A Love Letter to My City: Belgrade, Serbia

I grew up in my town. A narrow-minded, former industrial corner of the world, near the Serbian capital, but far enough. Nestled in-between villages, with a view of a mountain and a single cinema in its center, my hometown offered peace and quiet. It boasted greenery that I dearly missed once I started spending time in Belgrade.

The capital was gray, filthy and it stank. The stench of the garbage, the stench of people’s mentality, and the depressing thoughts it evoked every time rain fell over it. The brutalist, concrete architecture, a sad remnant of our communist past would always make me sick with the way it disrupted the perfect sight of the historical, ornate buildings. I yearned for other places, more beautiful, more colourful, more everything. In a way, I couldn’t accept Belgrade for what it was and love it in its entirety, as I did not yet accept myself. The inner dissatisfaction found a way to reflect on my surroundings. As years passed and I travelled, searching for those other better places, every return home was a new experience. As I came back, always a bit changed, even if a miniscule amount, more complete and with peace in my heart, my city changed in my eyes. I began looking up, and searching for the beautiful in my own home. Once I found the strength to accept it, in both its good and bad, I saw Belgrade, my city, for what it truly was.

This goes out to him, with all my love and admiration:

To the finely aged, silver-haired charmer with his boyish joy and sadness. He who can be all that you need, and who always shows his true face. He doesn’t hide behind new facades, he takes pride in all that he is and all that he was. A concoction of Eastern European roughness, rugged beauty, and a kind, though brutalist warmth. A home for the delicate and the tough. A meeting place of the opposite worlds, located at the center of polarities, born out of war and peace, nurtured with nationalism and love. Thank you.

With affection,

All of us who have ever known you.

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