There are two women in Georgia that have made my time here all the more enjoyable. And both of them happen to be named Salome.
When I first heard the name Salome all I could think about was how unfortunately similar the name was to a fatty, processed meat. (Though one of Nini’s girlfriends is named Taco. Let’s hope the girls dream is not backpacking the Americas). Anyway, now that I know and love two ladies named Salome I can only associate the name with witty, smart, caring women …eating delicious sandwiches at a New York deli. (Complete with a pickle slice, of course).
The first Salome in my life is Nini’s sauketeso megobari (best friend) in the whole world. They’re literally connected at the hip when they’re at school and even tend to get sick at the same time. A cool thing about Salome is that she used to live in Moscow so we can actually legitimately have conversations with each other.
Sometimes I even find it’s easier to talk to Salome than it is to talk to Nini. With Nini, I have to consciously think about speaking more slowly and using a more elementary English vocabulary. But when I talk to Salome I can speak in Russian as freely as I wish. Because both of us don’t speak Russian fluently it doesn’t concern either of us when we use errors or don’t know how to translate certain words.
Salome has even become somewhat of a second little sister to me. If she is over the house and Nini has to go to her afternoon math lesson, sometimes Salome will just stay over an extra hour to hang out with me. The two of us chat about everything; from the boys she likes at school, to problems she’s having with her mom. She even fills me in on the latest gossip from the Brazilian soap operas many Georgians seem to love so much.
The other Salome in my life is an aspiring English teacher. Salome No.2 is currently getting her teaching degree at a university in Kutaisi but came to my school to shadow Nona (one of my co-teachers) for a month. I’m the first foreigner Salome has ever met and she was beyond excited to ask me every question in the world.
Salome is very free-spirited and easy-going and simply a lot of fun to be around. While many of the women in town would never set foot into a restaurant in the middle of day, Salome brought me to one of her favorite restaurant pubs in Samtredia to try the adjaruli khachapuri. It didn’t bother her a bit that we were the only ladies there. "Girls need to eat too,” was her only reply.
It’s just so refreshing to have a friend that opposes traditional Georgian gender roles. Salome wants to live in London and travel before she settles down and starts a family in Georgia. She can’t even imagine getting married within the next couple of years; something many of her friends plan on doing.
As fun as it has been to go over Salome’s apartment and enjoy some supras that her family just happened to threw together last minute, I can’t wait to visit her in Kutaisi and see the city from a local’s point of view. Salome has already started making a list of all the restaurants and sights that she just has to show me and my American friends. Who doesn’t love a fun, culture-defying night out?