Happy fourth of July to all my American readers. (Is there anyone else?) If I were in America I would have sent the day swimming and eating and the evening watching fireworks subconsciously thinking it was a German bombardment. If I were in England I would have gone with Jenn to some celebration in the American part of East Anglia. But here in Serbia, the 4th has passed without remark. In its honor I’d like to talk about another national holiday that has been (at least seemingly) ignored.
If you paid attention in history class or listened to Franz Ferdinand’s self-referential B-side, you might recognize June 28th as the day Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated. In fact the holiday goes back even further to 1389 and the battle of Kosovo, where the Serbs were defeated by the Turks, marking the beginning of 500 years of Ottoman oppression blah blah blah. I was a little nervous, having read in Misha Glenny’s The Fall of Yugoslavia about the showy nationalistic events that marked the 600th anniversary of the day, about even being in Serbia on Vidovdan, especially this year, the first year of Kosovo’s Independence (maybe. We try not to talk about it too much.) However, much to my surprise, had I not known that June the 28th was a remarkable day, I would not have noticed. In fact even knowing, I did not notice. Not one event did I see advertised, not one comment was made to me (that I understood) that would indicate that it was the day that until recently many considered the most important day in the history of Serbia.
On Saturday I met up with some friends and friends of friends in the center (as the cool part of Novi Sad is called). Novi Sad, being the cosmopolitan capital of a cosmopolitan region, was hosting an alternative theatre festival. We went to a performance in dunavska park. It mostly involved dramatic (exhaust fumiful) car chases, in line skating, acrobatics and fire stunts. There were a few monologues of which I managed to catch a few words, but I think my lack of understanding actually added quite a bit to my enjoyment of the show. I could make up my own interpretation of what each bit was supposed to symbolize. The man being hung by his feet by the two black-clad assassins (NATO?) was Kosovo; the woman bringing him back to life was Serbia. I don’t know. Does it matter? Apparently, not. That, at least, is something to be thankful for.
These are only my impressions. Your results may vary.