Georgia On My Mind

The language barrier now collapses for a good two hours of my day. As the humming of the conveyor belt starts, I feel at ease. I'm in my own world. A world in which I'm actually exhausted by physical endurance rather than a streak of "lost in translations."

It was only 25 lari to join the Zestafoni fitness club, but I would have likely paid double since they offer hot showers and a place of majestic comfort that I can actually process thoughts.

Well, since it was another skola-less day, I trekked through the snow to the fitness club as the sun was first poking its head out (8:30). The lady who runs the facility now knows me and my habitual ways and immediately drops her cigarette and paper when I walk in the door to plug in one of the only power-needed pieces of equipment in the three-room building.

Don't get me wrong, I very much enjoy learning Georgian (one of the 14 original languages in the world) and feeling as though I'm actually teaching people English. But just like with any situation or location you live in, it's sometimes nice to remain quiet and fly under the radar.

Today, while reveling in the quiet, aerobic time, I began to think about the displaced people in this country. The other night I had a dream about the refugees from the Russian-occupied regions who are now living on the outskirts of Tbilisi.

I have this yearning to know more about them. How are they coping after three years? What do they do? And more importantly, were they forced to live in the miles of slum-like buildings on a desolate hillside?

As I ventured out of the capitol nearly a month ago to the unknown teaching adventure, I really didn't question what I saw on the roadside. I was sick, tired and a bit over thinking about any Georgian history or culture.

Now that I live here, I feel it is almost my job to get to the bottom of my surroundings. My family is not far from the Soviet tree so I don't pry too far into the relationship between the two countries or bring up current political affairs with the president without being prompted.

Altogether, there really isn't much said about the 2008 August conflict. Everyone here is aware that things are on the up and end (and credit the revolution of the current president), but besides a few "F*&ck Russia" graffiti tats on overpasses, no one in my region seems concerned or bothered with the giant to the East.

War is war. The aftermath is always hard to recover from on all fronts; particularly when you've still got a power that has a hand on the other country's affairs—or land.

In many ways, Georgia is a lot like a kid who just got in a bike for the first time without training wheels. It still doesn't know how to function without a Soviet hand on its back for support.

When it gets warmer, I hope to venture into the Tblisi temp housing and investigate what is going on there. All I need is a bit of financial backing and a decent camera and I've got the next Sundance winner. Right? Any offers?


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