The last time I contemplated the Gudiashvili garden, it was autumn. Writing this time on a bench, I have the leisure to guess the composition of its spell : in the center, cover by the sun, a wickedly charming statue representing the rain, everywhere, cobblestones instead of grass, further, it’s the old people’s corner – where chess or backgammon consume the time they have left – and around, curvated trees. I don’t know their names. Behind my back, is my favorite Tbilisi’s cafe-restaurant, Pur-Pure, a decrepit two floor house, like all in the district when they are not totally ruined.
I also notice that the weather is as clement, as it could be in June, in Scandinavia. A light of optimist tension – that only spring can create – seems to diffuse into the air, or maybe, just in my mind.
I arrived by train. The Yerevan-Tbilisi line is an odd remnant of the soviet network in the region:an improbable old electric locomotive pulling three dusty cars – one for each comfort classes. The interior decoration of mine was kitschy as I had anticipated but adequate to sleep well. Unfortunately, this train really struggles to accomplish the 350km of mountains and dry plains separating these two Caucasus capitals, and its courageous fight to continue serving at its grand age, comes loud and joggling into the cabin. Every second feels and sounds like a warning of an imminent crash, though you get used to it, because the trip is no less than 11 hours (I let you calculate the impressive average speed reached).
I’m now trying to collect what more than distance, separates the two cities.
Yerevan is pink, yellowish and gray, Tbilisi has many colors. Yerevan’s architecture seems the concoction of a Stalinist father and a cheap Dubai business center stepmother; narrow, tortuous and hilly is what comes more to me to describe Tbilisi. Yerevan is marked by pompous squared or large avenues. Tbilisi specializes in balconies defying gravity and crumbling facades. Yerevan boasts its phantom and defective new high rises. Tbilisi is in a competition to appear more American or European than it is.
If I think about the economic atmosphere, I first noted how many more beggars and homeless Tbilisi have, and how many more pitch black cars windows you can observe in Yerevan. I’m not sure what to conclude. Georgia is visibly more dynamic but probably more pitiless. Walking through it, I count today so many repairs and renovations, both more numerous and qualitative than those in Yerevan, though, sometimes, with an esthetic a bit too disney-like.
Nonetheless, Yerevan – already – feels like home, when I move out.