by with a baby on his shoulders suddenly stop to drink a glass of wine offered by admiring bystanders. I saw dozens of people dancing on the roof of a van, waving flags and banging heads in a patriotic mosh-pit. I saw strangers kissing each other, high-fiving policemen, pouring drinks, streaming in the streets, and talking politics. So I congratulated my neighbors and they handed me a drink and then they handed me a flag and there I was. Waving the ancient early-Christian flag of Georgia, the flag of a time and an identity long dormant, right there in the middle of our modern era of globalization and internet connections.

I shared my newfound friends' happiness and I shouted right along with them to parading protesters, "SAA-KAATS-VEEL-O! SAA-KAATS-VEEL-O!" (Georgia! Georgia!). And I congratulated them and wished them well. And they thanked me and gave me that flag. I have it still and will show it to my grandchildren one day and I will tell them about my role in Georgia's revolution of roses.

And then I went to bed to get ready for work because tomorrow is another day. Gomar joss, Georgia! Gomar joss. And good luck.




  • 2003.11.26 | Maxym

    Are you sure?.. Who can help!?

    Does really "SAA-KAATS-VEEL-O" means "Georgia"?
    Po gruzyns'ky? As the author says.

    If he is wrong, and you know thw right word, please, tell me
    I really need it. Badly

    Cause I suspect, that SAA-KAA-TSVElo" is just the name of their present leader Saakashvili. Am I right?
    • 2003.11.28 | Chubynsky


      • 2003.11.28 | Maxym

        Thanks (-)


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