olle bergman

Farewell to Belgrade

Three times I kiss you farewell, Belgrade. Once for your brimming streets and crumbling houses, your defiant greenery and sooty walls, your buses, trams, monuments, slopes and stairs. Once for for your busy, beautiful crowds, walkers, drivers, talkers, smokers, drinkers, shouters. Once for your larger-than-lifeness, your tucked-away brutality, your childish, glorious friendliness and all the promises that circle your skies like a everlastlingly turbulent flock of jackdaws. Three times I kiss you farewell, Belgrade, wondering ”Will there be a revelation when the final moments are taken...

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Going underground

Just like Blacky in the Kusturica movie, I have now experienced Belgrade from underground. An excellent tour which explained the complicated story of a city that has been a military target in over in 115 wars and destroyed 44 times.  

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War museum, get-together & tripice

The war museum in Kalemegdan is–not surpringsingly–a labyrinth of corridors and display cases where Ex-Jugoslav and Serbian history is exhibited in all its spectacular complexity and brutality. Our head spun after trying to follow this confusing and often disturbing story, told by artifacts like an Illyrian spear, a Byzantine helmet, a janissary uniform, a German incendiary bomb, a chetnik hat, a partisan machine gun, a Croatian AK-47, an Albanian mortar, a NATO graphite bomb. It was a relief to leave the stale air of the museum and stand on the sunflooded ramparts of Kalemegdan...

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Giving lecture about science communication

It may seem peculiar that my assignment this morning was to give a lecture at the Faculty of Biology: three hours about science communication in the library where portraits of stern professors from times past looked down at me and the students. Actually, this was the seed from which my entire visit grew and was planned before I even heard of the Kuća Za Pisce program. (More about this stuff here.)  The individuals involved know how grateful I am for the efforts they made to create this opportunity for me. Here am I on my way to the lecture. This photo is a great representation...

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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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