reading

Books Read in 2014

I read around 50 books in 2014, mostly in English, four in French and a few books for children in Georgian. Over 16 000 pages in total.

"Istanbul" by Orhan Pamuk

“Istanbul” by Orhan Pamuk

I tried to review each book I read for this blog. The highlights for me were the following (the links are to my reviews):

“Cathedral of the Sea” by Ildefonso Falcones

“The Man from St. Petersburg” by Ken Follett

Where are the Children? by Mary Higgins-Clark

“Istanbul: Memories of a City” by Orhan Pamuk

“The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz

“Alone in Berlin” by Hans Fallada

“Dumb Witness” by Agatha Christie

“A Morbid Taste for Bones” by Ellis Peters

I also managed to read some classics that had been on my “to read list” for a very long time like “Middlemarch” by George Eliot, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “Homage to Catalonia” by George Orwell and “Hard Times” by Charles Dickens.

There were, a few books, I wished I hadn’t bothered with, usually I will put down a book if I haven’t got into it by the fiftieth page but I persevered with “E is for Evidence (Sue Grafton), “Ratner’s Star” by Don DeLillo, “Nutcase” by Charlotte Hughes and “A Hero of our Time” by Mikhail Lermontov. I regret the time spent on these books I didn’t enjoy.

I’ll see if I can read another 50 in 2015, and try to include some in Georgian….

A review of my 2014

2014 is only the second year of my life, when I didn’t spend any time in England (the first was 1998, the worst year of my life, which I spent entirely in Wales).

We only left Georgia once in 2014, way back in January, to visit Ephesus. If you like ruined cities, Ephesus is a must. We spent a week in the area.

Ephesus 093In 2014, I finished teaching at the French School and started working at Opiza school, time will tell if this was a wise decision. I also teach private individuals.

This is me teaching.

This is me teaching.

2014 wasn’t a particularly exceptional year. I turned 50 (as I grow older the years seem to pass more quickly). In the late Summer we visited Qobuleti on the Black Sea coast, for a beach holiday…if it rains in Qobuleti there isn’t much to do (luckily it only rained on one day of our stay).

When it rains in Kobuleti options are severly limited.

When it rains in Kobuleti options are severly limited.

We have a new grandchild, Lazare, born on 1st August. Our oldest grandchild, Ana, started school in September, she still likes it (wonder how long that will last).

Ana ready for school

Ana ready for school

As the time I spent on the metro increased, so did my reading. 29 books read in 2013 and 47 books read in 2014. Highlights included “Cathedral of the Sea” by Ildefonso FalconesIstanbul by Orhan Pamuk and “Dumb Witness” by Agatha Christie.

I took thousands of photos, sharing some on this blog and many more on Facebook.

I added around 240 model cars to my diecast collection and wrote about this in my diecast blog.

Three Corgi Cars from my collection.

Three Corgi Cars from my collection.

My Georgian Language skills made some slow progress, but I really need to resolve once again to learn Georgian seriously and consistently.

I posted 266 posts to this blog in 2014, regularly rising to the Weekly Photo Challenge, reviewing the books I have read, sharing my thoughts on the life of a foreigner in Tbilisi and generally writing about what interested me and I hope may have interested you, too.

I wish you all a Happy New year 2015.

Santas cycling.

Santas cycling.

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.

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.

Reading in Georgian: 3 მელა და წერო (The Fox and the Stork)

“The Fox and the Stork” is a tale with a moral.

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მელა და წერო.

I first started reading books in a foreign language when I lived in France. In January 1993, I read Jules Verne’s classic science fiction novel Voyage au Centre de la Terre in French. I knew the story having read the book previously in English and having also seen the film. It took me a month to get through the novel underlining words I didn’t know, checking in a bilingual English-French dictionary and marking the book in pencil with the English translation. I have since read over a hundred books in French.

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I now have books in three languages to read. I no longer need a pencil and dictionary for reading in French, only occasionally do I find a word, I don’t know. The Georgian book is a library book, so I won’t mark it. I use a notebook to copy out each line of Georgian then use a combination of what I know, Google Translate and my wonderful Georgian wife, to translate each line into English. I am not at a stage yet, where I can think in Georgian.

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The books are short, so I can get through one in a couple of hours.

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This story is about a fox (მელა) and a stork (წერო), who are friends but the naughty fox likes to play tricks on his friends.

მელა წეროს ხშირად ეხუმრებოდა … The fox liked playing tricks on the stork.

