Sunday. I will rest.
I sit by the door of the hostel. It looks out to a baranda passage in the heart of the building block. The sun is strong and the air dry. Up through the apples heart rises a mist of dust carrying voices and scraping sounds of cement spoons. The sheets drying in the air shade my feet and cool my blood. I light up a cigarette and continue writing.
I arrived to Beograd yesterday around 6pm. The sun was still strong and the air still. I sat in the tram stop across central station waiting. There I met Alexander, a big man with gray hair to his shoulders and beard. I asked him if he knew where the street I was going to was. He offered to take me there as he was going the same direction. In the tram I sat in silence hearing the city and watching it live. I stared out as I always do when I find myself in an unknown place.
Alexander was a curious man. He’d studied film direction in Moscow, made a few documentaries and had an intriguing fascination for travelling by ship. When we arrived at the hostel we agreed to keep in touch.
The hostel was by the walking street. An old building under refurbishment. It resembled a “conventillo” from Buenos Aires, with different architecture. A staircase connected the east wing with the west and the long hallways in each floor were actually a long balcon with doors to each apartment.
In the last floor I found what would be my home for the night. I was welcomed by Vladin and a shot of Rakija (strong Balkan spirit). He looked like the heavy metal type but without the outfit and blond. Funny guy, friendly.
As we drank rakija and smoked tobacco in the balcon, he told me about him and his life and the recent misfortunes of Love. He was determined, this time, to end his relationship with his future wife. She was the jealous type and he was the friendly loyal type. We talked about personal things and about the history of Serbia.
“Some Serbians say that Kosovo is the heart of Serbia, I think Serbia had a heart attack.” And he laughed trying to contain himself. He seemed to enjoy that frase very much.
By then the sun had gone down, so he offered me a bean stew with dark bread and some more Rakija. By the time we finished dinner we’d had 4 Rakija’s and the first one was just starting to kick in.