Tbilisi - 2


Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Our last whole day in Georgia and we are guideless in Tbilisi.  What to do?  No churches!

We first visited the small Georgian State Museum of Folk and Applied Arts which was interesting and had some good costumes and old carpets.  It still seems amazing that this area which was at the centre of one of the greatest carpet making traditions in history is now nearly devoid of any evidence.  The young lady at the shop yesterday made an interesting observation “The Russians took all of them”.

We had intended visiting the Silk Museum next and we hailed a taxi, agreed a price, and took off only to get caught in another of Tbilisi’s horrendous traffic jams.  After half an hour and only having got as far as the river about one kilometre away we told the driver to forget it, paid the agreed fare and jumped out.  We had not even made it away from the old city and just had to walk back across the bridge.

In places like this you despair for the future of the world.  Why is it that the greatest aspiration of all mankind seems to be to own a car!  It is depressing.

We lunched in the old town then headed in the direction of our hotel and the Fine Arts Museum which we had understood housed some icons and other treasures but turned out to be a modern Georgian art museum form 1945 to the present.  We are not great fans of modern art but persevered and found a few interesting pieces.  The “other” Fine Arts museum was on different street.

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Tourists obviously do not visit the museums in Tbilisi – today we were the only ones at the first museum, probably would have been the only ones at the Silk Museum and only a handful of others at the Fine Arts museum.

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Two pieces got Clive’s attention in the Fine Arts Museum.  The first was an apocalyptic post Chernobyl version of “The Last Supper”.  Obviously I still have the Chernobyl mini series imprinted on my mind reinforced by travelling past some pretty dire ex-Soviet ruins of factories and apartment blocks.  I only counted 11 apostles so figure Judas did a runner to Kiev when he saw the mushroom cloud over the reactor.

The second picture was of a bunch of little kids riding their pedal cars around inside a dry indoor pool with a picture of Stalin on the far wall – it looked like it had a deep meaning; perhaps it is that when the Soviets left they took everything with them including the water out of the swimming pools.

This evening we attended a show at the Rezo Gabriadze Puppet Theatre.  The shows presented are for mature audiences – no children allowed.  The performance was “Ramona”, a love story of Ramona, the little shunting engine who is not allowed to leave the precincts of her station in Georgia and Ermon (her husband), the big main line locomotive who ranges across the whole USSR to Siberia and beyond.  Ramona is cajoled into joining the circus, as a high wire artiste and comes to a messy end when the cable breaks.  Ermon returns, is heartbroken and falls to pieces, literally.  The show ends with an old newsreel of a steelworks smelter implying that they were melted down for scrap.  I think I got that all right.  Perhaps you need to have been brought up in the Soviet system to fully appreciate it.  The notable thing about the whole production is that it is the work of one man, Revaz Gabriadze: puppets, theatre, story, everything.  Different!    

© Cheryl & Clive Miller 2019-20