During the winter break while I was home I had a request to document my everyday life in Georgia, to provide an insight into what living in the village is like in this little known section of the world. I’ve made an attempt to do that now, however, instead of just giving you the basic run through of it all I’ve tried to flair it up a bit, sort of harness my ‘inner author’ if you will to hopefully make this a bit more of an interesting and enlightening read. I haven’t posted a lot lately, but there hasn’t been a whole lot of new developments other than my recent trip to Tbilisi. Otherwise, village life continues on as to be expected with a few hiccups and interesting moments along the way. Those I’ll mention later on, but for now, here’s my life on an average day in Georgia.
I wake up most mornings feeling perfectly content and comfortable in my twin sized bed. My coarse sheets, something standard in Georgia’s bedding, I’ve grown accustomed to as the night has progressed and so by morning they feel as soft and cozy as silk. I wake up molded into the contours of my bed, which is ever so slightly concave in the middle. Just as I did back home, I rise early here. The sun begins peeking out above the hillside which our house rests on and my windows face east, so I’m woken up by the sunshine streaming in along with the heat faintly but steadily rising in my room as the morning progresses. The first sounds I hear are a mixture of songbirds and the neighborhood roosters calling back and forth to one another, each announcing their presence in those first daylight hours. Occasionally I’ll also hear a bee’s buzzing, drawn to my room because of the rose bushes planted just outside, subsequently veering off course and ending up in my room through a crack in the window. Shortly thereafter my less than serene alarm sounds reminding me it’s time to get moving and I start to get ready for the day. Before my makeup and hair styling begins I’m faced with my first decision of the day - Do I want to hear the news I’ve missed over the past week or perhaps the never-ending problems in US politics? Maybe I’ll listen to some entertaining stories or interesting historical facts. A minor, but simultaneously spectacular hobby I’ve acquired living here is that of subscribing to podcasts. With what little internet time I have each week the last thing I’ve realized I want to do is read the news. I’ve never been one to read news, preferring to hear or see it and so podcasts are a godsend for me to be able to stay connected to the outside world, and that precious internet time can be devoted to other things (like planning my impending summer adventure). And believe me, it would be all too easy to be completely disconnected if I wanted it that way. With the exception of watching a Selena Gomez princess movie dubbed over in Georgian this past weekend I haven’t seen TV in months.
After making myself somewhat presentable for the day I hear a tap on the door and someone letting me know that breakfast is ready. I myself am a breakfast person. When I go to bed at night I’m always excited to wake up in the morning because that means I get to to eat more food. However, here I look forward to breakfast, but with some trepidation. I always hope not to see a large bowl covered by a plate on top because that means I’m eating 2 packets of chicken flavored Ramen noodles. Instead, I hope to find a big stack of triangular cut breads meaning that it’s either lobiani (bean bread) or khachapuri (cheese bread), my favorite. Three of the five schooldays a week I don't have 1st period so after I finish breakfast I return to my room. Being without friends nearby and no one to talk to really, my days are filled with few select activities, there isn’t a lot of variation and so introducing new elements and diversions ensures I won’t tire of my usual activities prematurely. Hence, I’ve filled this 1st period void with morning yoga. I figure it’s about as good a start to the day as a person can get and the extra endorphins and ‘om’ to boost my mood and keep me calm as I head to school can’t hurt either. After yoga I get dressed in whatever sort of professional apparel I have, since lets’ face it, I don’t own any real professional clothing to begin with and thankfully here, they don’t seem to notice that deficiency. I do up my hair however and then head off to school, bag in tow, iPod switched on.
Most often I listen to podcasts, but on particularly calm and quiet mornings I find myself switching on the ’Provincial Life’ song from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (if you dont know it, look it up on youtube to fully appreciate what I’m about to say). I find so much humor in it because as far as I can tell, I’m just like Belle as she walks into town singing about her rudimentary lifestyle. The only difference is that instead of the villagers shouting in greeting ‘Bonjour’ they shout ‘Gamarjoba’ instead. I stick out in so many ways here and while I’m pretty sure my reputation as a ‘kai gogo’ (good girl) has remained intact, I’m also viewed as peculiar/strange/funny as well. Each morning I pass the same women tending to their roadside shops, and most days a gentleman will be standing outside his welding shop, a stone’s throw away from my school’s entrance ready to greet me with an enthusiastic ‘Gamarjoba, rogora khar?!’ (Hi, how are you?!) I reply and he follows with a kiss on the hand, just as you might expect to see an Italian artist doing after creating some magnificent sculpture and crying out ‘magnifico!’. I won’t get into too much detail of my school day since each one is unique and unknown as to what it will hold. It’s kind of like sticking your hand into a bag filled with unknown items. One day you might pull out a soft, cuddly teddy bear, and the next, a snake.
