I get on the bus. Without knowing my destination. I don’t know my way around the city, so it doesn’t matter where I go. The bus starts. I observe the people around me. How they look like, their faces, their clothes. People of the city. Belgrade.
A woman gets on the bus. I feel like talking to her immediately, but I have to bring myself to do it. My worries that the woman could reject me don’t come true, far from it, the woman is really kind and open-minded. I guess she feels flattered. I accompany her to her final station. During our short journey she tells me much about her life. We can talk in english. Her name is Vesna. Vesna is about 60 years old, we didn’t talk about her age. A very expressive person and dressed extravagantly. She tells me about her brushes with fate, about loneliness and friendship, about life and suffering. A quite serious conversation for two people who actually don’t know each other. She is a ballet dancer. There is something happening between us, something like a short temporary friendship. We get off the bus together. I take a picture of her. She leaves her address and invites me to her house. Then we go our different ways.
Zeleni Venac is the junction in the heart of the city, between New-Belgrade and the old part of the city, “Stari-grad”.
From here the buses are travelling in all directions, people are walking around, it`s a really busy and hectic place.
I see this guy sticking out of the crowd. He looks interesting, he is standing there, in one hand a cigarette and in the other a small travelling bag. First I pass him, then I turn around to speak to him. I know I would regret it if I don’t ask him. I address him in english, he answers in german. We start talking, he tells me about his stay in Germany during the war in Yugoslavia, that he worked there as a cook in a Yugoslavian restaurant. Then he talks about politics, corruption, which will always exist in the country and about the social problems in the city.
I suggest to drink a coffee somewhere, he brings me to a market stand at the food-market, where they have the best coffee in town, and the cheapest one. He orders two mocha, I pay 50 dinar for both of them. The coffee is served in plastic cups, they don’t have any milk. Actually it’s too strong for my taste, but the sugar inside makes it drinkable. The market is crowded with people, the fruits and vegetables glow in a blaze of colour, it’s loud and it smells like fish. We sit down on steps aside the turmoil and I listen to Nicola for a while, fascinated by him.
I walk along a pedestrian area, in the middle of the city centre, close to the “horse” by the “Trg Republike”. I feel kind of lost, all the shops, the shopping bustle, there is nothing that stimulates me to stay, I want to leave straightaway.
On my escape from this “shopping-jungle” I spot a woman out of the corner of my eye, dressed in pink from head to toe. She is chatting, obviously with someone she knows. I wait until they finish their conversation to stop her. I quickly discover that she speaks german, she tells me that she has worked for the german television channel WDR for over 10 years as a presenter. She is now a film producer here in Belgrade.
I join her on her way to the theatre, meanwhile she tells me about her two divorced marriages and about her 3 children, who are scattered across the world. Today she lives on her own. She is a self-confident person and to me she seems quite wise. I take a portrait of her in front of the theatre.
Afterwards she invites me inside to have a drink with her at the bar. We have a chat about having children and climbing the social ladder at the same time. She tells me about her life and I feel comfortable in her company, even if we just met, she seems warm-hearted to me and we exchange phone-numbers.
The slavic name “Miloslaw” means “The kind-one”.
In a residential area in new-belgrade i meet a man who bears this name. The area seems desolate and bleak. A woman is sitting in a cafe, she is skinny, her body is shaking. She seems to be neurotic, she is smoking and drinking a coffee. I try speak to her, but she refuses me, while she is blustering about the alcoholics opposite to us.
Miloslaw is one of them. He is very slim as well. Around 40 years old. He wears a beige jacket and at the first moment he looks at me skeptically, but after i tell him about my project, he gives me his full attention. I take a picture of him and I am impressed and deeply moved by his kind way, and his loving eyes.
I get on a bus to the airport. After 7 days walking around in the city. My legs are hurting. My head is full of new impressions. During this 7 days I stopped and talked to over 100 people from belgrade. Some encounters were really intensive, some were less. But what stayed in my head was the fact, that all the people i met where really kind and helpful. If i would ascribe belgrade a colour, i would choose orange. Orange stays for the warm feeling i got during my stay here.