Dissolving: Private code


Many years ago, I drove a car with automatic gear shift for the first time in Tbilisi. To avoid practicing the new technology in urban traffic, first Lloyd came to the wheel. He had long been driving at home, in the States, but never in Europe. At the first intersection, he asked: “What does that red board mean with the white line? Should we stop?” “No, Lloyd. You should not enter.” And then: “And that yellow diamond?” “Highway, we have the precedent to cross.” “How silly. They should rather put a STOP board in the crossing street.” After a couple of questions I asked, suspiciously: “Lloyd, how many pages is your Highway Code Book?” “Well, twenty or so. We do not have such silly boards. Everyone is expected to drive with a sober mind, and in doubtful cases they write it with text.”

In my experience, the drivers in Tbilisi are also led by Lloyd’s wise principles. They do not care much with traffic signs, they rather use private codes: beeps, blinking, hand signals, overshouting. And unique markings on their cards, which are not included in any Code Book, but provide more information about the owner and his intentions than any road sign.

Tbilisi, Jewish quarter. Either he had no money for the last seven, or that perfect license plate is reserved to the Messiah.

The enemy of my enemy

Property protection, Georgian style


Tbilisi

Niko Pirosmani (1862-1918): A train from the Kakhetian wine region to Tbilisi


Goran Bregović’s music to Nana Dzhordzhadze’s შეყვარებული კულინარის 1001 რეცეპტი / Shekvarebuli kulinaris ataserti retsepti (A Chef in Love, 1996). The film, showing the cuisine and life of Tbilisi in the 1910s, can be seen with Russian dubbing here.

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The day of victory


In Noratus, next to the medieval Armenian cemetery, a small booth, where a cheerful old woman is selling thin coffee, knitted socks, T-shirts with the letters of the Armenian alphabet. Among the dolls in Armenian national costume, the national flag is stretched, with a T-shirt on it, displaying the photo of Nikol Pashinyan. I kneel down to take a picture of it. The woman smiles. “Dear little Nikol”, she caresses the photo with love.


“What are the expectations?” I ask our host at the Odzun church. “Ninety-nine percent that he’d be elected.” “And is it not possible that then the oligarchs will call on their followers to block the roads?” He just spats. “The oligarchs, they have long since fled with their money.”


After Karahunj, the Armenian Stonehenge, a car wash with a small eating house, a modern caravanserai, where both man and herd are cared for. A television on the wall, Nikol Pashinyan is holding his introductory speech in the parliament. He’s an unusual sight in suit, after the military outfit of the past weeks. “What is he saying?” I ask the barist. “That everything will be good”, he says enthusiastically.


We arrive to the rock monastery of Noravank around two o’clock in the afternoon. At the monastery’s gate, taxi drivers are squatting, families standing, nobody is moving, everyone is listening to the car radio. The applause just blows out when we get out of the bus. “Victory?” I ask them. “Victory”, they say with shining face. “What proportion?” “Fifty-three against forty-two.” We shake hands. From the radio arises the cheering of the crowd in Yerevan’s main square.