Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Ekrem Dupanović
It’s Saturday morning. Vedrana and I woke up quite early, not knowing we won’t be back in bed for another 20 hours.
Mornings in Belgrade are the most beautiful at Kalenić’s market. The market stands seem as if they will crumble under the weight of fresh fruit and vegetables. When you buy from the hard working people at this market, you see their hands, their palms scarred from the hard work on the fields. You immediately know the produce is their own, not bought from some warehouse just to be resold. The people there are very kind. They go out of their way to give you their best produce. We already have our favorite sellers. Winter is coming, and one most make supplies. First we go to Dragica to buy ajvar – the best ajvar in the world. We buy enough to have at least until the beginning of the winter, and then next time we are in Belgrade, we will buy more. Then we go to “our” Macedonian for the beans and a wreath of garlic. And, finally, a few pounds of fresh vegetables for the coming moth. We bought a trunk load of all sorts of things.
Upon returning to the hotel, I go to the lobby. I take my laptop out and start working, to catch at least three or four hours of work. I’m quite late with some things. For two months now I can’t tie some lose ends. It seems as if the more I work, the more work gets piled up. I cherish every hour I have as if its golden.
By noon, Vlado Čeh came by. My old friend and founder of the Institute for the History of Advertising. For several years now, every time I ask him what’s he up to, he says “I’m preparing a new exhibition.” So far, as I remember, there were following exhibitions: From prey to a hunter – Tito on posters; War and Posters 914-918; Woman, War and Posters 914 – 918, and Serbia, War and Posters 914-918.
“Ćele, what are you up to?” I ask as soon as he sat down- “I’m finishing the exhibition Humor, War and Media 914-918, which will open on 15 November.” “My God, Vlado, when will you get out of the First World War? It seems that it had never ended for you!” He says he will push it all as long as there are those who want to see such exhibitions, and his exhibits are very popular. For the next he told me about a couple of interesting things about the media and the First World War and the humor that raised the moral of troops in the trenches. I don’t know where he said the Brits had their own print shop, right next to the front line which they held on to for a long time, and that one of their publications became a serious daily newspaper after the war. It’s always very interesting with Ćele. He’s packed with information and can hold a conversation on just about anything.
I was interested in something about our Creative Portfolio 2. We are in a dilemma of which Serbian festival to include in the book. UEPS Awards or Kaktus Awards. We can‘t do both. In the first book, UEPS had almost the same number of pages as the Slovenian and Croatian festivals combined. Too much. The Kaktus has better category system, and the winners are decided by two juries, one “local” and another, regional. Both juries include the most prominent names of the Serbian and regional advertising industry. I ask Čeh what he thinks. He told me the same thing as a dozen friends from the advertising industry I’ve talked with so far: “Give UEPS a chance for another year, then see what you’ll do. It is an association with a long tradition after all.” Our dilemma therefore continues. We will wait for the awards at both festivals and then we will make a decision. There’s no other way.
I would love to talk with Čeh more, but the time was coming to go to the wedding which was actually the reason we came to Belgrade. Viktorija Radojević and Domen Mavrič will say their fateful “Yes” at 16:00h, in the church of St. Mark. I brought three suits from Sarajevo to Belgrade, because I couldn’t decide which one I would wear. I wear a suit very rarely. Every year or two. And the struggle is real every time I have to wear one. Which one to choose? So, not knowing what to wear, I took out all three suits in the hotel room and debated with myself. Since I brought them with me, I figured I would wear two. The black one for the wedding in the church in the afternoon, and the second one for the civic wedding on the raft that is scheduled for 19.00hrs. I thought that I would be able to go back to the hotel from the church and change. In the end I remained in the same suit almost till the break of dawn, because there was organized transport from the church to the next location.
So far, I’ve had about a dozen invitations for various weddings throughout the region. I didn’t go to a single one. But I couldn’t miss this one. First of all because of Viktorija. I knew Domen only from what she told me about him, but Viktorija is a person who commands respect from everyone who even remotely knows her. For those who don’t know her, I will say that Viktorija is the Director of Marketing Sector in Mercator Slovenia. She is directly responsible for the marketing of all Mercator companies throughout the region. Mercator is our business partner, but this is the least important, or at least not important for this story, nor is the value of our contract even close to an amount that would oblige us to go above and beyond in working for Mercator. These type of jobs in media are mostly handled by juniors. In our case, when it comes to Mercator Slovenia, I grabbed that privilege for myself. Because of Victoria’s dedication to her work and Mercator, because of her passion for every single project, because of her energy that is fascinating, because of her creativity and knowledge, because of the sincerity of her smile that never leaves her face. Because of the fair relationship, when you do business with her you always know where you stand – there are no unrealistic promises, no half-solutions, no lost illusions. I could go on about all Viktorija’s traits, because of which some say that a new sun is shining in Ljubljana since she came from Belgrade two years ago. The traits because of which she was accepted by the entire Slovenian profession overnight (member of the most important juries, participant at panels…). Everyone has only words of praise for her. This is a unique opportunity for me to write about what I really think about her, what I heard, saw and witnessed. Every time I tried to do it before, she fended of saying, “That’s not about me, that’s the result of work of Mercator’s entire marketing team.” When I offered her an interview a couple of times, she refused, and said, “Here, these are my people, talk to them.” Now I’ve written it, so if she gets upset, it’s up to her, not me. I also have a job that I love.
