Mayakovsky, hero and enemy

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I took a walk through the village of Baghdati today. There was a special reason why I had come here, and it was this guy:

Mayakovsky statue in Baghdati

Vladimir Mayakovsky. One of the most gifted poets of the early Soviet Union, he was initially a fervent believer in Socialism, but he later became disillusioned with the reality of Leninism and Stalinism. Mayakovsky died under suspicious circumstances when he was 36. The authorities ruled it a suicide, but apparently the bullet in his body didn’t quite match the model of his gun, so there was that.

I liked Mayakovsky’s writing very much, so visiting his birthplace was a thing I had been looking forward to for a long time.

It was a half hour walk to get to the museum in the south of the village. There were many abandoned Soviet structures on the way:

Mayakovsky museum on the riverside

This, in addition to the heroic-looking monuments dedicated to him, seemed to be emblematic for the poet and his life in the USSR:

Mayakovksy with a cow

The house where he was born looked like a large log cabin in the woods:

Mayakovsky’s birthplace

Now it stood in a little park:

Mayakovky’s pad

Mayakovsky’s father had moved there to work as a forester. They were a well-off family, and the house they lived in was pretty big and pretty nice:

Mayakovsky’s house from inside

Much of the original structure had been lost and rebuilt later, which explained the visible cracks between the logs:

inside Mayakovsky’s house

Shoddy Soviet (or maybe post-Soviet) work.

Mayakovsky had lived in this place for the first few years of his life, but he had gone to school in a nearby town (which meant that he had also lived there when he was at school).

living room in Mayakovsky’s house

There was an interesting moment when the guide pointed at this picture and said that it showed the landlord of the place, who happened to be his (the guide’s) ancestor:

Mayakovsky’s landlord

The Mayakovskies had lived in this house not as owners but as tenants.

We eventually moved over to the museum next door. It had a very Soviet look about it, with the obligatory uncomfortable seating area…

inside the Mayakovsky museum

…and a bunch of paintings in the Soviet Realist style that showed Mayakovsky in various heroic poses:

Soviet painting of Mayakovksy

There were a bunch of exhibits on the walls:

Mayakovsky museum

And there was some space for a literary forum that took place here every once in a while:

forum inside the Mayakovsky museum

One thing had changed, though, in post-Soviet Georgia – everyone including my guide seemed to be 100% convinced that Mayakovsky had not committed suicide, but that he had been assassinated by the state.

They had a photo on display that showed the dead poet with the bullet wound in his chest:

dead Mayakovsky

It made me very sad.

I left a note in the guestbook pondering the thought that Mayakovsky had apparently been turned into an idol by the Soviet state before being murdered by it. He had been a hero and an enemy at the same time.

Then I walked the thirty minutes back to the guesthouse. I unpacked the Caboose, sorted through all my belongings, left some and took some with me, and then I asked the owner of the guesthouse to store the Caboose for me for a while, maybe for a month or two.

I hopped in a taxi and went to Kutaisi. It was the second-largest city in Georgia, and it had an airport with cheap flights to Germany.

I got a cheap room right next to the bus station:

Kutaisi bus station

Home was calling, once again.



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