Five Questions For Expats
By Stan Gaivoronsky
Assa, where did you come from and why?
I moved here from Moscow because I fell in love with a Georgian guy named Gabriel. I’ve been visiting Tbilisi very frequently since last year and dreamed of making it my home one day. So, in February, I fell in love and finally made the long-awaited move.
In what district do you live?
I live in Chugureti district, in a, literally, “dead” one-room apartment, along with Nastya (roommate/friend). When I saw photos of this apartment on the web, I thought: Oh my God, this is from Jarmusch’s film “Endless Vacations”. But the apartment has potential. Just like all of us. Our balcony even “starred” in the Blue Mountains. But it can get very cold in winter.
Five of your favorite spots in Tbilisi.
I don’t have any special favorite spot, because I don’t go to cafes and bars. And so, every place that’s associated with good memories or has made me feel good becomes my favorite. These places are – the Tabidze bridge, houses, and apartments of friends, Turtle Lake, and the Botanical Garden, the Tsiferblat, which has already closed, or Dunkin Donuts near Marjanishvili.
What are you doing, tell us about your projects or goals?
I have one goal – to make money. But this is not going well at the moment. I have a cool blog called “From the Red Line”, which is lagging behind because I do not have enough interesting Russian books in Tbilisi to read and write book reviews. Nastya and I are planning to make a zine about Tbilisi. Well, since I moved to Georgia I’ve been writing a lot and have accumulated a good amount of stories and essays, and I guess an end goal is to write a book sometime soon.
Name five things in Georgia that surprised you.
Oh, there is too much to say in a nutshell. I was especially ecstatic during the first weeks after the move. There are very handsome men and gorgeous women in Tbilisi. People are truly beautiful here. People dress stylishly. They have some very relaxed, European urban-chic style. Moscow also has a lot of fashionistas, but they are too pathetic in a way. There is no pathos there. There are a lot of stray dogs on the streets in Tbilisi but they are all microchipped and somewhat affectionate. I always feel safe in Tbilisi, for some reason. I’m never afraid to walk home at night. People actually notice you here.
After living in Moscow, where everyone is looking at their feet, this is unusual and seems defiant. Here everyone is very kind and open, always ready to help. If you stop in the middle of the street in confusion, someone, for sure, will definitely approach you to offer their help. Also, it is very common to host someone for the night, or for a month. I’ve been rescued more than once.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the Georgian Health System. I underwent a major surgery here, and I still remember the doctors with gratitude. I had never seen more tender doctors in my life. And everything that happens here is very similar to a movie. Very much like constant series of some funny and touching scenes. The most picturesque texture of Tbilisi – everything is beautiful here, even the ruins of houses.
People who just stand on the street and chat, the boys who play ball, the old man busy fixing shoes – all this is so heart-to-heart, so sincere, and simple … I’m somewhat sad that no one else except Danelia and Gabriadze attempted to express this enchanting Georgian reality.
Can you say something in Georgian?
Kartuli ar mesmis – I repeat this phrase very often. It means “I do not understand Georgian.”