The “ties” that bind us together

Copyright Baadur Koplatadze, 2011

People who know me know that I like unusual ties. As a visual communications professor, I think it is appropriate that my trademark is visually interesting ties. When I gave some presentations in Tbilisi in April 2011, I wore a couple of my favorite ties. Then I was invited to a press conference at the American Embassy to announce the Journalism School Partnership Program between USC’s SJMC and GIPA’s CSJMM. I can’t remember if I wore a tie, but I remember that GIPA’s rector (like a president) did not wear a tie. Moreover, I clearly remember that Giorgi Margvelashvili said that Georgians don’t wear ties. OK, I thought, but I was not convinced.

Later the same week, Maia Mikashavidze took me to a piano recital in a beautiful concert hall. I studied the way the men were dressed and, indeed, found that none, or almost none of the men wore ties. Giorgi’s statement was confirmed. When I returned to Tbilisi September 1, I didn’t bring any of my ties.

Last night the American ambassador, John Bass, hosted a cocktail party to announce the arrival of the embassy’s new Public Affairs Officer. The invitation said “business attire,” and I work black slacks and a white long-sleeved shirt. As you have undoubtedly predicted, every man—at least 100—was wearing a tie except me. No problem; it is not the first time I’ve been under-dressed and feeling a bit foolish.

Then . . . I saw the rector, Giorgi, at the ambassador’s home, and guess what? He was wearing a tie. So we joked around for a while and had a good laugh.

Giorgi asked me how I’ve been enjoying my stay in Georgia. I said I’m having a great time—I love the people, the food, the scenery, my apartment, and so on. I just don’t have a tie, I joked. Giorgi immediately removed his tie and gave it to me. He was insistent. I agreed to take his tie on the condition that we “share” it. So, we shared the tie, and now this incident has become one of the stories that “tie” us together.


About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

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