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Snapshot from Georgian village


This is one of my favorite photos from the road trip in Georgia, taken in motion from a car window while passing. However, it's very symbolic of life throughout the country. Outside of Tbilisi, Batumi and a few other larger cities, Georgia is one big rural village, immediately transporting you to a different time and place. For all its beauty, the country is very poor, employment opportunities are limited, and people are tied to a simple existence without a lot of luxuries to which most of us are accustomed. This is part of the country's beauty and fascination, at least for me - an American coming from a middle class, stable environment. A woman who has had plenty of opportunities to achieve almost anything she wanted in life. Nothing has been handed to me, for everything I worked quite hard -  getting various degrees and a high education, fighting for positions at work, numerous other things...

I tried to find some statistics about average wages, but they are inconsistent. Figures released in 2015 show that women in Georgia earned an average salary of 697.3 GEL ($270), while a male earns 1,126.8 ($440). So, we can see that men earn substantially more there, regardless of business sector. The average pension is about $75. There is free health care, but nothing is really "free", and more favorable care can be arranged by getting private insurance costing from $10 - $50/month. With such poor wages, this seems almost impossible for most citizens. Georgians pay a flat tax on salaries and fees - 20%. If annual income exceeds 40,000 GEL ($15,600), the State will require additional taxes which are determined by the value of real estate owned by the family. At least, this is according to current information available here. Due to the fertile nature of Georgian soil, food is quite cheap - fresh fruits, vegetables and grains are all produced locally. With meat is another issue - sometimes expensive, and not the best quality, unless you like fatty dishes.

I can't really say how living in Georgia is different than life in Russia. In some ways, the systems are the same and village life in each nation mirrors the other based on my experience of traveling in remote parts of both nations. Cultures certainly differ in their openness, friendliness and tolerance for diversity. Georgians by nature are quite animated, friendly and talkative; Russians more cold in appearance, and less animated as a whole. But people are just people....:)

What do you think? Could you live in such a village? This is something I continually ask myself... and the answer remains inconclusive.


( 80 comments — Leave a comment )
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Maks J-Fry
Dec. 5th, 2016 02:55 pm (UTC)
You're right, maybe village life in our countries is pretty the same. But the key difference is that Russia is an industrial country and Georgia is an agricultural country. They produce more than 50% of their GDP by poking in the soil. Russia gets here only 4.7%, and USA around 3%, I think. By the way, their GDP per capita is 2.5 times less than ours. That difference is bigger than the difference between the USA and Russia, for instance.
Dec. 5th, 2016 02:56 pm (UTC)
A comment with useful info, and no trolling from you? A rarity. :) And where the hell is everyone? The audience here has completely vanished...:((
(no subject) - Maks J-Fry - Dec. 5th, 2016 03:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 5th, 2016 03:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Dec. 5th, 2016 03:50 pm (UTC)
Legendary Georgian Humor in Short movies

Sorry, I did not find a playlist... just select the shortest ones
Dec. 5th, 2016 03:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Legendary Georgian Humor in Short movies
I cannot understand what they're saying, and don't get the humor from the video images alone. :)) In general, I had no problems joking with Georgians I was with - but we were communicating in English. :)
Dec. 5th, 2016 03:51 pm (UTC)
It's very sad to read about how hard is life in Georgia. I hope it will improve sometimes, if Russia won't assault it again. Georgia was too long involved in common USSR economy and disconnection from other parts of USSR made a huge negative impact. They still can't find their niche in EU and world market and attract investments.
Maks J-Fry
Dec. 5th, 2016 04:10 pm (UTC)
o man. that is so mean and stupid. why would you lie here? Don't you know that international investigation concluded that the war was started by Georgia?
(no subject) - notabler - Dec. 5th, 2016 04:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Maks J-Fry - Dec. 5th, 2016 06:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Ринат Атман - Dec. 5th, 2016 04:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Erik Shindler
Dec. 5th, 2016 04:25 pm (UTC)
your obesrvations are quite right. Life is very harsh there now. Poverty in Georgia and Armenia and less in Azerbajian (due to oil ) is omnipresent.
Dec. 5th, 2016 07:28 pm (UTC)
It is an easy observation to make when you drive through the country. I think it is more stable, and definitely safer now compared to several decades ago, based on what my Georgian friends tell me. You could not even walk the streets of Tbilisi at night without caution, yet now the country is very safe. I walked around several cities alone, and felt no threat.
Dec. 5th, 2016 04:34 pm (UTC)
I am not really sad about the economy of Georgia. Not every country has to be industrial. I just wish that they regain some political stability and can stop worrying about not so neighborly neighbors.

