Priština and back – part 1: Turks in Mercs

Mark Pullen RSS / 24.09.2007. u 09:55

Well, it may have taken me five years to find an excuse (or maybe pluck up the courage), but a few weeks ago I finally made my first visit to the provincial capital of Priština. It was … an experience. In this post you will find some observations and impressions of the trip I took with Jimbo, a mate of mine who works in the fog flogging sector.

Dakle, možda je bilo potrebno pet godina da nađem razlog (ili možda da skupim hrabrost), ali pre par nedelja sam konačno posetio glavni grad Srpske pokrajine Kosovo, Prištinu. Bilo je to… “iskustvo”. U ovom post-u, videćete nekoliko opservacija i utisaka iz posete koju sam doživeo sa Džimbo-om, jednim mojim drugom koji radi u sektoru za prodaju magle.

1. The Drive

1. Vožnja

The trip down to Priština was quick and enjoyable. We took the Belgrade-Niš motorway / Prokuplje-Priština road, and arrived in Priština about four & a half hours after leaving Belgrade (the term ‘like sh** off a stick’ springs to mind). Along stretches of the motorway I found myself repeatedly tormented by a Turk in a Merc. He was wearing a standard wife-beater vest and kept changing cars and overtaking me as if I were standing still.

Put do Prištine je bio brz i prijatan. Koristili smo autoput Beograd-Niš, pa lokalni put Prokuplje-Priština, i stigli smo u Prištinu oko cetiri i po’ sata posle izlaska iz Beograda. U toku putovanja autoputom, redovno me je mučio jedan Turk in a Merc (Turčin u Mercedesu). Nosio je standardnu siledžija-potkošulju i stalno je menjao auto i preticao nas je kao da smo stajali u mestu.

It became evident that we were approaching the ‘Kosovo Provincial Boundary’ when we noted that a serious number of lorry drivers had pulled over and set about changing their number plates (Serbian ones for obvious reasons, and foreign ones to avoid the €50 ‘insurance’ surcharge).

Bilo je očigledno da smo se približili “granici” kada smo primetili ozbiljan broj kamijondžija, koji su stali sa strane i menjali tablice na svojim vozilima (Srbi iz razloga koji su očigledni, i stranci da ne bi morali da plate €50 za ‘osiguranje’).  

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2. The “border”

2. “Granica”

We quickly passed the Serbian side of the boundary, which I presume was because as far as they were concerned we weren’t really leaving the country. However, it wasn’t so straight forward on the UNMIK border, which Jimbo assured me was manned by mixed Serbian & Albanian border guards.

Brzo smo prošli srpsku stranu “međe” – pretpostavljam da je to zato što, što se njih tiče, nismo ni izlazi iz zemlje. Međutim, nije bilo tol’ko lako na strani UNMIK-a, koja se, Džimbo me je u to uverio, sastojala od mešavine srpskih i albanskih policajca.

Unable to stamp our passports (because technically we weren’t leaving the country), they stamped a piece of cardboard and put it in our passports. We were then told that the international vehicle ‘green card’ was not recognised in Kosovo and, as we had foreign number plates (UK), we’d have to pay a €50 insurance charge. This seemed a bit steep to me, but I was in no mood to argue the toss. They’re obviously making a pretty penny from all the ‘Turks in Mercs’ heading through the province on their way to and from their ‘homes’ in the EU.

Zbog toga što nisu mogli da stave pečat u naše pasoše (jer tehnički nismo napuštali državu), oni su nam lupili pečat na neko parče kartona i stavili to u naše pasoše. Onda su nas informisali da međunarodni ‘zeleni karton’ za vozila nije priznat na Kosovu, te zbog naši stranih tablici (UK) mi smo morali da platimo €50 za osiguranje. Meni je to bilo malo skupo, ali nisam bio u fazonu da se svađam sa njima. Očigledno da oni dosta dobro zarade na svim ‘Turks in Mercs’ koji prolaze kroz Kosovo na putu do njihovih ‘domove’ u EU.

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3. The arrival

3. Dolazak

Around 30 minutes after entering Kosovo, the first buildings (unfinished, unpainted, new, yet somehow dilapidated, buildings) of Priština began to appear. My first impression of the look of the city, and one that remained with me throughout my stay, was that it most closely resembles Belgrade’s Karaburma district. With potholed roads, ugly high-rises and random industrial chimneys in the distance, the periphery of Priština is indeed a sprawling Karaburma, lying in the so-called ‘dust bowl’ that is that part of Kosovo.

