Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Heading to Sziget

In about 4 hours, I get on a train to Budapest to attend the weeklong Sziget music festival, which includes such acts as Franz Ferdipants, Iggy, Radiohead, and The Prodigy. The bad news is that thanks to some fairly heavy rain in the Danube basin in the last few days (before and after), the island where the festival is being held may be subject to “minor to serious” flooding. Not sure how you measure a tolerance like that, or where the tipping point of “minor” and “serious” is, but I guess I should take my gumboots. Thankfully, Dominik and I have access to the camping area just behind the stage, which is located at the island’s highest point, so maybe I wont pack my floaties. According to the Sziget website, there is internet access somewhere in the press area, where I hope to upload photos and check email, but I can't guarantee anything.

Last night, through the wonders of technology, I visited a couple of Serbian students studying here in Vienna. We drank some wine, listened to some cool music and shared stories from our home countries. I was keen to hear about life in Belgrade, as it’s one of those mysterious places you only hear about via a BBC voice with the words “refugee” or “bombing” attached. The last fifteen years have been pretty crazy in that country, and these guys have the attitude of “Serbia is an old country, so it should be left to die”. Curious. While the subject drifted from Nick Cave to civil war, nicotine patches to churches, Tuxedomoon to Belgrade’s plans to build the tallest building in Europe, one question stuck in my mind: How do other nations help a country regain stability without drastically or adversely affecting the identity of the country or the people in need? The country in question was Georgia, which recently went through its own revolution of independence. According to Wolf, a guy visiting from Berlin who was in Georgia at the time of the revolt, said that it caused a power vacuum, leaving army personnel (who were politically and professionally out of their depth), in charge of large cities. This inexperience has led to inconsistent leadership, causing instability and anxiety in the population, of which one million people (20% of the population), have now emigrated elsewhere. We talked about what a mess many of the surrounding nations have made of Serbia over the last 1,000 years, and how the Milošević years have affected the global perception the country and the Serbian people in the 21st century. It is hard to obtain visas, foreigners don’t like travelling there (but have no problem with buying Serbia’s assets at post-communism bargain basement prices), and mainstream movies portray its people as terrorists.

At some point I realise that this trip is more of an educational experience than a holiday, and decide to not only spend time with one group of locals in a town, but also one group of immigrant. This way I can get an inside and outside view of the culture, and also get an idea about which country I should visit next. By the end of the night, and a couple of bottles of wine, the consensus was that at some point in the not too distant future I must: Go to Prague to see the town (and hang out with Martine). Go to Berlin and dance a week away in the many clubs. Go to the Croatian coast and check out the best beaches in the Europe. Follow the Danube with my bike through Serbia and visit Belgrade and maybe even try some of Rastko’s parent's home made brandy.

And finally, from the saucy pages of my sordid personal life, there’s this debate taking place where an ex-girlfriend is telling me that I shouldn’t limit the amount of trust or chances I give to my next partner, and that I should unconditionally give them chances no matter the circumstances. I disagree. If you continually give away chances, you allow your trust to be abused, end up being walked over and eventually loose respect in your partner and yourself. What do other people think? I might be completely wrong on this one, and it may go some way to explaining why I haven’t had much success with this whole relationship caper. The problem I’m having right now is finding a balance with my anger, disappointment and sadness so that I don’t end up bitter and twisted. Hopefully we can avoide the "Good lovers make great enemies" scenario. But the one thing I have found is that if you break up with someone because they lack respect for you, do not be naïve like me and expect it from them afterwards. I guess if someone doesn’t respect themself, it’s harder for the person to respect those around them.

1 comment:

ElmoreGirl said...

Got you postcard today, Fat Bastard says Miaow and Rob says Hi.
Have a great time at Sziget.
I hope you contact Triple j as their on the spot music reporter.
Enjoy the Zeitgeist at Sziget...