Gost autor| Moj grad| Muzika| Život

My Balkan love affair deepens

Milutin Milošević RSS / 13.12.2010. u 18:19

Moj gost danas: Mary Murphy

336041123BeogradSCG.jpg

In the capital city of a country that boasts an average wage of €386, I was gobsmacked to see the monetary reverence with which musicians are treated. Okay, I’m the first to acknowledge that tonight may have been far from typical so I checked and while tonight was indeed a little fláithiúilach (generous) by any standards, it wasn’t that far removed from the norm when Serbians might drop up to €50 in tips for musicians.

But let me start from the start. Dinner. In Tajna. A little restaurant on Svetogorska. ‘Little’ meaning about 20 tables. An exquisite menu – and that was the impression before I even opened it. Beribboned and bejewelled, this was no ordinary few sheets of A5 landscape. Before I’d even ordered, I was expecting better than usual. The wallpaper, too, spoke volumes for taste and discernment. On the feature wall, larger than life burgundy and cream lilies mixed with butterflies perched on greener than green blades of grass. The supporting palates pick up the burgundy and cream and the overall feel was like being at home. Just, to my mind, what every good restaurant should feel like. Forget the pretension. Give me down home and tasty any day of the week.

One portion of chicken stuffed with bacon, cheese, and olives served with grilled veg and potatoes; one portion of salmon carpaccio with salad; one portion of grilled gilthead (fish) with all the trimmings; two vegetable and mushroom (why the distinction?) risottos; followed by two plates of Belgian chocolates (to die for) and an apple pancake in white wine. Accompanied by half a dozen bottles of a very pleasant, if unpronounceable, Tamjanika white wine and  a couple of rakia to start. All rather lovely.

Our fellow diners ranged from a table of three 50-somethings bellying into the vino blanca; a couple of more sedate 40-somethings sipping casually on their red wine; two tables of ‘mature’ couples suitable bedecked in twinsets and pearls; a threesome with a long-bearded academic and his less-erudite-looking coupled friends; and a table of six, petite, 5’2″ Serbian young wans with their token long-haired male hippy male friend. Altogether a rather innocuous bunch out very much for a night of ‘selective’ enjoyment – more about themselves than the restaurant or the music.

And then the trio arrived. Yer man on guitar looked like a slimmer version of Keith Wood. So he was Bosnian. But I’d have given a month’s wages to say he was Irish. He acquitted himself on guitar as well as Wood has ever done on a rugby pitch. Yer man on accordion was… himself. And MH, if you’re reading in Darwin, I know you’ve been at the butt end of many an accordion joke, but you’d have loved him. He brought those keys to life. And yer woman…well, if Penelope Cruz looks half as well as she does when she hits 50, she’ll be laughing. They started off in Spanish. I had to ask what language because being as tone deaf as I am, I knew only enough to know that it didn’t sound what I’d imagined Serbian to sound like in song. They worked the tables. Our trio next door acquitted themselves well. Imagine Auntie Mags and Uncle Séamus doing their party pieces. Not bad at all.

Then it moved to our table. Now, in fairness, I knew two out of our party reasonably well and two not at all. The two I knew, the inimitable duo JK and VR speak English. The two I didn’t know, don’t. But that ceased to matter. Jovo, the rather innocuous looking publisher in the corner got the nod. And started to sing.

Jovo Cvjetkovic moved to Belgrade from Croatia to study veterinary medicine. Four years into a cow’s innards, he opted for philosophy instead. A recognised scholar in Nietzsche and Kant, he is now a publisher in Belgrade (Albatross Publishing). I’d have to be forgiven in mistaking him for a local primary school teacher. White sleeveless jumper over a check shirt with the regimentary one button undone, thick glasses and carefully cut grey hair, the man could stand in a room and no one would notice. Until he opened his mouth and sang.

Pavarotti can apparently reach 6 registers on the operatic scale. With training. My man Jovo can reach 7. Without. I’d heard tell from the duo that he was pretty amazing but that has to be the understatement of the year. Had I paid €200 for a ticket to sit and listen, I’d have felt I hadn’t paid enough. A room of about 30 people, in a little restaurant, just outside Belgrade city centre, played host to one of the most amazing musical evenings I have ever had the good fortune to be present at.

