Today is the fifth consecutive day we don’t have gas in our home. It’s not at all unusual for gas or electricity or water to go out for a few hours or a few days out here in Tbilisi, but this particular outage is a bit more extreme. Thankfully, when such outages happen, the Embassy provides us with backup measures. We have water tanks, generators, and backup heat when needed. We are lucky.
One reason we have so many outages in Tbilisi is the infrastructure. Gas and power lines are above ground, so anytime there’s wind or extreme weather we run the risk for issues. Also, the entire city of Tbilisi is under construction at the moment, so it’s not uncommon for workers to damage a pipe or line as they go about their business. There are also some scheduled outages that are often never at the times they say and are never over as quickly as they promise. Gas outages are the most frustrating since, for us, they impact both our cooking abilities and central heating.
For me, generally, these outages are no more than a nuisance. I’ve asked our facilities team to teach me how to reset our water heater and switch over to our backup if needed. Thankfully, our system is easy, and that way they don’t have to come running every time there’s a minor issue. For heat, we have wall-mounted split packs to serve as backups, and of course, good old fashioned blankets and fireplaces.
However, in this first truly cold week of the year, these backup methods aren’t fully preventing the cold from penetrating our concrete walls. We don’t have backup heaters in every room, so microclimates form, particularly in rooms with exterior walls. The animals are cold. I find the cats curled up together soaking in as much sun as they can, and the dogs huddled together on the bed. I’ve been less strict about them snuggling up with us at night – even if it means being crushed by a large Renny dog – since combined they are 173 extra pounds of warmth. We’ve been consuming tea, coffee, and hot chocolate at an alarming rate, and soup is the only acceptable meal at the moment.
I want to be clear here, I do realize we have it significantly better than anyone who doesn’t have backup heat and hot water, and I’m not trying to start any kind of pity party. I’m very grateful our house is still habitable at nighttime temperatures get down to the upper 30’s and we get less and less direct sunlight. I know the Embassy team is doing everything they can to keep us comfortable, and the issue truly is our of their hands at the moment.
Sean and I, and all the animals will be just fine. We just may need a restock on tea much faster than anticipated.