I already feel like I’ve been living in Georgia for at least a week. I’m spitting out greetings in Georgian left and right, albeit sometimes not exactly perfect, but the Georgians seem to appreciate the effort and find it endearing. (One of the cleaning ladies I was trying (key word) to have a chat with even grabbed my cheeks as if I was some adorable five-year-old).
It has definitely been quite the advantage that I have some Russian proficiency. When I went out in Tbilisi with a few friends of mine, our cab driver spoke Russian and even gave us a free tour of the area. I translated as best as I could to my friends and when I didn’t understand something we all just went, “ooohhh” and “aaahhh” as if we were told some magical tale (which seemed to please our driver). He did tell me that the President of Georgia was killed that morning (which is not true) so I can’t imagine how factual the tour actually was. One of the team leaders, Nino, told us that Georgians will often fabricate an event just so it’s more interesting. How fun, right? It’s as if storytelling is a huge part of Georgian culture!
From what I’ve seen of Tbilisi so far, I can definitely say it’s a beautiful city. There are lots of interesting statues everywhere, and a lot of the buildings have really unique architecture. We walked down Rustavelli, one of the main shopping streets and saw lots of luxury stores like Swarovski and Cartier which is something I suppose I didn’t expect to see. One thing I found interesting was that the McDonald’s in Tbilisi didn’t have a drive-thru window but it did have a walk-thru window. Almost like the McDonald’s was a little bodega shop.
While we were walking around Tbilisi we found this sweet little park not too far from Rustavelli with a few park benches and an old statue. Well, while we were sitting and chatting of course these three Georgian men walked on over as if they were on mission. One of the girls I was with, Ilana, speaks Czech so I tried to say to her “speak in Czech” so we wouldn’t be able to talk to them and they’d walk away. However I made the mistake of saying “speak Czech” in Russian. Goodness did I open up a can of worms. So there I went translating from Russian to English and back again, trying to be polite but insinuating that we had to leave. No, Georgian men do not understand, “We need to leave” apparently there is always time for coffee. Finally after lying and saying that I had no phone, forgot what hotel I was at and that I never drink coffee with boys I meet in parks they slowly began to take a hint. Sometimes I couldn’t tell if they were making fun of my Russian or if they were simply amused by it, but I have to say, as creepy as they were they did help me with my conversational Russian! So, spasiba (thank you) creepy park boys. Read more of Michelle’s time in Georgia…