Sunday, December 5, 2010

First Impressions upon Returning to Tbilisi

So, I've arrived in Tbilisi at last. Some slight issues moving back into my flat, but at the end of nearly twenty-four hours of cleaning, hanging Mucha prints, transforming my study into a bedouin caravan, and unrolling the world's loveliest art nouveau-meets-traditional-Georgian-carpet, the flat has been transformed. I haven't been able to see much of the city - a 2 am walk from Abanotubani to my mother's place near Freedom Square and a meal at Near Opera aside - but the flat is habitable, and ready to be transformed into a place for Serious Hegelian Scholarship on the morrow! Redecorating post to follow.

Tbilisi has changed, because it's always changing. The construction on Gorgansalis Square and Europa Square has finished, and now it's possible to walk from Chardini Street to my house without sprinting past dented Mercedes. The leaves have gone from the grape-orchard running down from my terrace, rendering it somewhat less scenic than it was, but in the fog of December the top of the Mtatsminda TV Tower becomes invisible, and the neon beacons at the base, shimmering upwards, vanish into nothingness. The trees have thinned, and now I can see Mother Georgia from Rustaveli Avenue, and even from Abanotubani I can see the lights by the statue of St. George. Without the leaves, everything here is more full of light, more visible; the city feels smaller.

At three in the morning, stray dogs tussle with each other, and drink from the fountain on Abanos Street.

I feel foreign here, of course, but it's a comfortable kind of foreign. I'm used to living places where I don't understand everything: at least, not at first. I speak what Georgian I can and people are kind enough to help me muddle through. In this, at least - and in much else - I feel much less foreign than in England, where it seems like I ought to know everything, and yet am always on the outskirts of understanding. I go to buy bread and greet passersby. I bump into people not unintentionally in order to say "bodishi," because even this is contact.

In a way, being in a place where I'm so totally foreign - where everything is another opportunity to make meaning out of glances and glottal stops - is being entirely at home.

In other news, I've realized that I generally dislike female travel writers. I want action and adventure, not moaning inwardness! So I promise - more adventure, now that I'm in the thick of it!

1 comment:

Melissa said...

I like your point about feeling more comfortable as an actual foreigner than at "home" where you don't feel at home. My experience is the same. Part of the reason I moved to Prague originally: it's easier to be a foreigner in a foreign land than a foreigner in one's own land.

I'm enjoying your blog so far!