A few years after he settled in Tbilisi, he found a painter who offered him a small amount of money to paint his hometown – Sukhumi – the way he viewed and remembered it.
“But first, he drew old Tbilisi, that funny man,” he remembers laughing, “why the hell would I need Tbilisi, I was here, I wanted my Sukhumi and told him exactly what I wanted him to paint.”
The painter, who according to Datiko, was an alcoholic, spent a day on the picture and disappeared without finishing it.
“It still needs a river, then a small street and the building of an Institute, also several houses,” he said, adding that the painter died and today it is too expensive to ask another artist to finish the painting.
When he arrived, life in the 1990s in Tbilisi was tough; there was no electricity, gas, or food.
“And god, I was making so much money in Abkhazia. I was an accountant. I was in charge of the joint industries of tea and citrus, also at Geology Institute as a major accountant along with private business, as well. Then they forced us out of our homes. We left everything there. My family lived in Abkhazia for 200 years, but what could I do, I am an Ugrekhelidze.”
‘Butkas’ from the 1990s
There were no shops, no supermarkets, and little choice for daily shopping needs – back in the ‘dark 1990s’ some of the small entrepreneurs were blooming, like Leila’s. Leila lived in Gldani district for over 35 years and in 1995 she purchased a booth, commonly known as a Butka, a small iron box with a smaller window painted in different colors.