Georgian Hospitality – Why I stop drinking

Wein trinken in New York
Wein trinken in New York

Gravity is one of the four fundamental forces in physics. It describes that two things with mass always come onto each other, whereas the force is decreased with increasing distance. But gravity has unlimited range and can‘t be shielded. A universal law that describes movement of planets and the emergence of galaxies. Almost the same, fundamental importance for human existence has the following natural law: If there are Georgians within the range of vision or earshot, while you are having a meal, then you gotta booze. Caucasian Gravity Theory.

I was sitting in canteen of our container ship, crossing from Kazakhstan to Azerbaijan and I started with my dinner. Both of my French travel companions haven‘t been there yet. Besides us and the crew, there was a bunch of truckers on the boat. Mostly Georgians. The table beside me was fully occupied. A 1,5l bottle of good homemade Vodka saw the light of the day. Condensation at the bottle wall proofed a good cooling. Glasses were served. The icecold homemade gushed into the same. And it would not be typical Georgian if I wouldn‘t have come into the focus of their caring hospitality, while I was sitting alone at the neighbor table.

The head of the household approaches me with a bright smile. Equipped and prepared for all eventualities he brought an empty glas with him. If I want some Vodka, he asked and showed me the bottle like a Sommelière. No thanks, I am not drinking alcohol. His bright smile did not change at all. It seemed not to be an answer that had an right of existence in his reality. He didn‘t even take the effort to deal with it but just kept on standing there. Vodka? With a mix of courtesy and intercultural sense of responsibility I eventually agreed and received a double respectively triple in my tea glass.

I have many friends that went to Georgia and they all have only good things to say. The hospitality is widely known but more than that the Georgians have the reputation of constantly welcoming foreigners for drinking. Especially during Dinner there is a lot of toasting. There are a lot of countries you say this about, but the Georgians seem to be world-class boozers. The trucker on the neighbor table told later, that he distilled 230L Vodka and made 340L of wine this year. Not possible to drink all of that alone.

Out of politeness I emptied my glass. I am used to start with the disgusting things I don‘t want during eating and then move forward to the delicious stuff. Big mistake in this case. The empty glass has not escaped the attention of my new Georgian friends. Immeditaley he reappeared with the bottle at my table. I told him again, that I don‘t want any more Vodka. But trying to persuade a Georgian with a bottle of Vodka is like throwing nougat rings into a black-hole. Resistance. Next mistake. Of course, this is not acceptable. Cognitive dissonances were smiled away. As my resistance finally broke my glas got filled up to the edge irrespective of my protest.

Soon my French mates arrived. Of course they also got into the benefit of Vodka and chill homemade white wine. The wine was actually pretty good and much easier to get down than the other stuff. The booze-up was established. I hate hard liquor, but of course I could not waste this present. It is not polite and I didn‘t wanted to offend anyone. You need intercultural tact when traveling.

I really like that. And I really would love to visit Georgia for longer. But since I don‘t drink anymore I hesitate, because I will never have the „real Georgian experience“ which is probably only possible with drinking Vodka. And my personal dream, to get wasted in a Siberian forest hut and start a bare-knuckle boxfight with a drunk Russian, is not coming any closer by that. I just thought these are valuable experiences one should have made in life.

But I had to find out for me once again this evening, why I really dislike small portions of alcohol. And why I don‘t want to drink anymore. If you drink your brain gets a good load of Serotonin and this is actually pretty damn nice in the beginning, because you start feeling very relaxed and happy. I realized after the first glas already, that my mood is becoming really good. I was not drunk, but just on the ball.

I observed that very alert. What is this shit doing with me. The beginning felt great. Nothing against that. We went on deck and watched the sunset and a latent desire of drinking another small beer showed up. Only a small one. I know that feeling very well. The small beer leads to another big one and the evening starts rolling till the beer is empty or all people have left (only the case if there are no Scotish or Irish people around while traveling). That happened quite often to me on my trip, while I was still drinking. Melancholic and beautiful sunrises alone in unknown countries, while I was desperately looking for some more alcohol on the table.

And then those moments on deck, when you just started getting tipsy and you try to convince yourself that a little alcohol is not too bad for you. My observation was not finished tho. At some point I went sleeping and my euphoric mood has passed away already. I had a terribly restless night. The next morning I felt bizarre melancholic.

It might seem exaggerated but even after 1-2 beers I recognize, that I feel shitty the following day. Not as vital and awake like on a normal day. It changes my body, not only during the night I drink, but also the next day. And of course, there is a difference in „not-feeling-100%-well“ and waking up, half-dead on the sofa of an unknown apartment, questioning your basic physical functions. For me the hang-over starts, when I know the next day is influenced in any way by the alcohol. Worth it? Not really.

My dear Alcohol, it was very nice with you, but our relationship is ruined. It is not the same anymore between us. Maybe I am getting old. My life-time became to precious for hang-overs, just for this nice euphoric feeling the night before. So I decided to only drink out of intercultural duteousness and to be a good guest.

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