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A year after in Tbilisi: people won’t shut up2009-08-07 18:38
Figure combination 08.08.08 is like a sinister code to Pandora's box that unleashed madness and bloodshed. On the night of August 8 Georgian hail hit Tskhinval. This date is inscribed in history not only as the five-day war in South Ossetia, this day is a tragic turn: for the first time in history of two nations Russians and Georgians fought against each other.
Pain, bitterness and disappointment are the feelings one could sense in Tbilisi streets on hot August days of 2008. What has changed a year after? How has Georgia gone through this time? And what is next - a new war or a long and tough way to understanding? Georgia Times correspondent was trying to find answers to these questions in Tbilisi - asking politicians, public figures and common people of this blessed and long-suffering land.
The only thing that has remained unchanged over this year is inborn hospitality. A welcome meal with all food reserves prepared for autumn which promises to be hard will wait for a guest coming to impoverished Georgia. The crisis, unemployment, political squabbling... For the past year the dining rite has changed. The first toast will be to peace: men drink the glass up, women just take a sip whispering: "If only there was no war".
On August days of 2009 everyone discusses war. Some recall those who died on those crazy days. Some hide no tears remembering homes that were burned and lost. Some curse the war for bringing business to ruin and difficulties of making a living...
A distinctive feature of the country of vine and wine as Georgia has been called since the old days is extreme politicization of the society. Even kids discuss politics here. On being invited to a glass of wine by old acquaintances or to a cup of coffee by neighbors politics will surely be one of the topics. And within half an hour the table looks like a parliamentary square with each one maintaining his ground forgetting to listen to others.
Another particularity striking the eye of a guest to Tbilisi is that a small country seems to be divided into several detached societies that don't interlink. The authorities exist on their own: one turns on TV and hears about successes that the government obtains sparing no effort. This beau monde's alter ego is represented by the rest of the politicians - the opposition willing to replace the current authorities: at night they criticize all popularized achievements of the government on two oppositional TV channels. All other people in Georgia live their lives without even switching on TV being tired of blah-blah-blah. They are preoccupied only with the present - fearing a new war and thinking how to keep the family going.