In English for Nikola.
We enter the lively, bright lit backyard through a small, unsuspecting door that looks more like it leads to someone’s garage than to a restaurant. It feels like a secret passageway, without any sign indicating the name of the establishment. The garden we pass into is illuminated cozily by multiple string lights that span between tall trees and rustic brick walls. Underneath the low-hanging lights, heavy, wooden tables are set with yellow flowers and colorful glass carafes filled with sweet fruit compote and Georgian wine. Our curious group finds place at the largest table and chats away in English, Georgian, Armenian, German, and French whilst a waiter with the most perfect curled-up mustache brings enormous baskets of bread, cheese, and various kinds of Pkhali. Our wine glasses empty and fill themselves time and time again as we share plates of cheesy Khachapuri, garden salads, and grilled meats.
By the third or fourth glass of wine, I did not count, Giorgi stands up and starts reciting Georgian poetry. He does it so nonchalantly, with a cigarette still stuck in the corner of his mouth, as if he had recounted it a hundred times before. Maybe he has. Even though I do not understand the meaning of his words, it sounds quite moving and full of deep emotion. When Liza explains that the poem is about love, I instinctively know that it must be true. The poetry is followed by melodic Georgian songs, to which all the Georgians at the table join in. Nini’s powerful voice sticks out as the genre shifts from traditional Georgian music to the latest rap tracks. I must admit that the choir that has formed in one corner of the table sounds pretty good and I find myself bobbing my head to the harmonic sound of their voices.
It would not be a proper Georgian supra without the Tamada who is captivating the table with their rhetorical skills and bridging the gaps between past, present, and future. Today, Paata is our Tamada and toasts to the newly formed bonds friendship, love, and solidarity that we have for each other. However, my favorite toast of the evening is delivered by Anne and is rather unconventional. Anne toasts to colors and reminds me of the vibrant colors of the Pkhali on our table, of the vividly patterned Persian carpets being sold down the street, of the fading colors of the murals inside Tbilisi’s countless churches and of our own colorful group that has found together to form one beautiful painting.
Nuts, dried fruit, and cake accompany the eastern coffee that marks the end of our joint meal. A small group starts to form around Nikola who is reading people’s hands with a stern, concentrated look on his face while he waits for the coffee grounds in Giorgi’s cup to set so that he can read that as well. Nikola finds that Kayla is being followed by a mysterious man, that Nona will be happily married with many children, and that someone new would soon enter Giorgi’s life. Some of the readings are accompanied by a cheeky wink of the eye, but of course that would never make me question Nikola’s spiritual abilities. ;-).
One by one, we trickle out of the unsuspecting garage door onto the street and say our first goodbye to Maya who is shouldering her enormous backpack and heading off to the airport. Yet, the night is still young and so some of us continue to wander Tbilisi’s streets. We find ourselves in a small basement bar, with black and neon-painted walls and 00s Nickelback playing from some YouTube playlist, quite the opposite of the luminous garden that we had sat in minutes before. The dark walls almost remind me of a cave, however the glow-in-the-dark Rick and Morty drawings make for rather strange cave paintings. The middle-aged bartender is jolly and probably glad about some customers this late on a Thursday night. He makes his own Chacha, which is just as chemically neon colored as the rest of his pub and stores it in tall glass bottles above the bar. One Chachtail (that is what he calls his Chacha-cocktails) and a bar game later, we decide to call it a night.
We order a minivan, which would sound crazy in Berlin but is somewhat normal in Tbilisi, and a van actually turns the corner mere minutes later. The seven of us cram inside, still unaware that we are in for the ride of our lives. Our driver is quite entertained by our curious group and has something to say about everything, in broken English, German and Russian. He talked to me in German and boasted about having been the first to translate the German constitution into Georgian or the Georgian constitution into German, I do not fully remember after uncounted glasses of wine and one Chachtail, but either way that is indeed very interesting. The conversation was interrupted time and time again by his brash manner of driving, which made us tumble from side to side in our seats as if we were in a rollercoaster and our tipsy souls made us laugh and squeal just the same. “If one man can drive in Tbilisi, he can drive on Mars”, exclaims the driver while gesturing wildly and I choose to believe him. He goes on about the Russians and the Americans and the war and how he neither likes Macron nor Macarons, which makes me chuckle. Before he finishes his rant about current politics and everything that was better in the past, a taxi driver classic, we arrive at our hotel. I feel light of the wine and Chacha, warm of my friend’s love, full of great food and amused of our wild cab ride and I hope that this has not been my last Georgian Supra.