Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Well, I gave up at around 1 am but I was reliably informed that the party to welcome Aka home went on until nearly 3. What I saw and experienced though was wonderful! I’ve never seen everyone so happy...and it made me happy just to be able to stand back and watch.

At 6, Nino, Tamaz, Beka and some family friends headed off to the airport to pick him up. Eka, Juju and I stayed behind to continue with food preparations and household duties. When they came through the front door Nino poked her head in the door to the kitchen/living room and motioned for Eka to come. I saw a mass of bodies in the foyer but watched as Eka kissed and embraced her son. She came in, misty eyed, with him and the rest of the family crowded around him. The next few minutes were a blur as he came in, greeted Juju and then me and ran off to see how his room had been overtaken by Nino since his departure. As he left I turned around to see Juju drying her eyes. Not only did it make me so happy to see all of them so thrilled that he had returned home, I also knew that I could empathize, with Nino especially. I know exactly what it feels like to have your brother return home and the feeling that you could just burst with emotion at his homecoming...even if it’s only for a short time, is something so precious.

Now having met the older brother, whom I have heard so much about over the past few months I’m excited to get to know him...and not just because he’s another English speaker in the house. He seems every bit as good-natured and fun-loving as Nino has made him out to be.

...I just have to get through this week at school to be able to enjoy Christmas break with the rest of the family.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Good Eats - The Aftermath

Well, yesterday marked a first, and hopefully last experience here...a trip to the doctor.

(cue daunting music)

Sadly, I've not been feeling up to snuff the past week. It started last Wednesday when my tummy started to make some rather vehement protests. The actual culprit still remains a mystery but it started after lunch at school that day. Every meal after that one seemed to trigger something and left me less than happy. Sparing the particulars, the worst came yesterday and kept me home from school. Since I had been complaining of tummy troubles for several days Eka and Tamaz decided that a trip to the doctor was the next step for me.

Now, I don't like the phrase "under developed" in reference to countries. Since these labels are created by the self-named "developed" countries it smacks of a certain level of an ethnocentric superiority complex to me. Or maybe I just spent too much time in the 18th century and got really tired of visitors saying "They didn't know anything back then." After years of hearing it I finally put it and my cultural anthropology classes from college together and realized that they were exhibiting all the signs of an ethnocentric frame of mind only this time it was time/technology based. Nevertheless, the idea that you are superior to someone else just because you have something they don't just makes me mad. When you get down to it, saying that you are better, or more advanced, than another group of people or another time period shows an incredible inability to look beneath the visible surface. If you only look at another culture from your perspective then you are bound to be at odds with it. So you have to look at how the people who live in it react to the things that you deem "different." In the end, they may still be different, but at least you will have the added perspective and understanding.

With that mindset firmly in place, I went to the...I think it was the...hospital, yesterday. And with the understanding that things would be different than I anticipated, I left hoping that I would never have to go back. Now the doctors were great. The experience of trying to explain what was wrong with me with only Eka to speak for me was interesting to say the least. In spite of it all, I was rather pleased with myself in that I knew what Eka and Tamaz were saying for me, I just couldn't have expressed it myself. At one point we got Nino on speakerphone to answer some particular questions that the doctor had for me...poor girl is probably scarred for life. After the preliminary consultation it was down to the lab. As we walked through the halls I imagined myself on some kind of horror movie set where the characters face terror (and a gruesome end) in an old, run down hospital...and I don't even watch horror movies. But Eka and Tamaz seemed unphased, and more to the point, what earthly good would it have done me to react negatively to my surroundings? So I kept walking, and proceeded to have a laugh to myself about my surreal situation.

We went to the sonography lab where we proceeded to just open the door and go in...despite the fact that there were about a dozen people waiting outside the door. There was a mild protest but I just followed Eka when she said, "Come" and we left Tamaz outside (to presumably deal with it). All these years, I've been imagining that I would have to be a mommy-to-be to have my first ultra-sound. Not so. They laid me down, scanned me, printed out the results and we were off to do some blood tests. This was perhaps the most interesting part of the whole experience. In the U.S. you have your blood taken in one place and then it is sent off to the lab for tests. Well, why not just cut out the extra room and have your blood taken in the lab. True, this lab, and the equipment therein, reminded me of what I had worked with in our low- budget lab at college...but if it works? I do believe my favorite part was the pot of coffee that was brewing on the hot plate in the middle of the floor. After my tests it was back to the doctor. Eka walked in to the office...past the crowd that had been waiting prior to our arrival and got the information that she wanted and we were off.

The prescription...some meds and a bland diet for the next few days.

The cost...15 lari (about $8)

The good news...tests came back today and I'm fine. Tomorrow I go back to school.

Yay adventure!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Backgammon Philosophy

Tonight, as Tamaz and I sat down for our (almost) nightly ritual of backgammon and began to play, I came to realize something...I'm really not very good at it. Which wouldn't be such a problem if he didn't get so visibly (and vocally) frustrated with my performance...and you haven't really heard anything til you hear this man yell. Tamazi's exact words had me pinned as a tsudi mostsavle (bad student) and let me say, coming to the conclusion that you are struggling with something is one thing...being told by someone that you are, in effect, not trying very hard is quite another. You would think after weeks of observing experienced players and playing my fair share that I would have learned something in the process. Maybe I have; maybe my current slump has more to do with the fact that I am experimenting with different ways to play to find out what my unique strategy is. And maybe that's just a big fat excuse that serves only to mask the real reason I thought I was doing so well...the pure dumb luck of the dice.

So, of course, in my typical self analysis I have taken this small incident to look at my overall character. Because, let's face it, backgammon isn't the real problem here.

I am drawn to Tamazi's evaluation: bad student. Now I know that he says it because he wants me to improve myself but I have to ask myself, am I a bad student because I only pursue those things that I perceive to be interesting at first but when I find out how much hard work they really are I tend to slack off? Or worse, do I just deem those things that I find unimportant in the grand scheme (i.e. backgammon) to be not worth troubling over and write them off? What, if anything, has really ever been my passion?

Or is it just the blunt force honesty that hits so hard? As usual I equate criticism of me (however constructive it is meant) to be dislike of me. I think it upsets me so much partly because I'm worried that he thinks that my poor performance in backgammon betrays the same character flaw I see and thinks less of me for it. Which then only serves to make me more frustrated with myself.

So on one hand...if my self analysis is correct I am a directionless wanderer unable to identify what is important to me chiefly because I am so worried about pleasing everyone around me that I have lost sight (if I ever had any to begin with) of who I am.

On the other hand...it's just a game! Sheesh!