Monday, April 2, 2012

My! Don't You Look Clean!

Bathing in Georgia for teachers varies widely. Depending on the location, whether or not there is water, the weather, and a myriad of other factors, most Westerners here don't bathe nearly the amount they do at home. Some people bathe perhaps once a week. Last fall I heard tales of teachers having to trek into Tbilisi to bathe as their villages were to be without water for 5 to 6 weeks. Considering the hysteria I experienced after 31 hours without water, I cannot fathom what weeks would be like.Reading the blogs of other volunteers makes me grateful that I do not fall into this category.

However, recent comments by other teachers make me wonder if they do not view me as committed to cultural integration because of how frequently I get to shower. Over the weekend I saw someone for the first time in quite a while. He exclaimed, "My! Don't you look all shiny and clean!" Why, yes. Thank you for noticing. I've just come from the Radisson where I enjoyed the gym, the yoga room, and a hot shower.

Apparently, word is getting out that I shower everyday. In the United States word would only get out if you didn't shower every day.Part of me feels guilty, and readily acknowledges that yes it is decadent and Western. But part of me isn't ashamed either. I manage my money well, and not drinking allows for a lot of laris in the bank. The ability to shower is just a benefit that comes with working out. (It should be noticed I only get to shower if I work out first; consequently, there is a considerable amount of incentive to work out).

Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, me being clean is something I can control. Living in Georgia, there is little I feel I can directly control about my life here. For example, things constantly change at the University and I don't even get to choose what I often have for my meals at home. Life here can be quite chaotic, and so much of how I live or what happens to me is dictated by forces beyond my control, like culture and historical precedent. My level of cleanliness is something I can control in Batumi, and being clean helps to create some semblance of normalcy for me.