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Life in the city

Life in the city is very difficult for Georgians. Unemployment is very high. Housing is both expensive and poor quality. Social services, such as health care, are nonexistent. Crime and corruption are so bad that the country is nearing what is called a “failed state,” meaning that the government has no control over what happens. People must pay bribes for such basic services as water and electricity.

Mother might work part-time at a canning plant or a textile factory. Father might be trained as an engineer or doctor, but he is probably working in a job that pays much less than that. He might be one of the many businessmen trying to start an import-export operation or building a retail store. In this case, he will be very frustrated by the unreliable electricity and the fact that he has to pay bribes to tax collectors and suppliers. Mother and father probably take the train to their jobs, although there are many options. If their jobs are nearby, they may walk. They also might drive a car. Although gas is expensive, most Georgians own cars and love to drive them.

The schools are the same for children in the country and the city. If mother and father have enough money, however, they have the option to send their children to private schools. In these schools, the teachers are paid more money and the textbooks are up to date. Children who attend these schools almost always go on to attend one of the country’s two universities, the University of Tbilisi or Georgian Technical University.

The family probably lives in a very small, rundown apartment. They must plan their days around water and energy shortages. They also may not have heat all day in the winter, so they have to plan to wear heavier clothes. They might wash their clothes in the kitchen sink and hang them on lines around the house to dry.

Grandmother and grandfather might also live in the apartment. The children might sleep on the floor in the living room at night, giving grandma and grandpa the second bedroom. If they do not live with the family, at least one set of grandparents probably lives very close. In this case, the young children might go there after school.

The family lives in a neighborhood of people just like them. All their neighbors will be from the same ethnic and religious groups. They may have many relatives in the same apartment building. Mother and father worry about all the violence in the past years because they do not want their children to be in danger. They are happy that things seem to have settled down now and are looking forward to working hard to make their life better. Although they like independence, they may be nostalgic for the Soviet era, when they had good jobs and did not have to worry about feeding the family.