(Gosh, I never thought I’ll write about the things that are coming)
1. I realized that I didn’t mention anything about the place I grew up – Žitište, lovely tinny village in the northern Serbian province, Vojvodina. It is situated in huge plain and lie on the banks of the river Begej about 36 miles north of Belgrade. 2. I love to go there as if I’m going in some shelter from the all speediness which bears life in metropolis. Everything there is like in slow-motion in perfect harmony with the nature, with the slow river flow; dialect people are using is also so slow (ok I do speak without any dialect; it’s very close to literary standard). People from my region have difficulties to understand people from the south of Serbia since they speak very fast. 3. Anyhow, you might think there’s nothing to write about life in sanatorium under huge dose of tranquilizers (that’s how I feel there) but actually there is. And the thing I’ll write here is the freshest but also craziest!
4. Everything started 6 months ago. I was at supermarket when I received text message from a friend: “Oh so that’s why you are wearing ONLY Italian clothes. (“Blic” page 22)” I was little confused so I went to department with magazines, took “Blic” and when I’ve read what was on page 22 I thought I’d collapse. It was small text about initiative of the local officials from Žitište to erect monument of Rocky Balboa (!).
5. I immediately phoned my mom (who lives there) to ask her what is that and she said they have heard something and when people asked officials they replied it’s a joke “It’s good while people are talking” (by the way I do hate that kind of philosophy). But when the national TV stations (and then international as well) started to talk about that initiative officials (all in mid twenties) started to think about idea more seriously.
6. To be honest I was horrified with it. Indeed everyone knows about Nero but the price was in my opinion way too high. I mean human stupidity have no boundaries. I replied to my friend “Just don’t tell anyone where I’m from”.
7. All of a sudden the story was on all major networks: BBC, CNN, CBS, NBC, etc were talking about the Rocky from Serbia … and naturally my inbox was slowly filled with the e-mails about it. People who know me from all around the globe were writing me and asking is it true.
8. Žitište has repeatedly suffered heavy flooding, gaining a disaster-prone reputation. Fed up, the local officials started contemplating how to change that image and revive the village, and decided to erect statue of Rocky Balboa, similar to one in Philadelphia, PA, USA, where a monument to the actor Sylvester Stallone’s film character already exists. This was the official explanation.
9. And now it was too late to stop. Further more people from other villages in the region started to think to do similar. The most serious were villagers of Medja (village in municipality of Zitiste) who wanted to erect statue of Johnny Weissmuller, the most famous Tarzan but also man who have won 5 gold and 1 bronze Olympic medals, won fifty-two US National Championships and set sixty-seven world records. Silly you think? Well it’s not silly at all because the famous Johnny is born in Medja! I bet you didn’t know that.
10. But to go back on Rocky. Eventually local industry decided to include in this whole event. I guess they saw good promoting opportunity (hotel was full of journalists, domestic and from abroad), Canadian crew is making documentary about all this … and it has been decided to organize Chicken Fest (because the main sponsor is one giant in chicken meat industry) whose culmination will be revealing the monument on August 18th. And the fest was pretty interesting; there were ethno-village, business promoting, and few stages with all kind of music. 11. Many music stars and actors have participated … all in all I was so pleasantly surprised. And I’m so glad I was wrong about all this. OK being cynic my reaction is not strange at all (I still don’t like the statue, which is huge (!)). But it seems that Chicken fest will become traditional event (someone said there were more than 200000 visitors and for village with population 4000 this is enormous!) because everyone was so satisfied and have had fabulous time … including me (even me!).
12. “ I felt as if Rocky has come from our village, he had to fight to win his place in society” said Bojan Marčeta whose idea this was (and my neighbor, we played together when we were kids!) and I must agree with him!
13. And the only collateral damage is my new nick name among my friends here in Belgrade … it’s not hard to guess …
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