Posts Tagged ‘family’


October 10, 2016

Last evening we met Irakli’s family. Before, they had lived in Gagra, but fled to Tbilisi after the war in Abkhazia in 1992-1993 and the ethnic cleansing of Georgians that followed. Deprived of everything, with two adolescent sons in their care and some belongings in their suitcases, they had to re-start their life in Tbilisi from zero. The government couldn’t help refugees in any way. Revaz (the father) and Merab (Iraklli’s brother) went into business, and Irakli became a medical student. When Irakli was taking us by car along Vazha Pshavela Avenue yesterday, he showed us Tbilisi State Medical University he had graduated from. A very demanding institution, as I understood. It has about 7,000 undergraduate students and a strong postgraduate program.

2016-10-09-16-52-30My wife and I liked the atmosphere in the family. Revaz and Merab are more emotional, Irakli is quieter, having taken after Dodo (the mother). Here we are in the picture: Revaz and Dodo with my wife Liuda (sitting), and also Merab, Tamuna (Merab’s wife) and yours truly (standing).


2016-10-09-16-05-00But the real treat was little Cecily, Merab and Tamuna’s daughter. She was all smiles, she sang and danced for us, and her dark eyes were so expressive. As Yasya (my daughter) has noticed, children in Georgia are exceptionally BEAUTIFUL. Cecily proved to be exceptionally TALENTED as well – and not only in singing, dancing or arts but also in languages. I stepped out from the dining table and we had several wonderful minutes of English in front of the audience. By the end of our dramatized blitz-lesson Cecily had remembered a number of useful English words and structures and won well-merited applause. And I received an offer 2016-10-09-16-04-47from the people who know more about business than I do to start an English-teaching project for younger children in Tbilisi. As I was told, the success was guaranteed 🙂


January 31, 2016

2016-01-31In_slaap_gesust'_Rijksmuseum_SK-A-2378I like the word “lap.” It’s short, and it combines the softness of “l” and the explosiveness of “p”. I began liking it for its exotic nature when I came across the word while learning English at school. The word sounded exotic because it had no exact equivalent in Ukrainian. The phrase “the boy was sitting in his mother’s lap” was translated into my native language as “the boy was sitting on his mother’s knees.” I also savored the wit of an English riddle “What part of your body disappears when you stand up?”, the answer to which was “lap.” The word “lap-dog” was for me a small, friendly, loving, floppy-eared creature which was lapping milk from a plate. When I grew into English, I recognized the positive connotations of “living in the lap of luxury,” of an opportunity that “drops into someone’s lap,” or a job that can also “fall” into it.

Quite recently, in our digital age, I read a motto over the entrance to a bookshop: “There is no app to replace your lap. Read to your child.” Yes, those were happy moments when both of our kids were sitting in their parents’ laps, and my wife and I were reading to them stories and fairy tales, showing them pictures and teaching them their first Ukrainian letters and their first English words. Later, after that “prime push”, they entered schools, they travelled widely, they wrote dissertations, they had interesting jobs…

Now, when we talk with our children so far away from us, and see their warm eyes and smiles, we still feel them sitting in our laps…


June 20, 2014

DSC04394bWhile looking through my books today I came across a hardback bound in black material. That was my daughter’s dissertation in economics. It had arrived from her university at our (her parents’) address a few months after she had graduated from her alma mater and started working in another country.

I leafed through the pages, looked at the graphs and tables. I also read through the glossary of terms: absolute political distance, negative/positive enduring regime change, trade openness, unconditional probability of a growth take off, etc. I thought about the result of long years of hard work our daughter had gone through. I didn’t understand much about the graphs or charts, but the title pages were quite clear: the names of the prestigious university and her dissertation director, also the acknowledgements with words of thanks to her advisor, colleagues and friends. Yes, my wife and I take DSC04398cpride in our children. Each of us might have had to live two lives to achieve what our children have achieved. “You know, “I said to my wife, “my feeling is that it’s me who wrote this dissertation and received a PhD from The George Washington…” – “No wonder”, answered my wife, “our daughter, probably knew how we would be feeling. Have you seen the dedication?” Page 4 of the dissertation contained only one sentence: To my family.


October 19, 2012

When asked what one can do to promote world peace, Mother Teresa answered: “Go home and love your family.” I remembered this quote when I came across a memo I had written for my son who was leaving his parents’ home in August 1991 to do his university studies in another city. In that note I had advised him on what I thought should be his first steps in the big city and at a university which was rightly considered to be one of the best schools in the country.

Attending all lectures… Books in which notes of professors’ lectures are taken should have enough space for your own commentaries… Regular work at the library… One day of the week should be set free for arranging personal matters (“to wash things, think a thought, write a letter”)… Healthy meals…Sports every day… English every day… Signing up for the Students’ Research Society…

Those were the words of recommendation – not instruction or command. Sooner or later, our children took in their parents’ advice and made it an integral part of their attitudes. It had been like that all the years when they lived with us.

