Georgian village, where nearly everybody could sing
05 April, 2019
Georgian village, where nearly everybody could sing
It became necessary to construct a new building for a hotel and “Enterprise Georgia” financially supported us… as a result, the new building was constructed and it is too mostly made of wood”

Probably, not many people have heard about the village Merisi in Keda Municipality, but our country should be proud of it. Many people from all over the world come to stay in Jemal Turmanidze’s family hostel, and, during their holidays, they learn Georgian folk songs. This story started
not long ago with the arrival of Nino Razmadze – a young graduate of conservatoire with a master's degree in music, who came to village Merisi to study folk songs and was astonished by the musical abilities of the villagers.

Nearly everyone could sing in the village, so Nino came up with an idea to take all the villagers to Tbilisi and organize a concert. Her idea was favored by Jemal Turmanidze - the artistic director of the folk ensemble and he accompanied a choir of 50 men to Tbilisi. The concert was held at Tbilisi Concert Hall, with the folk ensemble performing to a full house and, in 2007, it was followed by the remaking of the wooden house in the village of Merisi owned by Jemal Turmanidze into a family hostel.

Jemal Turmanidze: After the concert, Nino introduced to us an American musician, who stayed in my house. The guests were surprised when they saw first my village and then my wooden house, they said it was beautiful. They also found Georgian dishes absolutely delicious, they really enjoyed some Adjarian dishes. Then they listened to the songs that made them feel even more astonished and started learning our songs. They stayed here for two weeks. They were so excited when they were leaving that they could hardly say anything.
- You might have had to be prepared for receiving many more guests, as your first guests had left your house full of such emotions.

- Yes, Georgian folk songs, the beauty of our village, our hospitality and Georgian cuisine together have worked as a magnet attracting all these people. Most of all they were charmed by our songs, which we taught them. My entire family sings well and the guests also enjoyed this very much. Despite the fact that we had neither Facebook nor any other source of communication by that time, guests kept arriving from all over the world. I will never forget one episode when we had Austrian guests and a numerous group of French tourists arrived. We offered them to choose any house they wanted in the village but they did not go. And what else we could do, we offered them to sleep on the beds we had to borrow from our neighbors.

That’s when it became necessary to construct a new building. Meantime, when many people in the region had already heard of our story, “Enterprise Georgia” decided to provide financial support in the form of co-payment. They gave us Gel 15,000, but it should be said that this sum was not even enough to roof the house, anyway, we were grateful for that support. As a result, I constructed a new house using wood mostly. I plan to use the ground floor for a wine vault and put Kvevris (a large earthenware vessel used for the fermentation, storage, and aging of traditional Georgian wine) in the future. I have a vineyard where I grow Chkhaveri and Tsolikauri varieties and I am going to make fine wine.

- Talking of wine, archeologists discover more and more ancient remains of Kvevris in Adjara…

- It is true. My neighbor found some ancient remains of Kvevris in his own wine vault. By the way, an Adjarian song “Chaghma chakrilo venakho” (“Down-Ground Vineyard) dates back to the times when Adjarian men used to hide their vineyards under the ground when they saw an enemy coming during the Great Turkish Invasion and dig them out in the spring. I accompanied some tourists who went to the Turkish Machakhela to record some Georgian songs there and I was deeply moved with the graceful manner of how they sing the songs and by the people there. When we were recording Georgian songs they laid the table. “It would have been great if you served some wine”, I joked. A man in his early 40s, who was sitting at the table, gestured me to follow him. He secretly bought some wine in the yard and asked me to try it. He appeared to have secretly made the wine probably from wild grapes. He told me in secret that his parents did not allow him to make wine and I told him that he could make wine under nalia (a kind of a hut for drying corns) and they won’t say anything; I think I managed to convince him. He wrote me this winter saying that he had made some wine and wanted me to go and try it.
- What do residents of the village say when they saw that one can live life to the fullest here…

- Nothing special! They have got used to foreign guests and try to help us. It is really possible to live life to the fullest in the village, of course. Every visitor from all over the world likes my village. They like everything even how we hoe the corn, and nadi (villagers helping each other in a labor work). They help us as well. The guests get used to living in Georgia and they find it difficult to leave. Many of them have said that there is no such country… we think so too. Recently, I accepted an invitation and went to Austria with my whole family. The host did everything to please us. He held feasts every day as Georgians do. He said that his parents lived in the village and he could fetch some fresh food product from there, and he did so, but nothing tasted like Georgian food.

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