I’ve got less than two weeks left in Rustavi and, ultimately, Georgia and they only thing that has struck me about this last semester is how, well, nothing has really struck me.
Rustavi is nice that in I have a variety of shops to buy things like tissues and chocolate bars, it has an old park with an abandoned zoo and theater, and they’ve even got the street lights working. But that’s it, really. I’m sure there might be a gem or two I’ve not seen because I spend most of my time huddled around the one gas burner on the stove or in bed ‘cause of the no heat situation + early winter. The people seem friendly enough but unlike the village there is no being randomly invited in by strangers or being handed glass of hooch on the street. I miss that because it’s something that I’ll never likely see again. If a stranger comes up and hands me a glass of homebrew as I’m walking home in America there’d be a good chance I’d call the police. But here it’s all about knocking it back and impressing people by not gagging. The gagging comes when I’m around the corner. Ugh.
And living with a host, though only bad when she cooks, was not quite the cultural revelation I thought it might be. He English is decent and she speaks it readily. She leaves us to ourselves understanding that we are freaky westerners who can only stand a minimum of person to person contact but other than that we’ve learned very little about the quirks of Georgians as a whole. I don’t know, maybe it was better this way.
I guess the only new and super puzzling cultural quirk that’s really bothered me this semester is the Georgian tenancy to treat everyone younger than them as a five year old. Why yes, I, an independent adult from a foreign country who has lived on my own, payed rent and bills, got myself through college, maintained a car and had various jobs have come all they way to your country to take on the (dubious) responsibility to teach your young children so please, please hold my hand as we cross the street. I shit you not. (She even explained to me how the crosswalk worked since it was new. Lady, I bet we invented crosswalks though I’m too lazy to actually look it up.) She, as in my host, makes me stay home from school because my shoes are too light or I coughed at breakfast while my husband can walk out the door hacking a lung up. I never in my life thought I’d have to argue my way into going to work. Usually it’s the opposite. I still haven’t figured out if it’s because I’m a girl or if it’s because I’m a foreigner or if I just personally seem like I need to be lead around by the hand. It get’s old. Also the re-heated spaghetti in a frying pan with half a bottle of oil, that too get’s old.