Happy birthday and anniversary, as well as a welcome and goodbye party

We had so many reasons to celebrate. Let’s begin from the left. We welcomed Stewart Lindsay, our neighbor in Columbia, South Carolina, who traveled to Georgia and Azerbaijan for a vacation. Susanna Melo and I celebrated our 8th anniversary and have been grateful for the ten years we’ve known each other. In addition, we celebrated Susanna’s and Anderson’s July birthdays. We bid farewell to Anderson de Jesus Lopes and William Santos, our two Brazilian “sons.” Two hours after our dinner, they returned to Brazil  for a well deserved vacation after dancing through Japan for a month. Our Georgian “daughter,” Tamuna Gabelia, who is a good friend of Anderson and William, helped make the party soooooo lively. The Brazilian ambassador to Georgia, Carlos Alberto Asfora, honored us by joining this festive occasion. Copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Outstanding Georgian Guest Award goes to . . .

Susanna and I love to have dinner parties wherever we happen to be living. We like to talk with friends, laugh, and hear interesting stories. And we’ve had many wonderful people to our apartment in Tbilisi, but one individual stands out–Tamuna Gabelia–for her enthusiasm in trying non-Georgian dishes. Congratulations Tamuna!

I was NOT going to fall asleep!

Tamuna Gabelia teaches English at the British Council; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Susanna and I visited Tamuna Gabelia’s class. Tamuna is one of our Georgian “daughters” and she teaches English at the British Council on Rustaveli. At 6pm a bell rang throughout the building and Tamuna immediately began her rapid-fire instruction. DoIhavetwohandsopen?DoIhavetwohandsopen?No,one handisopenbuttheotherisclosed. Every question is repeated twice. The logic is that students understand the meaning the first time, and they understand the structure/grammar upon the second hearing. The six students in the class were paying careful attention, in part because at any moment Tamuna might ask them a question and they would need to respond precisely. The 50-minute class moves quickly—there were probably almost 10 sections of 5 minutes each. No time to get bored; no time for your mind to drift. Howmanychildrendoyourfatherandmotherhave?Howmanychildrendoyourfatherandmotherhave?Myfatherandmotherhavetwochildren.

Tamuna is proof that this method of teaching English works. She was a student at the British Centre, and in no time, she has become a teacher. She teaches 8 hours three times a week, and 6 hours three times a week. For those who try to avoid math, Tamuna is speaking continuously, while e-nun-ci-a-ting precisely, 42 hours a week. She’s exhausted at the end of the day, but for now, she loves teaching English.

I never noticed the thin wire on the wall behind my seat. Why should I? It looks like one of an iPod’s earbuds, and there are loose wires sticking out of many walls in Tbilisi. But this one is significant. The managers at the British Council can listen in while teachers conduct their classes. Teachers must be careful to keep the classes moving—no chitchat. So both teachers and students are always on their toes.

Un-Orthodox Easter dinner

Easter dinner at a Georgian restaurant; Nana Mghebrishvili; Mari Papidze; Susanna Melo; Anderson de Jesus Lopes (dancer from Brazil), Tamuna Gabelia, and William Santos (dancer from Brazil); copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

We had a 3-language Easter dinner. Anderson spoke Portuguese but very little English or Georgian. William spoke Portuguese and a little more English. I only speak English. Mari, Nana, and Tamuna speak English and Georgian fluently, but not Portuguese. Susanna was the translator and hub of the conversation.

If Susanna and I were at home in Columbia, South Carolina, we’d probably eat ham, scalloped potatoes, peas, and bread for dinner, and we’d enjoy a glass of red wine. Tonight we had four types of pizza, mushroom dumplings, mushrooms, french fries, Cokes, and beer. Our adopted children brought boxes of chocolate. And . . . yes; it was delicious!

But best of all, Susanna and I had a really wonderful time visiting our friends. Thank you.

Our four “daughters” transform Keith into a true Svan

Tamuna, Nini, Keith, Nana, and Mari