The stubborn resilience of life

Ruins. Peeled paint. Rust. Dust. Walls tilted to impossible angles, defying gravity. Roofs caving in. Empty plots strewn with rubbish. Stray animals.
These are some of the features that welcome the visitor in Tbilisi’s old town and, there’s no way to deny it, they aren’t what I’d choose if I was the mayor of a city and I wished to launch a charm offensive to put my constituency on the world’s tourist map.
Walking through the Old City’s streets it’d be easy to assume to be entering a ghost town, inhabited by no one but shadows of a former, grand past. It’d be easy to take the country’s recent history – a war against Russia that has ended in disaster, two breakaway provinces, a harsh recession, unprecedented economic migration – and paint a portrait of doom and gloom over the entire capital and, by reflex, over the whole Georgia.
It’d be easy, but it’d also be wrong.
The fact is that, despite all the issues, despite the fact that almost every tenement had windows evidently recycled from elsewhere, Old Tbilisi is very much alive, stubbornly alive. Life in Tbilisi appears unexpectedly and it’s so fresh, unfiltered in its appearance that it quickly becomes intoxicating. I found myself combing the winding alleys of the centre, capturing as many facets of a town down but not quite out yet.
I decided, in these pictures, not to include any human but, instead, to show how the current inhabitants are acting on their environment: in a way, I decided to pay attention to the ‘footprints’ of their permanence in this city.
What I found is, indeed, a kind of vitality I wasn’t expecting. Everything, from the small bakery deep in the recesses of a building’s dusty cellar to the many informal shops selling groceries and second hand clothes, from the graffiti to the rather impromptu attempts at maintaining the buildings, tells me of a community that is there to stay and, actually, is looking towards the future.
Tbilisi, as I had the chance to write in a previous dispatch, lies at a crossroad. It’s still deciding what it wants to do, whether to become a Caucasian Disneyland or a worthwhile alternative to Istanbul, Lisbon or Naples on the tourist Grand Tour of Europe. Whatever the path it will choose I’m happy to have visited Tbilisi today as it stands at the crossroad, scratching its head in indecision.
Please click on one image to start the slideshow.
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4 Responses to The stubborn resilience of life

  1. richandalice says:

    Doesn’t look like quite the “go-to” vacation destination just yet….


    • awtytravels says:

      Well, it might not be as picture perfect as many other places, but rest assured that it’s quite a charmy one. And I’m told that the rest of the country is as good, if not better.


  2. Cecilia says:

    Your pics create such a mood! I’m impressed.


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