I went for dinner to the home of one of my young friends who grew up ‘in my hands’, as we say in Georgia. His name is Dato Varduashvili. He is in his early twenties. For me he is a beacon of hope for Georgia. Dato was born into a dysfunctional family in a rural village. His father was abusive and he did his best see that his son would not make any progress in life. But Dato did something incredible. He was 16 years old when he decided to take the charge of his life. He borrowed about 100 GBP and went to Azerbaijan to do some business, without knowing any languages spoken in Baku no Azerbaijani and no Russian. He started with buying linen in Azerbaijan and selling it in Georgia. Within a year he managed to make enough money to a start business in the cattle trade. He brought calves from Azerbaijan, fattened them for a few months and sold them in Georgia… within two years he was able to buy a flat in Tbilisi, and to pay the fees for his university course, which he did on a part-time basis. Within another few years he restored his parental home in the village, despite his father’s objection. He bought another flat, bought a vehicle, and started refurbishing the first flat he had acquired. The secret of his success was and remains his mother’s love and support. Dato wanted me to see the flat he had refurbished beautifully, and have a meal with my guests and friends from the church.
The meal at Dato’s place was wonderful. Both Dato and his Mum cooked numerous eastern Georgian dishes for us. There is no Georgian ‘supra’ (the table feast) without a toast master. I was asked to do the job, which I happily accepted. Originally Georgians drank three toasts; one for God, one for the King, and one for the homeland. But in the course of history we made incredible progress and the number of toasts grew from three to 23 plus. The key is that you do not have to drink the glass to the bottom unless the toast master says the magic word ‘bolomde’ (to the bottom) and then you have to empty the glass. If you do not know the rules of the Georgian supra you might find yourself drunk at the third or fourth glass. Continue reading “Malkhaz Songulashvili – Sleepless in Georgia – 6 – A Georgian supra”