"I tried to remain neutral": Life in Belgrade from 1991 to 1995


Dusan Jovic

The war is a horrible nightmare. Looks like people learned nothing in centuries and millenniums of existence. What's the good that progress brings. Leisure? To some people. What is progress? Computers, Internet, TV, VCR, Cable TV, Satellite... What are the benefits we have from progress. What is the point when there are still people fighting and dying and for what? Ideals, territory? No, for some deranged leaders is more like it. If there is anything worth fighting over except one's life it is for freedom. It is terrible that there are still people being denied for their rights. That is why it is important that there is an international team investigating life on Earth. The only problem is secret agenda what this team might have. One of the major problems today is lack of communication. If people communicated often many problems could have been avoided.

Life in Belgrade (Beograd) was tough during the civil war in former Yugoslavia. Sanctions made it even tougher. Innocent people were mostly damaged by it. I remember inflation. Prices were rising, salaries were dropping. No hope, only despair. The only thing government kept saying was 'Blame it all on sanctions'.

There were around 8 or so TV stations with various programme content. Usually there were news. Propaganda is a powerful weapon. Especially when in wrong hands. I am sure that readers from former Yugoslavia can remember the propaganda working during war. Other sides were blamed.

"Nobody asked us, the people, what we wanted. I never believed nonsense TV fed us with"

In Belgrade the media and government used to (they still do), say that there is a world conspiracy against the Serbs. They wouldn't admit that there were people trying to solve the situation and help. The only conspiracy was made by people who had use of war. A lot of them are from this areas. War suits war prophiters. Criminals, weapons, drugs and body part dealers.

I believe there was no need for war. Nobody asked us, the people what we wanted. I never believed nonsense TV fed us with. You can't tell me that my friends, relatives and neighbours are all of a sudden my enemies. That is insane. Although the sanctions, people here survived. They found different jobs, black market was in the peak. As difficult as it was living under sanctions it made people more determined to survive. At a time I was going to high school. We tried not to discuss war much. We spoke about it, I tried to remain neutral. Since I want to be writer I have to be neutral always. I try to write as objectively as possible. Be the judge of it. Due to propaganda many people didn't have their own opinion. That is why I always watch news with disbelief. Things started getting better around 1995. It was the year when I bought my computer. The very one I am using now to type this. Round 1996 we got full Internet access. Until then the only thing possible was for Academic Network to exchange email but it had no use to ordinary people, To anybody not connected somehow to University of Belgrade. Internet today is working. It costs but it is not that expencive as the phone bill. Communications during the war were standard. I am not sure if you could call Sarajevo or Mostar but I think that the phone lines were not functioning. I think they work. I think I spoke to Zagreb once but I am not sure what year was that. There were many student protests at those time. They were usually because of the regime. You can info on it somewhere on the net. I think that this protests were maybe anti war. Probably. I don't know for sure because I have never participated any protest.

Music popular around the war years was usually turbo folk. I never liked it. I was not the only one. 1995 and later, possible a bit before, rap and techno were popular, but not nation wide. Then came rawe music. I try to listen to most kinds of music. I like techno and rawe. I also enjoy listening the classical music. I listen to most foreign music directions. I like oriental sound a lot. I also like oriental and martial arts philosophy a lot. From domestic music I find domestic rap and techno good. There were many refugees and it was very sad. To have to leave everything you have, your life. Belgrade is an multilateral environment and everybody can live together and in peace.

This war was an experience that should have taught us something. Though it is over it will take a while for things to normalise. I hope nothing dreadful like this will happen again. I know it will. It happens every day somewhere. Will people ever learn?

by Dusan Jovic, Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
My email is dusanjovic@writeme.com.

My homepage address is http://surf.to/dusanjovic.

"This war was an experience that should have taught us something."
Dusan Jovic
in Beograd