In just a few hours I will leave Georgia for a month long vacation in Israel. I’m excited to revisit a country I’ve fallen in love with so many times and catch up with old friends and meet new ones. But before I go I think it’s important to note that when I leave Georgia tonight, I will not be an American leaving Georgia- I will be a “real Georgian girl” (as Nini likes to say) leaving Georgia.
Over the past three and a half months I seemed to have transitioned from East Coast American into Western Georgian- and I will tell you how you too can fake being Georgian in just a few easy ways.
1) Master the “qkh”
There is no quicker way to fake being Georgian than to sound like one. The trickiest letter in the Georgian alphabet makes a sound like “qkh”. The noise comes from a very specific part in your throat and almost sounds like a subtle quack.
Nini and Eka made me practice making the noise so many times one evening that I ended up with a sore throat. Nonetheless, a cup of tea with lemon and honey later, my “qkh” sound making session was resumed.
You are not a true Georgian until you can correctly recite the tongue- twister about a baqkhaqkhi (frog). If I had a lari for every time someone asked me to recite it, I could probably afford my own flight home to New York.
2) Crack open 10 sunflower seeds in twenty seconds
Georgians love their sunflower seeds. It seems to be the snack of choice when watching TV, walking around town or even viewing a play. People seem to eat sunflower seeds as frequently as you might notice someone chewing gum. And they’re damn good at eating them too.
They can crack them open and eat them with one swift motion; some people can even crack several at one time.
I have no idea how people do this. First off, I think the seeds are tasteless. Secondly, it takes me like a minute to eat one seed because I have to spit out half the shell. The art of eating of sunflower seeds is a skill I’ve yet to master (but I have another six months in Georgia to work on that).
Nini loves it when I share a bag with her, because by the time it takes her to finish an entire bag of seeds, I’ve only eaten like twelve.