Not ready for marriage in the Caucasus

And train 372 takes us back. One way of putting it is “back from Armenia to Georgia”. Certainly feels like it with a hard border check on a cold platform at 4:40am. But what is a “nation”?

Sakartvelo (our “Georgia” from Persian “Goriestan”, and Armenians’ “Vir”, from Iberia) is a recent creation compared to Lazuri, Mingrelian, Svanetian and other identities (now commonly referred to as “village dialects”). While the Mother of Georgia monument’s QR-activated spiel is a lot of fun (“If you’re not ready for marriage, you could try rock-climbing”, and ending with “Sorry- someone’s calling me on the other line. Gotta go!”), one can’t help wondering if the monolith may not contain some origin-myth.

For other, even sadder reasons, to be Armenian is to be a citizen of the world (perhaps Glendale CA, Lyon or Manchester) as well as Armenia itself.

Neal Ascherson describes the geology of the region’s 4000 years of migration “not as simple sedimentation- every town and village is seamed with fault-lines. Every district displays a different veining of Greek and Turkic, Slav and Iranian, Caucasian and Kartvelian, Jewish and Armenian and Baltic and Germanic. Nostalgia makes bad history.”

Living together may not always mean growing together- but as the Mother of Georgia puts it: “If you’re not ready for marriage, you could try rock-climbing”.

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