Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Tallest Building in Belgrade

I quite enjoyed Momo Kapor's Guide to Understanding the Serb Mentality. He has another book called The Magic of Belgrade, whose title suggested I might enjoy it as well. Apparently it's hard to find in translation, though. I checked the publisher's web site, and it suggested that I could find their titles at the Laguna bookstores. There was one on the Bulevar Krajla Alexandra (King Alexander), and, since it was on my way to the Vero, I stopped in yesterday.

"Dali imate Momo Kapor, the Magic of Belgrade na engliski?" I asked.

"We don't have it," the saleswoman answered.

I asked if she knew where I might find it and she asked if I knew the Zira shopping center, I did, since it houses the Vero, and she told me to check the Laguna store there.

Which I did. But they didn't have it either. "Maybe Delfi," the clerk told me. When I asked her where that was, she asked me if I knew the tallest building in Belgrade. I didn't. "Just ask anyone," she told me, "and they will point you to the tallest building in Belgrade. It's right across the street." When I asked her the name of the street, she mentioned the tallest building in Belgrade a third time.

So I looked it up on the Internet, and it seemed to be on Kniez Milana, which is the street I take to get to the pedestrian zone, where I had found the first Kapor book. I set off yesterday, and I didn't see the bookstore, but I actually found the book at the place where I had bought the first one.

The book has an essay on changing street names; about how after the revolution, Alexander Boulevard, became Revolution Boulevard and Crown Street became Moscow street; how they changed back after the fall of communism; and how it is a badge of honor to know the history of the changes; and that it often leads to confusion.

Today as I was coming back from Ada Ciganlija, a big park on an island downtown, the bus stopped at the corner of Kniez Milosha and Kniez Milana. Out of the window, I spotted the Delfi bookstore I had missed yesterday. I looked out the other side at the building I have walked by many times, and which I now know is the tallest in Belgrade.

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