Monday, September 20, 2010

That's just how they fix things

My family has a puppy named Bimi.

Bimi is a complete mess. Georgians generally have love-hate relationships with their pets, and Bimi is a big ball of ridiculous energy that cannot be contained by nature. When he’s around, he attacks my feet mercilessly, and when I try to act tough, he rolls over and stares at me with his adorable puppy face (he even has a black patch around his eye, the fight isn’t even fair). Technically, Bimi is not allowed in the house, a rule he is entirely aware of but refuses to obey. Suffice to say, Bimi suffers my deda’s cheerful wrath on a daily basis.

I love dogs. Their language is universal. Bimi is great company on days when I feel isolated. On one such day, in a fit of puppy love, he scratched my ankle. It didn’t bleed and I all but forgot about it until two days later. I was sitting with my deda, Tedo, Tamuna, and Ana, trying to communicate in typical post-dinner fashion. In an effort to engage in a broken and frustratingly mistranslated conversation, I rolled up my pant leg and pointed to the scratch. “Bimi,” I said simply, and laughed to assure them that I was not angry.

Immediately, my deda leapt to her feet and started shouting jovially in Georgian. The girls started laughing, and Tedo ran off to the bedroom. When my deda started toward the cabinet, I was sure that she was going to find something to punish Bimi with. After all, I am a guest in her home, and Bimi had hurt me (though the damage was minimal, I assure you). Fearing the worst, I started protesting, shouting useless English phrases like “No no!” and “Please don’t kill him!” The house erupted in linguistic fury. It was like a brand-new Babel or maybe Manhattan.

However, instead of casting Bimi out of the house, my deda reached into the cupboard and pulled out what I’m convinced was a bottle of bourbon older than her. Tedo returned to the kitchen with a bag of cotton swabs, and I started to understand what was happening. Georgian home remedy, anyone? I had come this far, and I wasn’t about to shy away from this experience.

My deda soaked a cotton ball in the stuff – and I mean SOAKED. Without another word, and with a giant smile on her face, she slapped it on my leg. It was hardly a trip to the hospital, but the co-pay was nonexistent so I didn’t complain. A question popped into my head, though, and I knew the answer before I asked. “Can you drink it?” I asked, pantomiming a glass.

“Ki!” (“Yes!”) she shouted, and in one decisive motion grabbed a shot glass from the counter, poured a shot, and tossed it back (you know, like any respectable Georgian would). At this point, I could no longer contain my laughter and called three or four fellow volunteers to share my experience – these sort of cross-cultural things are so important, after all. One thing I didn’t count on though: the liquor, allegedly potable, began first to sting and then burn in the all but healed cut. Along with the laughter and the pervasive Georgian shouting match, I got quite a sensory overload.

And, believe it or not, the cut has healed quite a bit faster than I expected. I wonder how strong the stuff will have to be if I break my arm.

I mean, at this point, the insurance provided by the TLG program is all but useless.


  1. What a great story! Well told, too - I could see the irresistible Bimi and your merry deda. Hey, where was that photo taken? Is that at your house? What are the crepe-looking triangles? Are those strawberries? What's that dish that seems to be meat (lamb?) in the lower right corner? The china looks beautiful. Remarkable chairs as well! Love, Dad

  2. lmao

    "English phrases like “No no!” and “Please don’t kill him!” The house erupted in linguistic fury. "<<loooooool..
    please dont kil him..

    btw welcome :D
    (no im not a creepster..just a random visitor:D)