Over the weekend, the dormitory has filled up. On Sunday about 100 Azerbaijanis moved in. They are here from villages from all over Georgia, and they are here in the dorm in Kutaisi for a one month crash course in Georgian. The dorm is a government run program that brings in ethnic minorities to teach them Georgian, before sending them back to their village. The dormitory needed all the beds they could get a hold of, so I was moved from my room to another one downstairs. I now only have two beds, I have a kitchenette, and my own toilet and shower. The walls in the dorm are paper thin, however, so I can hear all the old Azerbaijani men arguing loudly into the late hours. Last night the arguing shifted to snoring around 1am.
So it wasn’t a great night’s sleep. Finally managed to roll out of bed for a shower before breakfast. I realized a few days ago that the dorm stopped having hot water. I can’t stand cold showers, so I kept putting it off hoping it was just a temporary glitch. But it’s been really windy in Kutaisi, so I have gravel and all sorts of crap blown in my face and hair, and can’t stand it anymore. Tried it out this morning. Nope, still cold. Went to the showers in the hallway, hoping they’d be warm. Nope. Still cold. Showers upstairs? Nope. Cold. Dammit! Back to my room, shivered in the shower for a few minutes, cursing profusely. (Reminds me of swimming lessons when I was little, at MLK Park, at 7am or 8am, or whatever god awful time we had to go. It was so cold! Everyone else went in the water except for a few shivering Howards.) My guess is that the dorm has cut the hot water now that it’s full of people, in an effort to cut costs.
Walked down to breakfast in the cafeteria. It’s the first time I’ve seen the place full. I sat down to a place by myself, but all the other tables were filled with loud, old Azerbaijanis. I got plenty of stares from people who can’s communicate with me in either English or Georgian.
Back to the room for some reading before heading in to class. I only have two lessons Monday mornings: the dreaded computer programmers. I braced the wind and walked to class. Sat down, and there were only two students out of the normal fifteen or twenty. No co-teacher. Where is she? Ask some of the students. I don’t know, I respond. Phone rings, maybe that’s her, I think. Nope, it’s Pakistani host brother. What the hell does he want, I wonder. Since there’s nobody in class, I figure I’ll answer.
Hey man, where are you?
I’m at school.
Oh. So you have class today?
Oh, well, I was wondering. Did you take a shower this morning?
Yes I did.
Oh, was it warm?
No, it was cold.
Oh. So then you didn’t have any hot water?
No, it was cold.
Oh, because mine is cold too. Maybe I’ll try the showers in the hall. Because I don’t want to take a cold shower, man.
Alright man. Well I gotta go.
A minute later or so, another teacher pops his head in the door. I recognize him as the computer programmers’ regular teacher. He asks me where my co-teacher is, because I assume, the rest of my students are with him right now. I don’t know, I respond again, and pull out my phone. I can call her, I say. I call her up. Hello Steven. Hello, I am wondering if you will be coming to school today? No I will not be in school today. I am driving to Tbilisi. Oh, okay, I say. Well, there’s a teacher who wants to talk with you. Hand him the phone. Brief conversation. I take students with me, Steven. Okay.
I wonder if she’s heading in to Tbilisi to pick up more English teachers for the school. Why else is she going to Tbilisi? I don’t know. But I do find it odd that sometimes the students skip class, and sometimes my co-teachers skip class. And never am I notified about it. (So does anyone ever take notice if I’m either present or not?) Last week I had a few lessons without my co-teacher. One day she forgot that she had the morning class. Another time she was twenty minutes late because she was talking to some manager, director or principal (I don’t know which) about a lesson that had been observed. The meeting couldn’t wait until a few hours later when we’d be out of class. I was unaware of what was going on, of course, as I stood awkwardly in front of my class, showing them maps of Traverse City, having them locate the Dish Cafe, Horizon Books or the State Theater.
But not today. I was excused from my lessons. So I just went back to the dorm.