Oko pola sata posle ulaska na Kosovo, prve zgrade (nezavršene, neokrečene, nove, ali nekako trošne zgrade) Prištine su se pojavile. Moj prvi utisak o izgledu grada, i utisak koji je ostao sa mnom do kraja posete, je bio da je najslični Beogradskom naselju Karaburma. Sa ulicama punim rupa, ružnim soliterima, nabacanim industrijskim dimnjacima u daljini, periferija Prištine je zaista kao jedna razbacana Karaburma, koja samo leži u toj takozvanoj “činiji prašine” što jeste taj deo Kosova.  

Jimbo, who’s familiar with the city, navigated us to his organisation’s Priština flat, our home for the next two nights. I was surprised and slightly miffed to discover that in Priština’s zoned centre one has to pay parking at an hourly rate 24-hours-a-day, but then again I suppose that parking is forbidden in those central streets of other cities, paid or otherwise.

Jimbo, koji poznaje grad, nas je vodio do stana njegove organizacije, naš dom za naredna dva dana. Bio sam iznenađen i malo iziritiran kada sam saznao da je obavezno platiti 24-sata parking u zoni centra Prištine, ali ipak pretpostavljam da je parkiranje skroz zabrenjeno u centralnim ulicam u drugim gradova. 

After paying around half a euro for two hours of parking, we dumped our stuff in the flat and headed for one of Jimbo’s favourite Priština haunts: a hip urban bar called Strip Depot (a reference to comics, not erotic dancers). The Depot, which neighbours several other bars that also boast attractive urban gardens, seemed busy for a Monday night. The décor was reminiscent of Belgrade’s World Travellers Club, though this place came without the rumours of satanic worship.

Nakon plaćanja oko pola evra za dva sata parkiranje, ubacili smo naše stvari u stan i krenuli ka jednom od Jimbovih omiljenih mesta u Prištini: jedan kul, urban kafić koji se zove Strip Depot (u pitanju su komik stripovi a ne erotične plesače). Depot, koji se nalazi pored još nekoliko kafića koji takodje imaju lepe i urbane bašte, se činio prilično pun za ponedeljak veče. Izgled me je podsetio na beogradaski klub Svetskih Putnika, ali za ovo mesto ne kruže glasine da je mesto za satanističko obožavanje.  

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4. The street

4. Na ulici

I was scheduled to interview UNMIK chief Joachim Rücker at 11. First thing that day we went for a top brekky al fresco at a nice little street-side restaurant on the same street as the flat. The food – ham omelette for me, plain omelette for Jimbo (who’s a freak vegetarian) – was good, as was the service and the price.

Planirao sam da intervjuišem šefa UNMIK-a, Joačim Riker, u 11 sati. Pa smo prvo otišli na vrhunski doručak ‘al fresco’ u jedan fini restoran u istoj ulici gde i stan. Hrana – omlet sa šunkom za mene, i prazan omlet za Jimbo (koji je frik vegeterianac) – je bila dobra, kao i usluga i cena.

After breakfast we wandered to the Depot for a coffee and to meet Jimbo’s local colleagues. My first impression of the Priština ‘street’ by day is that it is a busy, happening place on the move. The bars and cafes are packed to the rafters, shoppers and traders crowd the streets, and the city appears to function normally, if a little wildly (i.e. selling from the suitcase / locating incinerator dumps in built-up areas, etc.). Moreover, as Jimbo observed, thanks to the roads having been ruined by UNMIK & KFOR jeeps, the police don’t need to worry about speeding drivers. Bonus!

Posle doručka smo prošetali do Depota na kafu i da upoznamo Jimbove lokalne kolege. Moj prvi utisak o ulicama Prištine preko dana je bio da su prometna mesta puna dešavanja. Kafići i restorani su skroz puni, ulice su pune kupaca i prodavca i izgleda kao da grad funkcioniše normalno, ali i malo divlje (npr. prodaja iz kofera na ulici, nagomilavanje deponija smeća u samom gradu, itd.). Osim toga, kako je Jimbo primetio, zahvaljujći činjenici da su Džipovi UNMIK i KFOR uništili putevi, policija ne treba da brine o brzim vozačima. Ekstra!

