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Letters to Santa

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and all around the world, children write letters to Father Christmas, Ded Moroz, Tovlis Babua: Santa Claus. Given that top level politics in Georgia can often appear a bit, well, childish, it’s not beyond the imagination to see some of the country’s leaders writing their own notes requesting gifts from the jolly fat man (and no, I don’t mean Kakha Bendukidze). What do they want to find under the chichilaki on New Year’s morning? Let’s take a look…Prime...

Suleli Utskhoeli’s Unsolicited New Years Resolutions

As the New Year period comes around, it is often advisable to sit back and reflect on the events of the last twelve months. Perhaps, the reasoning goes, if we ruminate on our successes and failures of the last year, we can do more to attain our goals in the next, while avoiding more of the pitfalls that inevitably come our way. The New Year is also a time to think...

Celebrities

Ah celebrities. The rich, the famous, the powerful – few of us can honestly say we don’t feel a small twinge of electricity when we are in their presence. It is perfectly reasonable to feel a little bit pleased, for example, if you run into Beyonce at a bus stop, or randomly get seated next to the Dalai Lama at dinner. You just got back from a jet-skiing holiday with the Obamas? Feel free to be delighted, and you are even welcome to bore me with anecdotes about Michelle’s cooking, and how Barak...

Belts

When I first came to Georgia, I had been thoroughly trained about seatbelts. As soon as I sat down in a car, reflexes would take over, and I would buckle-up. It would be weird not wearing a seatbelt, a bit like going out in the street without any trousers. But in Georgia, something strange happened to me. At first, I noticed that a lot of cars just didn’t have any seatbelts at all, or if they did these had long become fossilised, cemented in place through inactivity. Even when cars did have...

Man-kiss

As loyal readers know, I use this column to complain about Georgia. In a slightly patronising, acerbic tone, I like to pontificate about how this or that aspect of Georgian life is backward, silly, or just plain dangerous. Because I call myself a stupid foreigner, I insulate myself from charges of being an insensitive, western-centric chauvinist whose views would make a 19th century colonialist blush. However, I am currently paying a visit to Britain, the land of my birth, and it occurs to me...

The first annual Suleli Utskhoeli Awards

The Manana Archvadze Prize for Reasoned Political Debate Winner: Nino Burjanadze   The judges found it difficult to choose to whom to award this coveted trophy, named in honour of the grande dame of Georgian politics, the serenely moderate and reasonable Manana Archvadze. However, after much deliberation, it was decided Ms Burjanadze’s contribution to constructive political dialogue ought to be recognised. It must be remembered that Nino Burjanadze and her party struck a powerful blow for...

Fashion

 Fashion, Oscar Wilde once said, represents something so ugly that it must be changed every six months. Georgia seems to have taken his advice to the next level: this year I have counted no fewer than three Georgian fashion weeks. Now I’m a dress-down kind of guy, but I still love a glamorous party, so I made it my business to attend these fashion weeks, and you know what? They weren’t at all bad. The models were gorgeous, the clothes were mostly very nice and the whole thing had that pleasing...

Toursim

I’m afraid I have some bad news. It’s nothing tragic, don’t worry, but you may be in for a bit of a disappointment. It’s about Batumi. It’s like this: it doesn’t matter how long the boulevard is, it doesn’t matter how many fancy hotels there are, and it doesn’t matter if the pebbles on the beach are replaced with miles and miles of golden sand — Batumi is never going the new San Tropez. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Batumi isn’t a nice place, I think it’s great, especially in the...

Clubs

Two Australian tourists stopped me on the street the other day. Hearing me talk English on my mobile while being laden with several kilos of tomatoes (pink, of course) they correctly assumed that I was a foreigner living in Georgia. They wanted to know where they could go out of an evening, have a few drinks, meet some people, generally have a good night out. I suggested some bars they might like, Shardeni for people watching, Perovskaya for seedy, expat carousing, but they wanted nightclubs: “...

The Mikhoist Manifesto

This perverted approach to capitalism is something peculiarly Georgian that I have never encountered anywhere else. You don’t have to be a graduate of Harvard Business School to realize that more customers is generally a good thing in the retail world, and that if lots of people want to buy something, you can charge more for it. But Georgia is a place where the fundamental laws of supply and demand just refuse to apply. Take real estate for example. Tbilisi is home to hundreds of empty flats...

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