A Year Later

Johni Todadze, 41, owns a small fruit counter on Temqa in Tbilisi. Apples are his biggest seller. Johni says they are from Gori. He barely keeps up with the customers who wait in long queues.

more...
close

A boy of 15 helps him weighing fruits and putting them in paper bags. “Is it really from Gori?” people often ask. The seller confirms in Kartli dialect: “From my own yard.” Todadze is a from Gori district, village Mejviskhevi. He has been selling his apples in Tbilisi for nine years. Before that he exported his crops to Russian Federation. Asked if his business is profitable, Todadze answered that despite the good trade, his income is reduced 10 times in comparison to times, when he was selling fruits in Russia. In those old days his income wavered from 20 up to 25 thousands Laris.

Todadze hopes that Russian market will reopen, because in November of 2013, when newly elected president of Georgia George Margvelashvili gave an interview to Russia’s First TV channel, he said that Georgian products have a great future in the Russian market. “These words gave me and other Gori farmers hope to increase our incomes,” Todadzesaid, “We all hope the president will arrange high-level negotiations on this issue.”

Todadze owns 6000 square meters of land. Apple trees cover 65 %. Annually he harvests from 15 up to 20 tons of apples depending on the weather conditions. This year it was 16. His expenses, including cultivating the land and chemicals for the trees made up 700 lari. Todadze sold 15 tons of hiscropsto the local juice factory, a kilogram for seven tetri. The rest of the crops he brought to Tbilisi for retail selling. He believes that if he could export to Russia, he would sell a kilogram for one dollar. If that market reopens, he will not come to Tbilisi next year. He will take the whole harvest directly to the Russian Federation.

Aleko Shanshiashvili, 22, was married for two years. Now he is divorced and has a two-year-old son. Shanshiashvili is a student of the Georgian Technical University’s Faculty of Informatics and

more...
close

Management Systems, but now he is not taking classes because he works to help his family and to pay his tuition fee. Shanshiashvili is employed as an expert at the micro-financial organization Rico Credit. His job is to check quality of jewelry, which are delivered from people who want to borrow money instead of jewelry from Rico Credit. His monthly salary is 500 GEL.

Shanshiashvili thinks positively about political changes and the new president. He thinks the new government will promote business development, his company will thrive and he will get a better position with more salary.

“After political changes, I have big expectations about the economical and legal changes,” Shanshiashvili says. “I believe in a better life in the future, and I hope my son will live in a better country,” he says.

Passing through an old, wooden entrance every student has to show a school ID card to a glasses-wearing, stocky, middle-aged man. It’s been almost a year since Beso Gabashvili, 53, has been sitting all day in the doorway of Tbilisi State Academy.

more...
close

He checks the permits of entering students. After long working days, Gabashvili returns home, where his 87-year-old mother is waiting for him. “I’m the only son. I have no sister or brother. So, I’m looking after my mother,” - Gabashvili says. Mother is the reason why after 20 years of absence he returned to Georgia. In 90s he left for Russia with his family, as thousands of Georgians did in those days because of civil war and severe socio-economic conditions. Then he moved to Europe and finally settled down in the US. His wife Anna and three boys still are in the US. Two of them study at universities and the eldest, Temur, a psychologist, is married and has a son.

Gabashvili misses his family, but he thinks being separated from the family is much easier now than in 90s, because of the Internet. He says they aren’t going to come to Georgia, at least in the near future. Although lots of things have changed for better since 90s and the government has changed for the third time since then, still it is very hard for a person to realize his potential.

Gabashvili recalls when he worked abroad in his profession as an economist, and says it is difficult not only for a man of his age to find appropriate job in Georgia, but even for young people. He thinks it depends on economic improvement, which is hard to approve in a couple of years, whoever the president is, so he doesn’t have great expectations for the next year. In his opinion, if government keeps a distance in relations with Russia, it will be better for steady development of the country; otherwise Georgia will go back in the past. Gabashvili doesn’t plan to go back to the US or change job. After each work day he usually goes home, where his old mother has been waiting for him since morning.

