Autumn in Belgrade: So Much To Do, So Little Time

So much has been happening in this not-too-big, not-so-small city in South Eastern Europe that it’s been difficult to focus on just one thing. The days are getting shorter, the workdays longer and the news headlines more bleak. The summer of 2009 is over, done and gone. Here’s a short recap of its last days:

The Belgrade GLBT Pride Parade was cancelled at the last minute, Serbian athletes are back on track and achieving success, the EU is considering Serbian candidacy for entering the EU by the end of 2009 (not likely, believe you me), the Belgrade Zoo welcomed two more white Kruger lion cubs into the world (if that don’t make you feel warm and fuzzy all over, I don’t know what will), Serbia’s air carrier JAT’s mechanics had a long overdue hissy fit due to which flights were grounded untill yesterday, the Serbian government has decided to cut some 14 thousand jobs in the public sector to meet requirements for another IMF loan it has so eagerly been awaiting (They need the loan to create a better living standard and more jobs for Serbs… Huh? Wait. I’m confused…), and there’s no way I can wrap this up without mentioning Brice Taton, the 28 year old French Toulouse fan who was viciously beaten by football hooligans in Belgrade on September 17th and lost his life to those injuries just days later. The latter came as a huge shock to Belgrade as this is a city where one rarely hears of anyone getting mugged much less brutally beaten. Belgrade and France mourn Brice still but I’m afraid that, come this time next year, his name will be forgotten along with so many others.

Brice Taton

Brice Taton

Such is life in Belgrade. We learn to take the bad, find what good we can in it, and go about our daily business. The year has been pretty good to us so far, taking into consideration the state of the global economy, and the weather is still holding up. Another one of those mild Indian summers is just barely hanging on and I feel we’re just days away from a full fledged Belgrade Autumn. Although a typical Belgrade autumn can be tempermental and unpredictable, with rain, sunshine and even a bit of snow here and there, most Belgraders will tell you this is their favorite time of the year. Perhaps because this is when Belgrade shows its true colors, in all shades, light and dark.

October is the begining of the theatrical, concert and party seasons in Belgrade. Sure, we have the summer festivals and concerts all year round but, to be honest, we wait for all the tourists to leave to get the really good stuff out.  Within the next month and a half, Belgrade will play host to ZZ Top, Cesária Évora, Diana Krall, Tom Jones, Eros Ramazzoti, Simple Minds, Josipa Lisac, its very own Riblja Čorba, and that’s not counting those due to perform at the 24th Belgrade Jazz Festival beginning October 24th. That’s still not even the half of it. If your musical tastes are a tad more eclectic, don’t forget to check out what’s in store at the several venues of Belgrade’s SKC (Students’ Cultural Center). If you lean more toward the classical, then it’s the Kolarac Foundation Hall (home to the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra) you’ll be looking for.

Theatres in Belgrade are a whole story that deserve a post of their own and I promise to get around to that soon. Also, this is when many Belgrade nightclubs reopen after a long summer’s rest. My personal favorite is Bitef Art Cafe where I’ll, once again, be a regular on Tuesdays and the occassional Saturday. In the meantime, I’m hoping we can put some of the recent bad news and vibes behind us, while remembering the people and lessons involved. Welcome to an incomparable and unparalleled Belgrade Autumn. Enjoy!

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