Tbilisi 1991

In early September 1991, I was in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, a country that had only gained independence from the Soviet Union in spring that year. My ticket there was my first overseas commission for the Guardian newspaper, to cover the inaugural International Juggling Convention. Rooming with a local family, and not understanding local drinking customs, I left my apartment each morning jacked up on ice-cold vodka and weighed down by stone-solid cheese bread. One of very few members of the foreign media in the city at that time, I shot lots of black and white images of jugglers, as well as lots of Tbilisi residents – most just living their lives, but some protesting on the streets against the new government. Political tensions quickly mounted and a state of emergency was declared. After an unscheduled second week in Tbilisi, I finally managed to share the flight home with sheep and melons.