Thank you, the city of warmth, for welcoming me with satin Sunny mornings;
for your silk evenings,
mesmerizing views from any of your hills,
for keeping your trees Autumn colours intact,
a street florist with violets to bring the Spring’s smell into my colleagues office,
quite a variety of taxi drivers from a former music producer to a Georgian rap-listening-and-kicking-in-moves-while-driving,
enforcing the adagio that “zebras belong in zoos” and mad-yet-somehow orderly traffic,
making international hotels to embrace and promote local culture,
your cuisine and vegan sweets, mouth watering vegetables and khachapuri,
a perfect Tvishi wine from Teliani Valley for a wedding anniversary,
the joy and pride in people’s eyes when they talk about what they do,
making room for a 4th Century Church and a 21th century “palace” of the most important public servant of the country (nothing personal),
for letting me discover you through the eyes and stories of one of my dearest friends, one of your most beautiful and talented daughters. Thank you, Dear & Dear Tbilisi!
My next stop on the “Read all Nobel price in Literature” journey took me to North Africa, as seen by Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio. Le Clezio received the Nobel prize for literature in 2008.He wrote “Désert”/”The desert” in 1980.
The desert appeared to me as a metaphor for human misery and emptiness, but also for wholeness and its intrinsic happiness. The human misery and happiness are told through stories of descendants of a man believed to be holy by his North African nomadic people. The story’s two main characters are a boy, Nour, and a girl, Lalla. It is such a beautiful story that I read it every time I wanted to escape the daily routine.
Lala takes you places. I loved to read it on my flights back home and to be mentally in the places Lala took me and see what she saw from the harshness of the desert to the brutality of the streets of Marseille inhabited by the once nomadic by lifestyle or spirit people, and further to the glamorous life of the most photographed face. At times, Lalla’s silent pain and suffering are hard to read about. It is also symbolic for a group of people affected by colonisation and its consequences.
As if harshness breeds love, Lala, also called Hawa, who cannot write, adopted a small heart as her signature. This sign you’ll find on the books’ page adds to the symbolic heights this books takes you to. Lala, also called Hawa, is a gift of love. If you try to find out who she is her answers will teach you a thing or two on humbleness.
Le Clezio amazed me with the pallet of styles he interchanges smoothly, softly, delightfully. I loved the book as it created a refuge for me from daily noise. I was almost upset, when the story took the turn of war and fights. The fight between the ever symbolic good and evil, “civilised” and those whom they call “fanatic”, a general and a desert warrior. The author gives his perspective on the beginning of 20th century events in North Africa. Le Cezio is tough on those who call themselves Christians. Is money their true religion, he asks. As if hunger, wariness, sickness and despair were not enough, natives had to be massacred and had to see their leader die, alone, abandoned, denied and forgotten.
This book left a bitter-sweet taste and a desire to read more by Le Clezio, the French writer with Mauritian origins.
for your grand hospitality,
new business connections,
good old friends,
people proud of what they do,
the singing taxi driver,
ristretto to compete with the Italian flavours,
women wearing perfume in a special way,
giving the Cravat/the tie to the world,
a special “Hvala wall”,
one of a kind street musicians,
Croatian fusion cooking at Saft and
for planting into my soul a desire to return and descover more
Le Glezio’s phrase “Now the photogrher’s kitchenette is full of boxes of gunower tea and jasmin tea and little bundles of mint” in “Desert” triggered a memory.
I was having breakfast in one of the locally branded cafes in an airport in the easterm part of this double-baptised continent. A vegetables omlette, a fresh orange juice and an espresso.
A lady asked if the seat vis-a-vis mine is free. Her grey well done hair was nimb like. The light of her spirit made her face look wrinkless. She was above eighty or maybe seventy or sixty? It did not realy matter. Her softness and kindness was just transcendent, translucent and ageless. She looked briefly at the menu and ordered a mint tea. The waiter respectfully obliged and returned within minutes. She seemed content.
I finished my breakfast in her quiet company. Her gestures made it clear that no talk will be imposed from either sides. I did not want to spoil the mint translucence either.
As my boarding time was announced, I went to the waiter to pay for my breakfast and asked him to include the lady’s mint tea on my bill. He was surprised yet managed it quickly with a humble accomplice smile. His smile had the mint flavour without him knowing it.
I returned for my things and wished the beautiful lady a nice day. She responded with a quiet mint smile. I stored it in my memory box in the department of “beauty is all around us” with the mint color label of “all we need is to see and feel it”.