My life

My Daily Routine

I don’t like working 9 to 5 Monday to Friday. I have done so in the past, for example, when I worked as a Data Processing Trainee for Kapiti Limited. Then, I just longed for the weekends, which were always too short, I quit after six months. Now I work on six days, Monday to Saturday, but the hours I work each day varies.

My Timetable

My Timetable

I am an English teacher, teaching English as a foreign language,  I teach a mix of students in school and privately, children and adults. I have around 30 lessons on my timetable but don’t teach that many. Although I prefer teaching adult students, as they have more life experience, which I find more interesting, they are often unable to make the lessons, children’s lessons are more reliable.

The day usually begins with Khato, my wonderful wife,  getting up early (6.30 or 6.45) for prayers and preparing breakfast. I get up about an hour later as does Ana, our grand daughter. Khato puts on cartoons for Ana…Korean cartoons in Russian…I don’t know what they are about, some strange creatures who can fly,  but they have a very earwormy jingle. I will put on the computer to check Facebook and WordPress.

Khato gets Ana ready for school while Ana watches cartoons.

Khato gets Ana ready for school while Ana watches cartoons.

Breakfast is usually porridge (good for keeping my cholesterol down) and bread with some spread (jam or peanut butter). After ablutions and packing my “school” bag, I will walk to school (where I teach on Monday and Wednesday) or to the metro to go to my first lesson.

This is me teaching.

This is me teaching.

The school is just ten minutes walk, but my private students in other parts of the city are usually an hour to an hour and a half away (by walking, metro and buses). The metro station is 15 minutes walk. I don’t mind walking, I try to walk at least an hour a day, walking in the day helps me sleep at night, think creatively and I also have the opportunity to take photos en route. I almost always have my camera attached to my belt. It is a compact not a DSLR but it is quite sophisticated (Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ40).  I take photos of a range of subjects: cars, skies, street life, anything which interests me…

The metro is often crowded but I use the time to read. Since taking the metro regularly my reading has increased from two to six books a month, I do most of my reading on the metro, sometimes it can be a danger, if I have a really good book, I might miss my stop.

metro platform, converging lines

metro platform, converging lines

Buses are even more crowded and reading is more difficult (also after dark the lighting isn’t good enough). My lessons take me to different parts of Tbilisi, and I usually allow an hour between each lesson for travelling.

crowded bus

crowded bus

I may come home for lunch, heating up soup from the previous day, Khato makes a delicious vegetable borscht. At home I will drink tea regularly (the coffee for breakfast may be my only coffee in the day, too much coffee and I don’t sleep well).
A lot of my free time is taken up with Facebook, downloading, uploading and editing photos and preparing these blog posts. I also collect diecast cars and make detours on my trips around the city to markets (especially Drybridge Market and Vagzlis Basroba), toy shops and supermarkets, searching for new models. This month I have acquired 18 models already (today is 20th December).

Diecast Acquisitions December 2014

With all the travelling and lessons in the evening my day can finish quite late. On Monday and Friday, I get home around 10.30pm. I will eat, relax and go to bed around midnight. Sunday is kept free from work. I may go to church at 4pm. On the first Wednesday of each month I meet with fellow bibliophiles at Cafe Gallery for Tbilisi English Book Swap, an opportunity to meet and swap books in English.

Tbilisi English Book Swap

Tbilisi English Book Swap

On Tuesdays, I have a large gap in the middle of the day and I will take Ana to the library, so we can both stock up on books.

That folks is my daily routine, my life in a nutshell.

Ana’s First Day at School

Do you remember your first day at school?

I remember little about mine, 44 years ago apart from finding a Dinky Captain Scarlet Vehicle to play with.

Dinky Maximum Security Vehicle from the Captain Scarlet TV Series

Dinky Maximum Security Vehicle (#105) from the Captain Scarlet TV Series

Today my grand daughter Ana, aged 6, started school.

