Kitchen Lessons

My host mothers want to learn English.  I want to learn Georgian.  Somewhere in this mix is the perfect linguistic compromise.

I’ll slow down.   Three nights a week my host mothers and I have Kitchen Lessons (kartulad: gaqkhvetilebi samzareuloshi).  During and after dinner we get to talking about our days/weeks/nights/etc.  At a Kitchen Lesson we agree to speak “No Russian!” and point at the “No Smoking” sticker mounted on the cupboard in everyone’s favorite smoking lounge (Read: the kitchen).

The only no smoking sticker in the house is in the room where everyone smokes. Clearly the cigarette on the sticker is a mere surrogate for Russia.

So far the lessons are going well!  I learned how to say katami and chiamaia (chicken and ladybug [ladybugs are Ana’s favorite thing.  Ana is the six year-old girl whose room I currently am living in while she is in Germany with her family.  Her mother’s name is Maia, hence Ana’s adoration of the chiamaia.  My hamper is a giant ladybug that eats my clothes.  {Is this too long of a bracketed thought?}]) and they have learned how to say faucet and weather.

This weekend, my friend Pik Quinn came to visit!  She lives in the village of Ureki and was hankering a taste of the city life (and, thus, McDonald’s).

This is the regional menu item in Georgian McDonald's. Apparently Georgia is in the "Turco Region."

Pik Quinn was very fortunate to attend a special session of Kitchen Lessons that had far less to do with language and more to do with history and culture.  (Though we managed to learn mepe, ibatone, and mesamebo [king, conquer, third])

Being from Malaysia, PQ gets a lot of questions that many of the rest of us do not.  Questions like, “Do you have vegetables in Malaysia?” and “Are you an island?”  In all fairness she also gets the same old how-old-are-you’s, are-you-married’s, and what-religion-are-you’s.

Upon explaining that Malaysia has many regional kings who rotate national kingship on a five year plan (something I never knew), Manana launched into a recounting of modern Georgian history and the gradual removal of the Georgian elites until all that was left by the 1920s was “A country of workers and peasants.”  I pointed out, “Isn’t that exactly what Lenin wanted?”  “Yes, but we didn’t want it.  But, unfortunately, whatever the Russians wanted, that was what became.”  “Ahh, but the Russians didn’t want it either, I think.  It was just the Bolsheviks who wanted it.”  “True, rali, true.”  These are the Kitchen Lessons.

My mothers then asked us about our surnames and middle names.  They used this as a springboard for launching in to a two-pronged assault on our identities.  First order of business was to reassign Pik Quinn Lew and Raughley Nuzzi with new, better, Georgian names.  We became Pikria Levanisasuri Leonidze and Raul Danielze Nuzzini.

With our new names in hand we learned our new stations in life: Pikria came from the village and had a sad life full of hard work milking cows and making cheese.  I, on the other hand, lived in the city and lived a luxurious life working at computers, lounging about, and eating the cheese made in the villages.  I like it.

Having transformed from a pair of English teachers from Malaysia and America into an Imeretian Peasant Woman and a Svanetian Urban Nobleman (to a very, very small demographic a “Svanetian Urban Nobleman” is a hilarious oxymoron!!) we left the kitchen to embark upon a new adventure–going to the Fire Station!

While Queen Tamar may in fact be a woman from Imereti, she is certainly no peasant!
Svaneti is an extremely isolated region of the Caucasus and famously beautiful. Like this man.

Post Script- I have added several photos to an older post for your viewing pleasure!

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