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New Georgia: Modernisation Georgian style

Tbilisi, modern street art 1997. Photo: Peter Nasmyth
Tbilisi, modern street art 1997. Photo: © Peter Nasmyth

By the end of 1990s, Georgia was slowly rising from the ashes. Being back in Tbilisi Nasmyth experiences another time-change in the city:

Although mentally prepared for modernisation, I still found myself shocked at the number of new, marble-fronted stores and restaurants, shining out onto the run-down pavements.

I glanced around the new Rustaveli Avenue, displaying at least two dozen new shops and businesses. Besides me Kodak, Fanta, Coca-Cola, Samsung, 'salon' blazed out of the walls. McDonald's was on its way. But New Georgia had started to pick up its own distinctive style. Many of the restaurants and cafés had been created in a very personal style, as if by artists (very often they were). Names like "Nicola" (filled with Pirosmani copies), the "Café Vincent" (after Van Gogh), "Maly" with its richly lugubrious romantic murals, welcomed Georgian visitors with menus written in English and Georgian (the Russian language had almost disappeared from the city centre, right down to the street signs).

[pp. 285 – 290]

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