TLG made a policy that we could not be hosted in the cities of Tbilisi or Batumi. The demand was too great and they wanted to spread us throughout the country.
But they decided to make an exception in my case. (My host family in Mtskheta bailed on me, for goodness sakes!) I still would rather teach and live in Mtskheta, but with that said… I went to look at the home in Tbilisi and it was a no brainer. 25 percent of the 4 million people in Georgia live in Tbilisi. Where the majority of Georgia is predominantly agricultural and rural, Tbilisi is sometimes called the Paris of the East. After two years of seeing poverty and rural life up close, there are aspects of Tbilisi to make all that seem literally, like a foreign country. I had to take a bus to meet the father, Zura. (The family consists of a husband and wife, Mari. Mari’s mother, Lali and their 7 year old daughter, Anna.) We met on the corner of a busy one way street, Kazbegi Ave. He’s a very young guy to my surprise. We started walking to his flat. The first thing I noticed was it was a gated community with a guardhouse and needed a swipe key to get into the building. They live on the 1st floor (technically 3rd as there is a two story store directly underneath.) The apartment was spacious and modern. The furniture was not the typical style of most Georgian homes I had seen. This furniture looked IKEA inspired. In sweeping the living room, my eye caught a flat screen television, surround sound speakers, and comfortable wrap around comfortable couches. I noticed a Mac on the coffee table and an IPad on the side table.
The kitchen had a full sized refrigerator AND a dishwasher. Better yet, it was a full sized fully functioning kitchen. I had never even seen a dishwasher in Georgia! They had three indoor, enclosed bathrooms. One has a Jacuzzi bath, the other a glass enclosed shower door. Super fast Internet. (Videos came up immediately!!!) So basically, it was a done deal. Zura drove me back to the hostel to pick up the rest of my things from the hostel. They are a two-car family and although the apartment has an underground garage, he has the only private single car garage of the building. As we are driving back to the hostel, he is pointing out the major roads and intersections so I can get my bearings. Little by little, he clues me into what he does for a living. He owns a variety of businesses and properties. As we passed different streets and neighborhoods he would say nonchalantly, “I own a flat behind that building”, or “I own that store over there.” Both of them speak English very well. HE trips on his grammar structure occasionally, and she forgets a translation occasionally, but I don’t have to slow down at all for them. They want me to stay with them primarily to teach English to Anna. She is in the second grade in a supposedly good British/Georgian private school, but knows little to no English. Challenge Accepted. Oh, oh oh… I almost forgot- heat radiators in ALL the rooms.
Some have told me the city will ruin me Some said the city is an ugly place The city has marred better men than me I let the city have my heart.
I thought the city gave me hers. This love was not meant to last.
I Still Love The City, But The City Doesn’t Love Me, Alex Gomez