Reading Rainbow

I mentioned this to a few of you already, but now it deserves a post all to itself.

I love books. I I’ve loved reading since an early age. I love the smell of them, the feel of them, the sense of accomplishment when one is finish and the feeling when the author seems to write something that specifically speaks to me.

In coming to Georgia, I unfortunately had to pack away my books into boxes. It was a sad, sad day. I had to transition whole-heartedly to digital reading. Obviously it’s not anywhere near the experience of a real book, but the stroke of genius is the fact that you can keep a multiple of books in one small spot and take it with you wherever.

It has become a grand pastime to gather and trade movies and such. It’s similar to trading cigarettes amongst prisoners.

This past week, I hit the mother load from a friend. Soooo many novels! One author I was seriously debating spending my meager salary on and was fairly expensive on Amazon. I now have him!

THEN icing on the cake… I got 1001 books to read before you die from another friend. Now I probably won’t read all of them before I die, but its good to have a substantial library again.

Life is Good.

Butterfly in the sky
I can go twice as high
Take a look
It’s in a book
A reading rainbow

I can go anywhere
I can go anywhere
Friends to know
And ways to grow
A reading rainbow

Reading Rainbow Theme Song

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Dancing In The Streets

Walking home comfortably clothed for 45ish degree weather. Just descended from a Soviet era built apartment building. Had cocktails with amazing ex-pats here in Georgia for our traditional ‘happy hour’ Wednesday night. It is 9 pm. The streets that are bustling during the day hours are eerily deserted now. For my four minute walk home, Brokenhearted, by Karmin is blasting from my earphones to mute out any other sound. I don’t know if it’s because of the emptiness of the streets, the other worldliness of the environment or simply the context of this point in my life. But I can’t help but dance in the streets all the way home.

I can’t be any happier.

 

“See, I’ve been waiting all day
For you to call me baby
So let’s get up, let’s get on it
Don’t you leave me brokenhearted tonight
Come on, that’s right
Honest baby, I’ll do anything you want to
So can we finish what we started
Don’t you leave me brokenhearted tonight
Come on, that’s right, cheerio”

Brokenhearted, Karmin

English Club Revisited

Yesterday was a very successful English Club meeting. Not very many people came but I have a consistent base number of four delightful girls. I had asked them the previous meeting to bring in the lyrics to a favorite song or a song that best represents them.

This is what they brought in:

Two Of A Kind by Sofia Nizharadze. This is Lana’s her favorite Georgian singer. And I have to agree, she can sing! It always makes Lana think of her relationships with her friends- plutonic and otherwise.

Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd. This is Maggie’s favorite song. She likes it because of a particular story associated with it (don’t know if it’s true or not). But the story goes, there were a group of people fleeing Soviet Union for the States. They were captured and interrogated. Among the captives were a husband and wife. During interrogation, the wife (while the interrogators were turned away) scratched in the wall or desk “Wish You…”.  And when she was brought back to be reinterrogated some time later, she noticed that (her husband) had finished the message during his interrogation, “…Were Here”.

Maggie also loves Taylor Swift. So I was excited to be able to get her a copy of the latest CD while I was back in the States.

1973 by James Blunt was chosen by Sofia. We didn’t get around to questioning her about why. That’s for next time.

Tears In Heaven by Eric Clapton was selected by Izzy. She loves Clapton! She knows all his songs and trivia associated with him. We are going to question her about the song next time, too.

To end we had a spirited debate on, “Which is more important in a song- text or melody”.

I Love those girls!

ENGLISH.FOR.NUMBER.FOUR- REPRESENT!!!!!

I wanna be your melody
Flowing through your head, when you think of me
I wanna be your favorite song
La la la la laYou’ll be singing like
Ooh ooh ooh ooh

All I wanna, all I wanna, all I wanna say is
I just wanna sing it to you everyday
All I wanna, all I wanna, all I wanna say is
La la la la la

Favorite Song, Colbie Caillat

 

Family Time

I haven’t posted in a while simply because not that much of note has happened. Been back in Ozurgeti for a week now and have finally gotten back into the routine. I didn’t travel this weekend in effort to do just that, get back into the routine.

I guess then that most of my observations have been on the family.

Families are funny things. Private and public and the same time. I can’t thank my host family enough for taking me in. It undoubtedly adds a deeper perspective on the culture of Georgia. The program that I’m a part of, TLG, has added another clause to the contract that volunteers must stay with host families unless they have extenuating circumstances. The reason being a trend was developing where we deciding to rent and live in separate apartments foregoing host homes. That obviously undermines half of the program that tries to emphasis cultural exchange.

