"Ed's Blogs, Strange Behaviour of Strangers around Babies"

Oh my, you’d just go crazy in Georgia!
When I’m walking on the street with my 1 ½ year old son, complete strangers come, kiss his hands, stroke his head, lift him up and say “modi modi” (come come) to him. They don’t really expect him to come, it’s just their tradition.
Also, everybody feels free to tell me when I should put a hat on his head or when to use a scarf.
And the craziest thing ever happened when he was just 6 months old and I was walking on the main street near the parliament, carrying him in something like your snugli (weego). A gipsy woman came, kissed him on the mouth and wordlessly went away. She didn’t even ask for money. I suppose that it was for good luck or something like that and it didn’t have any side effects, but in Germany something like this is unimaginable. There I would get very nervous if a stranger would just try to touch my little boy’s head while here it is completely acceptable.

I think all we can do is remember that people indeed have very different cultures and we cannot expect everybody to know ours :wink:

Hmm…I’d like to add that while the Georgian behaviour tends to get on my nerves from time to time (and I end up explaining to people that Damian is half German and because of that doesn’t need a hat in the spring sun), my son is a very happy child and always open to meet new friends.
I think that’s a good thing and I wouldn’t like to raise him in an atmosphere of fear towards other people.

A friend from Kazakhstan told me once that there nobody will stop if a stranger asks what time it is because everybody is scared that the stranger wants to steal the watch or money. I think it must be really hard to live there!

Hi Staphl

Thanks for taking the time to read the lesson.

I think you raise some interesting points about the ways that people in different societies interact. I am not sure if you mean that German, or any sort of Anglo-Saxon peoples (still the dominant culture in Canada… but quickly fading) are more fearful of social interaction than other cultures.

I am also interested in the motivation of the individual people who take it upon themselves to do this kind of thing. I thought it was interesting that they are almost always women and in a lot cases they are dress in dark clothes. I don’t want to read too much into their clothing choice though!

Ed

Well, I don’t know Canada, but in Germany people are definitely more shy towards strangers than in Georgia.
Here they have a very strong tradition of hospitality and in the old times, you could just come into a village, cry “host” and people would care about you. They feel that it is their duty to care about guests, and strangers are usually perceived as guests.

Also, Georgia always was a multiethnic country and is one of the few countries in Europe that never had a pogrom.

In Germany until recently we didn’t have people of many different ethnics and religions living together and strangers with unusual behaviour were usually regarded with suspicion, especially outside the big cities.

On the other hand, Germany or Europe in general have a big history of people caring about themselves, deciding for themselves how they want to live, what they want to believe and striving to achieve individuality – a concept quite alien to the common Georgian.

The mentality of Georgia grew in resistance to being surrounded by Muslim countries and the big Russia, so what people were supposed to do was stick together, preserve their culture and traditions and definitely not pursue concepts like “finding your true self”.

With most people still marrying as young as 20, children are not regarded the responsibility of the parents alone but of the community as a whole and if these black-dressed women come from a country in Southern Eastern Europe, they may feel that it is just their duty to care about your child and teach you as a new parent how to care about him.

Black dress and a lot of golden jewelry is quite the fashion here :wink:

That’s a great description and analysis of the the Georgian scene. Thank you!

I was most interested in the contrast you made between the rugged individualism of western Europe and the dependence on tradition, for practical reasons, in Georgia.

More intriguing was that on a parallel level, western Europeans, especially in rural areas, may be less tolerant of unusual behaviour based on ethnicity.

So while the western Europeans actively seek individuality, they react against novelty in others. And while Georgians actively seek to follow tradition, they react positively toward strangers and their behaviour.

I wonder what gives Georgians this sense of self-confidence?