Georgia is a very gender driven society. Genders have their specific roles and responsibilities. Guys hang out pretty much exclusively with guys and women with women. I’m not really used to this set up. I tend to gravitate to the company of females. Most of my good friends are girls. But that type of association just isn’t the norm here.
All week, the two male P.E. instructors were reminding me that we were going out together and eat some Mtswadi and get some drinks. Thursday at two was the chosen time. This was a good time for me, because I finished classes around noon, and didn’t have my English Club meeting until 5. And I figured they were done with classes then, too.
So at 3, I walk back to the school. They are finishing up their last class. Bell rings, and we assemble at the front of the school…. and wait. Apparently more people were invited. I didn’t know where we were going or if we were driving or walking. I tried to ask all of the Georgian words in my arsenal. I was ushered into a car with two other teachers that I just realized were coming with us. The original two PE teachers, stayed at the school. Also in the car was the director of the school….and school was still in session. Okay.
We drove about a hundred yards and stopped the car. The director got out and told another teacher (female) to get in. She was walking with about five other teachers. So we continued to drive into the center of town. We stopped and the lady got out and walks across the street to a park. I ask, “Are we at the restaurant?” No. “What are we doing?” Be patient, this is Georgia, was the reply.
The teacher in the back with me knows a smattering of English, but wants to improve his English slang and idioms. So he pulls out an index card with English saying and other various words. He does this on the sly, then says, “LET US DO THE TALK MEN TO MEN! IS THIS CORRECT? I SAY RIGHT?”
“Man to man. Yes it’s correct.”
The lady comes back with a bouquet of flowers. Now I’m really confused. We drive off again. I guess the lady is going to eat with us, too. We drive for a little ways, and I notice we are passing a lot of teachers who are walking in the same direction as us. We even get to the director who is walking, and he waves us on. We get to a house and park. A lot of other people, mostly men, are milling around outside. We don’t get out of the car. So I ask, “Is this the place?” They point up the hill implying a house around the corner. So I guess we are going to a teacher’s house to eat. But we still stay in the car. Apparently we were waiting for all the other teachers to walk to the location. So it was no longer a three teacher get together, now it seemed like a school get together.
When they finally did arrive, I was only then made aware that we were not going to eat here. They were coming to pay their respects to a former teacher from the school that had passed way. They thankfully spared me from an awkward situation by letting me stay in the car.
Afterwards, we went to the restaurant. I told of the new additions to the gathering that I had to be back at school by 5 for my club. He laughed in my face and said, “No, No. That is impossible. We are going to drink!” Ugh. Sounds fun and all, but I can not just miss my Club. It’s only the second one! And I have a private lesson with Nika! He said, “Eh, just don’t go.”
At the restaurant, it ends up being just the male teachers (and the director) from the school. Seven in total. The food is DE.LICIOUS! We feasted on Kabobs, Mtswadi, Khatchapuri and Khinkali. And drank unmercifully. Two of the teachers tag teamed on translating enough Georgian for me to follow the conversations and toasts. The director was the Tamada. He was pretty good, judging from how long he spoke after each one. And as an afterthought he would always include me by saying, “..and California.” Which I thought was nice of him.
But most touching was the last toast for me. They brought out a drinking vessel that I had never seen before. They individually stood up and filled the cup in my honor. After speaking what I imagined to be nice words, they drank the vessel dry.
It was good to hang out with the guys.
“Keep on learning
Keep on growing
’cause wisdom helps us understand
These are the things that change boys to men.”
Boys to Men, New Edition