So in observing my host family more, here are some of the things that came up:

First, my host grandfather is nicer to me since I’ve been back. He says ‘hello’ when I say hello. He smiles a little more. And he tries to tell me what is happening on television. Win.

The boys are loud with everything they do. I might notice this because I am naturally quiet (part ninja) and because I try to be inconspicuous as a guest in their home. For example, when going to the bathroom in the wee hours of the morning, I try to stealthily walk the halls and painstakingly open, close, lock and unlock doors. But the boys are the opposite extreme. They stomp down the stairs and slam every door in their path.

Nino is still cute as a kitten, but I think she also has the propensity to be a bully. I notice that when a friend of the same age comes over, she is very restrictive and bratty towards her. I would be more sure if I understood what the hell they were saying.

It’s disarming to see Nika waiting in the hall before bed to talk to his mom wearing nothing but a t-shirt, undies and a smile. But at school, he strolls the halls with his posse like the coolest kid in the place.

My host dad works a lot. He is the manager of a bank here in Ozurgeti. And the host mom is always going here and there between the household duties and chores. I rarely see them in the same place at the same time except for meals. Whenever there is communication, it’s usually Eka (the host mom) yelling about the kids. And make no mistake about it… she can yell. Actually I rarely hear her speaking at regular tones.

She goes about her day taking care of the house, food and kids. And Levon goes to work from sun up to sun down.

That’s why it was nice to observe a peaceful moment between the two. Levon was in Tbilisi Saturday. He took the night train back Saturday night and got in Sunday morning around 6:30. I woke up at a descent Sunday morning time… 10:45 and meandered downstairs. Normally the grandparents would have been up at that time too, but they were at a relative’s house for the weekend.

So after Eka’s daily coffee time with the lady neighbors, the house was eerily quiet. The kids were not to get up for another several hours. I was curled up with a book warming by the fire. And they were talking quietly at the kitchen table. I could barely even hear Eka, which is a miracle. It was a picturesque scene, a moment that I know they cherish.

I just hope I’m not too intrusive. They seem to take to me, though.

But do you love me?

(Golde)
Do I love you? 
For twenty-five years I’ve washed your clothes
Cooked your meals, cleaned your house
Given you children, milked the cow
After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?

(Golde)
Do I love him?
For twenty-five years I’ve lived with him
Fought him, starved with him
Twenty-five years my bed is his
If that’s not love, what is?

(Tevye)
Then you love me?

(Golde)
I suppose I do

(Tevye)
And I suppose I love you too

Do You Love Me, Fiddler On The Roof

Breathing It In

I forgot…

How beautiful it is living in the shadow of a mountain range.

DSCN2757

I can usually decipher what someone is saying to me in Georgian, but I have little hope of responding in a comprehensible way.

That American showers should never be underestimated….EVER.

That the kids in my school think I’m equal to Jesus’ second coming. And on a separate note (done to all teachers) they all stand as soon as a teacher enters the room. That never gets old.

It’s just cold enough to be uncomfortable in my room until the heat is turned on at 8 pm.

That there is no such thing as separate checks here. The conclusion of every meal with multiple people is transitioned into a game of Ante Up, or better know as ‘Be generous but don’t get screwed’.

Favorite moments being back so far…

Eating lunch prepared by my Bebia (host grandmother) alone and quietly as she goes about her business working on the second lunch (hot lunch) of the day.

Teaching my favorite class (a fifth grade class) by myself. They have the potential to churn out chaos and mayhem, but instead they do all they can to make the class work. They interpret and translate words communally until the correct message is given to me. I love them!

Random, unsought hugs from Nino, my host sister.

Listening to the hard rain beat off the terra-cotta roof tiles in the wee hours of the morning and feeling a deep sense of belonging.

“When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad”

My Favorite Things, Rodgers and Hammerstein

Oh Yeah… Georgia

I can’t explain the experience of flying into Georgia. Things were so different this time. The uncertainty and adrenaline of experiencing the unknown were gone. But I still felt emotional.

