воскресенье, 10 ноября 2013 г.

Oct 14. Randomize it!

Looking through notes I found that yesterday Maks, the Georgian guy, paid for my Ukrainian friends' taxi. He said it was an honour for him and he didn't need any money back. Yes, these people are definitely proud, in a good sense, of course. And this is while most of Georgians live on the edge of poverty.

But today is Monday, the 14th, and I am the last person who left in the hotel. Basically I wasn't allowed to stay one day more but yesterday I came back from the city too late and lied on a comfortable couch falling asleep. I didn't bother anybody so why not? Next morning, at the beginning of a new week and new adventures, I sneaked to the dining room where I had my last hotel breakfast - free and amazingly delicious! While eating croissant with coffee I was approached by a young fellow who worked there. First, he cleaned up my table a little bit but then asked where I was from. A conversation started and in a few minutes I was told about new magnificent places of Georgia, including the City of Love and other towns with ancient castles. 

"We are warriors,"

he explained, "this is the way Georgians used to live for centuries."

When you go to a different city, people you meet there make a total impression about it. Today I used Tbilisi subway for the first and last (I thought) time. Although, I couldn't buy one token. I was offered 10 only. But then one young man swifted his card smiling. I wanted to give him 1 lari but he rejected.

Do small things, stay kind

whenever you are. You never know who you will meet and what impression about your country and nation you will make...

Bye Tbilisi. I am going to Gori. There are dozens of mini-buses and cars that go there from the capital. And I am already on my way. Smooth highways... Yeah! There are dry lands with rare vineyards around. And mountains, mountains, mountains... Very nice!

In the car I had short conversations with other passengers. We talked about people in general and their attitude toward higher institutions. 

"People are either very rich
or very poor.

There is a very little middle class," said one woman that was sitting behind me. It is quite interesting that after 10-15 years of European-Georgian relations common people still don't feel the difference. I remember fency electrical boards at Tbilisi bus-stops and other innovations while most of the pedestrians wore old clothes, drivers used simple models of cars or drove old Mercedes or BMW.

Though, do they need iPhones, Zara or McDonald's? Their own culture, still virgin towards globalization, does exist and stands out of others.

Public services building in Gori. 
One of the reasons the corruption rate decreased 

Another woman with name Mziya translated to me what the passenger next to her said:

"People are tired of waiting.

It is probably better to join Russia. At least we have one common faith. We don't need America or Europe. Yes, they invest billions and sometimes build a new thing. But they just fly back and forth, and it doesn't have anything to do with all the usual Georgians."

On the way I was gazing at the mountain range not feeling any bump on the road (because there was no single one) as well as I lacked any feeling of homesick. I was at home! Exploring my dear Earth, surfing through humanity, it is a complete freedom of not having a phone number and Interner access but going whenever I want. It is so simple to stay happy when I find a place to sleep, if I have some snacks, if I just go. This is probably one of the reasons why Georgians and Ukrainians patiently wait and believe all promises that politicians make... And forgive all these promises.

The marks of war started to be seen in 20 km from Tbilisi when I saw a huge refugee camp. Tiny houses were built in long rows very close to each other. Gori was soon...

When I arrived to the town, I was surprised how small it was. Though, I paid more attention to the spots in the walls that were left after bullets. They were only 5 years old. Later I saw the whole two-storey building burnt to ashes.

Today was simply the day of kindness and also the great Georgian holiday as I was told in the car. Many people from across the country were heading to Mtskheta which is situated right between Tbilisi and Gori. So I had to leave my huge bag and go in a new adventure. I checked the hotel first and was pretty frustraited with the price for one night. 70 lari was incredibly expensive for me but another hotel had just the same tariff.

Then I decided to step out of my comfort zone because only in this way there was a possibility to meet ordinary people with extraordinary stories.

