Telavi from the Blog of Margo Lescaut

Telavi and I fell in love at first sight. As soon as I drove over Gombori, I immediately felt that I was breathing differently. I don’t know for sure but when heading somewhere for the first time the mood is probably the main thing, as well as who you travel with. Most of all I like it when my companion and I look at the world in the same way as it opens up before us, when what we feel and hear are the same. For me, emotions are full when confirmed by someone else.

And the mood arose just at the very moment when we were on one of the main streets of Telavi.

In the middle of the street there is a canal criss-crossed by small bridges. This small canal brings on such peace that you stop hearing the passing cars on both sides of it or see the towering remains of the box-like Soviet projects.

These feelings are amplified by the aura created by the people calmly sitting around outside.

At the end, the street splits. To the right - a temple and a beautiful paved street with houses whose balconies hang overhead. All the yards are well-kept here. There are flowers everywhere. It's crowded. Some are on their way from the temple while others are simply resting with their family.

I noticed two boys at the temple. One was sitting by the wall, while the other dismounted his bicycle and went inside. The seated one's eyes sparkled at the sight of the bike. Slowly, not looking around, he crept along the wall towards the bicycle. It turned out he only wanted to touch it.

Only later, when looking at the photos, did I realize how many tiny stories were happening around me that minute and in the place where I was. I only began to feel this when I started shooting for the first time.

This street reminded me of another, European Georgia, one that was bypassed by Sovietization in 1921.

To the left of the intersection the road leads to the centre of the city and to the palace of Erekle II ("Batonisciche"). Here you feel the heartbeat of the city. Buildings from the 50s and traditional Georgian houses with timber and glass verandas and balconies harmoniously coexist in the heart of Telavi.

This street is crowded too, with beauty and freedom and lots of colour. The atmosphere and rhythm here are different, as if you are not in a Georgian city.

On the first floor of one of the buildings is a beauty salon. Inside was a woman who had such an interesting appearance that I aimed the camera at her most unceremoniously; couldn’t miss such a shot. This photo has become one of my favorites. I call it "Character From an Almodovar Film", and the heroine herself - "Laura." Sounds good both in Spanish and in Georgian!

Telavi is a city of extravagantly dressed women. It seems this is their way of escaping the reality and hardships of life in our town. The looks on their faces and the way they move is a dead give-away that life is no walk in the park - just like everywhere else in our country.

I imagined that with the cry of "Ole!" she would raise her hands and do a flamenco turn.

This is my Telavian "Sarah Baras".

This is a city of loving couples and boys on bikes.

I see them everywhere, in every corner and I remember the stories of my childhood, they sweep before my eyes.

Night-time Telavi impresses even more. It is alive and even more crowded. Everyone is out on the streets, old and young. Some walk while others rest. The alley leading to the Botonistsikhe fortress is especially thriving. Joyful and reassuring.

We walked around night-time Telavi for quite a while and eventually ended up on the street leading to the temple, and from it further and up, and then to the street that survived "Sovietization"..

The street is long and very beautiful at night. It’s well taken care of and clean. Old street lights and silence. Flowers escape the overhanging balconies. Under one of the balconies was a long-haired, tattooed biker. That's his motorcycle. He talked about something with a girl in ultra-short shorts.

A woman with a "Sherbourg umbrella" in a light transparent dress emerged from a courtyard on to a yellow-lit street.

Above, a "Chevrolet" cabriolet rolls by silently, with quietly playing music, which can be heard only when the car drives alongside. A bunch of youth were hanging out a little further by one of the houses. They were quietly discussing their latest exams.

We walked along the streets in bliss, imagining that we were in some European town. I listened to open windows in the hope of "stealing" stories. Suddenly, from one of the balconies came a voice with an indescribable Telavian dialect: "Woman, would the seller say the truth? Yes, sellers would even call dung gold, only to sell it …(cursing)… ."

And everything fell into place.

The next morning I caught my mood in the eyes of these children and in one gesture of this man.

How can you not love Telavi after that?

If someone says that God lives in heaven, do not believe them. He lives twenty kilometres from Telavi, in Alazani Valley, looking over the temple of Alaverdi.


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