If they build up the infrastructure to be a tourist paradise with high end agriculture, so be it. There is nothing wrong with it.

As for low wages and gender income disparity, it is very indicative of an agrarian and rural society. Men will tend to have slight technological advantage (working with machinery), women being in charge of the household.
Dec. 5th, 2016 07:33 pm (UTC)
I did not say they have to be industrial. :) They just need to produce something, not merely buy and sell. Tourism will continue to grow in the country, and it's how a lot of people there are making money. In fact, it seems women do most of the work in Georgia, even plowing in the fields, while men sit on the street and chat or play games. I saw it more than once...The Georgian who drove me around the country is trained as a lawyer, but has no work in this field, so he does tourism to pay the bills.

Edited at 2016-12-05 07:36 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - redheadrat - Dec. 5th, 2016 07:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Maks J-Fry - Dec. 5th, 2016 07:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - Maks J-Fry - Dec. 5th, 2016 08:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 5th, 2016 05:29 pm (UTC)
I live in a big city and dreaming sometimes to escape into the rural place or suburb at least. But it seems for me that simple life is very hard, if you have no a lot of money.
Dec. 5th, 2016 07:35 pm (UTC)
Me too...this is exactly why I went to Georgia. :) It would be good if I could still earn my American salary, but spend 3 - 6 mos. in Georgia, working remotely in some village. Internet coverage is excellent there, even in remote places. I was really shocked by this. :) Even in most mountain regions, I had no problem with connections.
Dec. 5th, 2016 07:22 pm (UTC)
I can live a simple life! I survived 10 months without a car in America, lol. After my child totaled my old car. I was biking everywhere but now it's getting too cold (although some people say that it's a big fun to ride in snow). So getting back to civilization - going to the dealership to test drive some cars :)
Dec. 5th, 2016 07:23 pm (UTC)
Haha! Yes, this is "roughing it" by American standards. :)) Has your daughter left the nest at last?
(no subject) - moskitow - Dec. 5th, 2016 07:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 5th, 2016 07:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 5th, 2016 08:20 pm (UTC)
I hardly can answer because it depends on a lot of different things...
I'm able but I'm not sure if i want it forever...
Dec. 5th, 2016 08:24 pm (UTC)
Same with me. Good for temporary escape, but I'm not sure I'd be happy living in such an environment for years and years..unless my immediate family was also there with me.
Dec. 5th, 2016 09:21 pm (UTC)
Shannon started to write posts about her Georgian trip. YAHHHOOOOOOOOO1
I'd like to comment your post about the road. It was incredible. I imagined you in a marshrutka on a mountain road and it was good
While many Americans have never visited state Georgia you were in country Georgia. You are something special that's for sure
Dec. 5th, 2016 09:39 pm (UTC)
I'm glad someone is happy to see these stories, because they really take a long time to prepare and write. It's nice to receive some reaction to the effort - whether positive or negative. The scenery on the Georgian Military Highway is really amazing, and worthy of attention if you find yourself in Tbilisi. I have a lot of posts about this country, and will try to spread them out in the next few weeks...:)
Dec. 5th, 2016 10:38 pm (UTC)
Very bright and picturesque snapshot!
Georgia is such beautiful country although I was only in the pro Russian Ossetia.

Could I live such a simple life?

I think I do right now... ;)
Why do you think that life in a village is a simple one? I think, it depends on who is living it. It is possible to have now in a village most of what the big cities could give and be very busy, entertained, more independent than a city resident but it requires a lot of specific knowledge which comes from father to son.
I mean such activities as winery, honey production, growing or collecting of medical flowers.

Edited at 2016-12-05 10:39 pm (UTC)
Dec. 5th, 2016 11:50 pm (UTC)
In Georgia, the villages have very scarce resources. I did not see any cinemas, or even decent markets where locals could shop. So, it just depends on the country really. I'll have short post about a village near Kazbegi later in the week. I absolutely do not think their life is simple - it's the wrong expression, so I removed it from the post. They are engaged in hard, physical labor, often living in harsh winter climates with lots of snow, etc. These mechanical and agricultural type skills are mostly gone in young boys now, in most countries, including the USA. There is great joy and pride in building something with your own hands, growing things, producing your own fruit, vegetables, milk, eggs on farms...but it is definitely not easy and requires a lot of time and resources.

