Kiev journalist and leading social project “Between Us” Natalia Kruchinina and Victoria Grave chatted for “Matron” with Ksenia Pardzhiani , owner of two hotels and a small farm in Svaneti, the historic mining region in northwest Georgia – about the sacred relation to the “litter in hut “, the difference in mentalities and silence of Georgian women.

Throwing open the windows wide open in the hotel «Laleta», you can awake to get lost in its own location on the map. The view of the majestic, snow capped mountains and verdant meadows, is easily confused with the Swiss Alps. However, we did not come to the Alps, and in Svaneti to greedily inhale its air, customs and traditions. Somewhere in the yard heard the voice of the mistress – “! Modyak” in Georgian – and it brings us back to reality.

Xenia does not look like a local, but exudes confidence and hospitality. She hails from Novosibirsk, married Guiglo, and stayed in the mountains. Administer revolution, grow your business and be a real wife Svan. Sometimes, because of her skirt peeping sly eyes youngest daughter, while older intercepts with mother’s hands little brother. Hilarion – typical Swann. The red-haired and blue-eyed. Bright representative of the ancient Georgian ethnos. Judging by the fact that the hotel is advisable not to appear in shorts and especially bathing suits, Svaneti is still the most “canned” part of Georgia.



Xenia, please tell us all about it. As you were here? Surely, this was preceded by a love story?

The story happened in the heart of my hometown of Novosibirsk. We met quite “accidentally”. Until then, I had never been in Georgia and, to be honest, not many know about it. But when it became clear that my future husband will be the Swan, from the Google I asked, what is the edge of this. 

Your family, friends of the groom surprised this choice?

Most were surprised by the very fact of inter-ethnic marriage, but when they saw us together, no one doubts that everything goes right.

Yes, Novosibirsk – far to the Swan …

In spite of the difficult relations between the two countries in the early ’90s, Georgia and Russia connects the centuries-old history. Related, friendly relations between the people and supported by the Union during the time, and after its collapse. So my husband: come to a friend’s mother aunt, professor of Novosibirsk Akademgorodok, but in the end stayed. He graduated from the University of Civil Engineering and opened his business. Then was our marriage, birth of a daughter. When I moved to Svaneti, my life has changed dramatically. Many people, I’m used to living in a big city, it was not here. I had to learn to live again, to learn new skills. I was interested to develop itself and to develop the space around them. It turned out that I was studying at the local, and they learn from me.

My husband and I founded a non-governmental organization, which is engaged in the development of our community. And in his spare time, I kept a blog. Svaneti.livejournal.com appeared in 2009 and within a few months, the blog was a few thousand visitors per month. I started to do research Svan culture, its traditions, because I needed to find its place. She studied, asked – who both lives, what kind of relationship in the family, between relatives, children, born to, to the dead. Learning some facts and legends, I described them in the blog, and so in our village there is a need in the hotel.


Readers began to ask: “We want to come, whether it is possible to stay with you?” I replied that unfortunately, I have nothing to offer them. We had a primitive atmosphere. But they insisted: “We do not want the situation, we’re going to see you, to talk and will feel more comfortable if you stop at the Slav.” By the way, the first guests were from Ukraine, three girls …

They were afraid that steal?

Perhaps … Then came a Ukrainian, wrote to me that he wants to help build the church. Deep believer, Vitaly. Three years later, he had already visited us with his wife. I was pleased that such people began to visit these places – open, interested. They came for the sake of the soul, not the soul.

I now often say, you are all too well, you have two hotels, a travel agency. But I started from scratch, in a dilapidated house where no one dreamed of a hotel. The project was born … by itself, naturally.

After some time after the first guests, we decided to take a loan to make repairs. We started with one room. And step by step, completely renovated the whole house where they are now located in our hotel room. Then we build another hostel.


You do not feel envy of the villagers regarding their own achievements?

Anything can happen, but my mother in law – is an example of diplomacy, it solves all the questions calmly, without emotion. When my husband too is experiencing in-law advised him to be calmer, because any aggression, any conflict in the future may lead to unpredictable consequences. She even taught me how to interact with those who are behind me could say a bad word. I say hello to them, smile, always on good terms, if there is an opportunity to help – always help. Women in rural areas are doing amazing work of his hands, the various national souvenirs, and I sell it in their hotel. Tourists are very interested in local souvenirs. The more women I are involved in a common cause, the more people warmly disposed towards me. So we support each other.


Let’s go back to the traditions. We were amazed by the morning, watching the oxen that were pulling plows in the field.

This is not a tribute to tradition and necessity, a way of life. These people have a bull performs a variety of functions – it is meat, and labor. Hire a tractor farmers do not have the financial ability, and subsistence farming – the only source of livelihood for the majority of the inhabitants of the mountains. And because the bull is actually better to plow, he turns not fertile soil, like a tractor. Bull is more, as they say now, environmentally friendly, and the earth gives a higher yield. So the “backwardness” of progress is sometimes justified.