EdisherAsatiani, 21, studies law at Tbilisi State University. He is a tall, ginger, portly junior, who believes in Georgian Dream party and has positive expectations about the president he voted for. “The new president seems an honest and clever man.

more...
Animals have rights, too!
close

. I believe in Dream, and I think in one year from now, there will be more workplaces, better living conditions and happier citizens in the streets,” - he says.

Though he believes the new president will make useful changes, Asatiani thinks neither he nor his family’s life and future depends on who is the president. What he mostly expects are significant adjustments in the educational system, and more competitive market environment conditions.

Asatiani plans to continue studying law abroad next year. He has not decided which university to apply for yet. “I think exchange programs should be more supported and the opportunities to be taken made easier,” he says. He thinks it is crucial that more students had opportunities to apply for exchange programs. The Ministry of Education has to undergo serious alternations, he says. Asatiani does not work currently and devotes his time to studying.

Tsiala Khizambareli, 52, sells her handmade adornments and trinkets at Rustaveli Avenue. She makes brooches, bracelets, necklaces. She has health’s problems, often suffers with high pressure. Khizambareli considers that she has a boring job, but she has no choice.

more...
close

Whenever she tried to start working on a low-paid job, she always had problems, because of her age and appearance. Khizambareli thinks that she is elderly and everyone wants to have young and beautiful employee.

Khizambareli obtained secondary education from Kaspi industrial college. She says: “I have no hope that something will change in my life. There can be some little changes but they don’t bring me results. Presidents change, new government investigates old cases, meanwhile time passes, people struggle with poverty and no one helps us.”

Khizambareli says, that people do not have even 2 GEL to buy the adornments and those who have enough money, have no mood for it. “The majority of people have such life. I belong to a social stratum that nobody cares about. I have health problems, I do not have a job and with this background, how can I imagine my life? Far, only in a fairy tale, I believe that something good will happen,” - Khizambareli says.

No ray crosses the Dry Bridge. Sun is hiding behind the Mtatsminda Mountain. He is sitting in an indigo shade, rubbing his wrinkled hands, turning even bluer. Ashes of November leaves are curled up in his flour-white hair, blown by a sharp and hissy wind.

more...
close

Calm and lonely, he sits on a bridge, waiting hours for a stranger to come and buy a screw-nut or an old radio set, which belongs to him. Apart from the rest of bazaar he remains motionless, time-to-time bending and slipping his fingers on his things he sells and staring at an invisible spot in the air, as there is nothing that his white-colored eyes could see. He is blind. Djumber Kupatadze, 74, has been selling in a street market for more than a decade. He had been waiting for a political situation to settle down since the soviet times and finally he has a hope for a better life. He does not think that a stream of changes will flood the country within next year, because political refresh takes time, but still he sees a hope in a new president. “Focusing on a positive side of the situation is better than to get stuck in your own mess,” he says.

He hopes that a new president will prioritize the social issues and help poor people to finally stand steadily on their feet. Most of all he wishes, that at least some pre-election promises come true. As he says, Giorgi Margvelashvili once stated, that some health-care issues in Georgia must be financed by the government. He hopes that his damaged retina will be operated with no charge someday “It is the matter of a complete resurrection, even at my ages,” he says.

Fifteen years ago he lost the sight, but the operations could help to restore his eyes from a complete blindness. As a matter of fact, the bigger problem for him at the moment is to earn some money for food and stay alive then to dream of a very expensive surgery.

Natela Barsova, 50, a tall brunette with green eyes, works as a distributor for a cosmetic company on a low salary. She has changed her job many times. She has worked as a trade economist, journalist and as a dishwasher.

more...
close

When the civil war broke out in Tbilisi in 1991, she had to leave her job. She says the brief time of working as an economist was the best period of her life.

Barsova is quite critical and looks skeptically at the promises of the new president. She doesn’t expect any changes within the next year. She thinks that the politicians in this country care only about their personal prosperity, and that only individuals can bring changes to their lives, without government assistance. “Based on their old, unfulfilled promises I have no expectations,” she said.

Barsova claims that the living conditions of the middle class haven’t improved under either the new or previous government, and that the promises of the pre-election campaign always remains as just promises. “I can’t see jobs created by the government. If nothing changes we will remain in the dark,’’- says Barsova, who believes that the financial and social situation in Georgia is hopeless.