6.16.2006

Boodzgoo

Georgian Translation: hairy one (or something of that sort)

When I first heard about George from Georgia it was in Joe's incredibly rank dorm room over a few glasses of brew. They had both attended an Eastern European Summer Program in Prague and managed to sky dive, rent cars, party, fight taxi drivers, and, in summary, become great friends. It sounded like they had the adventure of a lifetime, but over the course of a few days I've found out that is just a day in the life of Boodzgoo, our Georgian host.

Although I'm sure you will all see pictures he's a huge Georgian kid with a slight accent, a zest for life, and a ambition that far exceeds the dreams of most Georgians. And the kid is the craziest fucking driver I have ever witnessed (and coming from my skills behind the wheel that is a statement). After having what I thought were a few near death experiences during the first leg of our journey in Georgia, I soon found out that ignoring all traffic rules, telling police officers you despise them and their department, and parking however and wherever you wanted was the Georgian status quo.

At first is seemed like George was just like any other American kid, but after some time I realized the adversity he had experienced and bravely overcome was painfully intense. In the early 90's his family and him had to move out of their home after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent civil war. Snipers decided their roof was an ideal location (right next to the office of the President).

And I couldn't begin to imagine a place where heroin, not marijuana, was the easily accessible drug. After walking around enough the needles on the ground have become common place; I'm just happy I scored a pair of sneakers down in Soho before June 5th.
Joe had told me about boodzgoo's close friend, Sandro, dying a few months ago, but as I heard the details of the death the reality of the blatant corruption in these countries became quickly humanized.

After some words at a cafe with a local minister's brother, Sandro and his friend, under the instruction of the official, were kidnapped by bodyguards and tortured. Although Sandro's death wasn't intentional, the bodyguards are now in one of the "nicest" prisons and the ministry of the interior (or something like that), hasn't faced any consequences. Boodzgoo and his friends have weekly rallies, petitions, and demonstrations have the true perpetrators of their friend's death face justice.

And it seems as if cases like his aren't unique. But even in the presence of the missteps of this fledgling government, everything is better than Soviet occupation. Where everything "was completely gray, no color," intellects where shot, and life was dreary. It seems like everyone our age has some grandfather or great grandfather that was assasinated by the Russians.

Boodzgoo is easily the best host in the world. He immediately made us feel comfritable and welcome in such a strange place. Yesterday he took us to his summer home 45 minutes into the mountains, he found us a flat for our stay in the capital, and has showed us an amazing time. From the amazing meals, great drinks, and introductions to some of the more interesting people I've met in some time, I have no idea how I will ever return the generocity and hospitality he has selflessly showed us since the moment we stepped in the country.

As we leave for Kiev in a few days, I'm just hoping to keep in touch with a new friend and convince him to spend a good week in London this fall.

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