Now as usually happens when I’m in mixed company (and I’m not talking sexes here, but rather languages) I drift. Given my limited linguistic skills, I’m usually the one left studying the wallpaper as others converse. But I’d already done this (remember the butterflies and the blades of grass?). Instead, I focused on the tall, willowy woman at the table next to us who was smoking cigarettes as long as her legs. She was totally devoid of animation, sitting there bored out of what had to be an exceptionally large mind (a dimwit could have found something to entertain themselves at Tajna). And then Jovo started. It was like something passed over her and breathed life into her. The elongated limbs unfolded and she came to life. And the more he sang, the more animated she became. I’m not talking rock or pop or jazz but Italian arias, opera, and Serbian and Russian folk songs. I didn’t understand a word he was singing and I’m sure if I did, I’d have died and gone to heaven. But his voice. His passion. His soul. It was like nothing I’ve ever heard before.

His partner sat beside him, holding his hand, as if to anchor him. On the rare occasion she let go, he clutched the table himself as if stopping himself from soaring upwards. Such was the power of his voice. The bould VR was doing his damndest and when Serbian folk songs were the order of the day, he did well. Very well. On any other evening, had he the floor to himself, he’d have played a blinder. And he would, no doubt, leave people in his wake simpering. But tonight, there was but one spotlight on the stage. And it belonged to Jovo.

Those of you who know me will know that I’m tone deaf. It wasn’t the music I was hearing but the raw passion behind it. It wasn’t the melody I was feeling but the mood of the restaurant. It wasn’t the technical dexterity I was in awe of but the change he had wrought on all those present – me included. Conversation moved from patriotism to nationalism; from the Europe that might be to the Yugoslavia that was; from what nourishes the soul to what feeds the brain. And all the while Jovo sang.

I’m drinking nights and nights are drinking me: just one simple lyric translated that gives an indication of what was being sung. The supercool young wans eventually succumbed and rose to their feet. Had you been made of ice, you’d have melted. Had you been riddled with pain, you’d have found solace. Had you been the most frigid spinster in Ireland, you’d have thawed at the flick of an eyelid. I swear, nothing I’ve ever heard has come close. And it wasn’t just Jovo. It was that magical meeting of minds – that wonderful junction where musicians jam. The chemistry, the feeling, the interpretation – where everyone happens to be on the same page at the same time. Sinatra turned in his grave, I’m sure, as Penelope sang a gypsy version of My Way. Had he been alive, he’d have had to tip his hat in recognition of a superior job. Furrowed brows, clenched hands, pursed lips – all the order of the day. At one stage I found myself wondering if they needed an audience at all. But then, who is music for – the singer or the sung to?

Main courses and desserts for five €50. Wine and such €60. Musical soul replenishing... priceless. My Balkan love affair continues. If this was a run-of-the-mill Friday evening, sign me up.

But as I said at the start – it wasn’t the food, or the music, or the vibes that moved me most. It was the generosity of those present. 1000 dinar notes (€10) were stuck in the guitar frets, in accoridan pleats, in breast pockets … I couldn’t help but do a mental tally. Hundreds of euro. And when I asked why? A simple response: That’s how they make their living. And the silent but accepted second phrase: and that’s how I show that I appreciate what they do. Priceless indeed.

 

***

Meri Marfi je moja poznanica i saradnik. Dugogodišnji skaut. Izuzetan stručnjak za editovanje tekstova. Šta više, piše odlično! Već par godina živi i radi u Budimpešti. Poslednjih godinu dana, poslom je vezana za Beograd koji često posećuje. Ovaj tekst napisala je u 4 ujutro, posle događaja koji je opisala.

 

Kada sam je pitao kako vidi Beograd odgovorila mi je:

I remember as a child being confused by beauty and attractiveness. I’d stumbled upon the world of Mills and Boon while staying with an aunt one year, and all the female characters were either beautiful or attractive but nothing in the text explained the difference. So I asked my mother. She told me that when a woman is beautiful, people look at her and see that beauty. It’s obvious. When a woman is attractive, people look, and then look a second time, and a third time, because they know they’ve missed something. They are fascinated by what they see and yet can’t quite put their finger on what it is that is so appealing. For me, Budapest is beautiful; Belgrade is attractive.

 

***

Jovo Cvjetkovic je filozof, te se bavi i filozofsko - muzikološkim analizama sevdaha. Zainteresovani mogu da pročitaju njegov poslednji pozdrav Safetu Isoviću



Komentari (29)

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Dejan Ninkovic Dejan Ninkovic 18:41 13.12.2010

thnx

Divno HVALA
buba_truba buba_truba 19:11 13.12.2010

Lepo ti je ovo, Milutine

Safet na sceni nije samo pevao, svagda je to bila istinska umetnička ispovest - uzdah i krik, zanos i tajna ašikovanja, pohvala sevdahu kao načinu života, iskonska volja da estetici egzistencijalno uzvišenog pridoda još poneko novo poglavlje. Na takav način to niko nije umeo ni pre ni posle Safeta.



