Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Back in Tbilisi Again

Our first views of Tbilisi were in the darkness before dawn, in the back seat of a taxi speeding through a sleeping city. Nic and our driver, pointed out gorgeously-lit public buildings. “Look there! Parliament!

“There – The Sheraton where the revolt took place. It's been repaired.”

“Over there – the Opera House!”

Above everything, high on the hills surrounding the city, the lights of the Georgian TV station and the fortress, Narikala – both bathed in sentinel lights.


It is, we learn, the view from the bedroom window of the apartment as well. In fact, Nartikala is the view from the kitchen window and the apartment balcony as well. The fortress and its fortifications date from the 4th to 17th centuries. At any time of the day it looms large – especially so over Old Town Tbilisi where Nic and Sora live. Tbilisi has many symbols and this is one of the most important.

In reality, we spent most of our days while in Georgia in Tbilisi itself, by turns gracious, grubby, grappling city coming to terms with it's past,it's present and its future all at once.

Tbilisi is a meeting ground, stomping place, rolled-over conquered, conquering, sophisticated, crude, hopeful, fatalistic, tradition-bound, welcoming, cautious contradiction. Here east meets west meets middle-east. Largely over looked by the world, Georgia and its people survived communism only to struggle with democracy, embrace most things west while rattling sabers at our old cold-war nemesis; Russia.

My great apologies for leaving you in Khaketi, on the Grape Road in the middle of a funeral procession for so long! It was a dark place to abandon my readers, but my router died and with it access to my laptop treasure-trove of pictures. (Now that I have conquered the picture-posting thing it seemed a shame to attempt painting only word pictures of our adventure.)

We spent only that one day on the Grape Road, although for some readers it may seem longer. But without that day, I wonder if I could have begin to grasp the spirit of the Georgian people and the shift occurring in this place. It is not just a tug-of-war between east, west and Middle East. it is a struggle to shed the last vestiges of Soviet era machinery and a stumbling, bumbling dash from the past into the 21st century.

It is still dark when we arrive, dragging the one bag that has stayed with us into a dirt courtyard, around cars bedded down for the night and up steep curving stairs to the apartment. After thirty two hours of travel, sleep and wake are at war and for a few hours, sleep wins.

When the sun comes up.......

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