In Ukraine, said that the life of office workers do not see …

It is difficult to say which is better – to be subordinate to someone or be in subjection to their business. In any case, for us more pleasant to live in freedom in their own land, raise children, have their own food.

What is to be a woman in Svaneti?

Historically, that Svan woman always stood in the same harness with a man. Her physical weakness was offset by exceptional workability. It allows you to keep in mind thousands of cases – and the education of children, and the farm and caring for cows, pigs, chickens, hay, harvest, etc. If you are not in season prepared with everything you need, then your family will remain hungry. I was able to master this skill. But all the time we have to think in the next six months to complete and everywhere all not is lacking.


Everything that concerns the home economy – the territory of women. But those cases that require any external contacts, it is practically not affected.

I want to make a reservation, it is my feeling as a person coming from a different culture in a new space for me. It seems to me that the women forced the neighborhood is fraught with a lack of real trust, friendly relations between women in Svaneti. I do not know whether modernity brought about changes or this way of life was present in Georgia, and a thousand years ago.

I feel that the concept of “female friendship” does not exist here. The woman is unable to relax, and this is because we are sometimes so important – “complain to the vest.” Girlfriend – best psychotherapist, is not it? Here, any “complain to the vest”, talk about their problems could cost you your reputation and honor. Any word can be dually interpreted another woman.

Well, there are also in-law, that on the side of the bride, for example …

Here, parents are always on the side of the clan and its interests. Not always right son, daughter in law is not always right, the goal is different – who is on the side of the clan for his strength, his strength? Smart in-law always concerned about the strengthening of the clan.

It is said that the tests are able to do. I often hear from my mother in law, that while we are young, we have a lot of energy, and we can do more than we think. In Svaneti women work just to wear, especially when they are young. Maybe that’s why they want to unburden himself and gossip? ( Laughs ). And here lies the most important task – not give rise to talk bad about yourself and your family.


Inability to relax, cry in-law’s shoulder is offset by the fact that it protects the authority of some bad things the whole family?

Of course. But a lot of things I like all the women who live here, can afford only with her mother. The relationship between mother and daughter in Svaneti very warm. Even when she married and moved to another village or city to another, women often come to visit his father’s house. I think they are yearning for parental warmth, “relaxation”, personal atmosphere.

Mom arrives?

Thank God is coming. One week, two, three near – and this is happiness.

And how local women communicate with each other?

They love to go to the general village festivals. Then the women sit separately from men, and communicate only in women’s issues. Who will be surprised that women sit separately. But the reason is quite simple: so comfortable for both men and women. In Svaneti there is no oppression of women, they can and have a drink and talk at the table on an equal basis with men, and another thing, it’s not the right equation, and these opportunities no one abuses.

Can you single out some one thing that you have been the hardest to bear? Apart from the lack of female friendship.

I had to grow up very quickly and smarter. It turned out, neither the presence of children and husband, neither age nor education are not able to make a woman emotionally mature, or, as they say, wise. The fact that I was away from the “artificial” source of inspiration of modern civilization, has forced me to turn to its internal resources, and I found there is a lot of interesting and useful. But it was given to me is not easy. It was a difficult stage of adoption and to take full responsibility for all the steps made in life – as correct or not. I am here because I want to and want to. The most important discovery of my life: family and home – this is not a prison.


Despite the distance from the “world” Now I do not feel their inferiority. And before I thought I would go mad from the monotony and limited. However, now I and my family’s busy life. Not all the guests who come to believe it. Many sympathize with our difficult life, some take to argue – why deprive your children of the future and live in the country? And what is the future? Now you can get any education remotely. The net weight of the lectures of leading universities in the world. The only question is how to apply this knowledge. My husband and I are working so much, including in order to give children the opportunity to develop a basis for. And then let everyone choose his deal to their liking.

That is, it is that I have to justify?

We travel a lot less than all of our guests. But the host house hundreds of tourists from around the world – whether it is the journey?

“What is the strength in, brother?” 

Proper Svan woman – is the one that does not wash dirty linen in public. A man?

In my opinion, Svan man – a strong man. The strong not only physically, but also emotionally. Swann first weigh every word, and then he will say. Presumably, the historical memory. Here in ancient times for the rude word could kill.

Unfortunately, recently I began to notice that men are lost. Today is very important to own a computer, to be able to keep records. Residents of the regions, of course, inferior in this city. The knowledge that were important in Svaneti still some 40-50 years ago, is now of little use. Women in this respect, more mobile and better trained, because women’s work more in demand and better paid. Due to the fact that Svaneti became a popular resort, it is developing the tourism sector, which constantly need people (cooks, administrators, cleaners, and it is strictly women’s work).

What, in your opinion, the differences between the mentality of the Slavic and Svan men?

