Just last week I had the pleasure of visiting Serbia, specifically Belgrade, for 5 days. This was for me an intensely pleasurable voyage, since over here in the Netherlands my view on the world and the future are in absolutely no demand whatsoever. In Serbia I was far more well-received and this experience was a breath of fresh air for me.
And .. oh right .. *malta*.
Remarkable how fast one crosses a continent – just two hours and I am on the other end.
A warm bath of Hospitality
The whole reception was positively dazzling, and quite sweet. I arrived in the early afternoon and was picked up by a massive, powerful looking driver in a massive limo at Belgrade airport. It was rainy. There was this girl (XXX?) there, a smallish intensely professional looking lady of mixed lineage (German? Hungarian?) who explained to me some of my fashion choices were not the brightest of ideas in Serbia. I arrived in the center, and quickly changed my clothes. Then I met this wonderfully sweet and innocent kid, Marco. He showed me around the town for a couple of days and he is truly a prize. He introduced me to his girlfriend, a really powerful presence DJ girl. I had a lot of laughs with Marco, and really appreciate his sense of realism about things of the world. This kid has a bright future ahead, even if he doesn’t fully believe it himself.
This bar on a roof?
Anyone reading this, care to remind me? This was such an experience of true innocence – these kids go in to a building, no meddlesome government regulation within a mile, they go up an elevator and there’s this rooftop clubhouse kind of bar there where they just sit around and sip beers. And chat. It was truly straightforward in its simplicity – and how I as a consequence hate Dutch socializing. My country is a jungle of rules and formalities and nuisance. In Serbia there was none of this – the kids gathered on a roof and have a cheap beer and they pepper me with questions. Just plain spectacular. Loved any second there.
I was pretty nervous – this is my biggest audience yet; a maelstrom of 1000+ (?) people packed in to an auditorium. The place was loaded to capacity. I had an ego as big as a eastern orthodox church.
There was some local electoral circus going on. Some screaming old man with white hair amplified to a near painful level on the main square of Belgrade. Somewhat uhm… ‘daunting’. I paid little attention to the politics – I did notice the crowd was … unpleasant. These are not people that subscribe to standards of civilization I hold dear.
My presentation went off without a hitch. 30 minutes is a bit short for what I had to say. I referred to my earlier article (here too) and just shot off the sequence of strung together and prepared statements I wanted to make in record time. I got close to a hearfelt applause and it felt really nice. I anticipate linking a video soon, “where my now familiar imposter imitates my actual movements in the meat world”.
I met Aubrey late in the day after he arrived by plane. It appeared he was exhausted after a soiree in Oxford.
I will have a hero worship for you for the rest of my life
It was a warm greeting in the bar, a sequence of beers and good conversation. I have developed a somewhat complex relationship with Aubrey due to intricate personal reasons and it has become great fun to meet him again. He is still as a powerful a presence as ever.
In the beer rush I had an amazing talk with this one and this one, both extremely competent people. Truly impressed with their force of arguments about world trends. Hard core!
Cultural Center Grad
Serbia is a city where the affluent have their own place and the youth have everything else. This means that by every entrance to any specific social environment you notice the presence of some burly fellows to act as bouncers. I don’t know how serious it is, and essentially it is not dissimilar to what I’d see in the Netherlands. I found I could walk home the mile to the Hotel without any discernible risk. I had a great night there dancing off my stress with my usual somewhat odd dancing style.
A Restaurant (?) at the Belgrade Harbour
A hard to describe ultra hip restaurant. It had an amazing view over the Danube; food was good, companionship and interior decoration was just fabulous. I luwv being a VIP. Had a great talk with a Romanian game designer who runs this game.
I did a short one hour debate on ‘Ze Future’ with (…) Aubrey de Grey, Rob van Kranenburg and (holy shit) Bruce Sterling. It went nice, but I felt somewhat small. Bruce is like this one man vortex of genius phrases. It went OK, an audience watching, even though the future forecast had a decidedly dystopian flavor.
How strikingly beautiful some serbian girls are
I really don’t like the Netherlands, largely because of my own societal isolation there. The Dutch may on surface appear to be friendly – I guarantee you they are not. The Dutch as a society are exceedingly judgemental, meddlesome, formalized and calculated. I may have a few talents but due to my inadequacies and frailties I have absolutely no opportunities in the Netherlands. If you do not jump a large sequence of hoops in Dutch society you are viciously ostracized. No resumee? You can just about forget any involvement with the developed Dutch. No above average regular income? You can forget about 95% of relationships. I suppose this is common everywhere to a degree, my experience with societal ostracism and this shortsightedness in the Netherlands really pisses me off, and as a result I have a blazing prejudice against many things Dutch.
So when I get invited in Serbia, and about two dozen positively breathtakingly attractive girls and boys suddenly go against the grain of my decades of negative input it makes my head spin. I was treated here with incredible niceness. They must have noticed that my usual everyday life isn’t all it could be, and they were especially nice and hospitable, and occasionally flirty. But these people truly gave me a great measure appreciation and respect for the content of my personal ideas, competence areas and way of presentation. They really expressed a great liking for what I did and again – this was in itself intoxicating and exhilarating.
Flying home I was truly exhausted. I had the opportunity to talk at some length with Samir, the founder of the Dutch pirates. That may have some long term consequences.
Serbia has some major problems
I can’t other than conclude that Serbian society “hangs in there” under extremes of economic hardship and political inadequacy. The Balkan society doesn’t function properly, or at least in a way I would qualify as adequate. There is much to be said about how Serbian leaders screwed up, or how unsavory elements are exploiting this lacune, or how the international community tried impressing its values and violence upon the region. It was all wrong and now this sad place has become damaged.
My hosts booked a room for me here. I can recommend this Hotel – as long as you get a room with the street view! It is clearly a Hotel for the elites of the world. It looks breathtaking from the outside. The only down side is the attitude of the male staff – consistently some older people in Serbia ooze this occasionally uhm ‘hostile’ attitude, especially to someone as visible unconventional as myself.
I’ll add other details in this text as I remember them.