Two things before I start this post. I just wanted to make it clear that when I say something like “most Georgians…” I am only referring to the Georgians I know or have heard about (usually from other volunteers). I don’t want anyone to think I’m generalizing all Georgians with some of the things I say. Second point: last Friday morning, Luca spent twenty minutes in the bathroom. What can a 12-year old boy possibly be doing for twenty minutes on the can? Okay, on to the good stuff, if there’s such a thing.
Ati – I think I’ve mentioned this before, but sectionalism in
This was a sign on the road from Sametredia to Khoni, kind of freaky looking. Definitely the place where they filmed the Georgian version of 'Where the Hills Have Eyes'
Otsi – That’s not to say it’s some rarity to find sectionalism in a country. It’s all over
My and my new bike outside one of the many signs with the name Max on it, this one was a salon
Otsdaati – Even more confusing than the size and relative short history of present day
I guess in Georgia, people are still hung up on Katie and Tom. Although I doubt they have the same reservations about Tom that Americans do, since, you know, there's no such thing as a gay person in Georgia
Ormotsi – Quick note on Georgian men’s fashion. I’ve had a few pictures up of me in my Petroni shirt (for reference, Petroni is the system in
Bill's parents sent him an American flag which we were all wearing as a cape last weekend. This is me and fellow volunteer Helen. In the words of every citizen of South Carolina, ' I'm not gonna apologize for my patriotism'
Ormotsdaati – But the point is, all Georgian men dress the same; pants with a dark top. It can be in the middle of August and the men still wear pants. And you will not see any Georgian men wearing pastels—if you threw a Georgian man into an Easter frat party, his head might explode. The women follow suit, as I’ve yet to see any bright colors on a Georgian woman. Usually their outfits could easily be confused for funeral garb (and based on how many funerals there are in this country, that makes it extremely convenient). I guess Georgians are confident enough to let their personality add the color to their lives (which they accomplish with ease), but that doesn’t stop them from staring at me with confusion when I wear my red pants to school. Another final fashion observation (I’m sure I’ll return to this topic, as it’s quite rich), I’ve yet to see a man in Samegrelo with a jacket that fits. They all look like their wearing their father’s old oversized coat.
A nice mural near a public park in Sametredia, which is the depot for bikes apparently
Samotsi – Something that amazingly got skipped in the drinking post; the tamada. I might have mentioned it before, but the tamada is the designated toast giver at any suphra or any sit down drinking session. Usually the host acts as tamada, but some people are invited to parties just to play the part. I was whisked off to a 17-year old girl’s birthday party in Kutaisi by Ian’s host-family a few weeks back, and they had a tamada from Svaneti who looked like Jim Balushi, was bombed by the time we got there, and tried to crush your hand in his fist when shaking hands. This guy was completely gone to the point where he really wasn’t talking in between toasts, but when he stood to give a toast, he regained full capacity and would rattle off a three-minute diatribe on the hospitality of the host. It was amazing.
Me in my Petroni shirt. You can never smile when wearing a Petroni shirt
Samotsdaati – So to be a tamada, you have to be able to hold your alcohol and conjure up sobriety and loquaciousness at a moment’s notice. But even though there may be a tamada at a party, it’s not as if he’s the only one talking; he usually starts a toast and then everybody chimes in from time to time, while the host eventually gives a toast to the tamada at some later point. But toasting is a serious business that is not to be trifled with. My buddy Bill was at a wedding where there were two different factions of men who were debating over who had the right to toast. Bill said it got to the point where that was the focus, while the bride and groom were just secondary. That’s how serious toasting is in
Bacon flavored Chips? I can dig it
Otkhmotsi – That notion got me thinking about hereditary tamadas. Is that a position or skill that is handed down from father to son (by the way, pretty sure the tamada is only a masculine position)? Do you start funneling your son wine when he hits double-digits, or perhaps earlier (baby bottle, anyone)? Or maybe it’s a position that must be learned through apprenticeship, like a tailor or blacksmith. But then when do you officially become a legit tamada; is it like a Bar Mitzvah? These are the things I spend my time thinking about in
This was a house seen in Sametredia, which I thought would make a perfect place for a Halloween party this weekend, except for the fact that someone probably lives there (not kidding, you would be astounded by the houses that some Georgians live in)
Otkhmotsdaati – Another amazing character at my school is Gigla, whose title I’m still not sure of. He teaches a class every now and then (twice a week, maybe), but for the most part he just sits in the teachers lounge, ripping cigarettes and yelling tsavidet (let’s go) a few moments after the bell rings to make sure the teachers get to their classes (which is vital, because I’m pretty sure if he wasn’t there, no teachers would go to their classes). At first I thought he was just a visiting dignitary from the Martvili resource center who made the schedule and would only be there for a few weeks just to make sure everything was running smoothly. But it looks like he’s in for the long haul, especially since he is married to one of the other teachers and is also chemi mezobeli (my neighbor)—both recent revelations. I think what makes him so likable is his voice; it’s one that’s taken a beating from years of smoking and rapid use (he’s constantly talking), which gives it a rather soothing radio sound. Plus, I admire how little he does but how much respect he commands in the process.
Bill found a weed leaf bandanna at the market in Sametredia and just had to get it; the best part, we saw a three year old girl walking through the market wearing one right after Bill made his purchase.
Atsi – Typing up chemi mezobeli reminded me of a pretty funny mistake another volunteer was making with her host family and fellow teachers. Ali is from