The interview itself was predictably disappointing. The careful, consummate professional that appears to be Mr. Rucker, didn’t wish to take off his mandated hat (on the record at least), and told me only that UNMIK had done the best it could under the circumstances [presumably to prepare Kosovo for nationhood]; that he didn’t have a clue what “more than autonomy, less than independence” actually meant; that he was “particularly concerned about Belgrade’s influence over the Kosovo-Serbs, and would like to see Belgrade encouraging the Kosovo-Serbs to participate in the institutions of Kosovo and end the boycott”, while insisting that UNMIK enjoys “a relationship of close co-operation and mutual respect with the provisional institutions of self-government”.

Bio sam razočaran samim intervjuom, baš kao što sam i očekivao. Pažljiv i potpuni profesionalac, kao što je, kako mi se čini, Gospodin Riker, nije hteo da skine svoj “mandatski dres” (bar ne za javnost), i rekao mi je samo da je UNMIK, u ovakvim okolnostima, učinio najbolje moguće [pretpostavljam najbolje da pripremi Kosovo da bude država]; da nije imao pojma šta bi trebalo da znači “više od autonomije, manje od nezavisnosti”; da je on “posebno zabrinut zbog uticaja Beograda na Kosovske Srbe i da bi voleo da Beograd ubedi Kosovske Srbe da učestvuju u radu kosovksih institutcija i da završe sa bojkotom”, dok je insistirao da UNMIK uživa u “bliskoj saradnji i uzajamnom poštovanju sa pokrajnskim institucijama samouprave.”

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5. Sightseeing

5. Razgledanje

After an enjoyable lunch of spinach pie, we took the camera and had a wander around the central ‘sights’ of Priština: from the OSCE monstrosity, down a tidy street full of packed, appealing cafes, past the Croatian ‘consular’ office, around the stadium with the greenest grass outside of Yorkshire, to the athletics arena, where we stopped to look around.

Posle prijatnog ručka od pite sa spanaćem, uzeli smo fotoaparat i obišli centralne znamenitosti Prištine: od monstrouzne zgrade OEBS-a, pa dalje kroz uredne ulice pune kafića, pored hrvatske “konzularne” kancelarije, oko stadiona sa najzelenijom travom van Yorkšira, do atletske arene, gde smo zastali da malo razgledamo.

The athletics arena in Priština is a massive, morbid and imposing edifice that dominates that part of central Priština. Above the main entrance hangs a massive photograph of a uniformed, bearded man: Adem Jashari – a KLA paramilitary fighter (Kosovo-Albanian hero, Kosovo-Serb terrorist). Jashari was gunned down in his home in 1998 along with members of his family. Freedom fighter or terrorist? Well, winner’s choice says he will be remembered as one of the heroes and key players of “the most successful guerilla movement of modern times” [quote: Paul Wood, BBC].

Atletska arena u Prištini je jedna ogromna, morbidna, zastrašujuća zgrada koja dominira tim delom centra Prištine. Iznad glavnog ulaza stoji jedna ogromna slika čoveka sa bradom u uniformi: Adem Jašari – on je bio paravojni borilac UČK-a (junak kosovskih-Albanca, terorista kosovskih-Srba). Jašari je ubijen 1998. sa članovima svoje porodice u svom domu. Borac za slobodu ili terorista? Pa, pobednički izbor kaže da će biti upamćen kao jedan od heroja i ključnih igrača u “najuspešnijem gerilskom pokretu modernog doba” [citat; Pol Vud, BBC]

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After observing the warmly welcoming figure that is Jashari, we wandered past what is probably the ugliest “5-star” hotel I’ve ever clapped eyes on, past Priština’s modest and respectable monument to Mother Teresa (who wasn’t from Kosovo, but was an Albanian from Skopje, Macedonia) on past the Partizan War Memorial, towards the attractive, towering new government building, and the excellent, awe-inspiring statue of Skanderbeg (who also wasn’t from Kosovo, but was an Albanian from Greece). By the way, I saw no monuments to Bill Clinton (who also wasn’t from Kosovo, but could be an Albanian from Arkansas), but I wasn’t really looking for any.

