Macedonia: A Russian Waltz Down Memory Lane
It looks, feels, sounds, even smells like Russia!
Stepping off the plane in Skopje, Macedonia, I get a feeling o dÃ©jÃ vu. A feeling I’ve been here before, though I know I haven’t. My parents came through here in the time of Tito, but that was years before my birth.
Still, I could not shake the feeling of dÃ©jÃ vu. It was so strong, I felt I was having an out-of-body experience, until I realized what was happening. I was time-warping and place-shifting myself back to Russia, circa 1999.
The signs in Cyrillic that I could read like they were in English. The language, which spoken slowly sounds way close to Russian. The people, they even look and act Russian. And of course they do, they are Slavs, just like the Russians.
But this is not Russia. This is Macedonia. They have their own culture, language, and look. It was I that put my Russian memories onto them. Memories that came flooding back on the drive from the airport into Skopje proper.
Looking out the car window, it was the Russian countryside I saw. Russian dachas, Russian signs, Russian cars. But not Russian people. No, I needed to get that thought from my mind. This is not Russia. This is Macedonia.
And I am in Skopje for work for two weeks. Two weeks that I will be roaming all over this country and making a side trip to Prishtina, Kosovo. I don’t know if I will get to Bulgaria or Albania, but I shall try.
Now it is time for me to try out my Russian. It’s been a while, six, seven years since I threw down the pa Russki and while Macedonian is close to Russian, it is a language all its own. Hopefully there will be enough older folks, who studied Russian or interacted with Russians, who can clean up my language skills.
Short of that, this is still Europe, so English is not hard to find. Pretty much anyone under 30 has some command of the language. Its time to go find a few while I inhale the glory, the beauty, the air pollution that is Skopje in January 2007.