After a 3 day stay in Yerevan I have to go back to Tbilisi on Saturday afternoon to catch my early morning flight back to Vienna on Sunday. As soon as I reach the square in front of the train station the marshrutka drivers advertise their services by shouting „Tbilisi, Tbilisi!“. When I put my backpack in a mini-bus I meet an Australian couple who speak excellent Russian. Having to wait for one hour and a half for the bus to leave, the Australian guy comes up with the idea of taking a cab instead of a mini-bus, which is quite common here.
Thereupon a rather old driver arrives at the train station in his banger. The Australian guy stops the car, talks to the driver and agrees on a fare of 80 USD to Tbilisi. As soon as we take out our backpacks from the marshrutka, a young man walks up to us telling the cab driver and the Australian that we cannot take the taxi but have to take the marshrutka instead.
When the Australian guy, who turns out to be originally Armenian, starts to shout at the young guy I begin to grasp what the problem is: it’s the Mafia.
The Australian keeps shouting at the young guy who in return just asks him rather coolly who the hell HE is. The Australian threatens to call the police, which does not particularly bother the Mafia guy. The cab driver gets sent away but parks his car behind a bus. When we start walking towards the taxi, the young guy drives towards us in his VW Golf, again threatening the cab driver and the Australian. That’s when the Australian and the taxi driver decide to go to the taxi agency at the train station in order to ask for a different destination. We finally get into the car and drive off. Leaving the city, every now and then I spot SUVs with dark windows in the afternoon traffic, thinking that perhaps the mafia are after us. I also wonder what will happen to the cab driver if the Mafia goes after him, but soon everybody in the car relaxes and we are on our way north.