Either way, I’m usually out by quarter to 2. I usually walk alone, but occasionally will have the company of some students. If my last class of the day is grade 4 then I assuredly won’t be going alone. My student Veronica is always excited when we get to walk together, however about a third of the way home we part ways, her to the left and I continue on straight. As I side-note, Veronica as well as another student in grade 4, Giorgi both have special learning needs. This year I’ve worked majority of my time with them trying to build up to reading proficiently. There may be nothing better in this world than seeing your effort bearing fruit. Both of them have picked up reading better than I expected and to make it even more wonderful, as soon as I enter their class they’ll pull out their books and enthusiastically begin skimming through, choosing what they want to read for the day. Now, upon returning home food is immediately prepared for me. Sometimes I eat alone, sometimes with Lizi and sometimes Givi and Tiko are there as well. One person I can always count on to be present is bebia (my grandma). I always hope someone else is there to eat with me solely because when I eat alone I am watched like a hawk. At least when more people are dining as well all of the attention isn’t focused on me and the quantity of food I’ve consumed. This watchfulness, despite how much I hate it has oddly enough inspired some beneficial eating habits on my part. I’ve taken to eating slowly, hoping with occasional success she’ll tire of watching me and divert her attention to other tasks. Also, despite how much I do adore and love her I always have this urge to undermine and/or spite her, which basically translates into me eating less than she would like me to, and occasionally less than I even would. The average Georgian’s concept of nutrition is so lacking and so with each insistence I have another piece of whatever I more often than not refuse, not because I don’t want it, but because I get this weird satisfaction from saying an obstinate ‘no’. That’s another thing I’ve gotten good at since being here, the ease of saying ‘no’. A perfect example to highlight this struggle would be just the other day when we ate a late breakfast (no school that day) so I skipped their lunch meal saying I wasn’t hungry at the time. Later on, no one else was home except bebia and she was sleeping on our outdoor bed, which is situated on the porch. When I was finally ready to eat I tried to collect my food as quietly as possible, not only because I wanted to let her rest, but also because I knew what would occur if she were to awaken. I tiptoed passed her to the kitchen, opening the door as quietly as I could - no small feat given that my initial gift to the family, wind chimes, now hangs on the door. (Now that I think about it, that gift has never been utilized in its proper function). I slipped in successfully without disturbing her, grabbed a bowl and a spoon and dished out some meat and potato stew. As I debated where to go to eat my hidden treasure I remembered we also still had the most delicious cake stored in our fridge. The only problem is that our fridge cannot be opened discreetly. It sticks when it opens or closes, making this bending sound, like if you were to un-dent a car, its that same loud noise. Here lies my conundrum - go without the cake and get to eat independently, not being stared down, or try for the cake at risk of waking her up. These are the kinds of tough decisions I’m faced with in Georgia. (Of course it’s only just now occurred to me I could’ve eaten the stew first alone then after satisfied tried for the cake, but I digress). Alas, my sweet tooth won me over and I decided to attempt at attaining the cake. As luck would have it a car was driving by which I had hoped would mute the sound of the fridge...no such luck. Bebia stirred, came into the kitchen and began fussing about my food. I made it clear I was fine and taken care of and so she went outside. I found her, sitting at the table waiting for me to join her. What ensued was me getting my book to help distract me from that feeling of being watched, which I was almost the entire time I ate. About halfway through my cake, I was eating it at such a slow pace (something that if you know me back home isn’t really possible), gaining ground in ‘Les Miserables’ that she must’ve finally lost interest and went off to tend to the chickens. This circumstance isn’t relegated to this one instance, it’s something that occurs regularly with only minor details varying. It drives me insane, and yet I fully appreciate the humor in my circumstance. Another thing I’ll take away from this experience is appreciating the humor in uncomfortable situations.
