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Jazzin' Around Europe

Changamire at GIFT: Part 3-3 - Homeward Bound

By Published: September 6, 2004

After driving down several busy streets filled with lively, lit-up restaurants and businesses, we turned down a dimly-lit street, which lead to another, then another. These streets were as quiet as they were dark. Keti's husband finally parked in front of a white building. Its front door opened to a stairwell, and we followed Keti up and up and up. This was some sort of apartment or condo building. I believe we walked up to the fourth floor before entering Keti's home. It was exciting to be in the home of a famous actress. There were huge rooms that were joined together in maze-like fashion. There were boldly-, gold-framed paintings and other works of art on the walls, and there were framed black and white photos of Keti dressed in character, posing glamorously, or with her children when they were all younger. The photos were magical and reminiscent of glamorous American actresses of the 1940's.

We made our way into the dining room where we sat at the table and had tea, jam, and cheese. There was a big soccer tournament going on in Tbilisi, and Keti's twin nephews, who were professional players, were being interviewed on television while we were in her home, of which Keti and her husband were very proud. We talked about their nephews, music, and Clifton and I returning to Tbilisi next year. Then, Keti surprised me with another gift, a beautiful, large silk scarf. She demonstrated how Georgian women wrap their heads with scarves. It looked naturally elegant, once she finished wrapping it on herself. She realized that I may not have gotten the hang of it and said, "...but you Black women are so beautiful, you can wear it any which way."

Clifton and I said our goodbye's to Keti and her husband, while her two friends left with us. We walked past Keti's husband's car and stood on the dark corner to catch a taxi. Amazingly, many taxis passed up and down the quiet connecting streets. Keti's friend said that many people in Tbilisi drive taxis as a means of income. When one finally stopped to pick us up, Keti's friends rode back to the hotel with us. I kissed them both goodbye.

As Clifton and I returned to our rooms, he told me to have Tati call him because they were going salsa dancing again. But when I got to my room, Tati was still out with her friends. She came in around midnight, called Clifton, and told him she would be ready in 15 minutes. I decided to go along. After all, it was our last night in Tbilisi.

We walked across the street from the hotel to the Noa Noa Club, but because of the soccer tournament, there was no one in the place. We asked if there were any other clubs, and he gave us the name of one. We hailed a taxi and asked to be taken there. But we could not find the club and no one had heard of it. We asked the taxi driver for suggestions. He recommended Anjara Hall and a club called The Beatles. I was already familiar with Anjara, because Keti was going to have us perform there. Andro of Shadow Productions convinced Keti to have us perform in a more intimate space, because Anjara was a dance hall.

We asked to be taken to The Beatles. On the way there, the driver said that there are often gay nights at the club, so Tati told him to drive on to Anjara Hall. The driver waited for us in case we didn't like the place. Anjara was a modern, light-colored building and very new looking. It was accentuated with glossy, steel doors and stairs. We paid to get in and walked up the grand staircase into the club. Metal music seemed to be blasting out of the speakers. We sat at a table for 30 seconds, and realized we could not bear the loudness. As we left, Tati asked if we could get our money back, and we did.

Our taxi driver was waiting for us, as promised. We figured we would give The Beatles a shot, so he took us back to the intimate club. I liked the feel of it. There was Beatles memorabilia throughout the place, including individual photos of the fab four. It was not gay night, and our kind of dance music was playing. We stayed and danced until 4:00 AM and caught a taxi home.

Leaving Tbilisi
Andro was scheduled to pick Clifton and I up at 6:00 AM to take us to the airport. Tati's flight wasn't leaving until 5:00 PM, so she volunteered to stay awake to be able to wake us up at 5:30. She woke me and I showered and dressed. Clifton had stayed awake all morning. I was already packed, and it was a sad time. Tati and I had grown close and our time together was ending. And I was leaving Tbilisi, a lively and thoroughly warm and artistic city. I knew that Bobby McFerrin was arriving the following weekend for Tbilisi's jazz festival and that all kinds of theater, visual art, music, and good food and company would continue after my departure.

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