Ana ready for school

Ana ready for school

Khato, my wife, took Ana to school. The first day was actually just two hours, from 9am to 11 am. Ana met her teacher,  Marina, who is in her mid-fifties and her classmates. In her class there are 16 to 20 children, mostly Georgians but a few Armenians,too. She sits next to a boy called Alexi.

She came home with a small computer and lots of books, and seemed quite happy and talkative about her first day.

Ana's computer, tomorrow they will put some programs on it.

Ana’s computer, tomorrow they will put some programs on it.

Ana's school books

Ana’s school books

Ana has books for Georgian, Mathematics, English, Music and Art.

Georgian language book

Georgian language book: დედაენა : პირველი კლასი

Maybe Ana can help me learn Georgian (and I can help her to learn English).

The first lesson from Ana’s retelling was about behaviour, how to enter the room quietly, sit down quietly and exit quietly, a difficult lesson for any kids but especially Georgian kids.

Turning fifty: Marking the decades

3rd September 2014: I hit the landmark 50th birthday, a half century. It doesn’t worry me as much as 60, but it still seems a lot older than I am. I had hoped to make the Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella around now, but it didn’t happen, maybe next summer. Hindus believe when you are 50 you should make a pilgrimage, your earthly needs should have been sorted and you can focus on your soul or spiritual needs.

Marking the decades:

10… I had a party with a few friends in Slough (UK) from different areas of my life, neighbours, school or cub scouts. I knew them but they didn’t really know each other, I don’t remember a lot about it, but it wasn’t a great success. 

20 …  In the evening I went with my friend Jonathan to see Alan Hull (of Lindisfarne fame) at the Putney Half Moon in South West London. A good gig. 

30 … I celebrated in a Pakistani restaurant in Meaux, France with Chrissie, my first wife and two of our friends and students; Corinne and Bernard.

40 … I hired the local swimming pool in Worcester, UK for an hour. I had invited lots of people but only a dozen showed up and only half of those brought their swimming costumes. Not a great success….I should have learnt from my 10th birthday experience!

50 … In Kobuleti, Georgia. I visited the Princess Cafe with my current wife (hopefully till death do us part this time), Lia, her sister-in-law and Mari our niece. the food was vegan, as it was a Wednesday (following the Orthodox tradition on Wednesdays and Fridays we have no animal products). No big celebration just an enjoyable meal to mark the day. 

Celebrating my 50th Birthday in Kobuleti

Celebrating my 50th Birthday in Kobuleti

baked mushrooms

baked mushrooms

Mexican Potatoes

Mexican Potatoes

Vegan Pizza (the Mayonnaise was without eggs and there was no cheese)

Vegan Pizza (the Mayonnaise was without eggs and there was no cheese)

 

Will I reach 60? No plans of how I will celebrate, hopefully with Khatuna but whether in Georgia or elsewhere, who knows?

Did You Miss Me?

Did you miss me?

Did you even notice I was gone?

I have spent two weeks away from the Internet, as someone who wakes up and logs on, gets home and logs on and regularly sees their life frittering away on Facebook and other Internet sites, this was quite a feat.

Kobuleti

Kobuleti

I went to Kobuleti, a Black Sea resort in Ajara, Western Georgia. I purposely left my electronic notebook at home and avoided Internet Cafes.

"Bounce" on Nokia phone

“Bounce” on Nokia phone

At first I was a little bored, I even played the games on my very basic Nokia; no smartphone it only has three games Snake, Beach Rally and Bounce. That didn’t entertain me for long. I went to the beach and made towers of pebbles…a kind of stone age entertainment.

Pebble Tower, Kobuleti Beach

Pebble Tower, Kobuleti Beach

I took four books in English and read all four, I had to slow down on the last because I didn’t want to be deprived of reading matter. I also took three books in Georgian and managed to get through a simple biography of the Georgian painter Pirosmani, with my wife’s help.

Holiday reading. 4 books in Englsih...read. Three books in Georgian...read the biography of Pirosmani.

