Ben & Ian’s Housewarming

Ok, I started writing this post on Sunday, but never got around to posting it, so I’ll do it now.

Another beautiful day here in Tbilisi, a mild 25 degrees, sunny, a slight breeze.  Got up late this morning, sat on the bench in the courtyard drinking my coffee, talking to Khatia, my landlady, who was there washing her car, and Paata’s father, who was lounging around.  He was disappointed at the results of last night’s international football match, in which Georgia drew with Cyprus.  He also lifted an expressive eyebrow at Italy’s tie with Bulgaria.  Khatia’s quite young, between 28 and 32, I’d say (it’s quite hard to tell with Georgians), speaks decent English, and is very fond of her car, a shiny black Infinity (I think) she got a few months ago.  A mixture of pop and hip-hop blared from her car stereo as she marched around in her cartoon-themed wellies.  Paata’s father, using gestures, gave me to understand that his health wasn’t as good as it used to be, but life was still great: family was in good health, the weather was lovely, and it wouldn’t do to dwell on misfortunes.

At Ian and Ben's.

Went to Ben & Ian’s housewarming party in Marjanashvili last night.  There was no number at the entrance of the flats, so I stepped inside a large, dark courtyard where a woman was rinsing some cloths (Ben had said their flat faced a courtyard), and asked her, in hesitant and approximate Kartuli, whether this was number 35.  I don’t think she understood what I was trying to say, but she understood well enough that I was a foreigner looking for the party given by the other foreigners in the block, and she smilingly pointed up to the first floor balcony.

The living room table was laden with all sorts of sausages, cuts of pork, circles of meat that looked like mortadella, excellent Georgian bread, cheese, chips, and various spicy sauces.  And of course a vast 6-liter canister of amber-coloured Georgian wine that one of the guys had brought from his house in the country; several liters of chacha in the coca-cola bottles in which we’d bought them, frosted over from having been in the freezer, and a number of 2,5-liter bottles of Natakhtari beer.  When I arrived Ian was still at work, and Icongratulated Ben on his preparations–earlier in the day he’d said he might get some nibbles and a few

Khatuna and I

Khatuna and I

bottles of beer, and instead it looked like he’d really outdone himself.  However, it turned out that a group of Georgian guys had arrived, seen the empty table, and promptly gone out again to get the necessary provisions for a proper Georgian party.

A good variety of people: at least one of the guys had served in the conflict, had bruises on his torso where bullets had hit his protective vest, and had reportedly picked up a rifle from a dead comrade to keep fighting.  One burly guy had apparently been a boxer a few years ago, and was now highly placed in the ministry of finance.  A few colleagues of Ian’s at his humanitarian org: a short, jovial, soft-looking, tapir-faced fellow who talked about Italy with a sunny smile; a tall, energetic chap with a large, round head and a ready laugh; another tall, wiry, athletic guy, faced creased with laughter-wrinkles and a broad, almost equine, set of perfectly even teeth, who was also an excellent Georgian-style dancer (around 12:30 they put on some traditional music and started dancing, while others looked on and clapped in time).  Also a trio of pleasant young women, two of whom spoke German, the third English.  A few colourful characters too: one guy, perhaps 25, was something of an oddity: mother from Bhutan, father from Scotland, and grew up mostly in France.  He calls

Ben and Marika

Ben and Marika

himself ‘Shaman’; is into eastern spirituality in a vague, nebulous way; he apparently sings very well; his hair is congealed into one solid dreadlock that hangs around his right ear and shoulder like a wing of round Georgian bread; and nobody seems to have an idea of what he’s doing in Tbilisi.  I overheard him talking to someone, an American military contractor helping to build bases here (and who quickly acquired the nickname Warmonger among the foreigners working for humanitarian NGOs), about how his mother had met a very spiritual woman who was 700 years old; Warmonger looked impressed and asked whether Shaman could tell how old he was.  Shaman considered him thoughtfully for a moment, and said he was perhaps around 300 years old.  Then my attention drifted.

The party went on for most of the night.  As I mentioned, around 2 some of the Georgian men put on some traditional Georgian music and started to dance.  The rounds of toasts, first with wine, then with chacha, continued throughout the night.  Around 4:30 a few people started to leave, and at last, towards 5, I made my way home.




One Response

  1. […] left them to go prepare for my party (which Stefano beat to writing a blog post on – ).  Knowing Georgians, I decided to pick up some food beforehand, so I got a few bags of chips, […]

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