Posle posmatranja te tople slike dobrodošlice kao što je Jašari, prošli smo pored nečega što je verovatno najružniji hotel sa pet zvezdica koji sam ikada video, pa pored Prištinskog skromnog i dostojnog spomenika Majci Terezi (koja nije bila sa Kosova, već Albanka iz Skoplja), pored partizanskog ratnog spomenika, prema privlačnoj, previsokoj novoj zgradi vlade i odličnom, i punom strahopoštovanja, spomeniku Skenderbega (koji isto nije bio sa Kosova, već je bio Albanac iz Grčke). Pritom, nisam video nikakav spomenik Bilu Klintonu (koji isto nije bio sa Kosova, ali je možda Albanac iz Arkanzasa), ali zapravo nisam ga ni tražio.

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My initial impressions of downtown Priština are fairly positive. As with the outskirts, it still has that Karaburma/council estate whiff, but it is a city alive and flourishing (though, admittedly, on a false economy that can’t last forever). It’s not pretty, but it is gritty, determined and driven. In the end, of course, people make a city, and the people down there are full of life, promise and the determination of victors.  

Moji prvi utisci o centru Prištine su prilično pozitivni. Kao i predgrađe, centar grada još ima taj miris Karaburme/radničkog naselja, ali grad je živ i razvija se (mada, što je opšte poznato, na lažnoj ekonomiji koja neće moči zauvek da funkcioniše). Grad nije lep, ali jeste izdržljiv, odlučan i pun energije. Na kraju, naravno, ljudi čine grad, i ti ljudi tamo dole su puni života, obećanja i pobedničke odlučnosti. 

6. Culinary delights

6. Kulinarski specijaliteti

I tried an Albanian national speciality, which could best be described as lamb and scrambled egg, or, as Alex later suggested, ‘lemendeks’. I do not wish to comment further.

Probao sam jedan albanski narodni specialitet, koji bih najbolje opisao kao jagnjetina sa kajganom ili, kako je drug Aleks predložio ‘lemendeks’. Ne želim da komentarišem dalje.

7. The politics

7. Politika

See Priština and back – part 2: Nike slogans (coming to a monitor near you from tomorrow).

Pogledajte Priština and back – part 2: Nike slogans (na monitoru blizu tebe od sutra).



Komentari (14)

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Dragan Vujanović Dragan Vujanović 10:46 24.09.2007

Po ovako lepom jesenjem danu !!


" " Dve žrtve eksplozije u Prištini
24. septembar 2007. | 07:27 -> 10:49 | Izvor: B92, Beta
Beograd -- Dve osobe poginule, 11 ih povređeno, u jutrošnjoj eksploziji u Prištini, saopštila Kosovska policijska služba, prenose agencije

"Eksplozija se desila u 2.10 u poslovnoj četvrti, u kojoj su barovi i restorani još bili otvoreni", rekao je za AFP portparol KPS-a Veton Elšani i dodao da je policija ispitala nekoliko osoba. "Ovde je deminerska jedinica KFOR-a, oni će videti kakva vrsta eksploziva je korišćena i da li je ostalo nešto eksploziva", kaže Eljšani. On nije mogao da navede imena poginulih i povređenih.

Eljšani je za Radio KiM izjavio da je nekoliko osoba saslušano, ali da još niko nije uhapšen.

AP javlja da se eksplozija desila u 2.30 u jednom tržnom centru. U eksploziji je oštećeno desetak radnji u prištinskom Bulevaru Bila Klintona, a jedna zgrada se srušila, javio je Rojters. " "

......................................................

Eto..! Po ovako lepom jesenjem danu !



deki_swe deki_swe 14:53 24.09.2007

Pozitivni utisci?

Posle posmatranja te tople slike dobrodošlice kao što je Jašari, prošli smo pored nečega što je verovatno najružniji hotel sa pet zvezdica koji sam ikada video, pa pored Prištinskog skromnog i dostojnog spomenika Majci Terezi (koja nije bila sa Kosova, već Albanka iz Skoplja), pored partizanskog ratnog spomenika, prema privlačnoj, previsokoj novoj zgradi vlade i odličnom, i punom strahopoštovanja, spomeniku Skenderbega (koji isto nije bio sa Kosova, već je bio Albanac iz Grčke). Pritom, nisam video nikakav spomenik Bilu Klintonu (koji isto nije bio sa Kosova, ali je možda Albanac iz Arkanzasa), ali zapravo nisam ga ni tražio.