For the first time in my life I attended a church wedding. It was fascinating. You could feel the magnitude and the importance of the event we were attending in the air all the time. The fatherly speech of the priest who led the ceremony, the decor, the gold that could suggest the golden future of the marriage, peace, silence… the only thing you could hear were the voices of Church people, Viktorija and Domen. It’s a mystique that you simply can’t tear away from. I looked at the parents, their facial expressions, their gaze that goes from the wedding couple to each other, and then again back to the wedding couple. They were happy, as were all of us witnessing this great event for two young people who could be our children, at least in terms of age. May they be forever happy!
From the church of St. Mark we take the bus to the Kopernikus raft. Vedrana sat in the closed “ground floor” of the bus, and I climbed up to the platform above us to catch some wind and clear my head from the impressions of the “first” of the two weddings I will be attending today. I watched Belgrade from the “height” of the bus. After Sarajevo, it was always my favorite city. I came to it in 1970, when I first traveled officially somewhere. For the past 48 years, some of the most beautiful moments have happened to me here – here I served the army, and here I experienced some stellar moments in my professional career. I love Belgrade very much.
As we drove, I was trying to recall my most beautiful moments in Belgrade. Definitely the most beautiful ever was when Vedrana and I woke up first time as wife and husband on July 3, 1977, in the apartment of Hotel Jugoslavia. We got married a day earlier in Sarajevo and immediately flew to Belgrade, and the next day to Spain. The second big moment was on February 6, 1979, at the Belgrade airport, in the airline taxi which I rented to get to Sarajevo as quickly as possible. In that taxi, as I was entering it, I found out that my daughter Asja was born. And the third most beautiful moment is Viktorija’s and Domen’s wedding, which pushed out from that place two sleepless nights and days I spent here partying with Zdravko Čolić after he won the Belgrade Spring festival with his song April in Belgrade.
We arrive to Kopernikus and climb to the top of the raft. We enjoy the music, the food, the drinks and the unique view of Belgrade. Night fell, lights turned on. Belgrade truly looks mysterious. It’s as if someone designed the lights for those looking to the city from the other shore. There are 250 guests on the raft, and we are all fascinated by the view of Kalemegdan.
As the clock struck 19.00 hours. Domen stood in front of a large heart made of various small lamps. He waits for Viktorija. As the minutes pass, the host introduces us to the bride and groom, tells the story of each of them – storytelling. We learn that both were born in 1984. “Olympic” children, because in Yugoslavia, in Sarajevo, that was the year the Winter Olympics were held. He tells us couple of details about each of them. The DJ starts playing the ceremonial music, as Viktorija appears and moves down the aisle to Domen. The excitement is at its peak. The wedding officiant was great. There are no readings of dry laws, there is no surplus listing of obligations (and sanctions), as it was “in our time”. Once again, a warm human story as it befits such a magnificent moment. The ceremony ends. Toni Cetinski and Samuel Lucas come out from the sides of Viktorija and Domen, and start singing Oliver’s song Believe in Love. I dare you not to cry at such a moment. Since Toni will sing later as well, and even do a solo concert at dawn on the raft, let me tell you immediately what he’s doing here. Toni is a great friend of Domen, and in some ways contributed to the development of the relationship that led to this wedding. And when it comes to singing for friends, Toni truly sings from the heart. Toni gave his best that night.
We’re going down to the ground floor of the showers. What’s up to the glass wall facing the Danube that slides twenty inches below the table level we’re sitting on. Our company is Iva Balent, Ivona Janjić and her boyfriend from Sarajevo, Irena Milicevic (Mercator Sarajevo) with her husband and Jelena Doderovic (Mercator Podgorica). Great company, great atmosphere, a little loud music that makes it difficult for us to talk because we’re sitting at a large round table so we’re more communicating with the goose than the voice.
Then we climbed down to the ground floor of the raft. Our table is next to the glass wall towards the Danube, which runs just twenty centimeters below the level of our table. Our company are Iva Todorić, Ivona Janjić and her boyfriend from Sarajevo, Irena Miličević (Mercator Sarajevo) with her husband and Jelena Doderović (Mercator Podgorica). Great company, great atmosphere, a tad too loud music that makes it difficult for us to talk, because we’re sitting at a large round table so we’re communicating more with our eyes than with our voices.
What can I say about this final part of a big wedding. If there is a fairy tale wedding, then this was it. If there is an “American” wedding, then it was Victoria’s and Domen’s. Two hundred and fifty guests in great spirits, gleaming couple, fantastic music. Slovenian language was dominant one among the guests. It seems to me that Slovenes were the majority. Entire Mercator management was there, led by the general manager, and many Slovenian friends of the happy couple. I think Slovenia and Serbia have never been closer than here. Never have more Serbs danced to Slovenian folk music, nor have ever more Slovenians danced the Serbian kolo than that night. The huge raft shook and rocked on the water. Toni Cetinski took the stage and a crazy party began. Jack Daniels with Coca-Cola was pouring like water. After midnight, the wedding cake came out, and with it the Azinović’s trumpeters, multiple winners at Guča festival. The roof was on fire. The atmosphere also got trumpeters into the mood. Their show lasted about 15 minutes, just enough for everyone to let out the very last atoms of strength. We tried the cake. Delicious. Around 02.00hrs we were called to climb to the upper floor, because Toni’s solo concert was beginning in a few minutes. We said goodbye to friends and the lovely couple. Vedrana and I left the party because we had to be in Sarajevo in the morning. We had to vote. We couldn’t fall asleep for a long time afterwards, telling each other our impressions. It was the most beautiful wedding we attended. Besides our, of course, 41 years ago.
Just as I was finishing this text, Asja passed by, looked at the screen and asked: “What are you writing about?”. “I’m writing a diary entry from the Belgrade wedding,” I replied. “How can you write about that? That’s a private thing.” Well, I simply had to!
October 10, 2018.