OK. The aim of this text is to fulfill certain needs. To begin with, it needs to fulfill my need to express a huge gratitude (not merely enough) to the Youth Initiative for Human Rights for inviting me to be one of the participants of a visiting program in Prishtina. Had it not been for this trip, the probability of me ever visiting Prishtina, would be equal to a statistical error.
Next, summarizing all of our feelings through this blog was also YIHR’s idea (which is a pretty tough job) and letting the readers peek a bit not only into our adventures but also social and political situation in Kosovo. You’ll forgive me for the bits where I let my immense imagination vividly speak for me, but be sure that everything did happen and that the characters in this story are as real as you and me.
After four unforgettable days, I simply do not know where to begin, but at Stefan, my friend from primary school would say “what a happy beginning it was”. So let us begin with how it all started. We went from Belgrade, filled with enthusiasm and hunger for adventure and even though our tour guide overslept and was late, we didn’t hold a grudge against him. He held history lessons in a café nearby, which made all the female participants of that lecture happy and male participants filled with doubt. It would be a shame not to mention three types of sandwiches from a pizza place named Eagle, that kept us from being hungry for quite some time (read: up until a pay toll on our way out of Belgrade).
I said it publicly in Prishtina and I’ll write it now, I am ashamed of how little I knew about this city. But now I say with pride that I did learn something. One young man in a café Dit’ e Nat’ told me: “If you think that Prishtina is nice because of its buildings or location, you’ve obviously had too many beers”.”Prishtina is nice because of the people who live there”. Hospitality and friendliness that we experienced there, slapped me in the face saying “screw you for even doubting”.
We had official visits on such level as if we were ambassadors or diplomats. We met the mayor of Prishtina and Gracanica, Vice President and ministers in the Government of Kosovo, the leader of opposition party, BIRN and Humanitarian Law Center. Quite a list. I will not get into details about the political background of these people, their past and the things they had dealt with. In the present, we heard how negotiations between Belgrade and Prishtina should not be continued until some basic existential problems of people in Kosovo are dealt with. We heard that both Serbs and Albanians are just people with the same problems, for example, floods, or shortage of clean drinking water, poor public transportation, safety of streets or places they live in. We also heard that Svetozar Markovic is both read and highly appreciated in political discourse of Kosovo’s left oriented party and how Kraftwerk can be more popular than Duft Punk, that in modern politics idealists can still be found which didn’t sink in pragmatism and dogmatism which can be seen in our politicians nowadays.
One of the things we heard was that while Serbs from Kosovo are considered great Serbs in Serbia they are seen as traitors, that the significant amount of money that is sent from Serbia returns to its sender and that people avoid talking about it publicly, that even though it wasn’t easy to be a Serbian minister in the Government of Kosovo, it was necessary. Next, it is also important what Belgrade has to say when some of the political decisions are concerned. Also, not all the people from Kosovo accept its independence but many people in Serbia do. At the end of the day, everybody tries to live as normally as possible and I personally think that it really is the most important thing.
This blog would not be completely mine if I didn’t mention the night life of Prishtina. The night life where there is something for everybody (not to sound as Slobodan Micic, the reporter of a famous travel show “Svet na dlanu”). You can find everything from everyday cafés, comfortable restaurants to bars, pabs and clubs. Everywhere you can meet relaxed people smiling that will be happy when they hear you’re from Serbia (not for your kidneys of course). We learned about the connection of Kosovo and Serbia as well as people from the area from the stories of taxi drivers, waiters, people on the street, people who studied in Serbia, went to army, fell in love, visited weddings, baby showers or just visited Serbia as tourists.
I also have to mention my participation in a show at Radio Television Kosovo 2 with two adorable people from YIHR, and to thank them for believing in me not to say anything stupid (highest bets were the words “man” and “bro”) and not letting the Dorcol wittiness get in my way. I was nice, smooth and I sounded smart (for a change).
Last but not the least, I’d like to mention the amazing group of people that travelled to Prishtina. Sure I’m thankful because they had to deal with my occasional egoistic moments, but they have also contributed to this trip with their knowledge, openness, tolerance and healthy amount of naughtiness, when needed. As my grandma would say “oh, what people they are”. I’d recommend everybody from the bottom of my heart (no, this is not a commercial for Kosmodisk) to visit Prishtina. Gather your courage to break the existing prejudices with your own example and you won’t regret it. I promise you that.