Holiday reading. 4 books in Englsih…read. Three books in Georgian…read the biography of Pirosmani.

Reading about Pirosmani on the beach in Gerogian

Reading about Pirosmani on the beach in Gerogian

I took a sketch pad with high hopes of doing some drawing but all I managed were a few biro sketches in a little notebook.

sketches in biro

sketches in biro

Without the Internet, I wrote no blog posts and kept a physical (pen and paper) diary….I have a few ideas for blog posts from my trip (starting with this one).

Diary, Coca Cola and a collection of Galaktion Tabidze's poems at a beachside bar.

Diary, Coca Cola and a collection of Galaktion Tabidze’s poems at a beachside bar.

Facebook informs me:

“123 friends posted on your Timeline for your birthday.”

Facebook doesn’t inform me how I can see these messages.

I also came back to 93 notifications and 9 messages, my camera had 1309 photos, which I’m still sifting through. I didn’t hear any football results and was completely oblivious to world news events. It was weird.

The days were a routine of swim in the sea, relax on the beach, lunch, siesta, swim in the sea again, evening meal then a promenade along the beachfront. There were a few breaks from this routine, a visit to the neighbouring resort of Batumi and its botanical garden and an invitation to a Georgian feast (სუფრა) in the countryside at Ozurgeti. One day it rained and then there was nothing to do, except shelter in the guest house and read or chat.

When it rains in Kobuleti options are severly limited.

When it rains in Kobuleti options are severely limited.

Will the experiment change my Internet habits? We shall see. I should reduce my Facebook activity as most of it is doing very little to develop me as a person. I didn’t miss the Internet as much as I had imagined I would, there were times reading that I wanted to Google something,  like a picture of a 1938 Panhard Dynamic when reading Alan Furst’s “Mission to Paris” and I wanted to find more out about the Dominican Republic and the dictator Trujillo when reading “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz (that was the last of my books in English and I took my time, it was worth savouring…I have four or five book reviews to write up in the coming days). Would I do it again? Maybe for a week or two, but I don’t envision quitting the Internet forever.

six years ago

Six years ago on 28 May 2008, I arrived in Tbilisi, Georgia for the first time.

top right my entry stamp into Georgia 28 05 2008...I have had many entry and exit stamps from Georgia in my passport since

top right my entry stamp into Georgia 28 05 2008…I have had many entry and exit stamps from Georgia in my passport since

 

I had come for three days as part of a week’s holiday combining Istanbul and Tbilisi. At the time, I was intent on ticking off the countries of Europe one by one, hoping to visit them all by the time I hit 50. I hit 50, later this year and the idea of visiting all the countries of Europe kind of came to an end when I visited Georgia (since Georgia;  Azerbaijan is the only new country ticked off). So what happened? What happened is I was invited to a Georgian wedding, at this wedding I met Khato, an English teacher, put with me to interpret the proceedings.

Khato and me the day we met... May 2008

Khato and me the day we met… May 2008

 

We got on well, we drank (before then I’d been teetotal), we danced a lot and the following day Khato showed me around her city. When I returned to England we kept in touch by e-mail, then in 2009, I moved to Georgia to teach English. The next Georgian wedding I attended was my own, mine and Khato’s. I blame the wine….and the bride’s sisters, who knowing us both, acted as unofficial matchmakers. No!  Sorry – I thank the wine and the matchmakers…as I found my wonderful Georgian wife 🙂

Khato and me on our wedding day.

Khato and me on our wedding day.

პირველად როცა ღვინო დავლიე, მე შევხვდი ხათოს.

ჩვენ ბევრი ვიცეკვეთ.

ვაბრალებ ღვინოს და გამოუცდელ მაჭანკლებს.

არა, მე მადლობელი ვარ ღვინოსი და მაჭანკლების, მე ვიპოვე ხათო, ჩემი გასაოცარი ცოლი 🙂