Then things came into sharp focus when we had to haggle a taxi to the hostel. We whisked past the familiar sites of Tbilisi- Peace Bridge, old town, the radio tower. The hostel itself was… a Georgian hostel. But we were soo tired, it didn’t matter. And if anything up to that point was interpreted as ‘easing’ me into being back in Georgia, the Hostel bathroom smacked me in the face with a good ol’ ‘Welcome Back’! I’ve said this before, but I simply don’t get and can’t understand the logic or illogic of a Georgian bathroom. It was as if ZERO thought went into the functionality of these important, dare I say MOST important, room of the house.

We had to turn in our flight stubs at the TLG head office. This was good because I had never seen the place. The offices are in the Ministry of Education and Sciences Building. A very impressive structure in a very impressive area of Tbilisi. When we arrived, although they said it would be open on Sunday, the doors were locked. …Okay.

We were meandering around the front for a while, when two security guards came up to us. I said, ‘Hello’. And they asked were we TLG. “Why, Yes we are.” He told us to go around the side of the building. We were pointed in a particular direction by several other people until we were left on our own inside the building. Then it was a matter of trial and error to find the correct room with TLG staff.  So we turned in our ticket stubs and signed contact extensions or in my case an addendum.

At the office, another friend, Matt strolled into the office. That was a fortunate meet up, because Matt lives near my town of Ozurgeti. So I would travel back with him. Which brings me to the crazy Georgian experience of the day!

We left the hostel at 6:30ish to get to the train station and buy tickets. The plan was to buy three tickets (Matt, Sam and myself) for a private sleep car. Sam was going to continue on to Batumi. Well first off Batumi and Ozurgeti were on different lines, so we wouldn’t be traveling together. Secondly, There were no more sleeper car spots available. We would have to get regular seats. Whatever, we had to get back.

So we sat around the station for two hours until our train departed. In the mean, time we saw Minnie Mouse!!! She was a surprise guest at a kid party in the train terminal (weird place for a party space, I know). Man, the things you see at a train station.

We decided to head to the train ten minutes before the departure time; first mistake. Actually a mistake before that was not knowing which and where our specific platform was. Because, although I only saw a sign for platform 2 and 3, we were scheduled to leave from platform 1. But for some reason I didn’t register that this was a problem.

When it came to finding the train, we went out to platform 2 and 3… no trains. I did see one over a little ways. That must be it. But how to get there? We asked a security guard who didn’t know English. But fortunately the people he was speaking to did. We were directed downstairs to platform 1. Once down the VERY slow escalator, we asked another security guard who said yes it’s platform one, but the train was going to Batumi. Batumi? “Where was the Ozurgeti train”, we asked. Platform 2, he replied. Ugh! Up the SLOW escalator again with 3 minutes to spare. Mind you, we are both slinging 50 pound bags with us. I run to the other side of the terminal, but Matt decides to stop and ask the desk clerk to make sure. “No Time, Matt!!!”, I yelled. But he’s a Brit, and they work at a different pace than impulsive Americans. Not only did he not get an answer from the clerk, he was directed to ask a different clerk! I feel like we are a couple on ‘The Amazing Race’.

….one minute to departure…

He finally gets confirmation that it is indeed platform 2. So we sprint in that direction. We hustle down a flight of stairs and fortunately see a train. We scramble towards the correct car where a conductor stands in the doorway. “Ozurgeti?” I ask. Nope. Its on the platform on the OTHER side of the train. Aughh!  How do we get over there? I thought he motioned for us to go through the doors of that train… but he didn’t, as that would have just been silly. He motioned for us to go under the trains through a tunnel I had failed to notice. (All this is happening as Matt is just now shuffling up).

Off we go down the tunnel stairs, under the tracks, and back up another flight of stairs. I look up the final flight of stairs and there are a multitude of Gypsy women selling snacks to passengers staring down at us. “Ozurgeti?” I ask.  “OZURGETI!!”, they yell back in unison. I scurry up the stairs and am helped up the last few steps by some police officers. Frantically I am searching for the correct car and realize I’ve run the wrong way. In my about face, I run past Matt, yelling for him to hurry up.

We finally make it to the right train, the right car, the right seats. Sweaty and winded, we finally are on our way to the land of OZ.

We’re off to see the Wizard,
the wonderful Wizard of Oz.
We hear he is a wiz of a wiz
If ever a wiz there was.

If ever, oh ever, a wiz there was,
the Wizard of Oz is one because,
because, because, because, because, because-
because of the wonderful things he does.

We’re off to see the Wizard,
the wonderful Wizard of Oz.

We’re off to see the Wizard, Judy Garland