A Two Week Escape Part 2
Updated: Jan 6, 2021
As the days passed it was hard not to find a large sense of pride in our little community. The best part was the self-sufficient attitude predominantly upheld by our glorious matriarch, Lali.
Not only were we making wine, but we were also baking our own bread. If you haven't seen how Georgians make their traditional banana-shaped bread, know as Shoti, it's pretty cool. The ingredients in Georgian bread are about as standard as it gets. You only need flour, water, yeast, and a bit of salt. What makes this bread unique is the way it is baked. After kneading the dough, it is separated and rolled out into medium-long thick ropes. These are then slapped on the inside of the tandoori style oven, known here as a Toné. The coals at the bottom radiate hot air upwards. This is how Shoti gets its lovely light and crispy feel.
Life in the house of Lali always stays busy, even in the lazy time of isolation. She is always working on something, cooking something, or finding some way to keep the homestead alive. During this lockdown, I think there is something amazingly uplifting about this. The sense of accomplishment is probably one of the best antidotes to feeling depressed. Lali also knows how to work with others. She's the type who "has a guy" for everything. If you need plumbing, lumber, farm-fresh food, you name it, she has a guy for it. She even managed to get fresh fish this far inland. She explained to me that she had a guy on the west coast that could get the fish right out of the sea. Her contact would then throw the fish on ice and leave it on a bus headed for this side of the country. He would tip the driver and we could expect fish for dinner. *On a side note, I would not want to be on that bus.
We all sat down to dinner and broke our homemade bread and made many toasts to life, peace, and for loved ones who were no longer with us. Shota is a professor who has studied the literary works of his nation for his entire career. Not only is he a scholar of language, but he is beautifully gifted with words himself. Even when translated, the words that flow from him as the glasses are raised, lift you with them.
The conversations lasted long into the night after we were full and drunk. Keti looked over at me, midway through a discussion with Mako.
"She still misses the old ways." She said
"The soviet days?" I asked.
"Yes" replied Keti while rolling her eyes.
"I am communist." Mako piped in, raising her hand in a somewhat defeated manner.
"And you?" I asked Keti.
She laughed lightly and then pronounced "I am a fascist!" With a subtle edge of pride.
My curiosity grew. "How about you Lali?", who was seated right next to me
"Me? Anarchist." She replied; matter of factly.
We exchanged a small fist bump as I reveled in the ridiculousness of a fascist an anarchist and a communist all breaking bread together with hardly an argument. I knew there had to be a joke in there somewhere.
I turned to Shota, who already knew what I was going to ask. He held up his hand as if to wave my invisible question away. He shook his head and then held out his glass to me.
"Drink Habi, it's good." He said.
It was then I realized that the joke was on those who couldn't put this nonsense to the side of what actually matters in life.