6 Dec 2013

Mochalisebi Rustavshi

by Eva Čajková

Seven new volunteers rolled up to organization Georgian Youth for Europe in Rustavi on October 1st so they sumed up the number of volunteers there to the number of nine (including one girl with nine month's experience of EVS service and one Peace Corps Volunteer). We are living in two flats next door, everybody has his own room, as promised. Moreover the apartments are in the same building as our office. Thus all seven of us EVS volunteers are fully occupied by each other. Together. All the time. Briefly check your secondary school math knowledge, combinatory, to get quantity of relationships which we have here. 28. It is not possible that something piquant won't appear or as the case may be something even sharper...
Before we left our countries, our sending organization equiped us with various adaptive techniques and reminded us of: culture shock, non-formal education, bla bla, ble ble. One of such an adaptive techniques coul.d be applied on relations as well. First days we are sucking energy of that buddies, we are pumping passively their experience, picking up information about their past life (no doubt: it's necessary to get to know everybody, get under one's skin if we are supposed to spend one year together), everything is so fresh, so amazing, so many new interesting people which you simply want to include to your life! Everybody is so spontaneously creative, so many deep ideas, they have lived in every possible place all aroud the world. Wow!
Together we are exploring the mystery of this curious coutry. "Hey, are you also scared of children who call adult males 'mama'? And do you think, that toilet paper is as exotic as bananas that it should cost as much as gold why, the hell, is it so expensive? And for that matter the milk of cows which are grazing everywhere (hard to say what they can find on that parched ground) is expensive too. Does some magnate monopolize the pumping of milk through some huge pipes running to Russia? The situation is exactly like from a scene of a utopic novel. All of us are Alices in a Wonderland. Together we are writing a story.
Sharing the first impression with people who came from similar conditions is irreplaceable. One can feel like it's not possible to adapt here, and may even feel like he/she does not want to do it. The language sounds... let's say very unusual; ordinary european appearence makes more attention than one would like to. When the water comes to visit our neighbourhood, the gas packs its luggage and takes also the electricity on a honeymoon. The basic stereotypes of behavior are disappearing, one can't understand georgian time measurement, not even why he/she is paying half a lari for a kilo of tomatos once and second time it's for two and half lari; working mechanism of the world get deteriorate completely when one realize, that the internet no longer servs humans, but humans serve to the internet. In these times, it's really mamazing that everybody is in tune and swearing on the same high frequency. As all of them shared an elation in the biginning, they could share disappointment of trifles later. But still, it's fun because these are just a trivialities.
Later the relaxing phase comes, when you don't think that it's impossible to identify with some cultural issues: moreover you realize that it's somehow necessary if you want to have a great exciting year in Georgia! After a few weeks you are already inside ordinariness, no more feeling like an alien and it's high time to start your "georgian" life. This phase, I'm defining subsequently: when the taxi's or marschutka's speed is under 100 km/h you begin to be nervous why the driver is dawdling like this, we aren't on a school trip, yeah? You don't care than that the same journey would take one hour in Europe, of this phase we are in Georgia now and here it should last only twenty minutes. The second signal is when you start to negotiate prices on markets using russian-georgian-english and you are insanely happy when you agree price from thirty to twenty eight.
Nevertheless in this phase of becoming independent we are starting to be more self-critical and critical to others as well: still we are together all the time, we know seemingly everything about families, studies, travels, we have created an image of one another. We dare say we know others, for now we are exhausted of each other, after overcoming some of the prejudices, images, obstacles negative or possitive we still need more time, also to get to know whether or not our characters suitable. So far there is nothing to offer reciprocally. It's becoming boring; prayer wheel, mirror, urge of private space, no new inputs, no more flow of new information, not even our time spent together is so cool, so rare: here we are with space for creating conflicts!
Suddenly you perceive impulses somehow more itensively as if the flu strikes you, more annoying then before, that one speaks too loudly, this one is histerical, that one is too assertive, this one too little on the other hand, that one used to eat my bread, this one wants to quit parties soon, that one is too wild, this one is hopelessly nice, ...
To have On Arrival Training after two months of volunteering sounds quite awkward and ridiculous to me and most people agree. But Georgia is penetrated with surprises, so that it is not so big surprise when something surprises you un/pleasantly. It's not completely nonsensical to participate in such a training after you have gathered some experience, you are able to name the problems you are facing daily but still have no idea how to handle it. You already know what to ask for and what is more you find out that there is kind of "normative" set of problems which European volunteers are sufering from in Georgia (and Armenia and Azerbaijan). Trainers know exactly, which solution they can offer to us and how to present this deals in "european way" to us. Everything is clarifying, the atmosphere so familiar, the shower with constant water temperature refreshes the spirit of individual but also the spirit of old good volunteers from Rustavi.
The resurrection of the old atmosphere is returning: they are kind of family to me already, they've really got under my skin, simply I count on them in good and bad as well. Do you know that feeling if somebody is so close to you so that anything he does, fleeting glance, one word, small gesture can make you extremely happy or on the contrary extremely sad? So that's how I feel about my co-volunteers my family.