Living in downtown Tbilisi might be a privilege, in general, but it is a sheer catastrophe in the days when the city is full of celebratory events like Christmas and the New Year, or at times of political manifestations, when the radical change wannabes take to the streets in crowds who would recognize no other place in town for a demonstration except the famous Rustaveli Avenue.
Metropolitan Tbilisi counts a little under one and a half million people. The conurbation is growing fast, having lately acquired a couple of multilane, new, wide and comfy thoroughfares, but its old and romantic downtown remains, with hundreds of small and narrow sinuous streets and quaint little spots, the crowding of which is immediately reflected on the rest of the place: the entire town becomes congested and absolutely impossible either to park or proceed in. This is exactly where the happy holiday mood turns into thousands of angry platitudes and frustrated expressions on a multitude of faces. When the holiday times arrive, and this happens more than once a year, saying nothing about the recurrent pickets and blockades, the city management always tries to find ways out that both delight the citizens’ hearts and minds and keep the traffic within its operational limits.
In a happy and peaceful capital like ours, the holiday mood has to be kept up, and the people should be steered away from gloomy, oppositional comments and somber looks. The kids and youth and grownups want to celebrate in the same hearty and healthy way. The children are especially eager to come downtown and have a look at the lavishly illuminated streets, trees and buildings, decorated with enumerable electrified meaningful configurations in a way that creates the blissful impression that life is really good and worth living. We all need to be fed some sense of pleasure and ecstasy once in an occasional while, and here we go, we have it in ample numbers and forms: Hundreds of colorful small towers with various entertainments, attractive playgrounds and cute little makeshift eateries scattered all over the place. The penchant for taking part in all those happy episodes is growing fast, with the Merry Christmas already here and the Happy New Year still on its way.
Special is the eventide in Tbilisi when those millions of lights in thousands of colors and shades are flickering and impressively winking at you, as if to say that all is fine and any human worry is surmountable. That’s why there is bumper-to-bumper traffic on Rustaveli after the twilight: Almost every car in Tbilisi seems to be there to participate in a spontaneous folk parade of vehicles belonging to our finally relaxed citizens and their progeny, the kids flashing their curious smiles on the lights around and on each other.
Surely there couldn’t be anybody in this country against such happy instances of life? Well, it’s not excluded! The permanently raging political opposition, usually operating in convulsive fits of fury, would presumably not allow their family members to glimpse the radiant downtown because, God forbid they are seen sincerely delighted at the eye-catching sight and expressing their glee: They might clash with their political dads and moms for the simple reason that nothing is good that the current government is doing. Good is only what they will do when in power again!
This is one of the absurdities of our social life which seems to be diminuend and defeated at the moment of the celebrations we see in the capital city of Georgia these lovely and enjoyable days and nights. Isn’t it one of our most elevated human rights to pursue the happiness that life offers; to grab and enjoy it when the chance comes by? Nobody wants to lose that occasional God-given physical feeling of festivity, which is as fleeting as anything else in life. So, let this one be one of the Happiest New Years for a nation that has relaxed a little after the many hardships and turbulences it has endured in the last thirty something years!