City Lights & Life Signs
13 December, 2012
City Lights & Life Signs
Tiflis has gone through numerous vicissitudes of life, myriad smaller or bigger changes and lots of ups and downs in the duration of more than one and a half millennium it has been around. Look at the recent alterations done to the intracity roads, enjoy the intricately built flyovers all over the place, behold its newly tailored skyline, have a glimpse of brand new squares and the modern architectural glasswork, filling the eyesight so abundantly, Intake the long-awaited-for city lights
that make the fine print readable at night,
get a taste of outlandish ice-cream variety, spend your wee hours in the ubiquitously popping up bars and night clubs, spend the happy intellectual evening in omnipresent theaters, gleefully celebrate wedding and birthday parties in lavishly decorated banquet halls, go and dance the night through in bustling discos if only you can take the deafening sounds of music in your stride, use the unhampered internet connection at any corner of the town, make utility payments with the help of automatons, modestly lurching anywhere your eyesight takes you to, cash your money in street-friendly cash machines, enter any bank branch and get a service of your dream, fuel up at stylish and well-groomed gas stations without suffering the nuisance of long and boring lines, go to over-stocked food stores of various brands and leave your car in the street parking space – unlocked if you wish. You see how wonderful the life has become in the capital city of Georgia? This all said and done, the liveliest and the busiest corners in town still remain the old-style markets of the street. These are the places where life is in full swing as it was a hundred years ago and earlier throughout centuries. I have seen daytime and night life of many minor and larger cities of the world where everything is boiling and bubbling over, which is not the case at all here in the modern-day Tiflis although all the above mentioned goodies and amenities are present and functioning. Why? Why is it that the stores with chicly decorated windows are mostly empty and the unkempt oriental-style bazaars are infested to the brim with shoppers and idlers equally at all possible times? Why is it that the workforce in those bazaars is so businesslike and the store attendants in those lustrous rich spots are languid and uninterested to serve? Most of us will probably answer that bazaars are cheaper. Could be, but not only that! There should also be something psychologically determined to it. There is probably working a tradition of that style of trade which makes a customer feel more comfortable not only money-wise but also because they feel themselves very much at home in those old-style grass-roots market places. Why is it that there is almost everything in Tiflis that looks like a big city sign, but not enough to make it look and feel like a real city with real productive boisterous city life. There is something lacking in there – something indescribable and consciously inexpressible. Just walk down the Rustaveli Prospect – the most famous, most beautiful and most sophisticated of all the streets and avenues of the city and you will see that the life there needs more vigor and movement. As it seems, the city lights are not enough to make it all truly real. The signs of a real city life – ‘rich and ripe and mellow’ – are not easy to bring about. How long will it take, I would love and hate to ask, until the comfort, coziness and action-packed life-style of a real city comes to Tiflis? I don’t know why I am so badly disgruntled but Tiflis had a charm which is not in place any more. As I said, only the markets – crowded, noisy and busy – carry the real city signs I am getting so nostalgic about.
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