summer rain

The skies are pouring down on Tbilisi tonight, thunder tirelessly roaring all around, lightening up my dark bedroom. It will be cosy to lay down to bed soon, with my balcony door open tonight.

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Evening walk

Last night I took an evening walk to Mtatsminda park above the Old town. It was getting dark and I met a bunch of young men, each carrying beers and snacks. They were walking quite quickly on the pedestrian path in the woods as if a hurry. In their rush, they all stopped to do the cross sign as they approached a small christian shrine. So peculiar! Then they continued on to find place to sit and enjoy their drinks, snacks and company.shrine

You’ll see it everywhere, people making the cross signs. I love seeing when the kids are rushing to school stopping to quickly to the cross sign when they see a church.

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yogurtlady conversation

Conversation with the yogurtlady in my localcornershop after work today (in Georgian!):my cornershop

Lady: Aron, how are you?!
A: Fine thank you, how are you?
Lady: Fine! Where have you been (lately)?
A: Working..
Lady: Do you need water?
A: No, not today, only eggs

alcohol, tea, coffee, soda, yogurt, eggs, water, sweets...Then she murmur to the first custumer in line, loud enough for me to hear; “He’s from Sweden but he speaks Georgian.” She says that to someone everytime I come in there, it’s hilarious. The custumer then looked up at me and asked, “You speak Georgian?”. “A little bit” I’ll answered. Exactly this always happens; soon as the conversation continues I’ll get lost and we’ll all break out in laughter and take it in Russian from there.Lali - my yogurtladyfriend

Small things like this make my day. Indeed Georgians are warm-hearted and open which make small encounters like this really memorable.

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how to slaughter a chicken?

One morning as I went off to work, my neighbour Nargiza called on me. Aron! I was a little late as usual, but I always had time for a little chat with my neighbours:
Aron, can you slaughter a chicken? By 11 o’clock?
She must be kidding: Nargiza, I’m from Sweden, you know that. People like me have no idea how to slaughter a chicken, let alone within two hours. Besides, as you know I’m off to work, I tried to explain.
– But we have a funeral and the guests are coming.. she tried
Terribly sorry Nargiza, I’m afraid I can’t help you.
– Will you then come to the funeral at least?

Sorry, duty is calling me…

After seneighbours bringing bread from the local bakeryven months in Gori, the sleepy town in the rural Georgia, this was a perfectly normal morning conversation. Sure, I was a little surprised that she had approached me with this request, I figured she would’ve known that slaughtering a chicken is not part of my skill-repertoir.

next door neighboursComing home after work, we met again on the yard. Come, come! You have to visit my relatives! So I follow her to her appartment only to find the dead grandfather lying in his coffin in the middle of the living room – an open coffin of course – and a couple of relatives quietly sitting around. Well, again very strange experience for me, but a perfectly normal situation in my context.

Those were the Gori days. Yes, miss Gori sometimes..!

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a week without facebook

I like to challenge myself to various things; finding that challenges leads to growth and deeper insight. My life in Georgia offers a unique opportunity for this kind of practice.

Noticing that I often log on to facebook to relieve myself of boredom or other unpleasant feelings, I challenged myself to a week without facebook, and without other distractions such as TV, youtube, books, newspapers, radio, music and without stimulants such as coffee, alcohol and sweets.

It’s been really worthwhile. Merely setting a challenge and living up to it strengthens my trust in myself and tells me about my current boundaries, discipline and determination.

The effect? A stronger connection to the present moment, to what I’m feeling right now and clarity about where I am in life. It also allowed a much stronger focus and fullness to my present tasks, e.g. exercise for 90 minutes – doing it fully, not thinking about what’s next; meditating 30 minutes – fully; eating slowly, enjoying every bite. Whilst at times quite boring, also very sweet and enjoyable, experiencing the rich flavour of the small things in life.

My intention is to build on this throughout March, with a minimum of facebook time during weekdays, preferably none at all. (It will be interesting to see how I live up to this intention, without strict boundaries of what I am ‘allowed’ to do and what not..). Additionally: no coffee throughout March.

Ok. Time to log in again 😉

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Beautiful woman

I couldn’t take my eyes off this beautiful elderly lady.

She was born during the early days of the Soviet occupation in the early 1920’s. While the world around her has changed immensly in her lifetime, in her village, little has changed.

It was difficult to communicate for us but we sat together for a little in silence. Time had stopped. I hope she forgives me for publishing this beautiful picture of her, I simply could not resist.

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A couple of words on the account of a historic shift of power

The city was buzzling with energy the days leading up to the parliamentary elections. September was very hectic. Workers were working day and night – even until midnight on sundays – obviously in order to finish various projects by election day: roads, a new futuristic theatre, the new spectacular ‘citizen building’ etc to show the productivity of the sitting government.

When I walked the central streets of Tbilisi on the morning of September 28th, the city was absolutely quiet and clean. Something was in the air. I understood that loads of people would turn up to the opposition rally that day, loads. Yes, it did turn out to be a massive rally, an expected 200 000 according to independent media reports.

Come election day. Already around noon – way before any preliminary results had been estimated – the opposition called for their supporters to gather on freedom square at 1900 to ‘celebrate their victory’. Pretty cocky, but I guess they were pretty self confident. The winds were indeed on their side. I had the evening shift but made it to freedom square around 22 to witness the celebrations. The pictures speak for themselves. As for me, living in the neighbourhood of freedom sq needed ear plugs that night and a couple of nights to come, as the celebrations continued.

Few expected such a smooth democratic shift of power in this young post-Soviet state, many were (are) probably quite impressed so far. Indeed, handing over power in the post-soviet sphere without violence or accusations of fraud is pretty much unheard of.

So, now what? The new parliament had their first session a couple of days ago, marking the inauguration of the new government. The new political figures have yet to be tested, so the near future will be interesting, in particular for us monitoring the conflict – how the politics will change and how that will affect the conflict dynamics; new negotiators at the meetings with the de facto authorities of South Ossetia and Abkhazia…

Oh yeah – the workers – haven’t seen them since September! It is really interesting. The country has really paused since the election, waiting to see what will happen next. Even the constructions which were so intensively worked on before are now on hold. Will the new government continue the constructions, or even dismantle them, as they have suggested in some cases!?

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