Edited at 2016-12-06 12:07 am (UTC)
(no subject) - maadmike - Dec. 6th, 2016 12:51 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 5th, 2016 10:38 pm (UTC)
It's interesting to read about Georgia by American eyes. :)
Could you please name three good qualities in Russian menatality? And three good qualities in Georgean mentality? (I mean something like "friendly," "goal-oriented"...) I want to understand better how you see Russians and Georgians.
Dec. 5th, 2016 11:58 pm (UTC)
Of course, each person is different, even within the same country. But overall I think Russian people are really strong - they must be in order to survive decade after decade w/a lot of instability and uncertainty. The downside to this is that for some people they then grow bored with "normalcy". This happened to a few of my readers who worked and lived in the USA and didn't like it - returning to Russia. The main appeal of Georgian culture is that people are typically very friendly and open (similar to what I'm used to in the USA). You will feel it as soon as you arrive, or at least I did.
Dec. 5th, 2016 10:46 pm (UTC)
You said Georgia is poor. Do you consider Russia a poor country too? I mean in general, big cities AND small villages.
Dec. 6th, 2016 12:04 am (UTC)
We can't compare life in big cities and small villages, regardless of the country. :) Opportunities are almost always lesser, and wages correspond in a lower amount too. If you look at statistical data, Georgia and Russia are both far behind the USA when it comes to average salaries, but compared to other places on the globe perhaps they are good - not sure, as I haven't researched wages in all nations. However, based on a quick look online, the average salaries in Russia and Georgia don't differ substantially. For instance look here, though I'm not sure how reliable the research is http://rbth.com/business/2016/05/20/the-average-salary-in-russia-is-now-lower-than-in-china-and-poland_594893.
(no subject) - maadmike - Dec. 6th, 2016 01:01 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 5th, 2016 10:51 pm (UTC)
I think in near future more and more people will flee to rural area because a quality of food drop and price constantly grow. Environment of big cites are dangerous for health. The life with constant fuss and being sitting hours a day in a car is meaningless. Although the theaters, museums, institutes, specific hospitals are all in the big cities and I don't believe the Internet could solve totaly the problem of absents but e speed trains, planes and highways.
One hundred years ago the rich Russians were living like this here - they had vast lands, plants, fabrics in rural areas and the mansions at capitals of different countries. Our vast lands need treatment and cultivation.

Edited at 2016-12-05 10:56 pm (UTC)
Dec. 5th, 2016 11:53 pm (UTC)
I despise city life - that is why I now live far away in the suburbs, and the negative is that I sit in traffic for hours a day. However, I can work from home a few days a week, so it is manageable. I do not regret the decision to return to my hometown for a moment, even though it can hardly be called a "village." I think that people are either attracted to fast-paced city life, or not. I'm definitely in the latter category, but don't want to live w/absolutely no conveniences in life. I really want peace and quiet, and am not a social person by nature, preferring only the company of selected individuals rather than big crowds.

Edited at 2016-12-06 12:11 am (UTC)
(no subject) - maadmike - Dec. 6th, 2016 01:13 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 6th, 2016 12:17 am (UTC)
You've missed the point. The majority of fruits and vegetables are imported from Turkey. Sorry Georgians, you know I'm right:( Why are you so proud of your middle-class standards of living? Nothing special at all. Some car, average home, mortgage, loans, boring job, traffic jams... Common, good engineer younger than you in Russia or Ukraine can have a nice apartment in property without any mortgage plus decent savings. Say nothing about our businessman or people working for the government... And don't say that 250 000$ per speech is not a corruption. You are right people are just people and life is pretty the same everywhere. Sure, you will be accustomed to life in that villages in a matter of months. And probably you would be a little bit happier.
Dec. 6th, 2016 12:33 am (UTC)
Excuse me? You know in what house I live, what car I drive, or how much I earn? I said I came from a middle-class family, but I'm now a lawyer at a big firm in Washington, DC making around 125k per year, thus I'm in the top 5% of earners in the USA. And so what? This doesn't change my view of the world, or the manner in which I live actually. I come from a humble background, and still live as such. This highly salary simply allows me the opportunity to travel more than I would if was making 40k, for instance.
(no subject) - Maks J-Fry - Dec. 6th, 2016 07:27 am (UTC) - Expand
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Dec. 6th, 2016 05:09 am (UTC)
I thought for a moment, its a painting.
Dec. 6th, 2016 01:20 pm (UTC)
Cool! :) Sometimes I get the same impression looking at the photo. Amazing what mobile phones can capture now.
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