Friday, 4 August 2017

04. Where I Live

Where I live seems pretty straightforward at first. But then, it's also not. Where I live - as in a country, is straightforward enough, at least in geographical terms. Where I live - as in an apartment, a neighbourhood, a city, involves geography, but also emotions. I live in Belgrade, Serbia. The country's capital, Belgrade is a city of almost 2,5 million people, a throbbing, living, breathing organism offering endless fun (there's an abundance of articles in foreign press on Belgrade's night life) but also poor infrastructure, horrible public transport, streets full of tired people with vacant stares as life is relentless with the daily grind, poor, homeless, refugees from the Middle East and others in the permanent state of passing by, hoping for somewhere better than Belgrade.
Regardless of the bad economic situation, poor rule of law and rampant corruption, Belgrade is also sort of nice to live in. I love its rivers (Sava and Danube); I love its downtown; I love its narrow streets harking back to Turkish times, history literally around every corner, as far back as the Celtic and Roman rule; smell of linden trees in June, the south-east wind, kosava, in autumn, clearing the air of smog, taking cobwebs off long-forgotten nooks and crannies; smell of paprikas roasting from hidden communal yards behind urban buildings; the brutalist architecture of New Belgrade; the end of XIX/beginning of XX century houses - old family villas, some gloriously restored, that have miraculously survived multiple bombings Belgrade has been subject to in the past 100 years... 
But the real sens of  'I'm home' washes over me when I go to Kalemegdan. Belgrade's fortress from Celtic/Roman/Turkish times, it dominates the center of the town with its impressive ramparts and beautiful views. The statue of the Victor is the symbol of the city and the place I love the most in Kalemegdan. It overlooks the confluence of the two rivers, provides beautiful views of New Belgrade, Zemun, Ada, Avala, and the rest of my city's both beautiful and unsettling scenery and in a strange way makes me feel like I have arrived, I am home and this is where I live and love and hope to spend many more years savoring every day.

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