The Georgian words for "good morning" (dila mshvidobisa), "good evening" (saghamo mshvidobisa), and "good night" (ghame mshvidobisa) translate to "peace this morning," "peace this evening," and "peace tonight." Peace is highly valued in this country that has seen so much unwanted conflict. At every gathering of family and friends, the first toast to be given is always for peace. But when I think of "peace this morning," I think of the other kind of peace - like peace and quiet. But peace and quiet is something that is hard to find here.
The average decibel level for a Georgian voice is....well, I don't know decibel levels, but it's high - that is, loud! In a previous blog I mentioned that if I didn't know better, I would think that everyone was always fighting and arguing all the time. They aren't - they're just very loud.
The school building here is new - it is made of concrete, tile, and marble. Not one of these surfaces has any sound-absorbing qualities, whatsoever - believe me! Every day at school as I walk through the halls, I cannot hear myself think; and sometimes the noise is so loud, I feel like I can't see, either! My sense of sound is so super-saturated, that my other senses quit in sympathy for the sound-sense working overtime! And the noise is just the kids being kids during their break between classes. Even in the teacher's room, when everyone is there, and everyone is talking, each one wants to be heard, so the noise level rises and rises and rises until no one can actually hear anyone else, nor themselves above the din. If it were possible to see the sound waves reverberating off the concrete walls and tile floor, it would probably be like a crazy-fast laser-light show. We could charge admission and make a killing!
Something I noticed the other day: there are no doorbells in Shamgona. When someone arrives at someone else's house, they stand outside the front gate and holler the name of the person that they are there to see until someone comes out of the house. I actually did this today. On my run this afternoon, I stopped by Eka's house to drop off my telephone number. As I came up to the house, I was hoping that someone would be out in the yard so I wouldn't have to yell - I don't like raising my voice, let alone yelling! But no one was visible. I stood there for half a second feeling very conspicuous, and then decided, "When in Rome (or Shamgona)...." So I hollered Eka's name. The first holler wasn't very loud. I think my voice dropped away somewhere in the middle of the apple trees in the front yard. My voice is not Georgian-strong. I took a deep breath and hollered again - louder this time. I was pretty sure my voice had made it to the house, but had it made it inside? I was just wondering if I should holler again, when I heard Eka's father call her - that's the sign that you have been heard. He hollered her name again from some unseen part of the house, and a second later, Eka came around the house and down the front walk. So, the vocal doorbell works - even for me!
Whether someone is calling for another family member from another part of the house, trying to get someone's attention across a room, or students are answering a question in class, the concept of an "indoor voice" is not common. But, thankfully, Tea likes quiet as much as I do! So in the moments when the kids are outside (or at least elsewhere, playing), we have lovely moments of quiet. We can have quiet conversations or enjoy silence - well, as silent as a farm can be. Peace and quiet! Ghame mshvidobisa!