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Sunday, September 18, 2011

PIK blog

Hey Friends!
I have started another blog about nothing on the PIK (First Informational Caucasus channel) website. It is kinda big deal for me, so I will appreciate your support, please visit and read. I will post there twice a month. I really like other PIK blogs as well, way better than my blabbering.
Anyway, that is an official web-site of an official news channel, so I am happy :-)
I don't know if I can write two meaningless blogs at the same time, but i don;t want to re-post stuff from here to there. Plus, I can't swear there.
check it out:

No Bamba for the Young Girl

Tbilisi is getting way too fashion forward for me, I don’t know what to do; maybe I should move somewhere more appropriate for my taste level? Apparently I am not good enough for this city, maybe I should change my style and start wearing outdated leggings and sparkly shirts of last season to fit in?
Bitter much?
Yes, I am bitter because some asshole at Bamba Room decided that I was not worthy of entering the holy ground of that lounge! Here’s the story: bunch of us decided to go dancing, we couldn’t think of somewhere else to go, I was reluctant to go to Bamba—coz it sucks!—but I decided to follow the majority and I even changed into a clubbing outfit before I left. My hubby wore cool shirt with a DJ Yoda on it, Yoda with headphones and huge glasses and I opted for nice silk floral shirt, Sella accessories and Gap jeans. Why am I naming brands? Cause I was wearing the good-quality-but-not-too-expensive-young-and-not-overdressed ensemble, which is what, in my humble opinion kids should wear to a place like Bamba. I don’t own a Channel dress, but if I had one, I would never wear it to Bamba Room, cause the place is outdated, hosts bunch of drunken teenagers and is has lost its freshness and trendiness for some time now. Furthermore, when I go dancing Saturday night, I don’t want to wear something too nice, because it might get burned by a cigarette or stained by a drink, and I have already ruined pair of excellent shoes from Italy, when I was dancing in high heels last summer.
Anyway, apparently leggings is a must to enter this lounge, or you can substitute it with a cheap glittery dress, but people in denim are deemed offensive. What drove me absolutely crazy is that other people with jeans passed face control, so apparently it was not the jeans, but me. I was not drunk, I was causing no trouble, my hair was combed, my nails-done, so what the fuck satisfies their criteria is unknown. My hubby tried to pass face control just for fun, but he was turned down too.
We left the place and walked to New Gallery which is on the street I forgot…it is very easy to find, once you pass “Garderobe” and “Khareba Winery” on the Macdonald’s end of the Rustaveli Av., there is a turn that leads to Art Academy, the lounge is on the second floor, you can see people dancing even from Rustaveli. It is a cool place, with very good DJ’s. We were met by bunch of experienced clubbers who made fun of us not passing the face control and saying it serves us right for going to Bamba.
My hubby made fun of me for making such a big deal of it, but it hurt on some weird level to be rejected by a place you regard as crappy. Something along the lines of:”if even places like Bamba turn me down, I should really suck”.
So I decided to use this blog post as a cheap revenge. Know all that if you go to Bamba Room, you might not make it in for unknown reasons, hence avoid it.
P.S. the outfit not approved by the fashion police in Bamba Room. Silk is tricky to photograph, the shirt has flowers on it in real life :-)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

