Why I started writing for Georgia Today...

As a 25 year old, British born, bred and raised Londoner, I couldn't really envisage my life outside of London's magnetic pull. Not to say I didn't enjoy travelling, for I absolutely did with somewhat of a wild passion; but I suppose I had everything I felt I needed, all within a 5 mile radius. A well paid job, my friends and family, and as much Chinese take-out as one could possibly wish for delivered straight to your door at 2am. No, I had no need to venture out beyond the city limits, unless it was to lay on an exotic beach or soak up a bit of culture on a city break that required minimal travel and alcohol on tap. My reasons for visiting Georgia initially were a matter that I will not bore you with, but suffice to say the impression the country had on me was one I will never forget and as I'm sure that you, perhaps a foreigner yourself reliving the same moment, will never forget. Sting's 'An English Man in New York' springs to mind, yet a type of New York where the streets resemble something you've only ever heard about and the alphabet mocks you as you see the language written everywhere you go. Yet I was captivated. I would not be so foolish as to categorize a 'Georgian mentality' (see any blog on Georgia or foreigners living there and you'd know that was a huge mistake) - But what I can say with certainty is that once you enter the heart(s) of a Georgian person, they will keep you there forever and go out of their way to do anything they can, with little to no means, to help you. There's something truly enchanting about the place, whether you're a 'Tbiliseli'; rocking around the capital like a wannabe native, or experiencing a Supra in Samegrelo, where you truly feel as if you're having an other-worldly experience. It'll catch ya, hold ya, and in my case, always draw you back.

My initial love affair with Georgia, a country of which I'm proud to say I am now a citizen of, continued over the months and years. I couldn't bare to be away from the country for very long. At that stage, I was a Senior Manager of a medical clinic in London. My working month consisted of cramming my full time hours into 24 days, then I would fly to Tbilisi for the last week of every month and work 'remotely' via my laptop (yeah, right). I started to research the medical sector in Tbilisi and found it to be a thriving area, with much cheaper prices for fairly high quality medical care (I refer here to private medical centres) and subsequently was offered a position at a prestigious clinic chain as the Head of National Operations. So that was it, hook line and sinker. My life as I knew it had changed and I knew there was no going back. An old friend of mine, going by the name of Saakashvili (maybe you've heard of him?) was kind enough to offer me Georgian nationality and I couldn't have been prouder. I mastered the language (ah yes, it does sound like I'm blowing my own trumpet doesn't it? Perhaps I am. Catch my next article all about 'Qartuli' and the learning of.), lived and worked like a true Tbiliseli and didn't really look back.

Fast forward a couple of years and my personal circumstances changed and I had to relocate back to London, although it's fair to say I still spend a large amount of the year in Tbilisi. As proud as I am to be British (it is my home, I'll never forget where I came from), I'm equally as proud to be a Georgian and I am passionate about helping, in any small feeble way possible, the country realize it's true potential. I think my loved ones are probably sick of hearing about the place, with a simple smile and nod being the average response to my mutterings about Georgia. Yet, this is the country that made me. I will confess that I thought I was a worldly woman until I came here. It taught me who I am, what friendship truly means, was where I discovered true heartbreak and, paradoxically, true joy, and is the place I leave my heart each and every time i leave.

Why do I write for Georgia Today? Because I am a product of Georgia, today. Love conquers hate, and for every political issue, internal conflict, street fight, there is twice as much love, respect and a mutual admiration for the country we call SAQARTVELO.

Tamzin Whitewood

23 March 2017 20:54