Meni omiljena... + erotikom začinjena

... znaš kad meni na um padne draga.
Ja ne gledam sunca nit' mjeseca,
nit' moj doro mraka nit' oblaka,
nit' moj doro Drine vode hladne.




Milutin Milošević Milutin Milošević 19:19 13.12.2010

Re: Lepo ti je ovo, Milutine

Moje omiljene

Kad sretneš Hanku (sa uvodom o pesmi)



Moju đogu



Ali i verzija Amire Medunjanin koja mi je više legla srcu, otpevana njenim kristalnim glasom

Milutin Milošević Milutin Milošević 19:41 13.12.2010

Sjajni naslednik



mikimedic mikimedic 20:41 13.12.2010

divno

They are fascinated by what they see and yet can’t quite put their finger on what it is that is so appealing. For me, Budapest is beautiful; Belgrade is attractive.



mirelarado mirelarado 21:39 13.12.2010

Excellent choice :)

Accompanied by half a dozen bottles of a very pleasant, if unpronounceable, Tamjanika white wine




Beautiful story, thx.
outcast outcast 02:02 14.12.2010

It was always good to be in Belgrade...

... if you have moneyand time go to the restaurants... How many of Belgrade inhabitants have this priviledge? Not many, I would say... Music is nice, food is nice, but it is more important to have essentials of life. Do not you agree?

Budapest is beautiful, Belgrade is attractive... Nicely said, but these two cities cannot be compared for the beauty or attractivness. In recent history "Belgrade" did its fair share in the misery of Balkans, so please be considerate...
Covek u belom Covek u belom 03:55 14.12.2010

Re: It was always good to be in Belgrade...

outcast
... if you have moneyand time go to the restaurants... How many of Belgrade inhabitants have this priviledge? Not many, I would say... Music is nice, food is nice, but it is more important to have essentials of life. Do not you agree?

Budapest is beautiful, Belgrade is attractive... Nicely said, but these two cities cannot be compared for the beauty or attractivness. In recent history "Belgrade" did its fair share in the misery of Balkans, so please be considerate...

Kafanas are also restaurants. And how many ppl from Belgrade you know that don't go to kafanas at all???
And trying to put politics when the story is about ordinary ppl is just brackish.
In your case nomen est omen really stands...
mikimedic mikimedic 09:26 14.12.2010

Re: It was always good to be in Belgrade...

Budapest is beautiful, Belgrade is attractive... Nicely said, but these two cities cannot be compared for the beauty or attractivness. In recent history "Belgrade" did its fair share in the misery of Balkans, so please be considerate...


maybe did budapest too (ok, together with its older brother), slightly before the most recent past...anyhow, this does not make it any less beautiful than it indeed is.

bringing politics to this blog is... well, covek u belom says it nicely.
buba_truba buba_truba 09:28 14.12.2010

Re: It was always good to be in Belgrade...

Covek u belom
And trying to put politics when the story is about ordinary ppl is just brackish.
In your case nomen est omen really stands...


Atomski mrav Atomski mrav 10:27 14.12.2010

Re: It was always good to be in Belgrade...

Clubbing <-> Kafaning
edi-va edi-va 10:31 14.12.2010

Re: It was always good to be in Belgrade...

well, covek u belom says it nicely.


man in white ... precisely
ecce-florian ecce-florian 10:37 14.12.2010

Re: It was always good to be in Belgrade...

essentials of life
It's no wonder .
off on his hobby- horse (books) again

Milutin Milošević Milutin Milošević 10:55 14.12.2010

Re: It was always good to be in Belgrade...

ecce-florian

Ko o čemu, gazda o novim knjigama

Učiti, učiti i samo učiti
ecce-florian ecce-florian 11:17 14.12.2010

Re: It was always good to be in Belgrade...

e jbg. a ja taman izmeno i preveo da ne ispadnem nekulturan

Ovo tvoje
Učiti, učiti i samo učiti

predlažem da u duhu vremena i jezika bloga u prevodu glasi

Read, read & " read only"




mikimedic mikimedic 11:18 14.12.2010

Re: It was always good to be in Belgrade...

man in white ... precisely

edi-va edi-va 11:24 14.12.2010

Re: It was always good to be in Belgrade...

predlažem da u duhu vremena i jezika bloga u prevodu glasi,


learning by doing ... precisely (again).
Milutin Milošević Milutin Milošević 11:26 14.12.2010

Re: It was always good to be in Belgrade...

