There are places that make you recall a certain element when thinking about them. It happens often to me to create an image parallel between a place and an object that in some way represents the former or can be easily associated to it. And then a thing, an action, a simple sound can link oneself to a certain experience or emotion of the past.
Thus, for instance, every time I think of Tbilisi I remember the colourful bunches of its balconies in the first place.
White, pink, light blue, these Tbilisi wooden grapes make a garden in blossom out of the city. Their sophisticated decorations hide thousands of personal stories and destinies, they are the Georgian hospitable smile, the warmth of a friendly hug, a feast to celebrate the arrival of a long-awaited guest.
In the old courtyards of the ‘new’ Georgian capital, far away from the smog of the city’s crazy traffic, crowded streets and restaurants of the touristic routs, in the shadow of vine grasping in its net the bunches of maturing fruits, do Tbilisi balconies talk in a loud voice, laugh happily, look thoughtfully at passers-by, smell grilled meat, spices and home-made bread.
The carved facades of these legendary residents hide jealously the myriads of family secrets, everyday routine and festive toasts, tears of joy and sadness, antique recipes handed over from one generation to the other and the treasures of the authentic Georgian culture.
Tbilisi is the mysterious waters of the River Kura, the famous Sulphur Baths, the waterfalls and hidden paths of the National Botanical Garden, it’s the monuments to warriors and kings, mothers and queens of Georgia, it’s the fortress walls, magnificent churches, broad avenues and the backstage of the abandoned houses with their decrepit stairs and boarded up doors, it’s the Turkish quarter of the city and the flea market, rivers of wine and traditional Georgian bread covered in old newspaper pages, it’s eggplants, walnuts, peppered kababi, the flavours of shashlik and juicy khinkali, it’s fish-free khachapuri diet and the clouded gazes of good-natured taxy drivers, it’s hot evenings and the lights of the city by night, the modern ‘glass’ architecture, dancing fountains and the walks in the mosaic walls of the Old City, it’s the legendary beauty of Tbilisi balconies – the symbol of this city for me.
And Tbilisi is undoubtfully much more than that: it is the beating heart of this suprising country in the great Caucasus.
As always, we express our deep gratitude to our friends Lasha and Zhanna for the mix of their Belorussian and Georgian hospitality and the kind invitation that made this trip possible.
And many special thanks to my beloved husband Machs Gut © for the wonderful pictures to accompany this piece.