02.11.2012 - Travel

The Lords of the Caucasus

For Europeans, the Caucasus is a land of harsh men and women who quietly submit to these men. For the Highlanders it is  a home and a heaven on earth. In reality it consists of the three magical countries, which could not be identified. After all, each of them are special and unique.


The film “Prisoner of the Caucasus,” familiar to most people. Even as a child, I finally fell in love with sweet Shurik – the protagonist of this film. In addition to student in folklore at heart fell and unique mountain scenery. Only many years later I learned that “Caucasian” film was shot in the Crimea. And in the story was all so confused, that it is difficult to understand “the area in which the story happened”.

Old Iberia, New Georgia or just Sakartvelo

In recent years the country of  Miho Saakashvili has moved steadily in the future. Small and young Georgians almost do not know Russian, but confidently communicate in English. An old Tbilisi acquired its now a pedestrian bridge in the world high-tech style, which, incidentally, the longest in Europe. But the main resort promenade decorated with statues of the country Batumi gilded lions. In the town there are hotels of the world’s networks, Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, and Bvlgari, a jazz festival in the summer visited the world-famous singer Macy Gray.

But, when the Georgian house is the guest, you understand that all changes have been only superficially, in the soul as Highlanders were, and apparently will always remain the same.

Hospitality – one of the prominent features of the Caucasian peoples, with a few differences. Sakartvelo in (the sounds in the Georgian country) these differences will be a few dishes. Juicy khachapuri in the form of a boat with an egg and cheese (adzharuli) or a round of cheese, not only within (imeruli) and outside (megruli). It is also lobio (a dish of beans) and lobiani (khachapuri, in which instead of cheese filling is lobio). And khinkali (Georgian dumplings with plenty of meat juice inside) adzhapsandal (a dish of eggplant and sauce), satsivi (chicken in sauce, the main ingredient of which is nuts) and tkemali (sweet and sour sauce with a special type of discharge). And all this must drink Georgian wines: Tsinandali Saperavi, Kindzmarauli or Khvanchkara. And if you prefer a healthy lifestyle, while mineral water Borjomi Nabeglavi or – what you need. The bravest and the strongest can try chacha, where the amount of alcohol speed up to 80%.

A large desk, behind which is going to not only the family but also friends, the foundation of Georgian life and the key to understanding this nation. A friend – is the same as that of his brother, but biologically it has a different origin, but the degree of trust and love for this to a friend – the same as for the native people.

Modern Givi and Nino still can marry at 16 – 17 years, but such cases are becoming increasingly rare. In the small mountain villages and are now able to steal a girl, like in the movies – is “an old Caucasian custom.” In large Tbilisi or Batumi all in a modern and girls do not steal. But now, just like many years ago, the wedding is for Georgians, the church ceremony. Secular same registrar – in the literal sense of the profane. The main thing – is the church.

It is a prestigious wedding in Sameba. Tsminda Sameba or just Sameba, said the Georgians – the main cathedral of the Georgian Orthodox Church. A huge building, total area of more than 5000 square meters, decorated with pompous dome of pure gold.

And all the golden dome is not only a manifestation of love for luxury (and this love is), but also a symbol of love for God. By the God who gave them the opportunity to live in the best corner of the earth. There is even an anecdote about how God created the world and when distributing benefits, then stumbled and spilled all over Georgia.

These people are very fond of his home and a little bit down, looks with scorn on its neighbors the Armenians and Azerbaijanis. My question: “What kind of nation do you love?”. My friend, Georgian, said: “Why should we have someone to love?”

Such an answer may surprise and confuse. But after a while you realize the truthfulness of the response and think about it, but really, why?

Land of Haik

Neighboring Armenia can love at least for the fact that it is this country in the year 301 the first to recognize Christianity as the state religion. The then King Tiridates III did all that Armenians never returned to paganism. And here is Masis, as Armenians call a symbol of his country – the biblical Mount Ararat. This state could become the second Israel, because the number of Christian holy sites, it is really one of the first in the world. In Echmiadzin monastery, situated the throne of the Supreme Patriarch of All Armenians Katoliksu, there remain a part of the ark of Noah and the spear that pierced Christ. Could, but did not. Probably because, although the Armenians and Christians, but for the Orthodox and Catholics, they will always be “heretics” with his Monophysitism.

But the Armenians are resilient and proud of themselves and their country, and of Ararat, of course. Although he is now in Turkey, every resident of Yerevan, says that the Armenian side is the mountain looks beautiful.

Generally, all that is here, in their country, a unique and better. And everything that exists in the world “is unique and the best” is necessarily connected with the Armenians, Armenia or at least, is of Armenian descent – it is for them no doubt. Each high (so it sounds self-People) know at least a dozen well-known people who have Armenian roots. Here and American singer Cher, and Russian Irina Allegrova, an actor of the USSR Frunzik Mkrtchyan (who played the driver’s “friend Saahova” treacherous Uncle Nino from “Caucasian Captive”) and the Englishman, Rowan Atkinson, a well-known as Mr. Bean. And yet modern comedians Michael Galustyan and Garik Martirosyan, voice of France – Charles Aznavour, the famous composer Aram Khachaturian and Arno Babajanian, chess – Gary Kasparov, the filmmakers Sergei Paradjanov, Karen Shakhnazarov and Tigran Keosayan. This list could go on forever.

Good neighbors are aware of this weakness of the Armenians – “the best of Armenia” – and still laugh. You can laugh, but we need to recognize that in Hayastane (mill – land, Haik – the legendary ancestor of the Armenian people) is one of the largest repositories of ancient manuscripts in the world – Matenadaran. Books of this people have a special meaning. In ancient times, the terrible Tamerlane took the book of the Armenians in perpetuity and returned only for the big reward.

Small “disadvantage” of this great nation, the lack of which neighbors the Georgians or the Azeris do not forget to recall a small territory of modern Armenia and the lack of access to the sea. The most important water source is Lake Sevan Armenian. This is the second largest fresh water mountain lake in the world, and it is only inferior to the American Titicaca.

But the northern neighbors still can not calm down and sing a humorous song about “Lake Sevan”, which “on the floor of the banks is smaller than the Pacific Ocean.” Azerbaijan is also not lagging behind in this “water conflict” and tells an anecdote about the creation of the Ministry of the Sea in Armenia. At that Armenians are responsible for inappropriate joke Ministry of Culture in Azerbaijan.

On the shore of the Caspian Sea

All Caucasian peoples inherent self-irony. Therefore, their culture, or rather its level, Azerbaijanis happy joke. My friend, this bakiner confirmed another of the Caucasus “fables.” The bottom line is that the majority of Azeris speak a particular word, as soon as it is repeated, but the first letter of the repeated word is replaced by “m”. So there are magical connection “shkaf-maf”, “shashlyk-mashlyk” and anecdote, codenamed “cultura-multura.” But to hear such jokes from strangers Azerbaijanis do not really like. Because they are all children of the mountains, these Caucasians.

It is interesting that usually the Caucasus to the Russian, is a definite monolith, something indivisible, firm and even the same. But Azeris are different from the Armenians and Georgians, even more than those of each other. The main feature of this people is their religion – Islam.

But if even now in some Muslim countries a man can have up to four wives, in this country, this does not happen. Although, if you remember a song about the Sultan, which played Yuri Nikulin, her words suggest it to Azeri “traces.” In addition to the songs in the movie “The Caucasian Prisoner” such traces have been the main name of the groom – fellow Saahova, the uncle of the most “captive” was also from this region – the name of Gabriel in the Caucasus can only be called a child in Azerbaijan, as a loser-driver Eddie remembers Allah when its an old car will not start.

Allah says that the people, not only when problems arise, but when the life of happiness. Marriage – is one of the main types of “happiness.” In the Azerbaijani wedding and now invite all the relatives of all the regions (in Azerbaijani region – rural). Grandmothers, uncles, aunts, second cousins, sisters and brothers – gather everything. Do not cry for weddings nephews, aunts  possible only when a terrible quarrel that led to the final rupture in the relationship. Yes, and the refusal to come to the wedding can only be under the same conditions.

Wedding for unmarried girls for at least a big celebration, than the bride herself, to which they are carefully prepared. After all, young and experienced moms do not lose time and find themselves too well brought up girl, and for which the same will call and not very distant relatives will order a huge restaurant, limousine, and will do anything to their wedding was the best. Otherwise, no way.

Expert advice

The representative of the travel agency “Manzano” Labadze Helen says: “Do not be afraid of what you steal someone. Yes, indeed, in the Caucasus is the custom of kidnapping young girls, but now is hard to find. Especially because you are a person from another country, and for all Azerbaijanis and other religions. So travel safely. In addition, you can not just relax in the summer. In Georgia, for example, there are excellent ski resorts, such as Gudauri or Bakuriani. In addition, the Caucasus during the Soviet period was the “all-Union health resort.” In the Borjomi mineral water, or in a sanatorium Jermuk that in Armenia, everyone will be able to recover not only physical health but also mental state”.

Olga Sytnik