Friday, November 2, 2007

More of Dan Working, This Time in Photographs! Or: Don't Get Too Excited; This Is Sort Of a Filler Post

Part II of Better Know A Georgia should be ready soon, perhaps tomorrow, and hopefully next week I will have an incredible personal update. This is because my host brother, Tamazi, is getting married on Sunday (well, with the way it works here, he's married already, and the reception is Sunday, except there are two receptions, and, you know what, I'll discuss this in the post about it), and this week he either asked me to be his best man or he asked me something that related in some way to pointing at the entry for "best man" in the dictionary. Mostly what a best man does is sit up at the head table during the reception(s), but there are all these complicated rules when you're drinking and toasting in a formal setting here, and I have no confidence that I know them well enough to follow them off merely visual cues and the occasional recognized phrase, especially when sitting where everyone can see me. But we shall see what happens. Perhaps my inevitable bumbling and misunderstanding will not end up ruining the evening for my family and all the guests. Either way, pictures will hopefully abound.

And, speaking of pictures, I have not yet shared any of the place whither I work, so here are some! These were taken of me by coworkers for a presentation to the organization that funds my NGO's overhead that is occurring this week. As you can see, they are extremely indicative of my value to this organization and to this community, and absolutely deserve to be given prominent roles in a slideshow presentation:

This is me sitting at the computer I use to create my NGO's website ( -- it's ungodly slow and not all online yet, neither of which, unfortunately, I can do anything about right now). You can see that I have not yet started work on The Beard. You can also, incidentally, see the watch I am wearing. This is my Georgia Watch. My nice, expensive watch got lost somehow in the frenzy of packing the night before I left for Staging, so I purchased this piece of crap at the CVS across from our hotel in DC for six dollars. Apparently, I made the right selection, because people compliment me on this watch all the time. I think they are attracted to the big orange button on it. This orange button, in reality, does nothing, and is not even pushable, even though it is labeled, "Start/Stop." If I am ever in a moment of mortal peril where I need a stopwatch to save my own or someone else's life, I will rue this watch. If you think you may ever be in a life situation of this nature, do not purchase a timepiece from CVS.

This is a photo of what might have been a very important conversation between my organization's director (on the far left), another member of my organization (on the near right), and the director of the Lithuanian NGO who was here a couple weeks ago (near left). It certainly seemed somber and important, as evidenced by the fact that everyone was standing up for no reason. Or it may have been a simply photo op, because we were being both photographed AND filmed, and I was exhorted to stand next to the other three even though they were speaking in Russian, which is a language I do not speak. Also, we were standing in front of a wall display called, "We are friends!" ("Chven megobrebi vart" in Georgian and "Mes esame draugai," apparently, in Lithuanian, because I'm sure you were wondering) which contains pictures my coworkers took on their trip to Lithuania, as well as the top of a box of chocolates and the Lithuanian flag. Notice my habit of crossing my arms and jutting my head slightly forward, to indicate that I am attempting to understand something. Usually I use this posture when conversations are occurring that I have no hope of keeping up with, but I still want to look like I care. This happens a lot.

This is a photo of me leading the first Chokhatauri meeting of the groundbreaking Document Your World Club. It actually went pretty well. I showed part of a documentary called "Power Trip," which is about the electricity problems in Georgia in the early part of this decade, and the kids seemed pretty interested in it. They were even more interested when I told them that the movie was going to show an image of a man who died electrocuting himself on a power box (this is not something that would shock you, even now, if you saw the power lines here, which would make a fire marshal in the US pee himself while fainting) -- in America, you might have to ask a kid's parents before showing such a thing in a class, but I have no idea whether that would be an issue here at all. So I decided to show the film anyway, since the dead man is only one very short image, and to warn the kids well beforehand. They ended up getting very excited and asking which one of the main characters in the film was going to be the one to die (it wasn't any of them). Then we ran out of time before we even got to it. But they made me promise to show the rest of the movie later. So, a lesson: if you want to get kids interested in documentary filmmaking, show dead guys. All in all, though, the meeting went quite well, I think, and the kids seem pretty motivated, so hopefully I can pull my head out of my ass and direct that motivation towards a good result.

Also, this is kind of a weird thing to use the blog for, and I'm not sure if I'm supposed to, but what the hell: I need funding for this club (to buy a camera and assorted materials for the kids to make their documentaries), and I am attempting to get it through a Peace Corps program that finds funding for small projects through American donors. For this program, I am supposed to provide referrals of family and friends who might be willing to donate to my project, through Peace Corps (since I can't accept money for anything myself). So if you or anyone you know are interested in donating to a documentary club for children, please let me know ASAP. Whew. Hopefully that is the last time I even come close to asking for money on this blog.

I will leave you with that, because I need to go tell whoever is using a computer in the other room to play that "Goodbye My Lover, Goodbye My Friend" song at 11,000 decibels that this song contains a lot of very bad words in English and that I am uncomfortable listening to it any more times in a row. If you thought Americans listened to their music at loud volumes....boy. I might be deaf by the time next week comes around. You should hear the wedding music here. It's popular Georgian songs sung karaoke style by a DJ at a volume that could level small buildings. It can be hard to even speak. I will never understand this.

Addendum: I have added my mailing address to the sidebar, in case there is anyone else out there besides my mother who wants to send me something. I encourage this heartily, and guarantee that anyone who sends me something will receive something from me themselves, eventually. Underneath the basic address is a link to a printable mailing address written in English and Georgian; things can take a long time to get here, and once they're here, postal officials often take things from them. So, to guard against this, it may be a good idea to include Georgian writing on the label, which might expedite its arrival in the proper PO Box and/or reduce the possibility that a postal official will see the letter/package and assume it to include money or a multitude of fancy electronics because it's to an American. I would, of course, be happy to answer any further questions on this issue, including but not limited to my favorite non-perishable foods that are not available in Georgia, as a service to you. You can thank me later.

1 comment:

ruth said...

You do a good job looking interested in the conversation there. So I think the stance is working.

Your blog is really coming together. I like the little link on the side about sending a care package. It's so fancy maybe it might compel people who stumble onto this blog to send you things.

I might be interested in donating. Particularly if it's something I could do online and it would be a minimal amount.