Due to high rate of unemployment in Georgia and the lack of job opportunities, most of the people have to find alternative way to earn their living.
By Elvira Abdullayeva and Rena Allahverdiyeva
The office’s adress of Nugzar Mkhalashvili, 74, is Rustaveli Street- the main avenue of Tbilissi, Georgia. Since 15 years, he is making and selling his own handicrafts, made of hammerings on metal and woods.
Their prices are very much depending on their complexity: between 25 and 120 laries – 12 and 60 euros.
Mkhalashvili, one of the ‘first USSR’s pioneer designer“, engaged with this work for about 50 years. He used to be a member of many designer unions from the USA to post-soviet countries. Because of unemployment in Georgia, he has no other choice than doing business with his handicrafts.
According to official statistics, the average monthly wage in Georgia is 233 euros per person. 316 000 persons are unemployed, that is 16 percent of 1 million 945 thousand economically active population.
Mkhalashvili thinks that ‘writing poems is gift of poets. And the ability of hammering is my gift”. Though it is for him the only way of earning his life, Mkhalashvili says he really ‘loves it‘ his job.
For painter Piruz Lobjanidze, 50, painting in the street of Tbilisi, from 10h to 20h, makes him ‘rather tired‘. He started painting on flax and clay plates for about 40 years, now he taught it to his son. He is representing portraits, ‘natures mortes’ or landscapes. The main inspiration for him is different sceneries of Tbilisi.
In one day, Lobjanidze can earn between 10 and 250 laries, depending on ‘tourists and weather’.
As Piruz Lobjanidze, it is because of unemployment that the painter has to sit in the streets all day long.
Nugzar Mkhalashvili and Piruz Lobjanidze are not the only ones to sell their handicrafts in the Rustaveli Street. There are more than 15 handicraft sellers next to Academy of Sciences. Here you can see everything: handicraft, bijouteries, accessories, souvenirs, woven bags and hats, musical instruments made of wood, even knifes and swords.
Gulnare Akhundova, coming from Azerbaijan, is very ‘satisfied with the abundance of choice and prices‘. And ‘the prices here is very much cheaper than in Baku‘, she says.
Another tourist coming from Czech Republic says that although he likes those paintings really much, ‘he cannot buy them, because it is too difficult to carry them by plane.’
Georgi, a Tbilisi resident, thinks that ‘those handicrafts are useful to attract the tourists’. In 2010, Georgia hosted 2,5 millions of tourists. A substantial benefit comes from this activity, that could become a priority for the authorities. According to the Georgian National Tourism Agency, 3 millions of visitors are expected in 2011.