Hello My Darling Lemon Drops!!
The cast of characters that have become my little Belgrade Network have been quite intriguing, and I will say it now and will say it again, I really don’t want to go home!! Here there is something new everyday, and a new friend to meet every day as well. In fact, I have so many people to see, places to go, things to do and learn, that I actually am having to cancel a handful of meet ups this last week in Serbia, so let me take this time now to profoundly apologize to every single one that I have unfortunately had to cancel on. There just isn’t enough time!! I wish I could stay at least 1 month more, minimum.
Hello My Darling Lemon Drops!! Was the best welcome line we got nearly everyday during break from Intensive Serbian Language class from a fellow classmate, Talia. At this break, we could relax from classes that took every morsel of energy out of our bodies. This welcome came from one of my favorite people who I met in Belgrade, Talia. Talia sort of reminds me of myself, before I had to remove most of my visible piercings and dye my hot pink hair back to my natural brown years ago in the interests of my career. Yes, she is a spunky girl, originally from Poland, but currently living in Montenegro as a teacher for Albanian/Serbian/Montenegrin school children. She speaks Serbian, Polish, and English, and has a fascination with all things Balkans. Her quirky personality and never-ending enthusiasm was a really fresh source of energy for me during the first half of the course. She loves word play, languages, literature, has a sort of refined punk vibe, and met her Serbian boyfriend, who lives in Rome, at a new age conference in Norway last year. Really a spectacular girl.
Another memorable character in my stay here was my friend Christophe. Christophe is from Grenoble, France, a fluid mechanics professor at a University there. He plays the trumpet in a gypsy style band, and loves Balkan music. He also lived in Germany for a while. The poor thing experienced a gut wrenching heartbreak while here, but was still always up for a good time. He was a great ally in my quest to learn this complicated Serbian language.
Then there’s Natasa, the art curator from Holland, who is a very unique individual, splitting her time in Belgrade between her extended family (who speak only limited English), and discovering the art world in Belgrade, which is quite extensive. She owns her own art/pr/festival planning business in Rotterdam, and loves to dance! Natasa was always good to listen to my exasperating complaints about the ills of Serbian Grammar.
Then there’s Aleksandar, the guy I met on the street with my group from Barcelona, Quebec, and Germany, from the hostel. This guy was mentioned in a previous blog (Now You Feel the Real Belgrade!), and he is the perfect example of Serbians welcoming foreigners in their city. A young hipster, very much into fashion, and knowledgeable about nightlife in old town Belgrade. Thanks Aleksandar! You made my weekend by showing us your city.
And lets not forget Marina, the sweet, shy, girl, from a small town in Western Serbia who works at my hostel, always willing to help me with my Serbian homework, look over my grammar exercises, quiz me on vocabulary words, and be oh so patient with me while I practice my Serbian svaki dan!
Also, we have Sonja, a girlfriend of a relative of mine. A very extended relative and I’m ashamed to say, I actually enjoy her company more than any other “family” here in Serbia! She is a really hilarious woman, although I’m sure she doesn’t see herself that way. She makes money by competing in TV quiz shows, and she is sort of like a mini celebrity in the Serbian game show world, if you can call it that. She has a fascination with all types of trivia, and she, though probably in her 50s, has sort of girlish charm about her, and a really youthful energy and excitement about nearly everything. She’s also been extremely generous throughout my stay here, and really has provided a very much needed buffer between my in-laws and myself, and also served as an excellent translator as well.
A new character who recently popped up is a girl from the Southern United States who basically immigrated to Belgrade for a man. She’s a fellow blogger, loves the Balkans, and has found a job teaching English here, while blogging for several websites simultaneously. This young woman’s patriotism to Serbia is really astonishing, and her knowledge of the history and politics of this region is probably more solid than many of the Serbs I have met. In fact, she is participating in a program that helps give financial assistance to Serbian families with more than 5 children, because she is moved to act when faced with the reality that the Serbian population is rapidly shrinking. Keep in mind, she’s American. A very unusual character, but also charming! I hope we meet again.
In addition to all these wonderful people, I have also met loads of fascinating travelers from my hostel that come from all over the world. One in particular stands out, a guy named Andy, from Melbourne, Australia, who I spent a day with touring museums and sites in Belgrade. Then there was the group that I spent the day with making the Snowman named Tito and the snowball fight in Kalamegdan. Also a girl named Dixie, who helped me with my Serbian homework, a guy named Robert, from Sydney Australia, who loved my Mama Z’s cheese pita and homemade Serbian food even more than me!
I could go on and on… and who knows who I will meet tomorrow? It’s been great to make friends so easily in a foreign city, when in my own city back home, people tend to be lost in their own world of problems, isolated in their houses, and closed off to forming valuable friendships.
Truly this cast of characters I have connected with over here has been really special. And after all, sometimes it’s more about who you meet then what you see. Life is ultimately not about things, it’s about relationships.