Monday, October 15, 2007

Thanks for your patronage! Or: Wait, is he being patronizing?

Friends, one should never install webcounters on one's blog. Specifically, one should not install a webcounter that shows the geographic location of each hit (Sorry, that term may be a little "inside" the blogging biz for you -- see, the internets are made up of a series of tubes, through which tiny gnomes run, grabbing information and bringing it back to your computer. These gnomes are affectionately called "hits," an ancient term whose meaning is lost to antiquity). These geographic webcounters are geoGRAPHIC, if you'll allow me a capitalization pun. I have been fascinated with mine for several days. Of course, the fascination with the webcounter is no surprise -- my desire for a numerical way to analyze how much you love me is a given. Alas, my fascination, in reality, has been not with the number itself, but with the location of the numbers. There's someone reading this blog who lives in India. There's someone reading this blog who lives in Belgium. I don't know anyone in Belgium. And I know someone in India, but I know that this person is not the source of this blog "hit" because the strange person in India sent me a Gmail message. I was unaware that I have an inexplicable global audience. It is, in a way, heartwarming, because it means that the message of global peace, acceptance, and aid has yet another means of dissemination (cultural acceptance note to my Belgian readership: America isn't so bad. We're a fun people. Some of us like to work in the Peace Corps. And all of us enjoy your waffles. Tell your European friends!). And yet it is terrifying, because I was under the impression that I had maybe three readers of this blog, one of which was my mother (cultural acceptance note to my mother readership: in many cultures, parents send packages to their Peace Corps Volunteer offspring). So now I have to rethink the content of this blog to make it more desirable and entertaining to my worldwide audience. There will, therefore, be several new regular elements to this blog, carefully selected to appeal to the widest possible audience:

Element 1: Pornography
Everyone likes pornography. Here, then, is some hot action:

This is a photograph of my friend Roo with his Georgian counterparts. He sent me this photograph with no explanation of why none of them are wearing shirts, or whether any of them are wearing pants. Knowing Roo, they probably are not. This photograph is reprinted without any permission from the author whatsoever, copyright 2007.

Element 2: Photos of small children or animals wearing cute hats

Everyone also likes cute photographs, like this one:

This is the granddaughter of my Training host mother, wearing one of my hats. I'll pause a minute to let you say "ohmygodthat'sthecutestthingi'veeverseen" to whoever is in the vicinity.
Her name is Irma (it's even cuter than that, actually. Her grandmother, at that time my host mother, is also named Irma, so the girl is referred to as "patara Irma," which means, "little Irma"). This is a good time to mention that host mother Irma, according to my friend whose site is the city where I lived during training, is apparently upset that I have not called her in the almost two months since I left. I have not done this for two reasons: we never use our phones for calling, because it is expensive and we do not get paid money, and I am abjectly terrified of being in phone conversations with Georgians who do not speak English. I have to do it occasionally, but the conversation is always awkward because I don't speak their language well enough to actually have one. So, instead of a conversation, it goes like this (entirely in Georgian):

Irma: "Hello?"
Me: "Hello? I am Dani."
Irma: "Hello, Dani. (something something something something something) Where are you?"
Me: "I am in the park."
Irma: "(Something something something something something something)"
Me: ".......9 o'clock?"
Irma: "(something something something something something)"
Me: "Um. Um. I am in the park. With Georgians. They want us drinking beer with him. They have food, also. He buys me vodka."
Irma: "(something something something something something something)"
Me: "...Yes."
Irma: "(something that may resemble a question about when I will be home, or that might be informing me that the house has caught fire and that I must return immediately)"
Me: "I will be home later. Goodbye."

So, this is why I don't want to call her. I miss her and intend to visit her in two weeks, but I cannot possibly engage in not only a conversation, but a conversation without any sort of available visual clues if I do not understand what she is saying. I will probably call her tonight anyway, spending the remaining amount of money on my phone card to say, "What? What? I do not understand. I am happy and I like work. I will be home later."

Element 3: Specific differences between Georgia and America, so that everyone can learn things about other cultures.

Difference of the day: Georgian pillows are enormous.

So, Georgian pillows are enormous. They're like two American pillows put together, and stuffed with sand. They are not particularly malleable, and they weigh, conservatively, 8,000 kilograms each. You have to be careful not to hurt yourself sleeping on these pillows. Injuries can be of the neck variety, or can also be of the crushed-sternum variety if you (as I do) tend to turn over several times during the night, because it is easy, when you are shifting a pillow across your body, to misjudge how much effort this will take in your half-asleep stupor, and to either smack yourself in the face with it or actually fling yourself off the bed if you use too much arm and don't let go of the pillow as it goes flying towards the wall. This has not happened yet, but it has come close to happening, and it has become a basic inevitability at this point. I hope you've learned something.

Element 4: Actual recording for posterity my actions as a Peace Corps volunteer so people can be more informed about zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

This past weekend, I was again in Kutaisi, this time to observe an ECO Project training session and to discuss with a fellow volunteer our plans to create a breast cancer awareness and education video to be used in conjunction with the Breast Cancer Awareness walk that her organization.....organizes. It was much less eventful than last weekend, but it was a good time and quite productive, actually. On Sunday, the group of us went to a cafe (we found out about this cafe last weekend -- it has good pizza and AMAZING Caesar salad. It might be the only place in this country with amazing Caesar salad outside the Marriott in Tbilisi, where a Caesar salad costs $435, depending on that day's exchange rate) and talked about ECO Project, which is probably the biggest volunteer-initiated project in Georgia and consists of ecology clubs for youth in communities around the country, as well as three large camps for the kids in these camps each summer. I also had a long discussion about the breast cancer video. All in all, it was pretty much literally a business lunch, and we talked constructively about a lot of stuff. And it really reinforced how difficult the work I do every day is -- I could never have had that depth of conversation, group-work, and problem-analysis here at my office, because they don't speak English. Translators (who are not always available anyway) make spontaneous conversation impossible, especially when they're not professional translators and often have to struggle with the translation. Blurghh. I am hoping work gets easier, soon.

No comments: