From Rustavi to Brooklyn

From Rustavi to Brooklyn

Transcribed by Bryan Schaaf

Context: I recently took a Lyft home to Alexandria from Washington DC. The driver, Ben (not real name) talked about what it was like to move from a small town in the Republic of Georgia to New York City. Below is an excerpt.

Bryan: How long have you been driving?

Ben: About five or six months.

Bryan: How is it going?

Ben: Less stressful than my old job. I used to be a bouncer here in Washington DC. Usually, I worked the door. There are always issues outside the club to deal with, but if someone causes problems on the inside, then it is my fault because I showed poor judgment in letting them through.

Bryan: How long have you been in the area?

Ben: About four years now…I live in Alexandria as well.

Bryan: And before that you were in Georgia?

Ben: That’s right. I came here when I was nineteen. Part of my family is still in Georgia.

Bryan: How are things in Georgia these days?

Ben: We don’t think things are going well. Politicians will say anything to get elected and then they do nothing. I feel like the new government wants to bring back the nineties. And then there is Russia – I don’t think they are ever going to leave us alone. We are always going to have to deal with them.

Bryan: I used to work with a Georgian. She would make us Khachapuri (Georgian Pizza) and bring us back really nice red wine sometimes. Is there anywhere in or around DC to go for Georgian food?

Ben: Well, you can get Khachapuri at a restaurant on 14th Street called Compass Rose. They also have Georgian wines. I heard there is one in Baltimore. But apart from that, no not really. You need to go to Brooklyn for Georgian restaurants. There are so many of them there. That’s where I came over when I was nineteen, to Brooklyn.

Bryan: How did you like being in Brooklyn?

Ben: It was a big transition. I couldn’t stay there. I’m not a big city guy. That’s why I live in Alexandria!

Bryan: You grew up in the countryside?

Ben: Not really the countryside, but a small town called Rustavi. Its about thirty minutes from Tbilisi. In Soviet times, there was some industry and that is the only reason people moved there.

Bryan: It wasn’t easy for you living in Brooklyn?

Ben: Too many people, too much noise, too much crime. I knew I wouldn’t want to stay there forever. My mom is there and she likes all that activity. But me, I like quiet. Actually my mom is getting like that now that she is older. She says maybe she’ll move out here to Alexandria eventually. I would like that.


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