Madona (Margarita) Naroushvili, 60, Tbilisi

„I used to work in a Senaki carpet plant as a knitter. This was a quite hard work. There were only male workers in the plant. I was the only female there and operated a huge machine. I used to knit big carpets manufactured by the plant. I liked working in this factory. I was not good at doing things females are supposed do. I had a good salary, earned well and I worked shoulder to shoulder with males. The men working in the factory did not find that strange. My work was absolutely appreciated. They gave me trip tickets twice a year, there were bonuses, allowances, prizes. Had not things changed, I would have been in Parliament today. I did not feel from any my fellow male employee that I was a woman and I could not do anything for that reason. We were all friends. I was a type of a person who could adapt well to that type of a job. Similarly, I have got used to being a bus driver now. „He is our brother“, they used to say about me. I will be rather upset if I do some womanly thing and somebody does not like that. I’d rather hear people saying that I am tough like a man.

When it got difficult to support my family in Senaki I arrived in Tbilisi to attend tram driving courses. After the training course I could become a tram driver and have a big salary. This was a six-month course. Starting from security they taught us everything in detail. Driving a tram is rather difficult to study – it is all about electricity. You have to work with 660 Volt, so you should know how to handle a tram and defuse the situation. We had a rather strict study process. One month after completing the course they gave us jobs. There was my cousin, two other women and I. The number of women was limited and most of them were Russians. People had a rather negative reaction towards women, „Do not you have someone to take care of you? Why should Georgians drive a tram?!“ We were often subjected to verbal abuse and negative comments. They said we had been probably thrown out of our house. I felt rather bad about this. Even though I worked honestly, did my job honestly and did not harm anyone, I was humiliated like that. One passenger woman told me once, “Do not you have anyone to take care of you? Why should such a good-looking woman be here? I would not let my daughter work here!” I was rather young, 22. I told her that I did not matter where a person worked, what mattered most was to do his/her job well. “You poor mutt! You have been probably thrown out of your house,” she snapped at me.

When the tramway infrastructure was removed, I started driving a bus. My work was appreciated much, they treated me very well and tended every my need. The City Hall offered me to undergo training courses and become a driver of new buses that were expected to arrive in a couple of months. I agreed immediately. I agreed to attend the training course, pass the test and drive the bus if they thought I was a suitable candidate. I had a lot of experience of communicating with people. My managers knew everything.

Before I started working as a bus driver, I drove passengers to Moscow and Baku and did not have any difficulty in starting a new job in this respect either. Now I drive Bus #121 – I drive passengers from the Didube to Zahesi district. From time to time, when I become bored, I move to some other bus route. I am going to do that soon.

I feel myself more at home when I am at the garage than when I am in my house. I have a full relaxation. When I go out at 5:30 in the morning sometimes I come back at half past one or half past two of the following morning. We finish our work at midnight but when we get back to the garage, we have to put the vehicle in order. We have to clean it and get it repaired if needed.

Some passengers are rather good, others rather bad. Some of them come out of home very angry and look for reasons to fight with someone even about the smallest thing. For example, one man started arguing because the bus was not warm. I told him that my home was warm he could come and stay warm there. People laughed. Sometimes I joke with kids telling them that I will pull their ears, they joke back saying they will do that themselves and laugh. I cannot joke with the males of my age, they misunderstand everything. It is impossible to talk to some of them at all. I have got used to working. I get more tired when I am home. We have only a 22-minute break during the day. I sometimes buy Khachapuri or cookies. I got used to that so much that I eat solid food at home too.

I have always dreamt of travelling. I do not have so much money to travel when I am old, as they do abroad – they make savings and then travel when they get old. I would like to visit Paris.

Our city should handle public transport related issues. Public transport should be attractive for people to travel by. It should be put into shape. Traffic problem should be also addressed to prevent traffic jams. In this case, people will move from their vehicles to public transport.”