I didn’t even mention in my last post, but probably the best way to do your part for Movember (besides pledging you’re entire paycheck to my Mo) is to grow a Mo for yourself (if you’re of the female persuasion, disregard that suggestion). Everybody knows the pink ribbon stands for breast cancer, while Livestrong bracelets represent the fight against testicular cancer (Livestrong is also a partner in Movember by the way), but why can’t we make the November Mo such a common sight that it's synonymous with prostate cancer.
Nothing will raise awareness more than men from Siberia to
Family Cows grabbing a quick sip of water on their way back to the shed. This picture was taken in the first few days, when I still found the sight of cows hilarious. Now, not so much.
Ati – Speaking of facial hair, Georgian men have tons of it, and at an early age. Of course this isn’t true for every bitchi da katsi (boy and man), as I have a few year XI students who don’t look older than thirteen. But at the same time, I have a few year IX’s who could probably purchase beer back home without a second guess from the clerk. Almost all of my students are clean-shaven, and even after they’ve left home (if they ever do), most Georgian men do not have crazy amounts of facial hair. You’ll see a real thick mustache from time to time (like the other P.E. teacher at my school, who has a Mo that would make Burt Reynolds blush), but the only people you will see in Georgia with long facial hair are members of the Georgian Orthodox clergy, who unsurprisingly have some wicked Tolstoy-like beards.
This was one of the priests who spoke at the festival in Martvili. Talk about an awesome beard.
Otsi – Lasha (my host-father) grew a pretty steady beard for forty days following the death of his cousin (the same cousin whose funeral I attended on my birthday). It’s actually a pretty neat tradition they have in
This is a nice picture of me getting a pro shave in Kutaisi. Cost me all of 3 Lari (about six quarters). Totally worth it.
Otsdaati – Before I leave the topic of facial hair, I would be remiss not to mention the uni-brows in
And this is my buddy Raughl-Dog, who got his beard trimmed right after me. Raughley had a pretty awesome beard until his host-mother made him shave it all off before school started
Ormotsi – Speaking of Georgian men, or particularly the men of Bandza (although I feel the topic might extend beyond my village limits); I still don’t know what a majority of them do. I have zero idea what my co-English teacher Tamari’s husband does. He just hangs out tsent’rshi (in the center of town) all day. I know this because the center of town is about the size of a small pond, so it’s kind of tough to miss anyone if they’re there. He’s always hanging out near the market, playing cards with some other guy. Then after school, he drives Tamari and her kids (Dato  and Oto ) back to their house. He’s basically the family chauffeur, although I’m pretty sure he doesn’t get paid for services rendered.
Just a few of the Georgian youngsters I cam across at the cafe in Martvili. Odds are none of them work, but that doesn't mean they aren't happy as a pig in shit (a phrase that I finally came to understand while in Bandza)
Ormotsdaati – He’s not alone in town, though. On my way to school every morning, the center is hopping with anywhere from twenty to fifty middle-aged men roaming about, playing nardi or cards, and arguing (or discussing politely, depending on your point-of-view) over anything and everything (to what degree Georgian football stinks, Saakashvili, whose got the bigger gut, etc.). Some of them are cab drivers (there are tons of cabs in
This is no-problem David, who I think typifies the modern Georgian man. Hilarious, happy, and with nothing to do in his days. He 'works' for the forest service (or as he describes it, 'security of nature'), but never really goes into work. He's always saying, 'In three months, I work.'
Samotsi – By noon, most everywhere has dispersed back to their homes, except for Tamari’s husband and a few people waiting around for marshrutkas. But in the last week, there’s been a group of kids hanging out on the school grounds who look like they’re in their late teens (or more accurately, like they should be in school). I assume they are just former students (graduated or dropped-out) who have nothing to do during their days (much of the remaining farm work is just finishing up), so they come hang out near the school, shoot-the-shit with each other and current students, and drink beer. It’s amazing. I can’t even imagine if I had come back to my high school a year after I graduated and got drunk on the quad. But in
Samotsdaati – The topic of men in
The tchatcha making process at my house. It looks really complicated, yet it's really not. But that doesn't mean I can explain it to you
Otkhmotsi – There are double standards in gender relations within almost any culture, so it really shouldn’t be a surprise that they are also prevalent in Georgian society. But for many of the American volunteers who have grown up in the general equality of 21st century America, it’s a complete shock to the system when they see something that you’d have to travel back sixty-years to deem unacceptable in American society (example: women being looked down upon for smoking cigarettes [although, to be fair, many people have told me that is mostly a West Georgian and village sentiment]). Especially given that the type of women who volunteer halfway around the world in a fairly unknown country are not exactly traditionally conservative in their worldview. So after they see the pedestal that the men and their sons are put on, the practical servitude that many of the women are put into, and obliviousness to it all, it’s tough not to blame them for garnering a sense of outrage.
Otkhmotsdaati – But I’m not here to judge, and I’m definitely not here to start a feminist movement in
This is the karoloki (a fruit) they grow on the farm, after which they peal and then string up to air out for a few weeks. I have no idea what's next though
Asi – And now that I’m trying to conjure up examples of Georgian chivalry, I’m at a loss. That might poke a giant hole through my argument, but I think it points back to a previous comment I made above: Georgian men treat me like one of them. So it’s tough for me to really comment on how they treat women, since I’m not one. I would say you could go to one of the other female volunteer’s blogs for examples, but as I already said, many of them are leery of Georgian men by now (a lot of that comes from how they are perceived by certain Georgian men; exotic and easy—or the complete opposite of Georgian women, who are chaste and customary. But this topic could fill another thousand words, so I’ll stop here). So maybe I’ll just have to hang my hat on mandilosnebis (the toast to all women), the sacredness of the Petroni system (by which the men of a family protect and take care of the women), and my word. Although my word might be a bit tainted and biased, because, after all, I’m slowly turning into a Georgian man.
This is me and fellow volunteer Ali Jones, who was the one from the last post who continually told her Georgian counterparts, 'F my mother' when her phone rang. Gutter-mouth, I say.
As ati – I realized something when reading back over my post. It came from this small snippet, “A lot of [female volunteers] have grown appalled at how the men are treated.” The issue isn’t that the women are treated terribly (despite my use of the word “servitude”), it’s that the men are treated like princes. But this obedience and deference shown by Georgian women does not originate from fear, but instead out of respect and tradition (