2 weekends ago I was in Tbilisi where I got to meet some new TLGers who seem like decent human beings—of course I’m comparing them to the gargoyles I’m typically around. But that meeting was short lived as I once again ended up at Ethnic Bar stone cold sober and realizing that I have really outgrown the whole drinking for no reason thing. There was tension in the air from the second I got there which just made me edgy the whole night. Every 30 minutes there would be some kind of Foreigner vs. Georgian argument. Whether it was about beer pong, racial slurs, or “peacocking” there was reason for me to be there. Not to say that I stand for any discrimination put forth by either group but it’s the level of immaturity that I do not want to be a part of. I made a consciousness effort this weekend to not be involved in anything of that sort. I hate complaining about the same things over and over so I figure it’s up to me and only me to be the maker of my own happiness and sanity.
Speaking of SANITY—I witnessed a lunatic in a restaurant. After we left Ethnic Bar, we went to a 24 hour restaurant nearby called Khinkali house aka Denny’s according to Duncan and I. When we got there the place was more or less deserted. By the time we were finished around 4:30 the place was PACKED. I noticed a couple come in maybe in their mid-30s but then again you never know in Georgia as people do not age well. They could have been 20 for all I know. So, they come in, sit down and all of a sudden the man slams his fists on the table and starts screaming in Georgian. I was like, oh no, a lovers quarrel. In the meantime, the man in the table next to us comes over and starts talking IN ROMANIAN about how he wishes us success and health in life. Long story short, gypsies are everywhere. We ask for the bill and are in the process of paying when shit hit the fan. The table slamming Georgian man now gets up and starts screaming at the top of his lungs. You could have heard a pin-drop. He then goes into the middle of the restaurant—center stage—and continues screaming AT EVERYONE. This is one of the only times I wish I understood this language. I had ZERO clue what on earth he was saying or what he was soooo upset about. So after a good long minute of this crazy screaming, a man from one of the other tables gets up and says “Ra ginda bitcho?!” – "What do you want boy?!". THANK GOD I UNDERSTOOD THAT MUCH! They then get into each other’s face and continue the screaming. Then a man from another table gets up and enters the lion’s den. All of a sudden, the police are there and the crazy dude is being DRAGGED down the stairs… then up another set of stairs. Good times at 5 in the morning!
There have been 4 birthdays in the past 2 weeks which makes me believe that love is in the air in spring FOR SURE. February 11th and 12th were Murman and Natia’s birthdays—my awesome host brother and sister-in-law who both turned 24. We ended up going to a restaurant on the Sunday to celebrate and stayed until 1 in the morning Georgian dancing and supra-ing. It was a really great time minus the fact that I had school the next day. They even asked the DJ to play Celine Dion and dedicated it to me. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful host family that I mesh with so well. My host mom’s birthday was this past Thursday—she has been having a rough couple of weeks due to some drama so I made sure to let her know how much I love and appreciate all she does via a letter I wrote IN Georgian. It took me forever but she really enjoyed it.
Duncan turned 27 on Wednesday and we celebrated his birth by finding a cute new restaurant on Marjanishvili – NO MORE RUSTAVELI FOR US! We had some food and wine and talked about science and god. Afterward we went to Chardin and got some shisha at my personal favourite hooka bar in all of Tbilisi. The place with the stick man tattoo waiter. He totally recognized me even though I haven’t been there in November. I told you guys he loved me. It was a shame Duncan had school the next day and there were wasn’t anything dance-y happening otherwise we would have tore up a rug somewhere. So far it’s been one of my favourite nights here back in Georgia.
The weather is getting nicer. It was mild this weekend so I got to do a little bit of walking around alone which made me very giddy and smiley. Today I officially felt like a teacher. I don’t even know how to explain what I mean when I say that. You never really think about how you are perceived by others—I mean I don’t think about it. But the more I do this and the more they call me “mas” the more the title of teacher is cemented in my own mind. A few weeks back I was teaching the days of the week to a grade 2 class and halfway through teaching one of my many songs, I look over and I see this super cute kid named Lasha (one of my all-time favourite names) just coloring away not giving a damn about anything going on around him. I figure that I just let him continue as I’d much rather kids do their own thing, in their own little worlds then be disruptive. After class he comes over to me and gives me what he was coloring—a smiley blue cloud! And here I was thinking he was wasting time; he was totally working on a present for me. Today, in the same class, I come in, set my bag down and we start working on our reading. This grade 2 class really is such a pleasure to be a part of. They are such amazing kids—Nika (aka you are my sunshine) is in this class too—they are all such little miracles. I think I am too emotional at times but it is surreal knowing they can read when a few months back they didn’t even know the alphabet. So Lasha comes up to my desk and hands me an apple. My first apple. What a feeling that was. It was one of the first REAL times it occurred to me. I really hope I never forget that moment. These kids see me as a teacher and not as Herta.
At the end of training week in September, there was a panel of other TLGers that came into the hotel and talk to us about their experiences in Georgia. We got to ask them questions and they candidly answered them. I honestly hated my panel, they were so negative and cynical. From the second I realized that this type of panel existed, I wanted to be a part of it no matter what. I wanted to give people the positivity that I never got. I mean, it always good to prepare people for what is coming their way but at the same time, that week long training is filled with so many unknowns and is such an emotional roller coaster that all you really want to know is that yes, although you will face some hardships, you will be fine as long as you have a super positive attitude. So I totally got to be on a panel last weekend!! I was so happy when Tamara, the orientation organizer, called me and asked if I was interesting in doing it. The energy in that room felt exactly like it did when I was in their shoes. All the new people had the same concerns we did back in September-- fear about host families, safety, hygiene and school relations. It was really nice meeting people with a fresh outlook to this experience. I think I needed to experience that panel, those questions and that energy to remind me "where I came from" and how much I have grown since I was in their shoes.