O nás Pro dárce Pro dobrovolníky Kosovský deník Fotogalerie Odkazy
Tirana Diary 27 May 1999

Tirana 27 Mai 1999

It is early morning, I am sitting on my normal place enjoing my morning coffee. Out of a small box behind me, "the house of new orleans" is coming in the old famous, almost original Animals version. I am looking on the busses which are passing by, which look if they are as old as the song. The line 15 to "Anderlecht" (part of Brussels), the number 145 to "Amsterdam", line 34 to "Mitte" (center of Berlin), how did all those old busses come here? Besides all the old chinese ones (must be at least 15 years old) and even some older russian ones (30 or more, like the few Mig 15's which the Albanian airforce has). I am sitting just 5 meters away where a few days ago that guy from Tropaja was killed and look at the bullet hole in the metal construction of my favorite coffee bar, one just a few centimeters away from where I lean mostly with my chair backwards. I really have to be thankful to Jojo that he phoned that morning. The vegetables seller on the other side of the street, who for three weeks was still standing outside with his wooden boxes has build a metal roofconstruction around his last week placed container, the roof is nearly finish, probably today, showing that he has decided to take up a real big space. Some workers have started with the walls, I guess in two days the building will be ready. "Just a few stones, some marble, a few windows, small bit of money and finished in 3 days or so", as my translator would put it, when he showed four concrete walls to me explaining that this could be my new livingspace by next week. Unbelieve-able how fast that goes. The big park will be cleaned from the hunderd or something illegal restaurants and bars soon, is the word on the street, NATO wants to build there a new big building. Why NATO wants to build themselves a big building there seems to be by nobody asked. The stories are more or less that NATO wants to move their Brussels HQ to Tirana. Behind the parliament building people are busy to remove the chairs, tables, machines and other expensive stuff (these restaurants are really fully equiped, they are not improvised, they are sometimes more than 3 floor buildings, rather fancy build) out of their restaurants tomorrow the riot police will come with their bulldozers. At this morning the air is filled with at least 4 different music styles, disco in this coffee shop, turkish music from a cassette seller at the bridge, underground from a sandwich seller next door and a kind of turbo-folk from the other side of the street. Together with the noise of the horns, some bus got stuck and a truck tried to pass him, got stuck as well with a wheel in a big hole, now about 30 cars try to get the thing moving by blowing their horns (among them a Dutch army truck, from which the driver joins the orchestra), after 15 minutes it seemed to work, the traffic is moving again. To higher up the fun, 5 apaches make some extra practice rounds above the city. Good morning, Tirana is waking up. The radio is playing "Knocking on heavens door". Afterwards I went buying gear for our volunteers house. Today we went to buy 10 matrasses, just simple ones. That took us about 4 hours. Indeed it is a fact in Albania the thing is not to work, but how to produce a system that people have something to work, if you understand it. We first had to go to the place where they have matrases, they told us which ones they have, then we had to go to another place, asking for the price. With this paper we go back to the first place, they make a kind of bill, with this bill we had to go back to the other place, they count together what it costs in order that we can pay and with the stamp that we paid you have to go back in order to get it. I was glad that we finally made it allthough I should be used to it, having seen this in so many countries before, but here it is almost driven to the limit. When we at last had our ten matrasses in the volunteer house together we went to the pyramid in order to meet up with Rezarda from Kosov@ who are going to work for us. Of course we were a bit to early, so we sat down in one of the thousand small illegal restaurants for a buryk and a coffee (with water) and looked at the chaos in front of the building were people (refugees) must go to get some kind of documentation. Since the serbian police, (para) military has taken every identification from them they can't even proof that they are who they say they are. So there is always a big group of men hanging around this building (I wonder why men only, I hardly have seen women there, first I thought it was a recruit station of UCK), partly waiting to get in, partly watching who is going in. There is always a group of 5 or 6 rather powerfully built guys sitting at the uppersite of the street in a coffee bar there, they seem to control everything, people come up to them to greet them, and when they call sombody or just move their little finger it seems, the people are running for them. Today they had to stand up to get one person in place, the whole street was watching this confrontation. Lots of words, lots of tension in the air, nothing happened, the guy runned off and the big guys went back to their coffee. I discussed with George what happened, in my opinion those big guys are UCK recruiters, but I am not sure, and the guy who runned away was somebody who didn't really want to join the fighting force. But maybe it was something totally different. Anyway Rezarda came precisely at the time we had agreed which gave me a good feeling, she worked for the OSCE before, so she knows a bit how office works functions, allthough our office is of course something totally different. I told her that we haven't got chairs and tables yet, but that they will come eventually. She explained how she got out of Pristina. After the OSCE left she knew that something would happen so she went with her 2 year old son to Turkey, to family who was already there. Her husband had to stay behind, he still had work. Her father and mother were pushed out of their flat and brought to Makedonia very early after the bombing started, stayed in Blace about 10 days and then were able to leave to Turkey as well, where they now live in a big refugee camp. Her husband was taken as prisoner first, but then brought to the border near Kukes, where he had spent 10 days, but was lucky to get in contact with the OSCE, which could bring him in contact with his wife, but since he didn't could come to Turkey, she came down to Tirana, where they are living with friends. And they haven't recieved any help since they are here. They were lucky she said, almost all of the family got out, only the grandmother is still back in Pristina, but they were able to call her last week, knowing that she still is alive. She really would like to leave Albania as soon as possible. Under Tito's time we always dreamed about our motherland she told me, we wanted to go to Albania, now we are finally there and the only thing we hope for is to get out as soon as possible. In the coming days surely you will hear more and more of these stories. In a way it is a totally different way to look at Tirana with the eyes of somebody from Kosov@ as through the eyes of somebody from Albania, those people not coming directly from Tirana, also don't know the place very well, but at least they know the Albanian style, the Kosovarian don't. Like the american Gerry, he asked a Kosovarian to change money for him on the street, of course they returned a false $100 note. (By the way I saw a shop today were you can buy false 1000 lek notes for 300 lek, they almost look real) The day passes by, it is late in the afternoon I am sitting at a small coffee bar in front of the UNICEF building, waiting for the meeting about child friendly space which is starting in 10 minutes. The music here is turkish, the coffee is by far the most tastefull I have had, the Unicef building looks more like a fortress than a child friendly place. Big iron gates, guards at the doors, this extra Tirana, Albania thing. I look at all the organisations arriving in the landrovers, landcruisers, jeeps, pajeros, fronteras and the smaller and locals ones, by taxi when they are rich, or by feet like us. Like our friends from the Albanian and Kosov@ youth council. They have already so many volunteers in the "field" that I am afraid that we are not able to put anything besides them. And they are so motivated I noticed in the last week that my respect for them is growing with the day. They really have their 40 volunteers up in Kukes and working their socks off to show that refugees are really welcome in this country. For me these persons are the most interesting persons I met in this country. Heard a nice joke today, a guy on a donkey was passing by the train station somewhere between Durres and Tirana, the train just stood there and somebody asked him were he was going, "to tirana", "than you should come in, this train goes to Tirana", "no sorry" the guy on the donkey gives as answer "I am in a hurry". So much about the speed of the national Intercity.

wam :-)