I was very inspired to write a blog entry last night, but unfortunately the internet went down right when I was ready to start writing! Tonight … not so much. However, will seize the opportunity as it’s working now and who knows what the future holds. 🙂
So, I am here in Kashuri and have been for 5 days. Why it feels as if I’ve lived here forever is beyond me. But I really like this town and it feels comfortable and even familiar, while at the same time retaining a certain difference that keeps me constantly aware that I am not, in fact, at home.
I am living in the home of a “host mother” (the quotes being necessary due to the fact that she’s 20 years younger than I am) named Eka, her 2 sons, whom I do not see very often as one is at university in Tbilisi and the other is, shall we say, sowing his wild oats, and her mother-in-law, who works in another town and stays here intermittently. Eka does not speak any English, so our communication has been very, very challenging. Both of us walk around with dictionaries all the time, and often throw up our hands and exclaim how difficult (რთული) English/Georgian is. However, this morning I managed a major victory in that I produced an entire sentence while walking to school and said to her (roughly): “I have only been in Georgia for one week. One!” I did have to look up “week” in the dictionary, but still … What I was trying to convey was that it will get better, my language skills will evolve, and she won’t be stuck with this semi-incoherent person forever. I fervently hope that’s true. My other major victory was last night, when I asked what a word I kept hearing meant – magram (მაგამ), and they could not explain it to me. Apparently it wasn’t something they could just point at. I decided to look it up in the Georgian dictionary, and to my utter amazement and delight, I did. It means … “but.” A good word to know!
Georgian lessons are 4 hours a day, with technical training in the afternoon. My teacher is really great, Nino, she goes at a good pace but not so fast I get lost. My writing and reading skills are pretty good, actually. Several people have commented positively on that. On the other hand, my speaking skills leave a lot to be desired, and unfortunately, the exam we all have to take is verbal. Remembering vocabulary and pronunciation are really challenging. Georgian has 7 cases (and yes, I had to have the meaning of that explained to me). Yesterday we learned the vocative case – used for addressing people, like “doctor, I have sore throat,” or “mother, can I have some more soup?” Mainly it consists of adding or subtracting a vowel sound at the end of words. That sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Here are the rules: if it’s a foreign proper name, drop the nominative case marker of “i,” but if it’s a Georgian name, it stays the same, EXCEPT if it ends in “i” and has more than 2 vowels, EXCEPT for the names “Giorgi” and “Irakri.” If it’s a noun that ends with the letter “i”, the final vowel becomes “o,” EXCEPT if the word is monosyllabic and does not end in a vowel, then add “o.” Like, the word for brother is “dza,” so it will convert to “dzao,” but the word for “mother” is “deda” (two syllables, does not end in “i”) so it stays the same. Seriously.
OK, well I had always intended that this blog would be filled with stories, and not just a recounting of what I’m up to. The story I’ll end with tonight is a bit of a sad story, unfortunately. We’ve already lost 2 volunteers – one left voluntarily, a girl I liked very much, and the other was our most senior volunteer, Sharon. Sharon was in my cluster group, so I was right there when this happened. We were walking to lunch as a group, when a small child in a go-cart accidentally backed into her (this was a combustion engine go-cart, not some little wheel-powered thing) and knocked her down on the sidewalk, flat-out on her face. She cut her eye and broke her wrist in two places, and a bone splintered, so she will need surgery and months of physical rehabilitation. That’s it – she’s medically separated. It was her life dream to join the Peace Corps, so I am very sad for her. Here’s to Sharon – you gave it your best shot!