georgian food

Six Years in Georgia: the good and the bad

I have now lived in Georgia for six and a half years, the country not the US state (it needs qualifying every time). I am often asked do I like Georgia? Well, my answer is “Yes and no”. Some things I like, some I don’t.

I love the light. Lots of clear sunny days make for good photos.

bat

bat

The mountains are spectacular, some are higher than any in the Alps.

Abudelauri Lake (Blue)

Abudelauri Lake (Blue)

Georgian women are very pleasing on the eye, strangely Georgian men seem to fantasise about Ukrainian women. Foreign women should be wary of Georgian men, have a look at this blogpost: Should you date a Georgian?

Georgian model

Georgian model

Georgians rave about their cuisine, I am not so impressed and miss English roast dinners and puddings. I don’t really like khachapuri, their signature dish, a cheese filled pastry, I find it too salty. Georgian meals are important events and most birthdays and holidays are marked with a feast or “supra”. Georgians are also proud of their wine and claim to have been the nation which invented wine back in the mists of time, some 8 000 years ago, a claim for which there is some archaeological support in the region. Georgian wine

Khachapuri

Khachapuri

The language is a nightmare for me, using a different alphabet and having long words with tricky consonant clusters. Anyone following my blog will have noticed my postings about my struggles with the language.

Little Red Riding Hood Text in English and Georgian

Little Red Riding Hood Text in English and Georgian

One thing that saddens me is despite the Georgians singing so much that they are proud of their country, so many of them litter with abandon.

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litter in the countryside near Borjomi

I like seeing old Soviet cars still around.

ZIL

ZIL

I can work here quite easily as an English teacher, many people want to learn English and there are not a lot of native English speakers. The cost of living is relatively cheap particularly things like public transport much cheaper in Tbilisi than in London, but wages are much lower.

Georgian people don’t smile much but they do have a tradition of hospitality.

Tbilisi feels a safe city, I have had no troubles, apparently it hasn’t always been like this, in the 1990s there was a lot of street crime. Walking around late at night in an English city on a Friday or Saturday night is more intimidating than walking around Tbilisi at night.

The public transport, though cheap can be very overcrowded.

The traffic is scary at times, the drivers have little respect for pedestrians and won’t stop just because you are at a pedestrian crossing. When asked by Georgians what I don’t like I usually say “the traffic” and they nod in agreement, though apparently it is even worse in Iran.

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Religion is important here, despite the Bolsheviks trying to stamp out religion in the past, there are many new churches and most Georgians are Orthodox Christians. I have been baptised into the Orthodox church but I find their intolerance of other denominations rather un-Christian. My wife is quite devout and prays twice a day, every day.

(re)construction

(re)construction

In the UK we joked about health and safety overkill, but here in Georgia it is common to see construction workers working without helmets or safety equipment. The cars also have no requirements for any roadworthy test.

GAZ M20

GAZ M20 “Pobeda”

There are many other pluses and minuses to living in Georgia, my home for the foreseeable future. I might add to this post later.

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?

Making Churchkhela

Churchkhela is the Georgian “Snickers” a string of walnuts coated in a grape  paste. Great trail food. Here are a few photos of us making  Churchkhela. For more details of this Georgian delicacy have a look at: http://georgianrecipes.net/2013/03/29/chuechkhela-georgian-snickers/

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walnuts on strings….

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grape paste

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The strings of walnuts are coated in the grape paste then hung out to cool and dry.