After lunch my day is to do with as I will. I’ve mentioned before the noise after school can often be deafening, or at least for me, so I try to stay in my room initially. I have a very limited amount of TV shows or movies to watch unfortunately since my external hard drive broke about a month ago, and there’s only so many times I can watch the same thing. I figure this is in a way is for the best since it’s forced me to fill my time with things other than relying on my laptop for entertainment. I’m attempting to make an elaborate board game before I leave so this has taken up a lot of my time lately. I’ll also do various forms of exercise most days to take up some time as well. As the sun begins to descend behind the hills my favorite time of day approaches where I go and sit on our back porch. I love this porch for multiple reasons. Despite how much time I already spend alone, I still deeply appreciate this time by myself. Sometimes I sit and read, sometimes I listen to podcasts, and other times I’ll sing along to my music when there’s little risk of anyone overhearing me. I’ll also talk to myself on occasion. And I don’t mean the stranded on a desert island with no one to talk to driven insane kind of thing, but I view it more as journal entries that aren’t written down. I contemplate all sorts of things: faith, love, the future, the past, tackling all sorts of loaded questions. My solitude has given way to a lot of great reflection time, and I feel like I know myself better because of it. There are other times on that porch where I do absolutely nothing, but observe. I watch the chickens scavenging in the yard. I pay particular attention to the runt of the group, always hoping it’ll find some food that won’t shortly thereafter be stolen by one of the larger birds. Bebia brings a bucket filled with food shouting in a shrill voice “tia, tia, tia” and all the chickens flock to her. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve heard an old woman screaming “tia, tia, tia” in only minorly different shrill notes. I listen to our baby goat incessantly call for its mother while they have been temporarily separated from each other, and upon reuniting watch it frolic around the yard; at the slightest inclination of uncertainty skirting back between its mother’s legs. I see cows pass by on the road with the bells around their necks ringing as they bend to eat the grass, and I watch the sun set behind the hills casting the sky in shades of orange and pink. It’s incredibly peaceful and lovely. That is something I will without a doubt miss. I take life slow, in a way, because I must, but also because to move fast would put me off beat with the inherent rhythm of life here, and following in harmony is so much more pleasant, and sounds so much sweeter to the ears. In this slowness I’ve found innumerable ways to appreciate the little things in life.
Just after I finished writing this I went to play volleyball with Tiko. Givi and Valeri joined in as well as some neighborhood boys who were passing by. This has become almost a nightly occurrence. Unfortunately the ball recently popped but hopefully we’ll have a new one soon to begin playing again. It’s one thing here I can fully partake in and while I don’t know the exact words they’re saying I understand everything at the same time, I can laugh alongside them all. It’s nice to have something for us all to enjoy together with the language barrier hardly even being noticed. Bebia, Iza, and our neighbors will all sit on the bench nearby shouting their encouragement as well. Becca, whose wedding I attended last fall, is one of the boys we play with regularly. He’s now also started playing the card game Skip-Bo with us so after volleyball we typically play 2 or 3 rounds of the card game. Tiko and I are both playing an honest game with one eye on each of the boys since they will do just about anything to get away with some form of cheating. This has also led to some memorable and funny moments. It’s these little things in particular that I wish had begun long ago so I had more time to truly appreciate them. While I’m looking forward to being home again so so much, there’s these bursts of time when I wish I could stay longer and connect more with each of these people who have become so dear to me, they truly have become my second family. I also took a trip this past weekend into the nearby town to visit another teacher, Leah. We hiked out to a more hidden spot alongside the river where there was a mini waterfall and we even swam a little bit, it was so much fun, and another thing I wished I’d taken advantage of sooner. I suppose though I’m grateful to have had these experiences at all.
One last tidbit I couldn’t resist but mention as well -- If you’ll remember there’s a belief here that walking around barefoot is bad for a woman’s ovaries, well my newest bit of Georgian health knowledge is that breast milk is good for your eyes. Who knew, huh? I got chalk in my eye the other day at school. My co-teacher asked what was wrong and I told her. She said breast milk would help my eyes a lot but I can’t get any of that (too bad). However, my aunt Nino is going to have a baby in July so I’m not sure if she was implying that maybe at that time I should ask for some for my eyes???
|The newest member of the Moyvanidze family|
|Look closely, do some of the Guess Who characters look familiar to you??|