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Saturday, August 20, 2011

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

And now for a public service announcement...



RANDOM CONVERSATIONS

I was talking to a group of Poles and telling them I am from a country founded by prudes where we must know the name of a woman before we can even make love to her. One of the ladies said "That's disgusting!" Another lady said "What are you in, the twelfth century?" One of the guys asked "Can't you just write it down on a card and leave it when you're done?"

It's good to be in Europe. I've got to visit Poland some time.



GEORGIAN CUSTOMS

If you call and book a taxi the day before you need it for a full day of work and wish to cancel it, you must pay 10% of the price that would have been paid. According to the folks I spoke with in Georgia, this is common and correct.

All of the gas stations in Georgia are 'full service' meaning that someone else pumps your gas and takes your money. They are not full service as in the 'Back to the Future' movies where a mob of people rushes out to check your oil, tire air pressure and clean your windshield. In fact, I think panic would set in if a mob of people rushed your car at a gas station for any reason.

If you are a guest in a home, they will bring you an ashtray and encourage you to smoke - even if nobody in the family smokes. Contrast this with the 'angrily huff off or say bad things if you are outdoors and smoke around them' crowd.

'Ala Verde' - this is part of the Supra tradition and is continuing someone else's toast. For example, if the Tamada's toast is about all children, you should continue your toast (ala verde) on children - not talk about the Space Race or some such.

Georgians love their freedom. This accounts for both their hatred of the Russian government as well as how little USSR 'stuff' they have left over here.

The oldest brother (unless there are special circumstances) remains in his parents house. Even after he marries. He and his wife will inherit the house from the parents fully after they die.



TBILISI CUSOTMS

People are issued short wooden clubs. Their job is to chase gypsies away. I'm not kidding. Apparently, the clubs are not used to actually beat the gypsies though they could be. The threat of the club and someone coming after them is often enough to pursuade them to move along. Sadly, the people with the clubs are lax in their duties so I was still beset with beggars.



TBILISI NATIONAL MUSEUM

Costs 5 GEL to get in and sadly, you get what you pay for. There are four floors to the museum. One floor seems to be underground and could be more accurately called 'the basement' rather than the 'first floor'. The third floor is marked 'closed' with no explanation or date of possible opening available. The second floor (the ground floor) exhibits were remarkably lame. I walked quickly through them, quickly leaving behind the small group I had come with who chose to dwadle over a remarkably unremarkable group of pottery shards. I went down to the first floor (basement) and saw some very nice examples of great detail craftsmanship in long lasting gold and silver. Unfortunately, pictures weren't allowed in there. In particular, there was one small horse. It was pretty remarkable to me. In addition to the fine craftsmanship present in all of the other relics, the legs of the horse were made from small dangly rings of metal. This would give the impression of movement in the horse when it was worn. They really don't make them like they use to. Since the third floor was closed and possibly hosting the command center of a force of invading aliens, I checked out the fourth floor.

Whoever did the interior decoration for the fourth floor did a nice job. It was done up in 'grim'. Good lighting and use of colors to give it that moody, depressive, 'we've got the KGB and built a big wall around the country to keep you bastards in' look. Nicely done. True that it could have used a touch of barbed wire and maybe a search light you have to avoid but they did a good job with what they had. The exhibits themselves however I could only term as 'lame'. They were enlarged photocopies of various documents. A couple had on the barest of information in English on the identity plate but not really enough to understand the significance of the document. I'm sure that if I read Georgian or Russian they would hold more meaning. But I don't so it went into my 'list of museums that should be set ablaze for only displaying pieces of paper and photographs when there was so much more interesting stuff available. It is my belief that even a truly significant document such as the 'Magna Carta' should be surrounded by suits of armor, barding and such. I'm not sure what sort of people find pieces of paper and photocopies of pictures they could easily find on the internet worth visiting a museum to see but I'm hoping there is a special ring of hell reserved for people in museums who make the decisions to display these things and nothing else of interest.

Overall, I'd suggest the museum is only worth seeing if you a) need a shot of 'culture' or b) if it is raining too hard to do anything better. Bring a student ID and get in for just 1 GEL. It would probably work with a fake one as well if you are really interested in saving 5 GEL.



LAST NIGHT IN TBILISI

This was a rough evening for me. We had two Italian guys (the ones I was hanging out with in the videos) as well as Friends Hostel owners Lasha #2 and his girlfriend Nino making some amazing food. The problem - George's mother was expecting George and I over and had been cooking all day as well. If I was fresh from America, this would not have been a problem - at all. But since my inner stomach has shrunk to 'European size' (despite my outstandingly big 'American sized' gut) this presented a huge challenge. I knew that I'd be pressured to eat until I exploded at George's house and I'd never tried pasta made by actual Italians (who said they could cook!!) before. After these two feasts, the mandatory drinking of a shitload (about a liter or more) of wine. I compensated by eating very little of the food at the hostel.

