Georgian Oddities

The longer we stayed in the country, the more I realised how there are so many things, that you just wouldn’t see at home. But since we’ve been traveling overland, there was a gradual transition for us, and we don’t even notice anymore that these things are actually totally strange to us in the first world. Here’s a few that we’ve seen in Georgia:

Cows freely bumble about and love to hang out on the road. Bit like India really!

Men roll their T-shirts up, showing off their beer bellies. The bigger the better! It’s kinda offputting to me, but they can’t possibly understand why (I asked a few). Apparently its just too hot to wear the T-shirt down.

Trains go straight through a busy market. Or is it that they opened up for business on the tracks?

Beer is sold in plastic screwtop bottles, like cola. Good idea though, keeps it fizzy for longer. And that it has to, as most people buy 2.5Ltr bottles (at about $3.50 each) and then its shared out and drunk from plastic cups or anything else that serves as a glass.

Loo rolls don’t have a big cardboard roll in the middle. In the first world companies have been making the cardboard bigger and bigger in diameter over time, so it seems you are buying a bigger roll for the same price. In Georgia, if there is a hollow cardboard roll in the middle at all, its so tiny, you can hardly get it onto the loo roll holder. “Western” type loo roll is availlable, but its rare.

And while we’re on the subject, almost all loos are of the squatting type. But there were already a few of those in Turkey. And used loo roll must be thrown in the bin as it would block the tiny waste pipe. So each loo has a rather smelly bin standing next to it.

Ancient vehicles, that look like they are about to collapse into heaps of rust, are still used for passenger transport. The further east we head, the more there will be of this I guess.

Georgians love to design their bars in a really cheesy Flintstones style with fake plastic wood and boulders.

They also divide their bars and restaurants up into booths. It goes well with Georgian culture though. They like to arrive at a table in a big group, fill it with booze and food till no more will fit. Then they sit there all day, eating and drinking, their faces getting redder and laughs and toast getting louder.

Supermarkets sell bundles of vine cut-offs to be used for BBQs instead of charcoal. Its double odd, since I can’t imagine who buys it. Everywhere we’ve been people have just collected a few branches from nearby and made a fire to cook their meat and corn on the cobs on.

Bars keep bottles of vodka in the fridge like an English pub would beer bottles. You don’t buy shots here. You just buy the bottle, place it on the table and then everyone has rounds of shots each time the dedicated toastmaster makes a toast. The toasts are frequent and often elaborate well-wishes. And you only down your shot every few toasts, otherwise you’ll get alcohol poisoning.

Kids go swimming in fountains. They are Romany Gypsies I think.

Kids can also buy alcohol and cigarettes here. They are often sent to go shopping by their parents, so you’ll see a five-year-old leaving a shop dragging a few packets of cigarettes and two huge bottles of beer behind them.

There is a town in Surami where women stand by the side of the road flapping bread at the people driving past. It is bread covered in a sweet christmassy tasting honey and cinnamon glaze, unique to this region. We stopped to have som, its YUM!!!

Meat isnt cut carefully according to the part of the animal. It’s just chopped into random pieces with and axe. So be careful of bone splinters in your chicken and don’t expect a beautiful big steak.

There is a mysterious middle lane, contrary to any road markings, that all the crazy drivers use to overtake, even with oncoming traffic!

Hay is still made the old-fashioned way, stacked in haystacks on the fields. If it is pressed into square bales, it is often transported with lorries or even piled high on top of marshutkas (those minibuses that are the main public transport here).Farmers building haystacks like in the old days

Shops sell a “Hard Drink”. No idea if it’s a type of whiskey or brandy or what. But who cares, it’s a hard drink!

The word for water has an unpronouncable “xkt” sort of clicking sound at the front (there are loads of those in the Georgian language). But if you want water, don’t point at the water bottles behind the counter. They usually contain Chacha, a local grappa type homebrew. (Even the 5Ltr ones!)

They have a regional dish that is basically a cholesterol bomb: A boat-shaped bread filled with cheese, a fried egg and a huge chunk of butter. Perfect hangover food though 🙂

It isn’t at all uncommon to see horse-, oxen- or donkey-drawn carts here, especially in the more rural areas, though they do find their way into the cities sometimes.


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