Slavic men, it seems to me, at least draw a man’s life from the family. Work occupies most of their lives, they feel confident in communicating with friends. If you do not place the social, not “skyrocketed,” that you would not like a man. There is a desire to be “above”, to reach the top of the career ladder, to be honest, I have not met.

Become stronger, to make your family strong, rouse your children to have a good house, a normal food, clothes – that’s the main thing. This is not about physical strength. The strength of the inner, which helps a person to be first and foremost a man. The rest – a means of achieving prosperity of his family. Men are very attached to their home and family. And the family for them – in the first place. It is their source of life energy.


In Svaneti, you will hear often that my great-grandfather was a blacksmith, my grandfather was a blacksmith, so much as he did, there they built a tower, and I what? I have to restore the house that they built. Money – it is only a means for family prosperity. My husband is already planning that will give his son a legacy. Sawmill, she said to be engaged with me in the forest for firewood to ride. I laugh, I say, “Let’s wait a little bit, because the son is only 9 months.”

But male friendship have not banned?

No friendship is not prohibited. The question is, how people appear in these relations. I notice that men are more likely Svan communicate on some matter. All the inhabitants of the village – or neighbors, or relatives, they always find something to discuss, and how to help. I notice that my husband basically a business relationship, not without, of course, mutual respect, trust and support.

On the women’s dignity and happiness

Even being in the outwardly more comfortable conditions, many women, however, are unhappy in marriage. They no longer see the best of their husbands, that once allowed them to decide and make a choice to say “yes” at the altar. What prevents the modern woman to find harmony in love, in your opinion?

My version – too much external noise. You advise and lecture from the TV screen, with the fashion magazine covers, various online resources on psychology. You know how this external noise affects the true, inner “I” shapes the character of teenage girls? Often, being exchanged at the whole outer husk, they forget – what are they real? Girls today imbibe the values of life of the social networks. In this respect, the children in Svaneti less informed and more free from modern standards imposed. They absorb age-old tradition by watching adults. There is a huge opportunity to see themselves in the real world, without noise.


As a young man, and I had a conflict of external and internal. What kind of harmony can talk when you’re painfully trying to please everyone, ceasing to be myself? When I met my husband, I realized that it does not need anything from the building itself, because everything is in me. He always reminds me that there is in me of this, and stresses that it loves it. He hears only one type of my desires – what I really want. The only way to get close to a strong man – is to be yourself. Very hard. But incredibly properly and comfortably. For me.

Daughters also says he? Or raise more girls in the mother’s power?

Girls I do not teach anything special, just live next to them. I think the father should teach. He must learn to interact with men outside world. I feel that so correct: it is better to see the many nuances of the outside, I was much more focused on home and try not to forget about the spiritual, emotional development.

Where people seek family resource for inspiration, not to despair?

This is purely individual. I learned to find it in yourself. In each situation act differently. I called my mother, for example. Sometimes able to revive a letter from a friend, a glass of red wine, a trip to the city, shopping, manicure. When her husband saw that I needed to unwind, he not only does not prevent me, but strongly supports, it is with children. In general, I try to make all these small pleasures are inseparable from the children. And we’re going together.


What surprised you the most in the Georgian women?

Perhaps humility. For us, Slav, any humility – a synonym for humility, but not the source of life. And it seems to me that so much humility womanhood! Thanks to him, opens a huge amount of internal resources. Humility for women – is to follow their nature, permit themselves to stay weak.


No, this is not a weakness. To follow their wishes and needs, you need to take a rightful place next to a man, to shift the responsibility for many decisions. In order to decide on it, you need to force “not weak” woman.

There is a legend, or a parable. Two bull climbed the hill together, in one team, one bull was stronger, the other weaker, and the burden was very heavy, at the limit of their strength. What did the weaker bull, what do you think?

I do not interfere with the stronger?

No, he took upon himself even more, because he knew that he was weak, but did not want a strong ruptured. As a result, the two pulled with equal force. Humility – that’s about it. In this bundle you are weak, but you can, even more than man can is equivalent to participate in the construction of the family ship. For example, emotional support. Woman can not sleep for years, until the baby teeth come out. A man interrupted sleep makes absolutely broken. There are many differences, but when two people love each other, they make a good one common cause. The result is a mutual understanding. This is a happy family life, in my opinion.


And when boiling? Can “steam release ‘quarrel? Probably not at all?

It is possible and for all. It depends at what point we finds this “boiling.” We produce steam and continue living. Ordinary life of ordinary people.

And the last question – what are your plans for the future? What dream?

We dream with her husband to travel. Together. We are so bored by the way to be together, to talk together, listen to each other, look into each other’s eyes, hold each other’s hand – this is a very simple thing, but we really miss them. Regretting only that time is inexorably running, and we are adults. Wants to be somewhere where there’s no one, where you can concentrate on yourself, even for some short period of time. This space is sorely lacking.