I don’t speak German. Or DO I…. :)

I flattened the shred of paper I’d been carrying around like a talisman, and showed it to the waitress. She squinted at it, then looked up. Over her shoulder, she loudly asked the diners if anyone knew the directions to the address in question. One woman answered.

Thing is, she answered in Georgian, and… I’m embarrassed to say it, but I never got very good at memorizing directions in Georgian. I turned to my fellow volunteer, but his vacant and mildly horrified expression told me we were pretty much screwed on this one.

I grimaced apologetically and in broken Georgian thanked the lady for trying to help us.

“Sprechen Sie Deutch?” she asked.

You know me by now, right?  I can’t drop a conversation short if it promises the chance to practice any language I know.  Or don’t.

I dug about in my brain, and came up with the answer.

“Nein.  Danke!”  I smiled beatifically and made for the door.

My fellow volunteer grabbed me by the arm and whirled me around.

“Are you mad?” he whispered.


“Do you speak Russian or not?” he growled.

Ah. The light switched on.

I turned back to the helpful diner, and got our full directions in Russian. All was well with the world. I’d forgotten, in my wish to only speak Georgian in Tbilisi, that in a pinch I could use my Russian, too.

We, of course, did manage to get lost anyway, but that was more due to the fact that all Georgian street names have approximately 47 syllables too many in them, making them impossible to memorize. 🙂 But over time, yes, we did get there.

Church on Rustaveli Street, Tbilisi

Church along the River Road, Tbilisi


About sputnitsa

Born in the US, I grew up in Africa and the West Indies, and returned stateside in my teens. After a decade in international development, democracy work, and inclusivity training for domestic NGOs, I joined Peace Corps, and after a year, experienced my first Russian invasion. I followed that up by volunteering with refugees and youth, and after some vacation time climbing minarets and mountains, I returned to New York City, where today I work on social justice with college students, produce short films, and write.
This entry was posted in directions, languages, Republic of Georgia, travel, whatnot and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to I don’t speak German. Or DO I…. :)

  1. matthewgraybosch says:

    Interesting story. I had studied French, myself, but that was several years ago, and I suspect that only proper French sentences I can speak properly are “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?”, “Baissez-vous!”, and “Mon francais est tres mal; parlez-vous anglais?”

    And I should probably use “ma” onstead of “mon” when describing my lousy French. 🙂

  2. Yarnspnr says:

    Language is such a wondrous thing, isn’t it? 🙂

  3. matthewgraybosch says:

    Well, Sputnisa, I don’t cover all of the basics. I need to come up with some French for “Where’s the crapper?”

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