Memoir of kidnapping
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As I travelled around the country, I learned that away from Tbilisi, in the provinces, the situation was much worse. The peasant population scraped a living by subsistence farming. They sold any modest surplus at local markets and proceeds had somehow to carry them through the winter months. Many desperate people drank themselves into oblivion, manufacturing lethally impure vodka with home-made stills. A sizeable proportion of the rural population died of alcohol abuse. Initially, my trips through the countryside in the summer of ‘96 provided an illusion of a rural idyll.
Could security in the form of an apartment, farm buildings or equipment be taken by the Bank 36 and if necessary, realised? Was there a means of valuing assets? Could newly privatised land be taken as security? Did it have a commercial value? Was there a market for agricultural land? Would the Government interfere if it were to be sold at “market” value? Did the newly established inter-bank market work in Georgia? How effective was the supervisory role of the National Bank? There were a thousand questions to which the performance of the bank could, at least in part, provide answers.
45 Chapter Twelve Life with Diana was pretty damned good, although we were not at this time really living together. Diana had family and dancing commitments in Rustavi and we had a bit of fun in sorting out the priorities. I learned that if Diana were to move into my Tbilisi apartment, then her mother and sister would have to come too. This is common practice in Georgia, but initially I was having none of that. It took a huge amount of desperately diplomatic persuasion – qualities with which I am not well endowed – to ensure that the visits of the family remained just that; limited to once or twice each week, and didn’t constitute an introduction to permanent residency.