martedì 23 febbraio 2010

My favorite bureaucratic misadventure

Dear diary,

Last night while I was speaking with Piermario, it's already a sort of habit to speak with him late in the evening since he now lives in Houston and there is a time difference with Italy of seven hours, he reminded me of one episode of my life we both experienced, although in a different manner. Tonight I would like to remember that special day which was, to certain extent, also my worst nightmare.

Since I was a child, I was a big fan of music, and even now, music is a big part of me, of my soul and I don't think I would manage to live without it. One of my favorite group when I was a child was a rock group from Sarajevo called Bijelo dugme. The white button. Unfortunately, with a war in the ex-Yugoslavia, the group disintegrated and the leader, Goran Bregović, became, at international level, a very famous composer. In 2005 the group got united for the first time and decided to organize concerts in various Balkan capitals. At that time, it was a period before graduation, I had a group of friends, all of them were as much as I was a fan of Bijelo dugme, and we all were born in the country which didn't exist anymore. We all met in 2002/2003, although one of them, Bojan, was already, for a year, a student of our faculty, when my dear Balkan girls came in. Maja from Belgrade, Selma from Pula, Sanja and Selina from Rijeka (Croatia), Ira from Slovenia and Aleksandra from Ohrid (Ex Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). We formed a so-called Balkan group and we were often hanging out together. When we found about the concerts of our favorite group, immediately we decided to go. The Belgrade concert was during a summer exam session so we opted for a concert in Croatian capital Zagreb, which was closest to Italy. Ira's brother was living in Zagreb so he bought us tickets. At the beginning my mum was contrary to send me to Zagreb, although I was not going alone there but with my close friends, because she would prefer that I was going to Belgrade and especially because I would miss her birthday. Luckily, my dad managed to convince her so at the end, on 22nd June, Bojan, Maja, Aleksandra, Bojan's girlfriend Cristina and me left Gorizia and we were heading via Slovenia to Zagreb. The others were already there, waiting for us.

The concert was amazing. We were so excited to be there and to sing songs of our days, our lives and our friendship. I still remember the moment when everybody sang in chorus: Jugoslavijo na noge, pjesme nek se čuju... Get up Yugoslavia, let our songs be heard... It was so touching. I was thinking about the war, about all innocent victims, among whom was also my Bosnian friend from a childhood, and I was surprised to hear all that people singing a sort of anthem for all of us who were born in that country. At some point, there was my mum favorite song and I took a mobile from my purse to call her and let her hear some verses of the song. Maybe if I didn't do it the rest of that evening would be better definitely. After the concert ended, Bojan, Maja, Cristina, Aleksandra and me, we went for a dinner in some restaurant and after it we supposed to go back to Gorizia. Bojan had to work the next day. At the moment of payment, I realized that my small beg with a passport inside was missing. There was also my Italian resident permit and some money I put aside, in case of need, plus my Serbian mobile card. I didn't care much about the money but I was aware that without those documents, it would be impossible to go back home in Italy. I said home because my parents were also living in Italy and Trento is still my second home.

The first thing to do was to go to a police station to declare what happened. I didn't know whether I was robbed or that I lost the bag while calling my mum. Actually, first we tried to walk back and to see if we could find the bag, but it was quite useless. A police officer made us wait a lot to tell us at the end that they could not help me and that I had to go to my embassy. It was late in the night so we had to wait until morning. Bojan went back to Italy and Maja and Aleksandra stayed with me all night long. We sat on the bench and tried to relax. Actually they tried to calm me down, I was crying all the time. I was really quite upset. Aleks, we call her like this, had a redbull, which didn't give us wings but helped us to stay awake. In the morning we informed other Croatian girls who stayed in Zagreb too about what happened and they joined us at the Serbian embassy. I was the only one who could enter, they had to wait me outside.

The woman at the embassy was very rude. I was upset so much and instead of trying to help me, she was making me literally crazy. She asked me what happened and after I finished to tell my story, she shouted at me. "How could you allow to yourself to loose a passport in Croatia!" "I didn't do it on purpose." I replied. She asked me for my dad's number and she called him immediately. "Your daughter lost her passport and we will deport her to Serbia." Deport. I felt like I was a criminal. Then she asked me to prove that I was a Serbian citizen. Since I just had in my wallet my Italian id, the Serbian one I had left at the dormitory, I was allowed to call Italy and ask someone to send by fax a copy of it. Guess who I called? Piermario! I was so upset that I could not remember where I had put my Serbian id so I asked him to search for it in my room, in some of drawers. The problem was that my id was in Cyrillic and he had problems to recognize it. Luckily, our classmate Tatiana was from Russia so she helped him. He went God knows where, at the University and at the mastercopy shop, but after some problems, he managed to sent a copy of id. And the other requirement, the certificate of birth, was sent to the embassy by our family friend in my hometown. While all this was happening, my friends outside the embassy tried everything to help me. Selina's mum tried to help with Italian consulate in Rijeka, where she worked, and they wanted to give me some document in order to pass the border and go back. Bojan, when he was back to Italy, called his friend at Serbia's embassy in Slovenia. They also wanted to help me but I was ignored of all this diplomatic involvement in my case. I found out it by the impolite woman from the embassy who informed me that I would loose my Serbian citizenship if "they continue to receive the external pressure". Finally, late in the afternoon I obtained my putni list. A sheet with which I could go back to Serbia. And I got as well a friendly warning to leave Zagreb with the first train that was arriving to Belgrade at one o'clock A.M.

It was out of question to take that late train. First, I didn't want to wake any of my Belgrade friends, especially not my cousin who was studying there and who was angry with me for not joining him at Belgrade's concert. Luckily, Sanja's friend Nataša gave me a possibility to stay over night at her student house, and the following morning I took a train to Belgrade. I was so happy when I get to train station of our capital that I wanted to give a kiss to a ground of motherland. Later on I went to my hometown. When I arrived to my aunt's place everybody was making fun of me because of that Zagreb adventure. My uncle called me Selma, by one Bijelo dugme song which says "putuj Selma... travel Selma". When I went to the police office, to ask for new documents, I received a telephone call from Denis, my Croatian friend from Trieste. That weekend she was at home in Pola. She was notifying me that my bag with documents was found and that I had to call the police headquarters in Zagreb. Luckily, police officers are not always stupid so they inserted my Serbian mobile card and they saw I had a Croatian friend, by Denis name I put the abbreviation CRO , so they called her, she called me... I called Nataša who was so kind to go to the police office, take my bag and send it to me by bus. I took a bag at the Belgrade station few minutes before my bus to Trieste had to depart.

At the end, everything was ok. I got my documents back. I came back to Gorizia. I gave a thankful hug to Piermario. I missed only my last two exams... But I passed them in the autumn session and I graduated in December. And all my Balkan and non Balkan friends were there. We celebrated together all night long but that's another story. Once maybe I'll write it. Now it's to late for it. As usual.

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