Monday, October 11, 2010

(Almost) At Home in Kosovo

Home! In a hotel.

The Prishtina airport smelled like cigarette smoke, and reminded me why the British Airways flight attendant kept reminding our flight that smoking was prohibited on the plane and in the terminal. My friend Fisnik picked me up – so lovely to see him after almost five years.

As we drove down what I dub Narrow-Miss Lane, Fisnik navigated what seems to be rule-free traffic while I called my new boss. We parked and I kept reminding Fisnik to look for the street address I had for the language center, while he kept reminding me that street addresses don’t matter and aren’t listed. Naturally, the national was right, tourist was wrong, and we happened upon the sign for the center. I walked up the 4 flights of stairs to the language center office. I met Boss, his kids, and his accountant. He commented that I am tall. (It’s true.)

Walking downstairs to meet Fisnik and talk about apartment hunting, in hopes to find an available place where I could land for the night, it was only fitting that we talk over a cup of coffee. The main boulevard was crowded with students and vendors, and draped with the American flag flying next to the newly adopted flag of Kosovo. “See,” Boss said. “They knew you were coming today!” (Apparently, so is Hilary Clinton.)

We entered a smoke-filled café. Boss asked if I mind if he smoked. Since one cigarette would not mean much difference to the general cloud of smoke, and since he was really only being polite, I said yes.

As we sat, drank, smoked and talked, I brought the conversation back to the apartment hunt. Fisnik looked at his watch. Suddenly, a tall, solidly built man in a dark overcoat joined us. They said hello, and Boss introduced us to his friend, who sat, ordered an espresso, pulled out his pack of cigarettes and sat down to smoke.

Fisnik was eerily silent most of the coffee talk. Turns out, he is more paranoid than I am, which is hard to believe if you know me, or have received my 2am phone calls checking in on you after a bad dream. I am the girl who expects to find a dead body in every dumpster (watch Law & Order people – finding a body is inevitable, only a matter of time), and who lives by the motto: Only the paranoid survive. Fisnik was sizing up my new boss, and then the man he dubbed the “Silent Killer” (S.K.) in his overcoat, who, granted, could be straight out of Central Casting for that role. And is a lovely soul who went out of his way to try to find me a flat. Fisi told me all his paranoid suspicions later, when he felt better about my safety and life-span after Boss's wife arrived. She was lovely, smiling, straight from a pilates class and her job. Suddenly, we were all friends, and Fisi was driving Boss, S.K. and I through the dark, rainy streets of Prishtina, on our search to find me a home.

Boss and S.K. did their best and showed me a couple of places, while I played the role of American perfectly and dove in, trying to negotiate a rent I could afford. I’m typing from a hotel room (it smells like smoke), so the search continues tomorrow.


1 comment:

The Unlikely Pastor's Wife said...

Cough! COugh! I can't see you through all that smoke!
On another note....Goodluck finding a flat. Im sure you will find one soon and will be really able to say home at last!