Serbs can’t help being friendly

Last Wednesday 20:45 Belgrade time, the plane landed. I was so excited about this ” one week journey” , got out dressed in my hippy outfit with a big smile that faded as soon as the police officer checking my passport said (wait here please!!). I stood like a rock nearby and a Mega-size lady, she stared at me for a while then started interrogating me about the purpose of being in Belgrade. I was far from being comfortable as the rest of the passengers got their passports stamped and went on but I’ve been taught and told not to react and to keep calm and patient. It took me only 15 to know that I’m not welcome to Serbia and that I’ll be sent back to Istanbul the day after as there was a flight at 9:00 in the morning. I got outraged and unconsciously I started shouting and cursing at everyone around me, an otimageher cop approached me, he didn’t say anything but the way he was looking at me was enough to calm me down. He handed me a bottle of water and asked one of his colleagues to tell me that I’ll be taken to a holding cell that’s not a jail where I will spend the night. This was the last thing I’d like to know and As I got a way to hold a conversation I explained that I came down there to visit a friend, to enjoy the city and I’m not the one to consider as a threat nor a disturb. Moreover, I told them that this case will be widespread, famous and they will get nothing but drama out of this behavior. Everyone seemed to be listening to what I’m saying but none made a reaction. Briefly, they believed that my passport was fake because of the first page that was partly torn and due to the many Libyan stamps in it. Taken downstairs to the jail, given a sandwich and a drink, ordered to sleep and not disturb “my friends” who were in the cell already I was wondering what the hell wrong have I done in my life. I stood by the door, shouting that I’ll hurt one of the guys in the cell or even myself but that was a fruitless attempt so I lit a cigarette and a guy asked for one, I could obviously see that he’s in his late twenties and that he was beaten. We asked each other about the reason we’re brought here and how were we treated. We played cards with the other guys, we cracked jokes. Three hours later, the guard came and called my name, he cheerfully told me that the guys imageupstairs decided that I’m “clean” and free to go. Tired but glad, stressed but excited and mad but thankful I got back my stuff, thanked them for being nice again and for being able to distinguish good from bad. They offered me a coffee, told me which bus to take and where to get off. Now I have a strong belief that this trip is going to be amazing. The very same night in downtown I stopped by a drunk guy asking for direction. He took my hand and said I’ll show you. That was too good to be true, walking along the dark narrow “avenija” of Belgrade, I reached the hostel, shook hands with the old man, asking if I can help with something. A cigarette was enough and he appreciated it loads. The hostel was on the third floor, cosy, spacious, clean and the guys workingimage there were super helpful.the days went fast and the nights were crazy. For me who went there to study the psychology of people who have recently been out of a war, these things were so crucial, promising but also beyond and over my expectations. For someone living in Serbia, life is not a happy ending bedtime story nor a piece of cake. What is cheap for a tourist is really unaffordable for them but this doesn’t keep them from enjoying every single moment of their lives. One incident that I shouldn’t forget as it literally marked my journey is when I stumbled on a lady at night as I was focusing on my map, she dropped her purse and I didn’t even notice how mean I was not handing a help or at least apologizing, though she was pissed off, when I asked her about a place where I can gamble nearby that I’ve pinned in my map, she put on her glasses, scrutinized the map and explained the safest and fastest way to get there. Now I’m miles away from Serbia and those people who were so gentle with no exceptions as if kindness was something they studied back when they were at school to be forever tested on – but I believe I will be back soon.