Published: November 21st 2011November 5th 2011
On Thursday night or, more accurately, the following morning, I’m woken by the neighbour shouting out for Eka. I check the time and it’s 5.30am. I snuggle further under my covers and tell myself that unless I hear someone shouting ‘Fire!’ I’m not moving. When I get up later that morning I think I may have dreamt it but Eka tells me her neighbour came round to use the phone because her mother was very sick and they needed to call an ambulance.
I have to say that classes are not going particularly well. Friday is my busiest day and it feels really long. Anyone who’s never taught before won’t understand what it’s like to teach four or five lessons in a day. It sounds like nothing but it’s actually really tiring. Today I really missed teaching adults, having my own classroom, teaching slightly more advanced students etc. Basically I was just having a bad day. Although there was one particular highlight when one of my classes was doing a verb gap fill exercise and one of the kids came out with the gem, ‘Sam is doing Grandpa.’ I realised this morning that my rescheduled interview for the job in South Korea is the morning after the wedding. This is not good news. I’m pretty sure it’s actually illegal not to drink at a Georgian wedding so I guess I’ll just have to make sure I’m as prepared as I possibly can be. I’ve also, for various reasons, changed my mind and decided to go home between my contract ending and going to Korea (assuming I get the job, which is by no means something I should be assuming). Although lessons were pretty rubbish today there was a poetry reading by some of the students in the library after school which was lovely. The students read their pieces beautifully and I really wish I could understand what they’re saying, almost as much as I wish the other teachers wouldn’t talk all the way through it. I come home after school and try to sit outside in the garden as I usually would but for the first time it’s too cold, although I still sit out there longer than I should as I get engrossed in watching a pile of chickens taking a dirt bath. They’re hilarious. I’m really looking forward to spending a weekend at home. I’m looking forward to just relaxing for a couple of days. Poor Eka has a cold coming on and is resting on the sofa when I come in. Gala comes home and tells her that if she drank vodka with us she wouldn’t be ill. Is it any wonder we get on so well? I subscribe to the ‘keep myself in a constant state of anaesthesia school of medicine’ personally. And if you do happen to get ill? Well, then alcohol cures everything. At about 7pm Aka and I go over to our next door neighbour’s to celebrate his birthday. Gala has already been there for a couple of hours and is nicely toasted. I try to catch up. At the time I didn’t think I had had that much to drink but I felt awful on Saturday and, looking back, I think I was pretty drunk. For example, I thought it would be a good idea to make a gay incest joke. Well, sort of. In my slightly inebriated state I decided to try to explain to Eka why ‘Sam is doing Grandpa’ is funny. Anyway, it went down like a shit sandwich. It was a nice evening though and, at the time, I was glad I’d stayed home for the weekend. Eka told me our neighbours used to live in a big house next to where they live now but it was destroyed by a fire and now they live in one big room with a curtain to separate the sleeping area from the kitchen, which is kind of tragic. I guess not many people have insurance in Georgia. It was another one of those occasions when time stands still though. It felt like we were there forever but we actually left at about 9pm and I think I was in bed by 9.30pm. Rock and roll huh? Gala told me when he returned from work a couple of days later that I fell asleep in my chair and he had to wake me up and send me to bed, which I have no recollection of! The thing I’ve been dreading since I got here finally happened that night. I woke up at about 4am absolutely desperate for a piss. So yes, I climbed out of my bedroom window. I just couldn’t bear the idea of opening my bedroom door into the living room where the kids were sleeping, stumbling around in the dark, fumbling with the lock on the back door and then doing it all again on the way back. It was fine though, we’re on the ground floor. It was actually a beautiful night and, because there’s next to no pollution here, the stars looked amazing.
Saturday is kind of a sad day for me because it’s bonfire night at home which actually pips Halloween to first place on my list of favourite days of the year. I’m absolutely devastated to be missing it and it’s the first time I’ve felt anything even close to homesickness since I arrived. I daren’t tell my family though; the school made so much effort for me on Halloween that I’m scared that if I tell them about Guy Fawkes night they’ll set fire to the school for me! I’m not sure if it counts as cheating or not that I go into Zugdidi on Saturday, given I said I was going to spend the whole weekend at home but being hungover at home is horrible because all I want to do is curl up on the sofa and watch TV, neither of which I can do, so I have to get out instead. Apart from anything else I need a long stint on the interweb to prepare for my interview on Monday. I’m genuinely worried about what state I’m going to be in because I have absolutely no confidence in my own ability to say no when someone offers me a drink. Anyway, I did what I always do which is go into Zugdidi with lofty ideas about shopping and end up sitting in the American bar using the wifi. Only it isn’t open when I walk past (it’s almost as if other people don’t start drinking at 11am?!) so I take a long walk around the bazaar, which is still my favourite place in Zugdidi, and buy nothing because I’m scared to buy things that don’t have price tags on them and then go to sit in an internet café where I get chatting to another TLGer, Alex, on Facebook only to find out he’s actually in the American bar so I scoot over there and am soon installed on my laptop with a beer in hand and Inception on the TV in the background. My intention is to get the bus home at 3pm and this turns into getting the bus home at 4.30pm which eventually turns into getting the last one at 6pm. I see some of my students and a teacher on the bus, which is always nice, as well as Gio. Things like bumping into people I know on the bus always make me feel at home. It’s going to be weird going back to England though. I’m going to get on a bus and wonder why no one’s giving up their seat for me – we really are treated like royalty here. When I get home Levani has returned from wherever it is he’s been all week and I realise I’ve missed him. Eka seems really pleased to have him home too which is nice to see. I shouldn’t laugh cos she really is ill but in her enfeebled state Eka’s English has gone right out the window. She can barely understand what I’m saying and is struggling to form sentences and think of the words for things. She does manage to tell me that her mother is coming tomorrow from Abhazia for the wedding though so now I’m even more excited cos I’ll get to meet my host grandmother! I ask if it is ok to cross the border and Eka says no so I ask if her mother’s going to tunnel underneath and she laughs but offers no other explanation so as usual I’m completely in the dark about what’s going on. Don’t care though; cannot wait for tomorrow!