...

Moji prvi utisci o centru Prištine su prilično pozitivni.


???
Mark Pullen Mark Pullen 16:20 24.09.2007

Re: Pozitivni utisci?

Pa baš posle te rečenice sam objasnio što su mi utisci pozitivni, bez obzira na izgled.
nestorijanac nestorijanac 15:45 24.09.2007

Sudzuk ?

I hope you have tried some of this meat specialty - spicy saussage ?
Everyone just loves it around here !!!
Mark Pullen Mark Pullen 16:22 24.09.2007

Re: Sudzuk ?

Didn't get a chance, sadly.

It was a bit of a flying visit.

Next time I'll be sure to try some other local specialities.
oldtajmer oldtajmer 15:50 24.09.2007

Hey Mark

1. Your photos didn't seem to upload properly. Would love to see them.

2.
. As with the outskirts, it still has that Karaburma/council estate whiff, but it is a city alive and flourishing (though, admittedly, on a false economy that can’t last forever
).

For my own education, cause I have no close - what is the local ("false" economy? You mentioned that the cafes are packed (on a weekday), this hints to me high unemployment, among other things. So, what do people do on a day-to-day basis, and what do they live off?

Oh, and I'm also curious about the "organization" that "Jimbo" works for, since that job seems to place him in Pristina quite frequently.
Mark Pullen Mark Pullen 16:18 24.09.2007

Re: Hey Mark

I am led to believe that during the summer months the locals of Priština live off their Diaspora relatives, who come home for the summer and blow/give away all their hard-earned cash from Germany. This, I predict, will last for a generation (i.e. until grandma dies and they no longer have a reason to come home).

They also live from employment with the numerous international organisations active in the province, which also won't last forever.
oldtajmer oldtajmer 16:34 24.09.2007

Re: Hey Mark

That can't be everyone. What about the rest?
nestorijanac nestorijanac 16:39 24.09.2007

Re: Hey Mark

That can't be everyone. What about the rest?


Some are involved in various bussines activities - illegal arms@drug trafficking, prostitution, terrorist actions,etc...
Kazezoze Kazezoze 16:52 24.09.2007

Hey Mark

pokushaj, kad si vec u prishtini, da pronadjesh mesto gde svira ovaj band... shkolovani muzichari, jako dobri...negde sviraju sigurno ako su u prishtini;-)
gagonja gagonja 17:43 24.09.2007

i ja sam

cuo od kosovskih albanaca da Pristina sasvim dobro funkcionise. to ne kazu za ostatak kosova.
kako zive srbi u pristini?
ima li ih i jel bezbedno?
mariopan mariopan 15:07 25.09.2007

Re: i ja sam

Verujem da je eksplozija bila zbog nekog kriminala i da nema veze sa etnickim motivom. Taj kriminal,koji se ne vidi golim okom,treba istraziti....ali zato se gubi glava.Mislim da je kriminal osnovni razlog sto se Amerika toliko upinje da se izradi nezavisnost i tako pokrene lancana reakcija svuda u svetu a najvise u Evropi.

Njima ,tj Amerikancima treba teritorija koji ce samo oni kontrolisati,kao sto su i do sada ,i odakle ce droga i sve vrste opojnih sredstava da se distribuiraju u Evropu i svet .Sve to nece biti moguce ako Srbija vrati suverenitet pa pocne da goni i hapsi kriminalce.NATO je tu samo statista i Albanci takodje.Stepen ljudskih prava i zastita manjina koju Albanci nude moze i njima da se ponudi. Ako su dobre za nas ,kako oni kazu,zasto nisu dobre za njih?
Igor_Jaramaz Igor_Jaramaz 12:00 01.12.2007

wifebeater

wife-beater vest


If by wife-beater vest you mean what we call a wifebeater (as illustrated in exhibit A on case subject X) in North America then the Serbian equivalent (slang - жаргон) would be радијаторка.

Igor_Jaramaz Igor_Jaramaz 12:51 01.12.2007

wifebeater

wife-beater vest


If by wife-beater vest you mean what we call a wifebeater (as illustrated in exhibit A on case subject X) in North America then the Serbian equivalent (slang - жаргон) would be радијаторка.



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