top of page

Nakhvamdis, Tbilisi


A colorful doorway next to street art of a black cat
Cat Door, Tbilisi, Georgia

The time has come for Corie and me to say goodbye to Georgia. Once again, our lives are packed into a plethora of suitcases, our apartment looks like the week we moved in, and our cats are worried.


They suspect something.


Two years ago, nearly to the day, it was the same story as we left Las Vegas, New Mexico and flew here to Tbilisi.


It’s hard to say goodbye, even with the excitement of discovering a new place and meeting new friends. Georgia is an amazing country where the beautiful scenery is only surpassed by its people.


During the past two years, I’ve added to the odometer on my shoes, spending several joy-filled photo walks exploring Tbilisi.  Yesterday was my last photo walk in the city for a while, and I was glad I spent it with our good friend Nino Khundadze, a talented artist, photographer, and writer.


Since Corie and I met Nino a year and a half ago, we’ve enjoyed several long conversations over cups of coffee with Nino and her son, a precocious 12-year-old who has inherited his mother’s creative spirit and enthusiastic joie de vivre.


Cameras in hand and full of caffeine, Nino and I set off through a part of Tbilisi filled with 19-centruy buildings, along narrow streets that will soon be shaded by overgrown trees bursting with spring.


While many old buildings around the city have been and are being restored, there are many, many more that have been aged by indifference and time. In my previous walks, I often stopped to imagine what these neighborhoods looked like in their youth, full of flamboyance and passion.


white lace and thick yellow curtains behind a blue painted window frame
Window and Curtains, Tbilisi, Georgia

“The city’s buildings tell stories to anyone who stops to listen,” Nino commented as we ascended a steep stone street.


As we ascended a steep stone staircase at the end of a busy street, I asked Nino what it means to her to be Georgian.


“It is who I am,” she said after giving it a little thought. “But it doesn’t define me.”


Nino is proud of her culture and will quickly rattle off a list of her favorite Georgian writers. She’s the one who helped me discover Vazha Pshavela, whom I talked about in a previous newsletter. She encourages her son to read the Georgian greats. It is, after all, who her son is as well.


But Nino is one of those rare people who sees more to the world. Like me, she’s come to understand the world is interconnected, and there’s something amazing about being human.


About two-thirds up the stairs, there’s an old house with the best balcony in the city. It’s home to an old man who hand makes plaster souvenirs. It’s not difficult to find similar ones in the shops around the more touristy parts of town, but this man’s place is my favorite, out of the way and charming.


The man wasn’t there, but his assistant told me I could take a look in his studio and take photos.


While I was disappointed I wasn’t able to photograph the artist, it felt special to be allowed in his studio, where a young woman was quietly hand painting a set of plaster casts.


We continued our ascent to a large patio in front of an imposing orthodox church. The benches overlooking the city are popular places for people to take in the view and relax over a glass of wine or cha cha, a clear Georgian brandy.


After we quietly looked at the view in front of us and said hello to a couple friendly cats, Nino made me promise that Corie and I will come back and visit Georgia often. It was a vow I intend to keep.


But for now, it’s nakhvamdis.


a table with plaster casts, paint brushes and paper
Souvenir Studio, Tbilisi, Georgia

Comments


bottom of page