Tag Archives: city

Updating Belgrade

The bombed buildings of Belgrade: first stop on every bus tour of the city.
Eerie skeletons of former Yugoslavia, bearing the scars of the ‘NATO aggressors.’
Fascinating historical landmarks with big gaping holes through which one could see crumbling staircases, wiring stripped bare, and yes, the odd tree branch growing through the rubble.
Tony Blair called them a health hazard and insisted they be torn down.

The former Yugoslav Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Internal affairs, situated on a busy main street, and a staple view of my daily bus route to work.

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These buildings were bombed by NATO in 1999 and left, untouched, ever since. They serve as…a reminder? A statement perhaps? Or maybe there just wasn’t enough money or bureaucratic motivation to ever do anything about them. Anyway you put it; these buildings are one of the highlights of any trip to the Serbian capital. Grim, dark, morbid, and utterly unique.

Today, as I rode the bus home, sweating through my teacher-appropriate blouse and inwardly grumbling about the lack of personal space in Serbian culture I looked up to find that one of these dubious cultural institutions had been covered foundation-to-roof by an enormous advertisement. The broken bones and gut-rot of Serbian victimhood had finally been hidden away, and, judging by the newly landscaped front lawn, soon to be replaced by an updated space for a city that desperately needs updating.

I suppose even in the the Balkans one can’t hold on to the past forever.

Senses in a Megacity

House music sets the beat of my journey through the mega city of Hong Kong. Hong Kong and house music fit better together than any city I’ve tried to set house to (London, Cape Town, Warsaw, Paris, Detroit). Hong Kong is a pulsating organic ecosystem strengthened with steel and cement. This city, with its many beautifully contrasting layers, sync up just like house music’s many sounds do. House music’s electronic beats may seem wholly artificial to some. But the heart, the soul, the emotion of house music comes from its Motown heritage. House music was created to keep people dancing, to allow people of color and women to showcase their struggles and then forget them in euphoric expunging, to cleanse their souls and retain their humanity. House music, like Hong Kong, doesn’t behave, breaking you into a sweat, drawing you to certain places. In a city your body makes decisions that your mind isn’t aware of, you move because you must, just like dancing. You go off onto unexpected beats and streets but you never leave the track or the city.

 

The music of my soul is Motown, created by my city and perfected by the genius of few. The music of my soul is hip-hop, poetry narrating a solo journey. The music of my soul is house, my senses soothed by the repetition, the layers and its thematic yearning for love.

 

I’ve been in Hong Kong for a week and a half. My journey every morning to school takes me from the City, traveling on the metro and then on a bus through the jungle to my seaside school. I must find a place to live, to put down roots. I’m deciding between living in solitude amongst the sounds of a village, with my school just a shout away, or in the city whose solitude I found suffocating before. But listening to the sounds of house music on my commute, so perfectly matching the sounds of Hong Kong and my soul, I know where I belong.

 

To be developed: taste, sight, smell, touch