The Ukrainian Russian portal Хвиля has just published a long photo series on Tbilisi. The technique and composition of the pictures is the usual good quality, and the photos are quite objective, almost all places can be well identified. Together with the short captions, it is not a bad guide for someone who has never been in Georgia.
Nevertheless, these pictures are like those of a guide also from another point of view: they are informative, but impersonal. They just lack the life which makes this city so attractive. And I recall the photos taken in Georgia exactly three years ago by the recently quoted Drugoi. I pull them out and I have another look at them. Yes, this is that Tbilisi which I knew and which I loved.
“When walking in old Tbilisi”, Drugoi writes, “it is easy to imagine how this small bauble, this fairy tale town would look if the fate of its inhabitants turned a little bit different. If Georgians had enough force and wish, they could transform their city into one of those Medieval Dutch or German towns on the Christmas cards. What a pity they do not have them. The few tourists arriving this far do not come to admire the carved wooden gates, the wooden mansards and the balconies jumping above the street, but the devastation and the pathetic remnants of a former beauty.”
“The corner of Akopyan street. The old lady has just gone in from the balcony. She counted that every night she has fear of falling asleep, because she is afraid that the house, built in 1865, would simply collapse on her like it did on her neighbor.”
“They happily talk to the guest. All of them scold Misha, you can clearly see that they are offended, but nevertheless they all say that the tensions with Russia are only temporary, and that friendship must be restored with it again.”
“Shalva, the old shoemaker is a veteran of WWII, he went as far as to Berlin. Today he gets a pension of 12 lari (7.5 dollars). His workshop is open almost day and night.”
“The «cult» of children is traditionally strong in Georgia. Everyone pays attention, cares and loves them. They are usually cheerful and well dressed.”
“Queue before the street phone. They had been installed back in Soviet times and they are still in regular use.” Mobile phones are still not very widespread in Georgia, but the traditional phone network is well established and these twenty and thirty years old street cabins work surprisingly well.