- Posted June 19, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Eye on Georgia
Cindy Khankhali Batumi
- eoghan, CNN iReport producer
I went to Khankhali House to have dumplings. As I was waiting for my food, a group of three in their early 50s asked if they could share my table. The waitress brought the dumpling on a small plate, a fork and walked off. I asked for a knife. “NO.” It wasn't the waitress who refused me but one of the men. I looked at them, pointed to my dumplings indicating that I needed to cut. “Spoon?” “NO. NO. NO.” They vehemently confronted me. One of the men removed the fork from my hand, stuck it to one of my dumplings at the top where the sag tied up, flipped it over, held it with one hand, blew to cool it down, took a bite and sucked the juice. “See? Do it.” I realized I had been eating dumplings all wrong. I either cut it into pieces or destroy the sag and spill meat and juice. The man finished the dumpling, my dumpling, and there wasn't a drop of juice or meat on his plate. “My name is Jimson, architect, designer. He's Rezo, engineer. She's Irene, journalist.”
This is how you get acquainted in Georgia. The conversation was, at first, directed to Jimson since he spoke the most English and with the aid of context and universal language of gestures. They gave me a portion “Ostri”, a spicy tomato sauce mixed with tender beef. Jimson drew a cow on a napkin, circled the snout, the butt and pointed at the meat. “Yes, nice a*s. Very good” I said. They gave me more Ostri, salad and wine. Everyone had loosen up. Rezo touched the rim of his wine glass, creating a vibrating sound. We followed and turned our table into a glass orchestra. Irene started to sing and got lost in the mournful melody. “Georgian hymn,” she told me. Soon Jimson and Rezo joined. They poured me more wine. We tossed several times, first toss to health, second to girls, then to the children. By then, Irene had switched to Russian when I said I was trying to learning the language.
“Do you have kids Cindy?”
“Are you married?” Irene pointed at her ring finger.
“No. With a boyfriend.”
“Alone? He's not here ?”
“No, he has work.”
Irene continued saying many things I didn't understand and finished her monologue with Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Perhaps the lovely journalist suggested that I should or warned that I would have a randevouz like Scarlett Johansson. It was my turn to toss. Jimson asked what we tossed for? I thought and said: “For the love of Batumi.”
“Cindy, I love Batumi. Irene loves Batumi. Rezo loves Batumi. We all love Batumi. You love Batumi?” Jimson asked.
“Then you stay here two more days?”
“No, I can't. I'm leaving tonight.”
Jimson made a gesture tearing a piece of paper. “You can change your ticket.” I seriously considered the option but remembered that I had no money left and needed to be in Tbilisi tomorrow morning to get cash from a friend.
“I lost my card. I have money only for today and the ticket.” I explained.
“You can stay with Jimson.” Irene assured.
“You can stay in my house.” Jimson added.
“He has a very tall son.”
Now this started to resemble Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
“I'd like to, but I need to go,” I regrettably declined.
I had no doubt that if I would have stayed for two more days, Jimson and Irene not only would give me a place to stay but feed me during the time. However, other than money, I had already planned to take the train from Tbilisi to Baku with someone else.
It started to rain heavily outside. My train would depart in an hour. I got nervous and told them I needed to leave. I asked for the bill. “Cindy, you are my guest. You don't pay.” Jimson ordered. Irene, now a bit drunk, continued her singing, “Raining, raining...Cindy, you are my destiny.”
There was no chance I could get back to pack and hailed a taxi to the train station. I asked Jimson for a ride. In the soaking rain, he walked out of his car to take my luggage and saw me off at the train station. He carried my luggage through eight wagons until we found mine. Then he said goodbye.