Afterward, George brought me to his parents house. I had carefully explained to George that I'd be taking a very small helping of the food so that I would be able to take seconds and such. Believe it or not, the first thing George did was to pile more onto my plate after I'd given myself a small portion. I think the concept of 'feed guests until they explode' is on the genetic level.

During the meal and the supra afterward, George's mother was pretty much invisible. She had made the food, made sure we had enough of everything then disappeared. I gather this is pretty normal behavior for the ladies of the house but it seems like less fun for them to me. Fortunately, George's father and George's brother joined us for the supra.

In addition to trying to kill me through overfeeding, George had another trick up his sleeve for me. He made me Tamada. For those too lazy to read the other entries of the blog, the Tamada is the dictator of the Supra. He (almost always a 'he') is the one who must do the correct ritual toasts in the correct order as well as other common toasts. Also, the Tamada needs to monitor the other conversations the group is having to search for material that could be made into a toast. Georgians are trained in being Tamada from the time they are able to drink. They pay attention to the older Supra member's toasts and learn them. Since I'm not Georgian, I had to keep on the ball.

After I found out that in the old days Georgian's use to worship 'a wine god' and have Supras in which the Tamada was basically the 'priest' for the day, this lent extra weight and responsibility. It takes some quick mental work as well - which isn't helped by drinking a lot of wine.

George was interested in not only getting himself drunk but getting me drunk as well. Needless to say, when I meet up with someone's parents and am Tamada on top of that, hell no I'm not getting drunk. Fortunately, I had a bit of luck and some quick mental finesse secured me a large shot glass sized cup. George had a much bigger glass I'd guess was two of mine. He's happy, I'm happy.

With Georgian hospitality, you must be aware that 'good hospitality' is equated with 'stuffing the guests with more food than they can possibly eat without dying'. If you don't come back for seconds, they won't think 'he's full'. They will think 'he fucking hates my cooking'. It will cause feelings to be hurt. This reminds me of a book on etiquette I was reading. Those who know me well (or have seen me eat) may well be surprised that I've read four US Yellow Pages sized books (ie really thick) on etiquette. It may reassure people to know I choose to ignore much of that unless I feel I need to use etiquette. In one of these massive tomes on etiquette, it cautions readers that if meat is brought out to only take one slice. The host may have prepared only enough for each guest to get a single slice and it will cause embarrassment (and possibly another guest not getting meat) if you grab more than one slice. I think a Georgian host would die of shame if they didn't make enough to feed everyone fourths. Outside of the USA in many countries if you have a guest, you make a huge feast. Only the Americans seem stingy with how much food we prepare - and we have Tupperware and microwave ovens. Many of the 'feast' cultures don't. Americans are just a bit cheap, mean and stingy in that regard apparently.

There was more than enough food. As a side note, praise the food as a whole but do not - I repeat do not - point out any specific food as something you really liked. You will get more forced upon you. Packaged so you can bring it home. Dumped on your plate. People running to the neighbors to see if they have ingredients to make more of it.

In Georgia, if an American came in and went ballistic, literally eating every bit of food in the house and causing them to go to their neighbors and the store for more, the Georgians would consider it a job well done in their duties as host and a good guest besides. I didn't try for that. I like my stomach being smaller - at least on the inside. Possibly because it costs less to feed myself if nothing else.



THE NEXT DAY

I drug George on "That Fucking Pen" quest part two. For anyone wanting to see the exact pen I am looking for, check out this pen. I didn't count the number of places we went to but I'd guess around a dozen. I enjoyed it because it took us to some places in Tbilisi that I know we wouldn't have normally gone to.

Despite my being told that Tbilisi would have 'everything', we could not find this pen. This is a constant irritation to George who will probably have nightmares about the pen.

After we got done with that, I said goodbye to George and pressed on via marshutka to Telavi.



VIDEOS

Mind control over Georgians

Supra 1

Supra 2

Supra 3 The Joke

Supra 4

Tbilisi 1

Tbilisi 2

Tbilisi 3

Tbilisi streets

Friends Hostel

Near Tbilisi 1

Near Tbilisi 2

Near Tbilisi 3

Near Tbilisi 4

Near Tbilisi 5

Near Tbilisi 6

George's house

George, beer and the Lari



FROM FACEBOOK

Thanks to TJ for this funny condom ad. Some others for you here.

4 comments:

  1. You want cities on hills? Come to New Zealand, our one flat city was struck by an earthquake! (Not that you'd be able to afford it here, nor would we let you into the country.)

    (Note to kidnappers: this comment does not construe as any indication of interest in seeing Logan alive.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are a mean person Jamas!

    Unfortunately, Oz and NZ would be the kind of countries I'd have to live cheaply in the orient for a couple years to afford a few weeks in.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You shoulda mentioned the pens when in Odessa...I use them too......got a box of them in the hostel.

    ReplyDelete

PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan | Portugal: Faro

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