German Tourists in Georgia: Homophobia in Its Grandeur

Once again news fail to cover an important incident, though everybody is savoring rumors. Two gay German toursists were thrown into the river.
Rumor has it, that two tourists explored mountains and met some Georgians from Tbilisi, who rushed to prove our famed hospitality and made a big “supra” for them. They drank together for several hours, finally approaching the love toast to which the tourists responded with a kiss. Seeing this, hosts sprang to their feet, beat the couple, tied them up and threw them into the river. Poor Germans were finally fished out by locals down the river. They left the country immediately and this case was not reported to the police.
I want to scream and shout, but so far everyone I talk to keeps saying the same thing: didn’t these tourists see it coming?
Let’s put aside the fact whether or not it is justified to drown gays who know they shouldn’t kiss in public and still do so, the mountain culture has its traditions and David the Builder and so on, and let’s discuss the following question: didn’t they see it coming? And somehow, I think that the answer is “no”—otherwise these two willingly embarked on a suicide mission.
May I state that this indecisive stance is the worst problem in Georgia? This hypocrisy, falsehood, double and triple standards?
Let’s decide who we want to be, what our values are, let’s finally draft our moral code and create a corresponding legislature! Let’s stop lying to ourselves!
How where those guys supposed to know that their kissing would result in Lynching unless they already had friends in Georgia? Is our legislature prohibiting gay relations in Georgia? Does it claim that Georgia discriminates against basic human right and that those who violate them will be punished? Is any information available about Georgians’ views on homosexuality? Which tourist website gives any relevant informative about how to be culturally sensitive in Georgia? That you should not sneeze without covering your mouth, that you shouldn’t make moves on your friend’s sister, that you should not flirt in bars with unknown men? Is there any document anywhere on the web that would explain Georgian culture beyond our “hospitality”, “respect for the guests”, “beautiful nature” and “good food and wine”? How long can we force feed these Soviet-originated myths to the world?
People have been arguing that by using common sense, these men could’ve figured out the rules of conduct in a conservative chirstian country. One might argue that Italy is also a christian country, but two months ago my friend attened huge gay pride in Rome and this month his is flying to the biggest LGBT event of this year in Milan – so, sorry, but country’s religious background is not enough to make assumptions about the everyday culture.
There should be some information available on what is offensive and with the exception of one-year old TLG blogs, there is none on the web!
Let’s stop this once and for all. Why do we have a kinda liberal legislature, the majority of the population is conservative? We are striving towards EU and NATO cause we believe that’s the way to economic prosperity. Why isn’t anybody explaining to us, to the society, that EU and NATO integration means not only change of legislature but also change in attitudes, a new set of values?
I am sick and tired of this dichotomy. Either have the balls to declare: yes, we are homophobic, xenophobic, patriarchal, theologian society and stick to it, defend your values and have corresponding legislature, or install democratic values through law enforcement, education and gradual change of attitudes. And stop lying! Georgia is not a democratic country and Georgians are not democratic people! Democratic people do not throw tourists in the river no matter how offended they feel! And maybe, if we say the truth for change, if we stopped pretending, maybe those tourists will choose to go somewhere else and 1. Georgians will keep on driniking un-offended 2. German tourists will avoid getting drown in the river.
Damn it, they deserve to know where they are going and we deserve to know where we are living!
P.S. Tired of arguing with people, I tried finding info by googling “gay-friendly tbilisi” and “homophobia in tbilisi” to see red flags. Unfortunately, it takes a long a nd rigid search to make any sense of the info, cause many web-sites keep siting Georgian legislature and openess comapred to the rest of the region. You can find negative info, but you really have to look. Generally, there is just absence of info, negative or positive.
P.S.S. Phallic symbols in Tbilisi. Stole my hubby’s pic.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Racha My Love

Last week I went to Racha for the second time. Visiting Racha is way more exiting than sitting by the comp all day and I tried to squeeze small hikes between work meetings.
If you have 3 free days, I would definitely recommend going to Oni in Racha. The nature there is spectacular, you can go on seven-hour hikes or you can walk around on paved road and look at the mountains from the distance—it is still breathtaking.
The second reason to visit Racha is the place where I stayed—guest house called "Gallery" or "Artist's House". I loved everything about it, the hostess is a graduate of Tbilisi Art Academy and the host carves wood. Everything in their house is handmade—all the furniture, including beds, tables, windows, doors, balcony ornaments are carved by the host and all the pictures, lampshades, cool decorations are created by the hostess.
Also, they are the only pair of entrepreneurs I have seen in Georgia. In a true sense of the word. They took a loan, built the hotel (most of it is built by the host and his son, they did not have money to hire workers), and equipped it with stuff like sun batteries and showers in every room, which, for anyone who’s been to a Georgian village sounds like revolutionary renovations. The hostess only cooks organic food and does not use anything produced chemically (she even makes own spices from herbs she grows in her garden, not even buying store vanilla).
Oni still has Georgian village vibe in it, people are not yet spoiled by the tourists, when you walk down the street everybody greets you, the whole town knows each other, people are friendly in a little-Georgian-town kind of a way.
Another interesting fact is that Oni used to shelter many Jewish families that have now moved to Israel (they still keep in touch with the locals and often visit) and there is 18-th century synagogue, which contains old books, you take them, you open them and you marvel…
The hotel hosts know a lot about Racha, they can tell you the history, show you the map, show some unique things they have found in the mountains—1,000 year-old arrowheads, million-year old fossil prints, minerals, gold…they can take you to a deep, never-explored cave, where you can look for these treasures yourself.
The roads are recently reconstructed and once you pass Terjola, the scenic views are breathtaking.
Racha is also homeland of the most famous Georgian wine in the Soviet Union—Khvanchkara.
The only negative side of Racha travel is marshrutka availability. There is only one marshrutka going to or from Oni and it leaves at 8 A.M. And you have to get to the station earlier or you won’t find a seat. Marshrutka leaves from Okriba station in Didube in Tbilisi and at the central “plaza” in Oni—not that it matters, cause anything in Oni is in 10 minutes walking distance.
Now that I have written a little tourist advertisement, you just have to pack your stuff and check the place out, especially if you have never been there!
P.S. For those who don’t know: “Racha my Love” is a famous Georgian musicale
P.S.S. the pics: The mountains--what Racha looks like; the room where we ate at the hotel—everything you see in created by the hosts.