Last Weekend

Party at the silk factory

Party at the silk factory

Went to a birthday party the other day at the silk factory, just off Kostava.  It’s a decrepit old building that used to house the silk factory, but which can’t have been in use for at least a decade.  No windows, crumbling ceiling and dissolving concrete walls, but full of squaters, apparently. Interesting place for a party, though; they’d connected a projector to a laptop, and projected movies onto the wall, the music was surging through the place (one could hear it from the main road a couple hundred meters away), and the atmosphere was lively.  To one side there was a fire blazing contentedly on the floor, around which

Ben & Sian

Ben & Sian

stood groups of people chatting with bottles in their hands.  There were about 15 of the usual suspects (foreigners), and about 40 Georgians.  Apparently there are parties here every few weeks or so, and now that it’s getting warmer they’ll become more frequent.  One Bulgarian girl I met said it reminded her of Berlin.

Me

Me

The cemetery at Mama Daviti

The cemetery at Mama Daviti

After chatting to the half-dozen or so people I knew, and a couple of American Marines I hadn’t met before, I went back home.  I’d arranged with Jeff to go skiing the next day, so I didn’t want to stay out late.  I also wasn’t much in the mood for the kind of evening in which one stood around, beer in hand, trying to make conversation by hollering in someone’s ear, or waiting until something interesting happened.  So I took a couple of pictures, and walked back home.

On Monday I went to Mama Daviti, the church up on the hill above Mtatsminda, with Khatuna.  It was a lovely sunny day, so the walk up was pleasant, just 15 minutes or so.  The cemetery is full of distinguished Georgians: Zviad Gamsakhurdia (we saw his son and grandson arrive in a large Mercedes with tinted windows, come to pay their respects; the Monday after Easter Georgians traditionally visit the graves of their dead relatives), Ilya Chavchavadze, Kostava, Marjanisvhili, Vaso Abashidze, and a number of other famous writers, actors, and musicians.

Khatuna in front of Chavchavadze's tomb.

Khatuna in front of Chavchavadze's tomb.

The whole area around the church had recently been renovated, including a half-finished concrete drive-way curving up towards the entrance.  The church itself was a pleasant brick structure of indeterminate age, dark inside with the usual scattering of icons.  Before the altar were three large round loaves of bread, as big as soccer balls, from which, Khatuna explained, the host is made.  I had rather wanted to attend the mass at midnight Saturday night, but in the end didn’t make it.

Khatuna

Khatuna

Apparently the patriarch officiated at Sameba, the big new church over in Avlabari, but it was so packed with people we wouldn’t have been able to get inside, unless we’d gone hours in advance.  It’s like trying to get tickets for Thielemann in Vienna.

I’ve been writing a lecture on religion and philosophy recently, and it’s been interesting to talk to Georgians about their Orthodox church.  When I mention any of the things that keep me from any kind of faith, they invariably say, “ah, but that’s the Catholic church; ours is different!” Perhaps unsurprisingly, I haven’t been able to get much in the way of details about church doctrine, or church history aside from the familiar, vague, rhetorical stuff they’re told by their priests.  Many people seem to have a completely genuine and naive faith, and seem to be satisfied with that.  A Georgian friend was at a party a little while ago, during which a group of 30-something unmarried women were discussing how Biblical prophecies pointed to Saakashvili being the Anti-Christ, and similar inanities.  That said, the patriarch does seem to be a wiser and more benevolent sort of figure than many leading ecclesiastics–though the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Pope, and the various hare-brained Ayatollahs hardly set imposing standards.

Tbilisi from Mama Daviti.  That's Sameba more or less in the centre of the picture.

Tbilisi from Mama Daviti. That's Sameba more or less in the centre of the picture.

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