A Love Letter to Tbilisi

In 2013, the Ukrainian Blogger Daria Kholodilina decided to move to Georgia. She fell in love with this country and now expresses her fascination through her project ‘Letters to Tbilisi’. The idea of the project is that everybody who is somehow connected to Tbilisi can write a letter dedicated to the city.

In 2016, Daria travelled to Anaklia on the Black Sea and, missing her adopted home Tbilisi, came up with this project to recognise the capital city. “If I miss the city so much, other people probably feel the same. That’s why I launched Letters to Tbilisi,” Daria told GEORGIA TODAY.

At the beginning, she simply asked friends to write letters to Tbilisi. Then she established a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pg/letterstotbilisi/about/) and an Instagram Account (https://www.instagram.com/letterstotbilisi/). In her next step, she teamed up with bars, hostels and coffee-shops, getting them to set up boxes on their premises and inform their visitors about the project. The target group is tourists, expats and people from Georgia who want to speak up. The biggest part of recruiting writers was achieved through word-of-mouth marketing. Since July 2016, Daria has received around 70 letters from all over the world and an exhibition was held of the letters in the Tbilisi History Museum. Some of the letters are so beautiful, they would also look good in an art gallery. The content of the letters varies: some people write about their experience in the city, others tell the story of their lives; yet others send pictures or paintings.

“One of my favourite letters is a postcard from Berlin,” Daria told us. “It is like a love letter: ‘Sometimes I miss you - it happens to me in unknown cities, on unknown streets, as I see the plane trees. I should laugh: how come you have so many merits but I think about you only when I see those plane trees? Oops, it seems like I miss you now. See you soon! So excited!’”

The longest letter was written by a Russian Lady who wrote that she met her future husband in Tbilisi and that they now have a child.

But not all the letters are positive. Some people complain about the traffic or suggest renovating the sidewalks. One writer is worried about the young generation. He hopes that Tbilisi will take care of its youth so they can grow up in a free and open-minded society.

The letters are collected and translated into Georgian and English. The contact with the writers does not end after receiving a letter. For Daria, it’s more a beginning: “Some friendships started because of a Letter to Tbilisi.”

Although the boxes are no longer seen in the city, the project is ongoing. On Facebook, you can find the address to send your letter to.

Daria’s wish: “One day, I want to make a book with all these beautiful letters”.

Another place where the letters will be displayed soon is the official website of the Tourism Administration: Georgia.travel.

‘Letter to Tbilisi’ will undoubtedly soon have a sibling in Germany as Daria was contacted by a friend from Berlin who wants to start “Letters to Berlin”. They plan to start the project in the same way as Daria did in Tbilisi. First, by promoting the project online and within their groups of friends, and then begin the search for partners to spread the word.

Manuela Kosch

19 January 2017 19:09