How does it relate to world peace? Our son and daughter are now living and working in different parts of the world. As university professors they meet a lot of people (especially young people), who are open to what is good in this world. And I’m sure that both Bogdan and Yasya – through the values they built up in their parents’ home – are contributing to the atmosphere of responsibility, search for knowledge, high standards, honest work, perfectionism… And also positiveness of approach, mutual understanding, respect, trust… Not the last things to secure peace in this world.


August 24, 2012

Today my country is celebrating its Independence Day. When you go to the Ukrainian Google page it comes up with a stork’s nest and a blue-and-yellow flag on it. The stork symbolizes childbirth in many cultures. At some point, all parents have to give an immediate reply to their child’s sudden question “Where did I come from?” Usually, the parents are caught unaware and they mumble the story about the stork. But why this bird?  The symbol may have become popular because storks are associated with happiness, prosperity, shelter, domesticity… In the village where I grew storks were believed to be endowed with almost human intellect. They were considered strict and just creatures. We, children, liked to hear a story about a stork whose nest had been destroyed by the owner of the household next to which the nest was built. The “homeless” stork was said to have found a smouldering branch and thrown it on to the straw roof of the owner’s house, burning it down to the ground.  Also, storks are monogamous creatures, which may be another reason why parental characteristics are attributed to them. According to naturalists, the young storks, even having stayed out of their nests for some time, may come back and support their old parents.

The stork may be rightfully called the ‘bird of the Bible.” It is the snake’s enemy. It is mentioned, for example, in the Book of Psalms (Ps. 104:17) alongside with the cedars of Lebanon, and in Jeremiah 8:7. Zechariah (5:9) alludes to the beauty and power of storks’ wings. And the unerring sagacity with which these birds return to their “sweet homes” at the appointed time is amazing!

If you open a Ukrainian explanatory dictionary, you will find a good many words which are used to define this bird”: “leleka”, “busol”, “chornohuz”, “buz’ko”, “bots’un”, “bots’an”, “busen’, “lelechyn’a”, “lelechych”, “zhaboyid”, “ryboyid”, “hayster”, “dzyobun”, “tsybatyi”…

When I was fixing the blue-and-yellow banner on the balcony of my apartment this morning, I wasn’t thinking about the “official holiday”, like interviews with well-known functionaries, or concerts to be given by pop-stars, or the festive fireworks at ten o’clock in the evening. I was thinking about love for this country and where it springs from.


May 23, 2012

This spring there are lots of rabbits in the place where our two-year-old granddaughter lives in Britain. So, it was quite natural for her parents to refer to a rabbit when it came down to weaning little Sophia from using a dummy. When she started crying for a pacifier again, her mother said curtly, “A bunny rabbit has taken it.” The explanation was more than convincing: Sophia grew silent and never asked for the dummy again.

Until recently Sophia had slept in a small bed with high sides. A few days ago it was decided that she was big enough for that kind of crib, and the sides were removed.  Sophia was not in the room at the time when her bed was being “upgraded”, neither did anyone tell her about the reason for altering the structure of the bed, or how all that had been done. When somewhat later the au-pair girl, who stays with their family, entered the nursery and saw Sophia sitting in her new bed, she asked, pretending surprise: “Sophie, where are the bed-sides?” Sophia looked at her sternly and said with a sigh, “A bunny ‘as taken it.”


September 13, 2011

Our Dad died forty-one years ago today. We, his four children, loved him. Every instant of love has a possessive “I-need-you” element in itself. The difference between the parental love and the filial one is that the former contains much less of possession and much more of sacrifice. The understanding of this unbalance between Dad’s altruistic feeling and my acceptance of it in those days as something self-evident and matter-of-fact is putting me (father and grandfather myself) on the way back to my Dad. Like a prodigal son, I’m treading this path, even though I know I’ll never meet him.


September 1, 2011

This morning my wife came to my desk and, casting a sweeping glance at the book shelves, asked me casually, what the word “teratourgema” (pronounced: teh-rah-toor-GE-mah) meant. The word was printed on the spine of the almanac “Chronicles”, issues 49-50 and 51-52, which were given over to the history of Kyiv. To my embarrassment, I did not know the meaning of the word, though, in due course, I had read both volumes and, I must admit, enjoyed every page of them. Together we started looking up the word on the Internet and found out that in Ukrainian and English texts ”teratourgema” was mentioned only in one case. In 1638 the monk Athanasius Kalnofoyski’s from Kyiv Lavra published the book Teratourgema which was dealing with miracles in the Lavra caves. In fact, that’s the meaning of the old Greek word: “miracle, wonder”. We were really glad that the word was re-born for us. We knew how it should be applied: it should certainly stand next to the name of our granddaughter, e.g. Sophia, teratourgema de Leeds (de Heidelberg, de Berlin). The tag with “de’, which is a place-name, shall vary depending on where the little Sophia will be residing or travelling.

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