The fox had an idea for a new trick and invited the stork to lunch. The poor stork was unable to eat the soup from a bowl.

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საბრალო წერო! Poor stork! You can see her difficulties from the delightful illustrations.

As you might have guessed the stork got her own back, inviting the fox for a meal which he couldn’t eat, because it was served in tall thin glasses.

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The moral of the tale being: always treat your friends well and they won’t trick you.

Now I have a third book in the Usbourne first reading series.

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ჭრიჭინა და და ჭიანჭველა (The Cricket and the Ant). I think it will be a while before I can read the works of famous Georgian writers like Rustaveli, Vazha-Pshavela or Tabidze in the original Georgian.

Reading in Georgian: 2 ლომი და ტაგვი

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Four years and five months in Georgia and my knowledge of the language is still woeful.  On Friday, I joined the Mediatek (library) and borrowed some children’s books, with the aim of finally learning Georgian through reading.

Three of the books are level one readers aimed at Georgian children, the fourth is a book about the Georgian painter, Pirosmani (ფიროსმანი).

I started with the tale of the lion and the mouse ლომი და ტაგვი.

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ხის ძირას ლომს ეძინა … a lion was sleeping under a tree…Georgian has six cases as does Latin but they are not quite the same… lion is ლომი but here it is ლომს the -ს is at the end for some reason and tree is ხე  but here it is ხის… this is complicated!

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Now there is something about a mouse jumping over the lion causing the sleeping cat to wake… “ღრრრრრრრრრრრრრრრრრ…” is how lion’s roar in Georgian.

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Plenty more books when I finish reading about the lion and the mouse. I did manage to read the lion and the mouse today, to Ana, my five year old grand daughter. I didn’t understand everything, so I’ll have to go through it again. I understood the main drift of the story: The lion was angry for having been woken up, and wants to eat the little mouse but the frightened mouse begs for mercy and the lion spares him, the mouse says he will help the lion in future, which causes the lion to laugh. Then one day, the lion is caught in a hunter’s trap, the mouse hears the lion’s cries for help and gnaws through the rope net, freeing the lion, they become friends and live happily ever after…

Now maybe I should read about the fox and the stork or perhaps, the ant and the cricket. ..

2013

31 December 2013, a time to look back on the old year and reflect.

Travelling: Compared to other years we did very little travelling in 2013. In Georgia we just went out of Tbilisi to nearby Sighnaghi, Pasanauri, Lomisa and Rustavi.

We made the annual trip to England, where in 3 weeks, we visited London, Cambridge, Cornwall, Cheltenham, the Cotswolds, York, Bewdley and Worcester.

We also moved from Saburtalo in the centre of Tbilisi to Varketili on the outskirts.

Photography: I bought a new camera in England a Panasonic Lumix TZ40…every day I take many photos, most of which are posted on Facebook and some of which find there way onto my blog.

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Here’s a photo of my lovely wife, Khato in London. The London Eye giving her a halo.

Work: I continue to work as an English teacher but less in school and more privately than at the start of the year.

Blogging: this blog began in November and has quite a geographical spread of readers. USA, Georgia and UK being the source of most readers.

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Greetings to you dear reader wherever you may be.

I have a second blog about my hobby of collecting diecast cars. http://jimholroyd365d.wordpress.com

I added 175 diecast models to my collection in 2013 at a cost of 988 lari and 72 tetri (almost £350).

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Some of my Porsche models.

Reading: 29 books read (24 in English, 5 in French, still half way through my first book in Georgian). The reviews of the most recently read have been put on this blog. (2012: 24 books, 2011, 48 books).Highlights included “The Blind Assassin” by Margaret Atwood, “Blood, Sweat and Tea” by Tom Reynolds and “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut. My reading has increased since moving to Varketili, because I have longer metro journeys. I have also joined a group “Tbilisi English Book Swap”, which meets once a month in a cafe in Tbilisi to swap books in English. A list of all the books I have read can be found here https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/5041353?shelf=read

Family is important to me but I don’t feel like sharing my thoughts about my family publicly on this blog.

I wish you all a Happy New year 2014.

Reading in Georgian: 1: არრა My first book in Georgian

Four years and three months in Georgia and my knowledge of the language is woeful. Last New Year’s day, I made a resolution to learn Georgian by this New Year’s Day. I don’t think this will be a resolution I can keep. I know quite a few Georgian words but stringing them together is a problem.

