We were not one of the people with prejudices. Some of us have already been in Prishtina, some have heard amazing stories from the others, and some had no idea where exactly they were going or what was waiting for them there. I belong to the second group. But no matter how many stories I’ve heard, nothing could resemble to what I have experienced.
Going to Kosovo isn’t hard, what is hard is coming back. You know that feeling when you go somewhere, have amazing time, but no one understands your private jokes after your return? We have that problem right now. The difference is that majority of people go to Greece in summer or visit Budapest for New Year’s holidays, so it’s kinda expected that great time is guaranteed. However we took the road less travelled (or unfortunately, not travelled at all).
Before I went, my friends had sent me news about protests. Some awful and pretty scary photographs of Prishtina made the headlines and I think I speak for all of us when I say that we weren’t indifferent. But YIHR always makes panic courage overcome everything else (let’s mention last year’s Pride and improvised Pride a year before), so the wish for going there was even bigger because of the uncertainty to which we were headed. The evening before we went, we met at the office in order to settle about details concerning the trip and get rid of our common fears. Djordje held as short as possible lesson about war at Kosovo. By the way, if you ever need any help with history or geographic – ask Djordje, the walking encyclopedia.
We started our trip tomorrow morning. As expected, we were late, but some we late at Kosovo even back in 1389 so what. Trip as a trip, smokers are begging for a cigarette break, sleepers are sleeping, the rest of people were playing “heads up”. The interesting fact was that folk music (read: Miroslav Ilic) could be heard when we passed the border. What’s even more interesting is that we passed the border on foot, so that our bus driver wouldn’t pay some silly taxes. The most interesting thing was that from that moment we had no service on our phones.
Our trip had two basic goals: to meet Prishtina and to get informed with the current political situation in Kosovo. The list of people we had the chance to meet is more that significant – Shpend Ahmeti, Aleksandar Jablanovic, Albin Kurti, Edita Tahiri and Branimir Stojanovic are just some of the names on that list. When you add to that list BIRN and HLC Kosovo as media representatives, i.e. civilian sector, you may say that we got to see the story from every perspective. You don’t get that chance every day, and we certainly used it well.
I would like to use this opportunity to truly thank everybody that opened their doors for us in Prishtina, because our visits to the officials weren’t official at all. There were no stiffed political monologues to which we are used to hearing every day, but instead of that it was as if we were sitting, talking honestly and friendly while having a beer. We got answers to some important, yet uncomfortable questions. Truth to be told, we did have macchiato instead of beer – we are talking about Prishtina after all.
I wouldn’t go through all the details from the meetings, since that would last too long (who wants to hear more about it should pay me a coffee) but I would like to highlight certain things. First, all of us have the same problems. This is not some stupid phrase or a cliché and everybody gets it. But it’s one thing to know it in theory, totally other thing is to see in practical situation where you and an Albanian from Prishtina have the same problem with, for example, poor public transportation. Then, I was amazed with how direct people are. On the other hand, I got sadden by political limbo that contains different interests of the authorities of Kosovo, Serbs from Kosovo and Serbs from Belgrade. I got a feeling that all those interests are making people lose their interest to everything that does not represent the basic human needs. Finally, if you’re feeling up for it, try googling the Self-Determination movement and their representatives. Concerning all ideological and other possible and non-possible disagreements, I’d like to see somebody on our political scene expressing such directness and absence of elitism between a politician and a citizen (there is something special in seeing a lider of a political party protesting with their voters in front of the police or sitting on sidewalk and rubbing their eyes because of the tear gas).
As mentioned before, another goal of our visit was to meet Prishtina. Well, not only did we fulfill it, but, as Kutlarovic would say, we nailed it. Beside several monuments and important buildings, there was not much to be seen. But the people… I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen so many beautiful and young people at one place. Although the city is small, there are many places for going out. I don’t know how did we have so much energy to stay in the clubs until they got closed and manage to wake up every morning at 8am to have meetings, but somehow we survived it. If you followed us at ovojekosovo.tumblr.com, you could see our adventures, if you didn’t, check it out as soon as possible. We are much better in taking photographs than in writing blogs.
I’d also like to mention the unofficial debate in Dit’ e Nat’ café. Debate is a pretty strict term for what had been going on there. Actually, we were sitting, drinking beer and sharing our experiences- the most sincere, emotional, nice experiences, filled with both laughter and sadness. It has already been mentioned that it is not hard going to Kosovo, but coming back. It’s the same thing with Albanians- it’s not hard to go to Belgrade, but to come back. Not only because of the stupid private jokes to which nobody laughs, but primarily because of the misunderstanding that awaits you upon your return. I choose to believe that each of us has changed the world if at least one person chooses to go to Prishtina based on mine experience or experiences of Masha, Ivan, Nina, Jana, Marko, Dajana, Senka, Mladen. I also deeply believe that Anita and Jasmina have changed the world because, based on their experience I wished to do the same.
I am talking to you, the one reading this, the person that will decide to go to Prishtina.. Get ready to drink macchiato all the time and that smoking is not allowed in bars. Get ready to accidentally meet at least five people on a daily basis. Make sure to eat börek in Bosna bakery. When you’re going out and that will be on Wednesday, Friday or Saturday, don’t forget to go to Zanzibar or Megahertz. Don’t come back if you haven’t met a taxi driver who served military service in Serbia and knows Serbian better that English. Also, don’t come back if someone didn’t give you a pat on the back and told you that you can have a cigarette in the club since police won’t control it after 11pm. Learn some basic words in Albanian- in our case those were “thank you” and “two beers”. Go to the Rooftop club, which is not my cup of tea, but still it’s nice to see how Belgrade’s Stefan Braun looks in Prishtina. In case you get hungry afterwards go to Route 66 (which is open 24/7) and have a cheeseburger. You should most definitely try the “tri leće” cake. And be prepared in advance that you won’t succeed in telling how good it was. No matter what, do your best, because there will be a person that will, based on your story, pack their things and go to Prishtina, just like you did after reading this blog. And if you do fall in love there, which is not uncommon, let us know.
Huge thanks to YIHR and the group from the trip (“inicijativići”). Also, I would like to thank Didi, Pajtim, Egzon, Aljbin, Abdula, Valjon, Teuta, Vjosa and the rest of amazing people who I can’t wait to see again. Faleminderit!