Remembering 9th April 1989


9 April …remembering 9 April 1989…when Soviet troops attacked Georgian demonstrators with clubs and sharpened spades. The clashes left 20 people dead, mainly young women.


jim holroyd 365

9th April 1989. The Berlin Wall was still standing, the Ceausescus were still breathing and events in Tbilisi which included hunger strikes reached a climax. The events of 9 April 1989 were the culmination of weeks of demonstrations for Georgian independence and against separatism of Abkhazia. 


The demonstrations were mostly peaceful. At their peak, about 10,000 people are estimated to have been present. 

Minutes before 4am on 9 April, General  Radionov told his troops, who had been requested by Jumber Pastiashvili, first secretary of the Georgian Communist Party, to clear the square, in front of the Georgian government building, on Rustaveli Avenue, by all means available. The Soviet troops attacked the demonstrators with clubs and sharpened spades. The clashes left 20 people dead, mainly young women.

Images of the twenty dead. Images of the twenty dead.

An hour before the attack the Georgian Patriarch, Ilia II, begged the crowds to leave the Square.

P1100720 Mzia Jincharadze


A year later…

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Eight years in Georgia: The Good, the Bad and the მახინჯი

I moved to Georgia eight years ago, the country not the US state (it needs qualifying every time). I am often asked do I like Georgia? Well, my answer is “Yes and no”. Some things I like, some I don’t (as with any country).

I love the light. Lots of clear sunny days make for good photos. Coming from England, where sunny days are rarer, this is a great blessing.

light in the stairwell
light in the stairwell of the block where I live in Varketili

The mountains are spectacular, some are higher than any in the Alps (Mont Blanc is 4810m, Mount Shkhara in Svaneti is 5193m).

Abudelauri Lake (Blue)

Georgian women are very pleasing on the eye, strangely Georgian men seem to fantasise about Ukrainian women.

Georgians rave about their cuisine, I am not so impressed and miss English roast dinners and puddings. I don’t really like khachapuri, their signature dish, a cheese filled pastry, I find it too salty. Georgian meals are important events and most birthdays and holidays are marked with a feast or “supra”. Georgians are also proud of their wine and claim to have been the nation which invented wine back in the mists of time, some 8 000 years ago, a claim for which there is some archaeological support in the region. Georgian wine

adjaruli khachapuri 3
Adjaruli Khachapuri close up


The language is a nightmare for me, using a different alphabet and having long words with tricky consonant clusters. I have started a separate blog : The Reluctant Georgian Learner to detail my travails with the language.


the Georgian alphabet is unique

One thing that saddens me is despite the Georgians singing so much that they are proud of their country, so many of them litter with abandon.

rubbish in nature

I like seeing old Soviet cars still around.

AS GAZ Volga 24
GAZ Volga 24-02

I can work here quite easily as an English teacher, many people want to learn English and there are not a lot of native English speakers. The cost of living is relatively cheap particularly things like public transport are much cheaper in Tbilisi than in London, but wages are much lower.

Georgian people don’t smile much but they do have a tradition of hospitality.

Tbilisi feels a safe city, I have had no troubles, apparently it hasn’t always been like this, in the 1990s there was a lot of street crime. Walking around late at night in an English city on a Friday or Saturday night is more intimidating than walking around Tbilisi at night.

The public transport, though cheap can be very overcrowded.

on the bus blog
On the bus

The traffic is scary at times, the drivers have little respect for pedestrians and won’t stop just because you are at a pedestrian crossing. When asked by Georgians what I don’t like I usually say “the traffic” and they nod in agreement, though apparently it is even worse in Iran.

crossing by Drybridge Market
cars won’t stop necessarily at a pedestrian crossing


Religion is important here, despite the Bolsheviks trying to stamp out religion in the past, there are many new churches and most Georgians are Orthodox Christians. I have been baptised into the Orthodox church but I find their intolerance of other denominations rather un-Christian. My wife is quite devout and prays twice a day, every day.




…and the ugly (მახინჯი)…

Smoking is very common here, it is cheap and many smokers seem oblivious to those around them, it pains me to see people smoking around children.

The new Biltmore Hotel doesn’t fit in with the Tbilisi City Scape.

Biltmore Hotel, showing the UAE flag

There are many other pluses and minuses to living in Georgia, my home for the foreseeable future. I might add to this post later.