Global Village

Georgian coast near the Turkish border

I woke up in a van coasting along an empty road in Georgia, and not long later when we passed a little village a Georgian kid my age jumped on. Clean cut and amiable. He spoke no English, and communicated by quizzing me on who I thought was hot. “Britney Spears?!” he asked, and gave me a grinning thumbs up. “Madonna?!”

He showed me on his cell phone a video advertisement for the Georgian army, then a Georgian music video. Then photos of him in military fatigue with his Kalashnikov – he had been in Iraq. He wanted to buy my watch and kept gesturing to ask me how much I would sell it for. He was still in the army, presumably on leave, but since he was heading from the countryside into Tbilisi with a big duffel bag I guessed that he was returning to duty. All Georgian troops have been withdrawn from Iraq, so he’s probably in Gori right now, or who knows?