Dunja Cvjetićanin was born in Yugoslavia in 1989 and moved to Australia with her family as a baby. This series of photos was captured by Dunja during her seven-month sojourn in Belgrade, Serbia, in 2011, which she has previously discussed on be:longing, here.
Dunja is one of the Founding Co-editors of be:longing and enjoys interacting with others who feel a similar connection to other places and cultures as she does. This piece originally appeared in a modified format on Dunja’s travel blog in August 2011.
2011 was one of those years for me. A growing year. An exploring year. I was 21 going on 22 and spending an entire year in Europe, the place that had dominated my dreams for the previous 21 years. And not just Europe, but Italy and Serbia. My heart and soul were wrapped up in those two countries at the time – Italy, for the fashion and the vespas, and Serbia, for the much deeper and frankly scarier fact of being the land of my ancestors. After my six months in Italy, July came around and I embarked on the beautiful yet terrifying journey of living in Serbia and finding out what it might mean to me.
Coincidentally, one of my best friends, Marissa, was having a similar European experience at the time. She had moved to Spain – one of the countries her family was from – the year before, and was, I guess, exploring what it meant to her, too. That year, we talked on Skype almost every day, discussing the people we were meeting, the things we were doing, the hairstyles we were considering (and generally relishing the fact that we were in the same time zone again), and though we never explicitly verbalised what we were doing in our respective lands, I think we understood what was happening. We were seeking our place in the world, in those far-off places, and wondering whether they might just make us feel a little more at home than we had back in the place we had both grown up – Canberra, Australia. These far-off places were the lands of our forefathers and mothers, after all.
A month or so into my time in Belgrade, while once again chatting over Skype, Marissa and I came up with a little project. It was called “Follow Me”, and it worked like this: every week, one of us would email the other a set of directions, and the other would take those directions, and follow them to wherever they led. Once you got to the end of the directions, you had to take a photo, and then send it back to the other person. The directions weren’t linked to a map and weren’t meant to lead anywhere in particular – in fact, if they led the recipient to a rubbish bin, that was a fantastic outcome. The more ridiculous the destination, the better the story to share on Skype that night.
And so it started. And it was so much fun! We’d wake up to an email in our inbox on a random day, open it up and write down the directions, and then set off into the city, to that day’s exploration. And while, at the time, it was just for fun – a way to burn through an hour or two and have something to talk about later – in hindsight, I see that it was our way of helping each other to explore our respective places on our own, without any parents, relatives or Lonely Planet guides telling us where to go. It helped us to find our place within our new cities, on our own terms, and it was great.
On the occasion of the “Follow Me” journey that produced the photos below, Marissa’s directions took me down such a lovely collection of streets in Belgrade that I had to photograph the entire journey, and not only the destination. If you want to try the same journey next time you’re in Belgrade, just get your camera, start at Cvijićeva 110, and follow our lead…*
- Turn left and walk straight down your street.
- Take the third road to the right and walk down it, on the left side of the street.
- Take the second left and continue down the right side of that street for 40 steps.
- Turn 90 degrees to your right – i.e. looking away from the car part of the road you’re on towards the buildings/houses/whatever is there on the side.
- Take 4 steps in the direction of those buildings/houses/whatever and…
- Snap a pic. One only. Don’t care if it’s blurry or shit or whatever. One and one only.
* Directions taken verbatim from one of our Follow Me emails back in 2011, so… excuse the language!
© Dunja Cvjetićanin, 2018