Thursday, August 26, 2010

Spare Thoughts from Bandza

In order to try to extract some real meaning from my words, I've skipped the summation and focused on some things I've been thinking about over my first few days in Bandza.

Erti - Most things that seem bazaar right now, probably won’t feel all that weird in a few months, or even a few weeks. But one thing that I will always find funny are the cows who wonder the roads. It’s not even like they are pensively crossing the road; sometimes they’re just chillin’ in the middle of the road. And what do the Georgian drivers do? No slowing down, just a slight weave while not blinking an eye. It’s crazy and will always be crazy.

Ori – The host families get nothing from TLG. No money, not even a tax break, which would seem prudent seeing as TLG is a government program. But whatever. There’s ways to go about paying these people back, one of them being slipping the host mother about fifty Lari once a month, and the other is of course to help around the house (although the men are not really expected to do anything, especially the guests). But really, the main reason most of these people will host a complete stranger for no monetary benefit is that they want us to help teach their children, which I’m fully in support of. But sometimes I have to remember that they are not there to help us with our Georgian even though we have a natural instinct to try and learn their language. So I am trying to use English with Luka and Rezi while working on my Georgian else where.

Sami - So we had a suphra in celebration of Rezo (host Babua [Grandfather]) and Giorgi’s (host disshvili [nephew]) birthday. When we sat down they presented Giorgi with a set of ceramic husks, which we all drank a bunch of wine out of. Doesn’t that just sound stereotypical? I mean, really, who drinks wine out of a husk. The best part: Giorgi was only turning fifteen. I have already decided that for my son’s 15th birthday, I will bring him back here so he can chug wine out of a husk. It’s really the only way to celebrate.

Otkhi – Actually, scratch that as the best thing. The best thing was a family friend bringing his horse to the suphra for everyone to ride. Get drunk and ride on a horse… now that’s a fifteenth birthday party!

Khuti – A lot of firsts going on for me since I’ve come to Bandza; hunting, riding a horse, drinking out of a husk, drawing from a well, drinking homemade vodka (chacha), etc. But most of this stuff doesn’t particularly limit itself to Georgia. Its just stuff that happens when you live on a farm in the middle of nowhere. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I figure myself to be a pretty cultured guy with a diverse set of experiences, but really, I didn’t know the half of it.

Eqvsi – This point really deserves it’s own post, but when I went to Italy I had certain romantic or nostalgic expectations which were completely debunked by the time I left. Let me already say that my host family in Italy was amazing and that I don’t want to make a judgment on all Italians (mostly just on Florentines). But the Italians I encountered didn’t really like Americans, weren’t overly friendly, and fit the French stereotype more than the fun-loving Italians we see in the movies. But Georgia is that place. They drink their own wine, invite you to their house upon meeting you, try and marry you off to a relative, etc. I could go into more detail about this, but basically I’m trying to say that I think I found what it was that I was looking for when I went to Italy.

Shvidi – Just wanted everyone to know that we toast (gamarjos) to them at any sit-down. Even you readers out there who have passed away get a toast. Toasting is a tradition in Georgia, and I feel like men are pretty much judged on their ability to toast. Kind of like fixing your plumbing in America; some know how to do it, others call a specialist.

Rva – Very seldom will you catch a man on the Gabunia property wearing a shirt, which is definitely a habit I can get into. In fact this afternoon I caught myself not wearing a shirt while using the computer. I dig it. The drunker we get, the less likely we are to be wearing a shirt. This morning I woke up and looked at the pictures from last night. Slowly but surely, there were less and less shirts until by the end of the night, we were all dancing bare-chested.

Tskhra – You have to be kidding me with some of these words. Like this is the number nine and it involves two of the toughest aspects to pronounce in ts and kh (which is an h sound but like it’s in Hebrew; sounds like someone being stabbed in the throat). It’s not easy.

Ati – Visiting anybody’s house/farm is like going to a petting zoo. This evening we went to another guy’s house and he had parakeets tied to sticks, a pet hawk, a new batch of puppies who couldn’t even open their eyes yet, and heaps of bees (it was the first time I completely said no to something while here; I can’t stand bees). You just don’t get that type of pet diversity in America.

PHOTOS: Statue in the center of Kutaisi, me holding onto two of Luka's rabbits (unharmed during the photo I promise), and the family well that I get my drinking water out of...


  1. Oh, maxie. You've always hated bugs. Puss.

  2. How are the roads?.... can you bike...are there cyclists?

  3. There's only one road through town and it goes from Martvili to Senaki. I've seen a few cruiser bikes, but I think it would be revolutionary to see someone riding a carbon frame in lycra. It'd be like seeing an Alien.

    So, no riding for me this year. Plus the taxes on anything shipped over here worth more than 300 Lari ($130) are ridiculous.

    And riding a bike on these roads with the way people drive could be considered suicidal.

  4. Thanks Max! I apressiate what you are doing for my Georgia (I live in Canada)

    I enjoid very much by your blog.

    Thanks again!