DAY 4, MAY 15: POST NUBILA, PHOEBUS… AND BACK TO NUBILA

From Belgrade, Serbia

Introduction

The main purpose of my visit to Belgrade this time is to try to get a Serbian passport. I was born in Belgrade but I have never had a Serbian passport. When I left Belgrade almost half a century ago, that country was called Yugoslavia. And it no longer exists.

So before I could apply for a new Serbian passport, I first had to prove my identity with a Birth Certificate and a Citizenship Certificate. Alas, I have never had either of those, 

So for the last couple of weeks, my nephew Stasa had been helping me get them. Which he finally succeeded to do a week ago. Today, he and I were supposed to go into the Ministry of Internal Affairs (“MUP” in Serbian) office to present all these documents to a person who had been briefed about my situation by an old business friend Milan. So this story begins from the moment we entered the MUP Serbia building this morning.


May 15, 2018

“Post Nubila, Phoebus” (After the Clouds, Sunshine)

The sky cleared this morning after the overnight rain, turning the sunshine into a giant spotlight that made downtown Belgrade sparkle like Christmas lights. I went out for a short walk through the center of my native city and captured these scenes.  The stroll felt like a walk down the memory lanes.

If you read the captions of each photo you will also be able to capture some of these memories.

 

During the communist era, Palace Albania (below) was adorned with a neon red star on its rooftop.

 

A shoer walk southbound from Terazije, the heart of the downtown Belgrade, where the first department store opened in the 1950s, you can catch the following scenes.

 


UPDATE MAY 15, 2018

ROSE FOR A THORNY ROSE?

This morning I received the following comment from my friend Bane:

BANE: Hi Bob. It’s funny but it didn’t feel like we met last some 15 years ago. Perhaps your blogs made me feel as if we meet more often.

It would be great if you were to stop by on Wednesday. Just let me know in advance.

Regarding your travel log, it would be best perhaps if you did not mention people in MUP by name (od detailed description). Someone in the back room might read your blog (after all they are the communist-trained secret police and you are a “foreigner”) and make trouble for Sandra. And if “partizanka” reads it you might find system not working for weeks, and you still don’t have a passport in your hands.

To which I replied:
Hi Bane. Indeed, it did not feel as if we had met the last time that long ago. Perhaps that is a sign that chemistry between some people is timeless.
 
Yes, I will keep you posted on what happens today. We are still hoping to go to Brestovik at some point later in the afternoon, hopefully with my passport and my ID card in my hands. And to see you on Wed morning.
 
I am also hoping that your fears about “Partizanka” prove to be just that – fears. If Partizanka has another day even half as busy as yesterday, I can’t see how she would find the time for lunch, let alone for reading my story. Still, I ask humbly – God forbid!
 
Plus, I had not included this episode in the story, but Partizanka also evidently resented when Stasa said something to me in English. I sensed that and I immediately told Stasa, “govori samo srpski!”
 
She heard me as I was standing right in front of her desk. Without raising her eyes from busily shuffling papers, she muttered, “on gopvori sprski bolje do tebe” (addressing Stasa).
 
What does that tell us?
 
First, she probably does not speak English. Which would be typical of a “Partizanka.” Second, she was really boiling inside with anger. Avoiding eye contact with either Stasa or me would suggest that. Third, addressing someone whom she had met for the first time with a familiar “tebe” (instead of a respectful “vas”), is a trademark of an (angry) communist. Remember, we were all “drugovi” (comrades) to them.
 

Anyway, I totally get where you are coming from when you wrote that, but I am praying that it doesn’t come to that. Maybe I’ll add this exchange between us to the story as “color commentary” after I get my documents.

By the way, as Stasa and I were leaving the MUP building yesterday afternoon, I thought that when we come back again, I might get some flowers at Kalenica Pijaca (perhaps a single red rose) for the Partizanka in our story. That would show my gratitude for her “kindness” (ljubaznost) yesterday, and perhaps shame her a little. And perhaps also show her that not all English speaking people are heartless capitalists. 🙂

She may have a communist mentality, but she is first a woman. And not an ugly one, either. 🙂
Of course, I would also have to get at least half a dozen roses for the real heroine in our story – Sandra.

UPDATE 2: MAY 15, 2016

MOVING THE BALL FORWARD

Early this afternoon I heard from Stasa, who has been my point man in communications with the nice lady at the passport office – Sandra.

Sandra said that my application paperwork had finally cleared their computer only this morning – so big was their backlog.

“Or so slow the IBM mainframe,” I thought.

There is still a small chance that their internal control may catch that something is amiss, but Sandra said that’s very rare.

So it all goes well, she expected to receive my passport and the ID card by the end of business tomorrow – Wednesday. Which means that that’s when we can also pick it up from her.

So fingers crossed, looks like we have now moved the ball to about the 5-yard line of the opposing team, to borrow a football analogy. So unless there is a fumble or an interception, we should be able to bring it into the end zone by tomorrow afternoon – God willing.


New Upscale Housing Development

CHECKING OUT BELGRADE’S NEW WATERFRONT

Stasa and Nina, his wife, invited me to join them this afternoon for a presentation on a new housing project on the right bank of the river Sava. “Belgrade Waterfront” is an urban renewal development project headed by the Government of Serbia aimed at improving Belgrade’s cityscape and economy by revitalizing the Sava amphitheater, a neglected stretch of land on the right bank of the Sava river,

Indeed, I remember this part of the city from my childhood and youthful days as grungy and grimy. So can imagine how surprised I was when we arrived at this ornate building built in 1907 which serves as the demonstration and marketing center for the waterfront project. I said to Stasa as we were walking up the grand staircase, entering an even grander hallway, I feel as if I am entering one of the imperial buildings in Vienna.”

 

Anyway, the housing project itself, which is not expected to be completed until 2020, turned out to be something that Stasa and I would not be interested in. But visiting this building provided a fascinating trip over 100 years to the days of the great emperors, kings and queens of Europe.

Take a look…

 


UPDATE MAY 16, 2018

Post Nubila, Phoebus (After the Clouds, Sunshine)… And Back to Nubila

We finished the day (May 15) with a drive to Stasa and Nina’s country place in Brestovik on the Danube, near Grocka. But before we turned in for the night, we had dinner at a fish restaurant, also on the Danube, between Grocka and Smederevo. The food was delicious but the air was quite chilly.

IMG_4315

Our Phoebus period was short-lived as dark clouds and gusty winds from the west suggested another storm front was coming. Indeed, it arrived with thunder and rain during the night which dropped the temperatures from the 70°s F to the low 50°s F.

I was freezing even though Stasa and Nina were fine. Guess my life in the tropics (Hawaii) and the Arizona desert has thinned out my blood.

 

 

 

 

 

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