Georgia: Stories of Unrequited Love
The Georgians are a proud people who have a zest for living which is second to none. Their stories border on fables, and their songs spring from the heart. Adding a touch of formality to any occasion, or melodrama to any incident, or risking an innuendo in straight conversation comes naturally to them. No wonder that they have a toastmaster for drinking, and they dance aggressively to the rhythms of a primeval time to bring forth their impassioned articulation of life.
People who wear their passions on their sleeves usually always have a sentimental side: Georgians love love-stories or songs of unrequited love and many of them are enshrined in their collective consciousness. The stories may or may not be true, but that is secondary to the construction of a great narrative.
The beautiful town of Sighnaghi is called the ‘City of Love’. The cobbled streets of this wine-producing town speak of a legend surround their most famous painter, Nikala Pirosmani. It is said that he sold his house to buy a million roses for his lady love, who, eventually left him. He died at the foot of the stairs of a building where he was living his last days in penury. Nikala’s paintings are housed in the Sighnagi’s National Museum, are valued at millions of dollars today, but his love-story is larger than his artistic accomplishments.
In the Black Sea coast town of Batumi another love story blooms. If you have seen the film, Ali and Nino, you may be familiar with this tragic love story written by Kurban Said. Nino, a Georgian princess, falls with a Azerbaijani youth, Ali, who dies while defending his country against the Russians. Though the movie is not quite able to match the brush-strokes of fervid romance of Dr. Zhivago, it does capture the anguish of war-time love.
Georgian artist Tamar Kvesitadze created a 26-foot steel sculpture in honour of this story, and placed it on the road hugging the seashore in Batami. The figures of Ali and Nino move toward each other every 10 minutes, appear in armless embrace, and then separate again. Tourists queue up every evening at 7 PM and watch this spectacle in wide-eyed trance. You may, too: watch the video in this post.