The Grayest City

Looking back at the photos I shared of Georgia, I realize they are mostly shots of mountains and statues and cows and waterfalls.  But that certainly wasn’t my day-to-day experience.  I want to share some photos that are more representative of daily life in Tbilisi, which is where I spent 95% of my time.  The majority of that time was spent outside of the beautiful Old City, in residential neighborhoods.

I lived in a neighborhood called Saburtalo, above a shopping center.  Saburtalo is unattractive and unremarkable, known mostly for the medical university and other schools in the area.  One part of Saburtalo is called Delisi, purportedly named after Delhi because of all the Indian medical students living in the area.  At least that’s what the taxi drivers told me.

This was the view from my balcony.

P1100544 P1100545 P1100546One day a friend and I took a few random shots around Delisi metro station.  I didn’t want to forget what an average day here looked like.

Delisi metro stopDelisi metro stop

These yellow minibuses are called "marshrutkas", and they are (I believe) the most popular and common form of public transportation in Georgia.  Unfortunately their signs are only in Georgian.

These yellow minibuses are called “marshrutkas”, which are (I think) the most popular and common form of public transportation in Georgia. Unfortunately their signs are only in Georgian, so I was not a big customer.

Well this is awkward. I asked my friend to take a picture of the old man crossing the street with a chair and I didn’t dodge out of the shot in time.

One of my favorite billboards!  This is advertising Borjomi, sparkling mineral water.  Apparently it's the cure for hangovers AND aging!

One of my favorite billboards. It’s advertising Borjomi, sparkling mineral water. Apparently it’s the cure for hangovers AND looking like a meth addict!

Saburtalo is just one of many neighborhoods in Tbilisi.  Gldani and Temqa are probably the most gray places I’ve ever been.  That’s my primary memory of those places.  Gray.
P1120945 P1120946 P1120948 P1120949 P1120951 P1120952 P1120953

But their residents sure do have some spectacular views:

Temqa view of mountains


  1. Margaret

    Thanks so much for your photos! I lived in Saburtalo for 6 months but never thought to take many photos of the ordinary

  2. Vito

    I assume the time of theyear when took these shots was gray too… Some patches of green thrown into the scenes in summertime should definitely enliven the depressing vapidity of street life in Saburtalo. Anyway, somehow I have a feeling your enthusiasm for the country is on the vane.

    • Yes, winter definitely contributed to the grayness. And other areas of Tbilisi are infinitely more beautiful. But I’m not doing anyone any favors if I only show the beautiful stuff.

      Yes, my enthusiasm waned significantly over the year I spent in Georgia. When I say that, I feel like I’m offending Georgians, as if everyone is expected to love the country and never say a single bad thing about it. But I’m tired of sugar-coating and pandering and carefully editing out the bad stuff.

      Georgia is beautiful and fascinating and I recommend everyone to visit. But… living in a very religious, conservative, traditional, patriarchal society is simply NOT healthy for me, period. One year was fine, but I realized I did not want to build a life there, so I left.

      • Vito

        You should not feel like you’re offending Georgians… It’s just the way of life. Eventually everything has its drawbacks. There is no ideal country… And the notions of “good” and “bad” mean different things to different people. You’re not generalizing… just expressing your own opinion. Right?
        Tell you what – I have been following your blog for a while now and was sort of waiting for the moment for you to stop “sugar-coating” your stories…. I daresay it took you quite a while :-))
        I personally know many Georgians… They are good people but to me most of them are something like chocolate Easter bunnies: thin hollow chocolate wrapped in a golden paper… And well, unlike most orthodox Christians they are a bit on the hedonistic side. But again, that’s just my personal feeling… No offense.
        BTW – hope you’ll excuse my nasty typos.. My typing’s fast but terrible (can’t help it .. sorry), and I have to always apologize afterwards.

  3. leahnotlia

    As grey as some of these shots here, you haven’t lived in a grey city till you’ve been to Beijing. The city is grey, but so is the air.. :p but just like Georgia there are some beautiful things hidden if you know how to look. And judging from your photography you certainly have a good eye.

  4. I do like shots of cities … even if it means greyness, smog, pollution or whatever. 🙂

    There’s also something really beautiful and kind of tragic looking about the one with the seat and the red material over it. It really stirred some emotions in me. Your photography really is amazing.

  5. Awww…This took me back to when I was in Denmark/Norway! I miss being over there! Just doing everyday living was so interesting and fun. There were plenty of things about daily life in the Baltic that was similar to and different from Indiana…and I got to see that daily! Copenhagen is my most favorite city to live on this planet! I definitely want to go back but I feel like I need to explore other places first.

  6. Wow, I have to say the only redeeming quality to all that gray-ness are the mountains! But I’m glad you took time to document the day to day in Tbilisi. It may not be pretty like other cities but this is still a place where people live and make their homes. I’m amazed you stuck it out for so long in that kind of environment because I would have taken one look around and left.

    • Haha actually there are a lot of really gorgeous parts of Tbilisi, and basically every other part of the country is spectacular (check out the mountains!). But the residential areas of the city are… gray! But I suppose there are a lot of cities like that. 🙂 Thanks Amelie!

  7. danielccooper

    Wow, I like the average shots of the day to day life in Georgia. And I love the theme behind your blog, if you get the chance, check out my blog which is about my adventures going to Asia a few times, while I’m still an undergrad. And I’m trying to encourage others to make the stride past Europe.

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