I turned in a narrow and short street and asked an old woman if there was any place to rent here (so great that mostly all older generation understands and speaks Russian). Unfortunately, she didn't know but I didn't give up as well. I went up to the next turn into a new street and saw a bench with several old ladies. After a few minutes of explaining I was welcomed there and one lady's daughter which was around 40 years old accompanied me to a house where I could rent a room cheaper than in any hostel (there were no hostels in Gori though). Then when I left my bag we came back to her home where I also met her son Achi, my peer, and they gladly treated me with coffee. A wonderful family! Thank you so much for your kindness!

Achi also showed me Goristsikhe fortress.It is an impressive historical sight from which I was able to see all around Gori, including mountains and a military base. And somewhere up north where I was looking at there was South Ossetia, part of Georgia but no longer available for Georgians...

In one hour I said good bye to my new friend by a kiss on a cheek (still weird for me but it is part of their culture) and I left for Mtskheta, to see my first Geogian festival.

They call each other "brother"

Even though at every "party" some Georgians try to fight with other, they really seem to be nation of brothers. "Brother," one man will say to me that night, "we have only 4 million Georgians. If there were 8 million, we would have kicked Russia's ass."

Having stepped out of my comfort zone, I proved that Georgians are not "dangerous or rude." Again: people are friendly. As the moon came out and noisy festival was going to its end I was invited to join the table in the street. The company offered me free wine and shashlyk. We exchanged stories and laughed; there was another random guy who was really drunk and he sang songs for us.

After the party I didn't stop. One man told me that there was some monastery near Mtskheta where everybody could stay for a night. I didn't have such a place so I decided to randomize current situation and take even more risk. Shiomghvime Monastery was about 12 km away... "2 hours," I thought. "A nice midnight walk," I thought. There was no soul around in the mountains. Only the bright full moon and I, breathing cool clean air and watching fabulous stars. Such a harmony...

It turned out that in the middle of my way I chose a wrong path and went up the hill to a different monastery - what a joke! I spent 30 minutes going up to the closed building with no windows but one heavy door. I had knocked on the door but apparently there was nobody. I laughed. Then I watched the moon and found myself so calm... and happy. I was pretty far from a civilized world. Mtskheta shined somewhere aside like hot charcoals, and only a train passed by down the hill as a very, very slow ray of light.

Then I came back where I started going in a wrong direction and continued my way. What I had left to do? Though, I had a feeling that I was close... Close to what? Maybe, to another group of kind-hearted?

It happened to be true. A car (simple old Russian VAZ) appeared and stopped. "Hey, brother, aren't you scared of walking alone? Maybe, you need a ride?" asked one out of four Georgian men. Somebody else, be in my shoes, would run away but I had a feeling that it had to happen.

I sat into the car and found out that these people were going to meet their old friend with whom they served in the military. This friend lived in a little village where we got in 5 minutes. Home-made vine and chacha (Georgian vodka) waited for us. Again, for another time I was sitted at the table as an honourable guest and was eating simple but so tasty and desirable bread, trying other products of a poor host: cottage cheese and grapes. That man lived in really small and very moderate house and had 6 (!) children, but he was glad to see his friends and me, a random foreigner. For him the spirituality was more important and he was good to every "brother".

"Isn't it hard to support 6 children?" I asked.

"6 children in my family - happiness to all Georgia,"

 he replied.

We also talked about Russian-Georgian relations and the war (this topic was still hot for me). One of the man, the most talkative and the one who mentioned "the kicking of Russia's ass", replied, "People [Russians] are not guilty but the governments [Russian and Georgian]. We love Russians as well, brother. There could be no war. We didn't want the war. But the politicians are stubborn and don't want to give up on their plans."

Learn to give in order to receive without thinking about receiving anything. I was surprised when the coolest of "brothers" in the company in Mtskheta asked me to buy shaurma (another delicious dish) for his young wife (which by the way looked like a high school senior) because half an hour ago they were giving away a lot of food and wine... Oh, that great Georgian wine. But why not? And I just did. Later another good thing, good people in the car, happened to me.

So yeah, pay it forward.

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