Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Return of Dzhessika

Despite the fact that I spent my last post gushing about how happy Moscow makes me, I was there for all of 48 hours before I was back at the airport catching a flight to Tbilisi. Some past iteration of myself decided that what I really needed upon landing in Russia was a one-week vacation in Georgia, so Friday’s exceptionally jet-lagged version of myself had to suffer the consequences.

I was in such a state of exhaustion when I landed in Tbilisi that I barely had the energy to Google the exchange rate, withdraw a hundred lari, and negotiate for a cab to my Airbnb. But once I was on my way, in a taxi that was casually breaking every traffic law known to man, I felt a surge of excitement and terror—there’s a thrill to knowing that you are alone in a city where nobody knows you, and you can be anyone you want. Unfortunately, I usually revert to Dzhessika, my Russian-speaking alter ego. 

Dzhessika does Tbilisi

Dzhessika has a sometimes-incomprehensible accent, which no one seems to mistake for “sexy” or “charming.” She often wears an expression of pained confusion, and frequently misunderstands cultural cues. She also puzzles the typical Russian or Georgian, who doesn’t really understand why a Russian-speaking American is wandering around this far from home. This was the case on Monday, when I went to Tbilisi’s sulfur baths.

I rented a private room, and soaked in a tub of sulfur water until I was joined by my masseuse. She was a bleached blonde in her late-40s who wore nothing but leopard-print underwear; she was also missing a number of fairly important teeth. She sized me up briefly, and directed me to a concrete table.

“Onto your back.”

I lay down while she donned something of a cross between an oven mitt and a rubber glove.

“Do you like vinegar?” she asked.

Given the context, I assumed I had misunderstood. She lost patience waiting for a response, and started rubbing a vinegar solution into my epidermis. As she sloughed off layer upon layer of dead skin (and a few layers of healthy skin, judging by the raw state of my chest two days later), she started asking me about myself. I introduced myself as Dzhessika, corrected her assumption that I was Polish, and disappointed her when I said I was unmarried.

“I think you will get married this year,” she predicted.

If she saw the state of Russian Tinder, I doubt she’d be so confident. But that’s a blog post for another day.

“Really? Why?”

“Because you are in good physical shape!” she said, grabbing one of my thighs like she was choosing a cut of meat at the market. And then as an afterthought, she added, “And you have a good personality.”

So there it is, proof that Dzhessika is as likeable as ever. Watch out, men of Moscow.


  1. I can vouch for you being especially likable today.

  2. *Patiently waiting for blog post with Tinder profile pics.

  3. Man I missed this blog. Random stranger, I enjoy your adventures so.

    1. Thanks! I love to hear that I'm amusing someone other than just myself.