Thursday, May 16, 2013

The men of Belgrade

I am definitely behind in my blogging, but will leave my two latest trips (the Baltics and Transylvania) for another time, in order to write about three VIPs in my life since moving to Serbia.

1. Ice Man
If I had an iPhone and could post pictures of text message conversations, this would be a priority. It's probably good that I don't, because it might raise wrongful suspicions that may lead to my arrest.  Truth is, ice Man is exactly that, a man whose business it is to deliver ice.  As you may know, from reading older posts or from travelling to Europe in general, ice is a very hot commodity here, and buying ice by the bag at a gas station is a non-existent practice.  I was lucky enough to get a hand-me down phone that had this number already programmed.  After a couple of conversations with the Marines (notorious for throwing American style parties) I finally got in touch with who would become my go to person at every party.  A quick text with the requested amount in bags, address, and time for delivery gets the job done. Like a drug deal, we do not know each other's names, we only exchange cash, and he comes to the curb, drops of the stash and leaves. No questions.  You can always rely on him.

2.  Watch Man
My colleague, Biljiana, recommended I go see the watch man (basically an old school watchmaker) when I was complaining that my watch's battery had died.  She gave me the specific instructions on where to go (past the Maxi on Sarajevska, on the right hand side, walk straight till you see it).  I actually had four watches in dire need of new batteries, so one day after work, I made the walk and found him.  Walking into his shop was like walking in a time machine and travelling 50 years back in time.  The shop was probably four feet wide and 20 feet deep.  The walls covered with old cuckoo clocks and the display had watches older than my grandfather's great-grandfather's pass me down watch.  Watch man didn't seem to speak English, but thanks to the specificity of his trade, what else could I possibly want?  I handed him the watches, and he diligently proceeded to get to work.  He used a tiny little eye socket to see better, popped out the battery, changed it, and pounded the back of my over priced watch making sure the warranty would be void forever.  But hey, it was working again!  He repeated the steps with the other three watches, and then charged me about $16 total.  A wonderful experience.  Except that by the next day, one of the watches was no longer working.

3.  Blood Man
Yes, that sounds disgusting, but blood man has a magic touch.  Unlike watch man and ice man, blood man gives receipts and has a name tag.  I believe his name is Bojan.  Blood man works at a number of local labs AND makes house calls to the Embassy, hence his popularity.  His magic is twofold, one he is everywhere, and two, he can draw blood painlessly, effortlessly and without leaving a bruise.  Many friends and I have discussed his gift and he has never come up short.  Chances are that if you are ever in Belgrade and need blood work, he will be the one to do it and you won't even notice it.

I have always been in favor of diversifying trades and rotating jobs, but judging by these three gentlemen, maybe variety is overrated.

1 comment:

Pera Tistera said...

Wow, like a parallel reality!

I would never tell we live in the same country, let alone the city...

Ok, except for the "watchman".