So here I am, I have arrived in Belgrade. I had only half expected this, looking at the distance, but with a little help of friends it turned out to be possible after all. I celebrated the feat yesterday with a ‘bohemian’ meal. Waiters in white jackets who try their best to overlook my bearded head and who serve bad food for a much too high price in a street where the mundane world ripples over the cobblestones. At least, that is how it looks when you, like me, have become accustomed to simple meals with hot paprika’s and fresh fish from the river. The expected anticlimax.
Oh, I do see the poverty, the beggars, the depopulation, the streetchildren and the streetdogs. I see the garbage along the roads, the empty houses and the men drinking cheap beer early in the morning. I see the fear for refugees who, according to many, only come to make things worse. I see the recent history of war and atrocity in this part of Europe. In the history of Serbia and Belgrade, that I am hearing today, every turning point is marked by violence and death
Mostly I see Sara, I see an angel coming down the mountain, I see hospitality and kindness, memorable meetings. I see people that I had not mentioned yet; Marko and his parents trying to make their ‘home stay’ in Karlovci succesful, Henry and Jeffrey trying to help a local family in their own way. I see simple houses surrounded by colourful flower gardens.
Is my way of seeing naive, a soapbubble that can burst at any moment? The way I see it, the dark is my good friend and I let myself be guided by the light. That is my soap bubble that has grown from a knowing longing for warm words and loving embraces.