The big big birthday
02 December, 2010

This week, I am going to tell you all a little story about a big birthday party that I went to here in Georgia. It was my first day in Tbilisi, and that flight induced haze I wrote about in my first story had not worn off. In fact, it had become full blown “culture shock” and the best was yet to come. After having very little sleep the night before, the time came to walk over to Natia and Nino’s flat, to join the birthday celebration of course.  As my wife and I walked along a darkened path, I was trying to imagine what this party would be like, I was hoping for something similar to the type of party that I would normally have back home, cake and ice-cream, gifts and so on. Little did I know, it would be very different.  It took one or two minutes to get to their flat, “not much prep time for me” and after a quick ride in a tinny elevator I found myself in front of a large wooden door. This moment was the silence before the storm. Lika rang the door bell but it didn’t ring it chirped like a bird, then the door opened and the hallway was flooded with sounds from the celebration. Most if not all the other guests had arrived before us; therefore, walking into the party was very overwhelming. It was obvious from the start that I was in for one wild ride. We took our seats at the table, and it was the biggest table I had ever sat at “not really but it was BIG.” Now, don’t forget, I mentioned that this was my first day in Georgia and no one was speaking English, consequently, this made the atmosphere all the more unusual to me. Among other differences, there was an unusually large amount of food at the rather large table, yet somehow more and more food kept coming, “all homemade thank to Babeta I might add.”  My wife was introducing me to all her friends and translating at the same time, there must have been fifty people in attendance, all of which wanted me to eat and eat, yes “chame” over and over, “chame” I think I gained  two kilograms that night. One of the more interesting and intoxicating traditions I think, was the many toasts we made; they toasted to us for being late and to Natia “the birthday girl” and so on. This of course   brings me to the most memorable part of the story, Rezo the toastmaster. Now, I have heard and made my fair share of toasts in my life but nothing like this. As I mentioned before, there were many toasts but the best one in my opinion was the toast for love. Rezo was sitting next to me and he stood up and said “in Georgian” this is the toast to love; moreover, he dedicated it to me saying: it was love that made this man cross the ocean to be with Lika. I was very pleased when Lika translated what he said to me but it was funny to listen to him before that, you see somehow, what he expressed in Georgian was for me like a puzzle, yes it was very hard to understand Georgian at that time. Somehow, I understood that this time in my life, would be so very new for me, with all that was to come into focus, some now it seemed life for me would never be the same. This outcome is totally acceptable because for me to have a Georgian wife, that is the just what happened soon after  I first came to Georgia “yes it was love at first sight” and so you see this is not just a story about a birthday, but a very true story about LOVE….
The article is published without changes in the author’s style.