Visit to Belgrade is often learning by eating, drinking and singing
edi-va edi-va 11:46 14.12.2010

Re: It was always good to be in Belgrade...

Milutin Milošević
Visit to Belgrade is often learning by eating, drinking and singing


yes ... learning by doing all these things
outcast outcast 15:51 14.12.2010

Re: It was always good to be in Belgrade...

Covek u belom

Kafanas are also restaurants. And how many ppl from Belgrade you know that don't go to kafanas at all???....


Why does it matter how many people I know? Is that the measure of misery?

Check out the misery index, if you wish to find some answers a little bit closer to reality


Covek u belom

And trying to put politics when the story is about ordinary ppl is just brackish....


You call it brackish, I call it educational.

Belgrade, on the surface, is lovely. There are boulevard cafes where stylish people lounge in warm winter sunshine to the background music of Top of the Pops hits and Riverdance. New Skodas and Audis dice with battered Fiats on streets with shop names such as Zara, Accessorise, Mango and Benetton. In the park overlooking the junction where the Danube flows into the River Sava, a military museum crammed with tanks and khaki-coloured jeeps gives the impression that war is a thing of the past.



Turn another corner. Gazing out from the display window of one of Belgrade's ubiquitous book shops is the bronze-carved head of Radovan Karadzic, currently facing 11 war crimes charges, including the Srebrenica massacre, at the The Hague tribinal. Beneath his statue, a lovingly arranged ribbon in the colours of the Serbian flag laments 'the Lion is in the Cage'. A poster in the window encourages passers-by to join the daily protest against his trial, giving the rendezvous details.


[url=http://www.tribune.ie/article/2008/nov/30/living-on-the-frontline-in-belgrade-serbia/][/url]

Covek u belom

In your case nomen est omen really stands...



Why personal attack? "I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it." Voltaire

And yes, if you wish to take that direction: nomen est omen - I am tremendously proud to be an outcast from such a society. I have been working hard on that for many years. I guess my hard work is paying off now


mikimedic mikimedic 17:16 14.12.2010

Re: It was always good to be in Belgrade...

where the Danube flows into the River Sava,


stoske, ti li si?

boris19 boris19 17:22 14.12.2010

Re: It was always good to be in Belgrade...

@outcast
outcast outcast 18:23 14.12.2010

Re: It was always good to be in Belgrade...

boris19
@outcast



Sorry to be a party pooper Tajna seems to be a really nice place!





However...Whatever...
ecce-florian ecce-florian 20:14 14.12.2010

Re: It was always good to be in Belgrade...

mikimedic
where the Danube flows into the River Sava,


stoske, ti li si?


Ovo je već na golmanski centaršut, i to na prvu.
Paz samo na sudije
mikimedic mikimedic 20:48 14.12.2010

Re: It was always good to be in Belgrade...

Ovo je već na golmanski centaršut, i to na prvu.
Paz samo na sudije

talicni talicni 04:46 15.12.2010

Re: It was always good to be in Belgrade...

covek u belom i miki treba da pisu vise na engleskom(ili to bese samo copy paste iz google translatora)

lolol
milosss92 milosss92 17:41 14.12.2010

one small correction

In the capital city of a country that boasts an average wage of €386, I was gobsmacked to see the monetary reverence with which musicians are treated.


Slovenija 936 EUR
Hrvatska 725 EUR
Crna Gora 460 EUR
BiH 400 EUR
Makedonija 330 EUR
Srbija 320 EUR

http://www.24sata.rs/vesti.php?id=84852
talicni talicni 04:58 15.12.2010

Re: one small correction

Average wage is probably higher in the capital than the country as a whole.
It would be interesting to find out what percentage of population in Serbia can afford to eat out?
milosss92 milosss92 07:22 15.12.2010

Re: one small correction

talicni
Average wage is probably higher in the capital than the country as a whole.
It would be interesting to find out what percentage of population in Serbia can afford to eat out?

actually it says that 'country boasts an average wage' not the capital city itself, but it might as well be the difference between gross and net wage. It's still a good point though

Arhiva

   

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