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Tesla, Nova Iskra & Karađorđeva šnicla

Sometimes you bite off a little more than you can chew. The lecture with my personal reflections about Swedish inventors and design needed more preparations than I had planned for, but when you ”Keep calm & carry on”, most things work out in the end. Finally, there was time for some tourist stuff. The reception at the designers’ meeting point Nova Iskra was – like most Serbian receptions – warm, engaged and chatty.   Not surprisingly, our jolly company ended at a restaurant, where we had some great—tada!—conversation.

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The hejduk case

When my Serbian contacts wondered what kind of author I am (or have been so far, as I prefer to see it), I usually told them about my books in the series Historiska ord. As, unfortunately, no one of them reads Swedish, I went on to explain the hejduk case. In Swedish, a hejduk is a person who loyally obeys an evil minded person’s order – a thug, a gorilla or perhaps a soldato, to use a mafia term. The image below shows an original hajduk, a sort of outlaw and guerilla fighter who in the folklore of Balkan became a Robin Hood-like character—always in opposition against the Ottoman...

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The spittle-covered streets of Belgrade

One of the most gripping scenes in my host Vladimir’s novel In the Hold (U potpalublju, 1994) is a scene from Bulevar Revolucije (a Tito era name of  Bulevar kralja Aleksandra) where … the ground beneath our feet was breaking up [---] and out of this depths came the unbearable stench of the centuries, which, in our inertia, we had failed to use in a dignified way … After this vision, the narrator .. endeavored to move along the spittle-covered streets. These are my two reflections: 1. I have also experienced Bulevar kralja Aleksandra as a place where you feel exposed and alienated. 2....

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Serbian language—a strong citadel

I have learned so much about Serbian lifestyle, society, culture, politics and culture. But its strange how little Serbian I have managed to learn. These are my conclusions and observations: The cyrillic alphabet is not very hard to crack. The problem is getting up to speed while reading it. I just love the phonetic spelling system which reminds me of Norwegian. Very logical, and most often very elegantly implemented. I love solving these little riddles that are everywhere: Чиз кејк – čiz kejk – cheese cake! The pronunciation is—at least initially—the toughest part....

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Belgrade architecture

I keep pointing in all directions: look there, and there, and there! Gorgeous houses beneath the soot and weariness! My Serbian company just looks and shake their heads. Apparently, they are not making any distinction between the Tito era concrete houses and the ”purebred”, prewar modernism by architects like Jan Dubovy and Dragisa Brasovan.

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Tempus fugit

Looking in the mirror, contemplating the fact that I have been here for sixteen days and still don't understand everything that has happened in this country, ever, and that I still haven't examined every cog in their civilisatory machinery, nor looked into the mind of every single individual of it’s population. I have to stay busy, and take lots of notes.

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Rain, rain, rain …

A very grumpy and ill-mannered rain weather has put its grey bottom on the Belgrade area. When the rain comes They run and hide their heads They might as well be dead When the rain comes The people on the streets bow their heads for the rain clouds above, hiding under umbrellas or inside the hoods of their jackets. But I feel defiant tonight and try to walk with my chin up and my back straight. Let the stormy clouds chase everyone from the place. Come on with your rain, I’ve got a smile on my face. Perhaps not smiling. Rather scowling. Feeling strangely odd and out of place on the slippery...

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Feeling safe in Belgrade

I sit here, watching my corner of Belgrade from my window, and try to recapitulate my time in Serbia so far. It's amazing how quickly time passes. On thing I realise is that I feel perfectly at ease in this big, foreign city. What a contrast to the nervousness I felt before I went here! I had the notion that it should be like in Ukraine and Russia where you feel that you have to be alert all the time as there are plenty of people with nothing more to to than stare at you (and my belongings, I suppose). But yesterday, when I walked home from KC Grad on Braće Krsmanović, I observed this...

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