Belgrade – Kralja Milana

“so, you’re Robert ?” Snezana asks to Am?lie, pointing her finger to her, after she stormed into the common room and glanced at each of us. I watch Am?lie’s eyes wide opened with surprise and gently tap Snezana’s shoulder, “err, no, I am Robert’s daughter, Juliette”. Snezana bursts out laughing and hugs me and kisses my cheek. “here, we kiss a lot” she says, still laughing. she looks around us, the room, our computers and notepads spread on the table, the decoration, then she decides it’s a good place to stay and sits down. I propose to go outside for a drink but she shrugs, “nah, we’re fine here, aren’t we?”
I feel a bit ashamed to welcome my father’s fourty something collegue in our hostel common room, but i agree nevertheless. David points out that there’s beer in the fridge and as i serve it, wondering out loud if it’s still good, Snezana laughs again “oh as long as it’s alcohol…” then she lights one of her many cigarettes.

our first mission is to find the Ben Akiba, apparently the classiest hidden bar in Belgrade, situated in a shady street near the hotel Moskva according to our information. On our first try, we face a couple of security guys in front of a black box with a door that indicates the entrance of a nightclub. “The Ben Akiba? it’s closed now, it’s been moved”, they tell us, before asking us if we want to come inside. after hearing the echoes of technoid beats, we politely decline. the general impression is that we’ve been duped : wouldn’t it be logical for guys working for a nightclub to try to get tourists to come inside instead of another bar? Besides, we all have in mind the article published only a year before in a french renowed daily newspaper that talked about the Ben Akiba. and it’s also mentionned with the address in the recent french Belgrade guide we’d bought. it it had been moved, the journalists would have said so, right? on our second try the next day, David, Am?lie and I take the time to inspect the street, but with little luck. the only clue we have is the only cyrillic written doorbell of a building on which I read Klub. we suddenly hear a talk close to us and the words Ben Akiba. A couple of men near a car get our attention : “the Ben Akiba, you know it?” “yes but not here anymore. it’s gone…two years.” we’re puzzled, the journalist mentionned the place in his article as if he’d been there… we’re still suspicious : wouldn’t it be logical for the neighbours of a hidden bar to discourage the tourists?
we wait for the others then decide to ring at the Klub bell. the door opens without a question and we enter in a luminous beautiful building with large stairs. we closely inspect every door but no luck there either. Delphine finally rings at the door on the second floor where the bar should have been. A charming old man answers : “oh the Ben Akiba, yes, yes, it used to be in this appartment but it’s moved a couple of years ago… the owner was killed or something..”
back near the Hotel Moskva, now doubtful about the other hidden bars we’ve read about, we sarcastically conclude : “never trust a journalist.”

Am?lie and I sit facing the siblings, St?phane and Ariane, in the trolleybus bringing us to the Kalemegdan. A couple of seats from Ariane, an old drunk man is shouting “be happy” to no one and to Ariane in particular. I have to admit that watching her face as she pretends to hear nothing is priceless. mixing serbian and a few words of english, the old man goes on, as I make a couple of pictures of the siblings. a student looks at us, smiling, then she offers to translate. “he’s apologizing” she says to Ariane “he’s drunk but he isn’t a bad man.” but Ariane still feels uncomfortable. the girl enquires where we going and tells us she’s stopping at the Kalemegdan too.
at the entrance of the park, she has to leave, “this park is like… the lover’s park. you’ll see, some couples kiss, some do more, so… enjoy! and call me if you want to have a drink later!”
that’s how we meet Mimi. and she’s absolutely right : even on a rainy day, the Kalemegdan is the french kiss sunday school in belgrade.

the couple of american who have recently arrived at the hostel glance oddly at us in the common room, as they come in. “boy, it looks like a newsroom!” truth is, that’s exactly what we’ve turned the common room into. the table is overflowing with our computers, cell-phones, notepads and a few cameras as well. strange sentences sometimes break the studious silence, “i’m going to need your quotes.” “have we sent the planning?” “the swiss will come to get us with their armored vehicles anyway”. “it’s a matter of principle : i’m not delivering a picture without caption”. “you’ll just have to angle it differently” “it depends what kind of internet connection we’ll have there” “i think your picture has a different meaning, cause the first thing i see is the bank sign”. “someone has the phone number of the AFP guy in Pristina?” “so who’s covering the train?” “let’s not underestimate the power cuts problem” “what do the latest polls say anyway?” and at last, something clearer at the end of the afternoon : “who’s up for a break and a walk at the Kalemegdan?”

OMC – How Bizarre

dire un truc ?