#KHNIERI & #MSHVENIERI
by Salome Jakeli
photos by LekoLevani
Almost every story of a grandmother-granddaughter relationship is special and heartwarming and this one is no exception. A famous actress of Marjanishvili Theatre and the winner of “Dancing with the stars Georgia” — Anka Vasadze posted several pictures of her stunning grandmother on Instagram. The IERI team could not resist grandma’s charm and right away invited Anka and her grandma Irine Lomjaria to take part in our project devoted to beautiful women of every age. Anka and Irine tried on some of our new arrivals and shared amazing stories of their family traditions, favorite places in Tbilisi and childhood memories.
Tell us about your career and what kind of impact did the fact that you come from an artist’s family had on it
(Anka is an ancestor of the great artists — Akaki Vasadze and Marina Tbileli — editor’s note)
ANKA: I started acting at Marjanishvili Theatre when I was in my third year at the University. Regarding the family influence, I get asked that question frequently and I keep thinking about it a lot. Of course it impacted my career, but I would have become an actress even if I was from a different family. I have never thought about any other profession, despite my parents’ attempt to change my mind.
Does your grandmother attend your performances? Is she more of a supporter or a critic?
ANKA: My grandmother always attends the premieres of my performances and then comes afterwards with her friends and relatives. She raised me and it might be hard for her to criticize me. Usually she is super satisfied by my performance but she also gives me nice advice. Generally it is important to have an objective appraiser in order to grow as an artist.
What is your sweetest memory about your grandma?
ANKA: Almost all my childhood memories are connected to my grandparents, because I was raised by them, but there is one really funny story. My grandma is famous for her Olympic patience, but I was the one who could make her lose temper. While I was practicing music, I would stop suddenly and ask my grandmother “Do you want me to act like a duck” “Do you want me to act like a fox”?
IRINE: Anka was so sweet at that very moment, I couldn’t even get mad properly!
How was your childhood different from Anka’s childhood? Do you think generations have changed in Tbilisi?
IRINE: There is definitely a big difference. We also had a happy childhood, but the older we get, the more we realise our reality. We lived in a locked country, where it was forbidden to listen to foreign songs or read certain literature.
ANKA: Tell them what kind of toasts your father used to say. This story always makes me very proud. My ancestors were true anti-communists.
IRINE: When my grandmother (the mother of my dad) would pass a portrait of Stalin somewhere in the street, with a word “Prava” (means “truth” in Russian — editor’s note) anywhere, she would say: “Ne Pravda”(means “Not truth” in Russian — editor’s note) and she would also add: “Stalin, our genius, you are not ashamed of anything” (“სტალინო ჩვენო გენია შენ არფრის არ გრცხვენია”, — the same in Georgian). This is the family I was brought up by.
ANKA: My great grandpa’s guests would drink toasts to The independent Georgia.
IRINE: “Cheers to the freedom of Georgia”, — they would say.
ANKA: They could not say it outside loudly, but they could sing…
IRINE: They would sing “Gaudeamus Igitur”, a world student hymn. First came the toast to the independence of Georgia and then — that hymn. Me and other children would sing along as well.
Do you have any special family tradition that you always respect?
ANKA: After so many years we still get together on the 2nd of January, on New Year and Easter. Almost 25 people gather around the table at our family nest on Vorontsov square.
IRINE: As families grow bigger it’s getting quite challenging to fit everyone at one place.
ANKA: This tradition comes from the mother of my grandfather.
IRINE (addressing Anka): And I hope you will continue it.
Apart from your home, what are other favorite places in Tbilisi?
IRINE: One of my favorite places is the Petriashvili street, because here was my school and the Round Garden territory, because that is where my home was and I have very warm memories from that place.
ANKA: I like old Tbilisi, maybe because I was raised in a “House museum” and that style is very close to me. I also love the Vorontsov street. Whenever I have even a little break from theatre I rush to visit my grandmother on that street. That is the place where I feel the most comfortable. I am the fourth generation in that household and it has a special place in my heart. Especially because that is where my grandmother is.
In Georgia there is a special place in every child’s heart for their grandmother’s food, is this the case for you as well?
ANKA: Yes, I agree. A lot of people do say it and that is the case for me as well. My grandmother’s dishes are very famous. When I got married I asked her to share some recipes with me, wrote them down in my journal, but I still keep on calling her whenever I am cooking.
IRINE: If she puts effort she really does cook well.
How is your style different from your grandmothers? Is there a piece from her wardrobe that you wear with pleasure?
ANKA: We dress very differently, of course. I can’t even say what my style is. I change it up everyday depending on my mood. My grandmother from mother’s side — Manana, often gives me her clothes. I get tons of compliments when I wear her blue flower printed dress and vintage golden clips.
IRINE: You can take it.
ANKA: No, no! I do not want to take it from you (laughs).
IRINE: I think fashion is running around circles and old style may come back in modern times. I remember a funny story, when I was little, my sister would dress up in a mini-skirt. Our grandmother, who was supposed to accompany her somewhere, would refuse to leave the house with my sister dressed like that. And now that skirt would be the most modest thing. But I like how girls dress nowadays. Especially Anka, because she always knows what to wear.
What does Georgia mean to you — in just one word?
IRINE: My country is my homeland and my identity. I have never wanted to go somewhere else and live in another country and I always wondered how other people could do it. For me, if I don’t have my relatives and friends close to me, no matter how good the place is, I could never go. I prefer Georgia over anything.
ANKA: For me as well, my country is my identity, it is an unconditional type of love. My generation is often mad at our country, because it does not offer a lot of opportunities like other European countries do and we still have to grow, but despite that Georgia is a country with a free soul. For so many years we survived a lot of pressure and the desire for freedom always was in us. I could never leave my country for too long as well and I want to quote Vaja Pshavela on that one: “If you do not love your country, you could never love another one”. I love my country endlessly, the husband of my grandmother was classmates with Merab Kostava and Zviad Gamsakhurdia. They also went to university together and then became friends and the journal they worked on together, was the reason for their arrest. So for me and my family independence of Georgia is very important and I always thank the people who gave me an independent country.
Anka is wearing Aleksandre Akhalkatsishvili blouse and a skirt, IDEE FIXE shoes, Eshvi earrings
IRINE is wearing a TATANAKA dress.
IERI team would like to thank G.Bar.Tbilisi for make-up and hair assistance