Belgrade, Farewell My Lovely City
As the 737-400 climbed up and out of Serbian airspace, I turned and raised my glass in another farewell to Belgrade. This time I was armed with a copy of Momo Kapor’s ‘The Magic of Belgrade’. My wife too has a copy. Hers in Serbian, mine in English. Parting gifts from my brother in Law.
Kapor’s Belgrade is as one expects, full of coffee, cabbage, pretty women but no hats! Reading this tome is a bit like déjà vu for a former resident and frequent visitor like me. His people such as keva and the umbrella maker, places such as the doomed Chinese restaurant and Kalemegdan and the ‘magic’ he portrays all tell accurate tales of what is a magnet for all that were born there or have visited. Yet it is certainly not its looks that attract one to Belgrade. As Kapor so aptly says: “It does not photograph well and always looks like some other place”. Whilst it has a sprinkling of tourist attractions, it lacks anything on the scale of the British Museum, the Louvre or other such jewels found elsewhere.
However, what Belgrade does have is a pulse. It is a city that is alive. It is a city that makes a statement about how cities should be – lived in. Yet it is also a city with a past and its ghosts walk with the living to give Belgrade its unique but haunting identity. If you come from or have been to Belgrade, you’ll understand me – if not then the city waits to kiss your soul.
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