There are three words that are inseparable from traditional Georgian gatherings – Supra, Kantsi, and Khashi. Supra translates as fest and it denotes an art of celebration. Celebration of a wedding, a birthday, a birth, or even celebration for no particular reason. When you as a guest enter someone’s house, a host will instantly offer you all the food and wine and organize a small Supra. Traditional Supras have clear rules:
Head of Supra is appointed – Tamada;
He offers toasts;
There is a number of obligatory toasts and even their consequence is defined;
Toasts should be as creative as possible, more like novels and poems;
White wine is usually drunk at the traditional Supra. Rarely Vodka and never beer!
Photo Source: bbc.com
Kantsi Photo Source: forum.ge
Supras with small quantity of members and in an informal environment are less bounded. Should you happen to attend a Supra, there is one thing you should fear – Kantsi. It is a horn of an animal that is at least twice as big as a normal wine glass and can even be as big as 5 litres (1.3 gallons). Those who are late are offered Kantsi. Moreover, all participants are offered Kantsi when the toastmaster decides that the toast is worth giving a special value. Hosts in Georgia can be somewhat aggressive, demanding you to drink all the glasses and Kantsi offered. So, you should be aware of the guaranteed means to cure the hangover. If you manage to survive, than your morning after Supra starts really early. Georgians go to the restaurants were Khashi – a veal broth is served. Khashi is prepared from spare parts of a cow – intestines and shin. Khashi places can be dark, malodorous, and noisy but that’s the price of a hangover remedy. Being Georgian is not easy.
2. Experience the traffic
Street chaos in Georgia is obvious from the very first day you arrive.
Pedestrians walk as if they were wondering by the seaside. Groups of people move together in an aimless way and occupy the entire walkway. Each person has a different pace and track. The worst part begins when they decide to cross the road. The logic is simple – you need to cross the road? You cross the Road! No matter where, and no matter when. You just go. Drivers are no exception. You can see cars changing lanes and routes not minding the signs at all. Don’t risk driving a car in Georgia. Better walk in the bohemian style, so typical for Georgians, or catch a taxi, which is so cheap over here. Taxi drivers will make sure your ride isn’t silent. If you manage to communicate with them, soon you will learn all the secrets of Georgian Government, all the details of the world history, and maybe even find out who killed John F. Kennedy. Don’t be surprised if driver asks your age or tells you it’s time to get married and have children. If you are heading for a long trip, best solution is to have your local friend to translate the driver’s speech. You might learn more about Georgia, than from any other source.
Traffic in Tbilisi Photo Source: Béla György Vincze
3. Make Friends
Knock on your neighbor’s door and ask for some onions, salt, sugar, or vinegar. Tell them you are cooking, and invite them over for a dinner. Georgians feel like members of one big family and they live as a family. Each local has at least one mutual friend with literally everyone in the city and some can boast with friends across the entire country. Relatives and neighbors are the dearest. Georgians know who are their grandparents cousins grandchildren’ spouses parents as well as all the neighbors on their street and sometimes even in the district. Don’t be surprised if you see someone standing in the street having a loud chat with a friend who is looking down from a window of the 9th floor. Please be patient if you see a car stopping in front of you and a driver jumping out to greet a friend who happened to be crossing a street at that moment. This is Georgia, a small country with passion, love, and some anger – just like every big family!
Photo Credit: Andrea Massignani
So, socialize! Start with the nearest neighbor. Hopefully, someone in the family can speak English. If not, no worries – a bottle of wine can build tight bridges in this country. Guests are always welcome in our family!