Georgian is so unlike the European languages I am familiar with. They have their own unique alphabet ა,ბ,გ,დ,ე etc… The 33 letters look to me rather like twisted paper clips. On the plus side it reads from left to right (unlike Hebrew, Arabic or Chinese).

My wife speaks English very well, so there is no motivation for me to learn Georgian to communicate with her. Since September we have been living with my mother-in-law, Zoya, who doesn’t speak English so this provides more motivation to learn.

I find learning the words difficult, they are often long and have no resemblance to words I’m familiar with. Even simple words like mother is დედა (deda) and father is  მამა (mama). Hello is გამარჯობა (gamarjoba).

There are a number of letters, which to Georgians sound different like  and , but in English both are “t” the first is the “t” in Natalie, the second the “t” in “tbilisi”.

At the Christmas Expo I found a children’s book called “არრა!”

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I have read this once to my granddaughter, Ana, without understanding everything I was reading, and my reading speed being frustratingly slow for both me and Ana.

Now I am determined to read it and learn the relevant vocabulary.

The story is a simple story of a naughty dog who thinks he is very good (დაან კარგი). He also thinks his name is “Nooo!” (არრა!), because that is what people constantly tell him.

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Here he is dutifully tasting the chicken for his humans. We see on the right the speech bubble “არ-ა !!” (ar-a!! meaning no!!).

Wish me luck! (how do you say that in Georgian?)

Blog to beat procrastination?

I have a lot of unstructured time. My job as a private English teacher means I’m mostly teaching in the evenings and on Saturday. Today (Monday), for example, I don’t start teaching until 4pm. So I have a lot of time between getting up (8.30am) and starting work. I find Facebook sucks a lot of that time up: commenting, catching up with friends and playing Scrabble (and occasionally Song Pop).I have 652 Facebook friends and I’m in numerous groups, so there is always something to look at on my Newsfeed and before you know it hours have passed and nothing of consequence has been produced. One of the incentives for starting this blog was a need to structure my time more productively and also develop my writing skills and share some of the many photos I take. I have always had a tendency to procrastinate…and not make best use of my time…a trait exacerbated by Facebook and the Internet.

Some things I want to do:

Daily

1. Georgian: I have been in Georgia for 4 years and I can barely make a few sentences. I understand only the most basic instructions. I made a New Year’s Resolution at the beginning of 2013, that by the end of 2013 I would be able to toast in Georgian. I don’t think this will now be possible. I have learnt some words but the amount of time devoted to learning Georgian has been minimal.

2. Plank: I saw this on Facebook. An exercise called planking that develops the core. The idea is to build up from 20 seconds on the first day to 5 minutes or more on the 30th day.http://rawrebecca.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/944270_143491579174855_1235844063_n.jpg

I can’t do more than one minute. I do get some exercise walking to and from the metro station (15 minutes). I also swim once a week.

3. Drawing and Painting: I want to improve my drawing. In 2001, I would draw a picture or two each day, the discipline was good and my drawing improved. But I have let it slide. I would also like to try painting with acrylics. At weekends, I often play around with water colours with my grand daughter, which is great fun an activity I’d highly recommend for both adult and child.

4. Prepare Lessons: Doing this the day before would be great so I’m not rushing around at the last minute.

5. Blog. This blog, as I noted above, one of the reasons for starting this blog was to motivate myself to mke better use of my time. Also I hope blogging will improve my writing skills.

Weekly:

  1. Swim. We have started swimming at the Olympic Pool on a Wednesday Morning. Last year when I was teaching in the French school, they have their own pool and I was able to profit from this facility every Friday afternoon. I enjoy swimming and it is good whole body exercise.
  2. Phone Mum. Mum is living on her own in York since Dad died in 2011. I should phone her once a week. I will need to top up my phone. Our family is all geographically spread out, my brother is in Newquay and my sisters are in Slough and India, so I  it is difficult for us to see Mum…I go to England just once a year.
  3. Read a book. Before I joined Facebook I was reading six books a month on average, this has dropped to just two. I’m currently reading “The Idiot” by Dostoevsky, a rare foray into classic literature, usually I read crime or thrillers.
  4. Scan Computer. I should integrate this as part of my routine.

Well that is a start. Let’s see how well  keep it up. My life is full of this slightly American desire for self-improvement.

Another post about procrastination, seems I have competition 😉

http://pols80.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/procrastination/

procrastination

The instant gratification monkey is apt to take over whenever I try to get down to doing stuff…