Thursday, 15 September 2011

Touchdown in Belgrade

In the long descent to Belgrade airport a patchwork of little fields rolled out below us, a colourful quilt stitched with hamlets and smallholdings that gently remind me I know little of Serbia beyond its recent bloody history.  Insofar as I had thought about it at all I suppose I had expected great modern industrial farms but this pretty picture suggests an altogether gentler, more communal rural economy.  Preconceived notions of a place are often there whether you’re conscious of them or not.

Linda Cracknell and I are each attending our second PEN Congress – Linda was in Senegal in 2007, I was in Tokyo last year – and we’d chatted through the journey about our different experiences.  Each congress naturally assumes something of the character of the host city or nation, so we wonder what Belgrade will bring.

First it brings is a temperature of 33oC as we step off the aeroplane into a brazen heat.  I knew it would be hotter than Scotland at this time of year, of course, but I had expected something the early 20s.  Linda had more sensibly checked the actual forecast and packed accordingly whereas I don’t even have a pair of shorts!

Drew Campbell

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