Humans of Tbilisi

Images and stories from everyday lives of Tbilisians.

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This one is from Guria in western Georgia.

Shukhuti villagers play Lelo Burti to celebrate Easter. The Rugby-like game is between the upper and the lower village, and uses a leather ball filled with dirt and wine. The village priest blesses the ball and the game starts in the local church. There are no rules, and the whole village plays. The team that drags the ball to their part of the village wins. The winning team takes the ball to the cemetery to honor a recently passed away person.

Apr 21

“Oh, such a cute puppy!” I told the little girl. “What’s her name?” I asked.

“Puppy,” she announced proudly.

“Is she a trouble-maker?” I asked.

“Nope. That would be me,” she replied with a serious face.

Mar 18

The library where Natia and Zviadi work, specializes in catering to the blind.

“How long have you worked here?” I asked Natia.

“Oh, I started only a couple of months ago. I was looking for a part-time job, as I am a grad student,” she replied.

“Which book are you recording today?” I asked them.

“A textbook on the theory of evolution,” Zviadi replied.


Mar 10

From the Imeretian village of Kitskhi in Western Georgia.

Iuza asked his wife to help him with the traditional costume for the folk music rehearsal.

“I couldn’t have survived all these years without the singing and the humor,” he said.

“What happened?” I asked.

“We lost our son during the war in Abkhazia in the early 1990s,” Iuza told me as his wife was fixing the details on the collar.

Jan 4

Chichilakis are Georgian version of Christmas trees, and are essential to have as the new year arrives.

“I’m 13 now, and I have already made a couple of hundred chichilakis,” Temuri told me.

“Well, that’s true, but you still need to shave more hazelnut wood. Practice makes perfect,” Kvicha told him.

Dec 31

Every year the St George’s monument in Freedom Sq lights up beautifully. Even though it is done to make it look like a giant Christmas tree, some Tbilisians lovingly called it “The St. George’s Skirt”.

The electricians working to install the lights around the St George’s monument saw me taking pictures. They suggested to take me up with them to see how they work up there. How could I say no? I was so close that I could even reach out to touch the top of the 35-meter-tall monument.

Dec 29

Churchkhela: a sweet concoction made out of boiled grape juice and nuts. He explained to me that just like wine, the type of grape will make a difference in the final taste and color.

Dec 17

Hanukkah in a Tbilisi synagogue.

Dec 6

I stood there and watched him for a few minutes- he was too concentrated to have any interest in interactions.

“I’ve been making swords and daggers for the last 15 years,” Giga paused to tell me.

“How many swords do you make in a year?” I asked.

“Not many, as it takes around 3 months to make a good sword,” he replied.

Nov 27

This one is not from Tbilisi, but from Kakheti in Eastern Georgia.

“I have worked in vineyards most of my life,” the 72-year-old Moseh told me.

“You don’t find it difficult to get on and off this truck all day? You’re so swift.” I asked.

“Shout louder! I can’t hear well! ” he said.

Nov 15