What does it feel like to slide down the Great Wall of China?
Is the nightlife in Bangkok a metaphor for heaven or hell?
What does the life of a flight attendant really look like?
Who has lived in the Paris airport for 20 years?
Where is the orphanage for elephants?
Is it possible to get on a plan with a screwdriver?
Where can you ski and swim all in the same day?
Where do you celebrate the Orthodox Christmas in Melbourne?
Who is the mysterious beauty of Havana?
What makes the public toilet in Uzbekistan so interesting?
The answers to these questions were found out by Jefimija Medic – a writer by profession, an architect, a blogger and a flight attendant, flying from one end of the planet to the other. As a nomad of the new age, she wandered from East to South, from North to West, looking for the exotic and questioning her own theories, fantasies and prejudices of the world. This very funny and intriguing travelogue is the result of her wanderings and encounters with foreign countries, nations, colors and scents.
Targeted Age Group:: 18-60
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
When I use to work as a flight attendant in the Middle East, I would regularly write about my unusual experiences in e-mails. My friends would be copying and pasting these tales and forwarding them along to close friends. In the end, unknowingly I got a massive literary audience, awaiting a new “postcard”.
Early morning – the train's arrival in Basilicata, Italy
I'm coming to a camp, with a one-day delay. The others arrived yesterday. No one is waiting for me. It's the weekend – the early morning. I dial a number; no one is answering. A man at the station offers me help. We sip a quick espresso and move on. The camp is somewhere in the mountains. He might know where it is because he’s from that area. We leave the city behind. The more we venture up a hill, the more I become aware of my stupidity: I’m leaving a city in which I know nobody, I’m sitting in a car with a man I do not know, and he’s driving me god knows where. I’m suddenly trying to think up a plan of how to jump out of the car if I have to. Luckily, my 007 achievement remains unfulfilled and all ends well, because sometimes luck follows not only the brave, but the crazy ones too.
Breakfast in Singapore
Nearly all night I cannot sleep. The time difference of 4 hours remains, miserably, unvanquished. I come down to breakfast, take croissants, and coffee. At the table I notice a young man of my age. Two or three times our eyes met. He’s cute. He takes the tray and comes to my table. We talk: he’s funny and ironic. I laugh. He stays in Singapore for a few more days, and I am leaving after breakfast. After drinking coffee, we part – never to meet again; we exchange emails, but We'll Always Have Paris.
Coffee at the airport in Houston
My friend and I were sitting in a Starbucks at the airport, waiting for the next flight. At the table next to us sat a middle-aged man. A young woman was with him. She occasionally gets up and approaches the crowd that greets newly arriving travelers. We engage him in conversation and occasionally the woman joins us also. He wants to know where we come from. The two of us compete in telling the story – we almost scramble around the napkins, explaining the difference between the Cyrillic and Latin alphabet . He is from Mexico and his parents were Italian. He explains why they were there – at the airport. We pronounce some words in Spanish. The conversation continues. Their guest arrives and they leave. The whole previous scene must have been comical. The two of us who struggling over a piece of napkin to write down letters from our alphabet, and the girl who was sitting with him – all ridiculous. This man in his fifteen minutes of leisure time had charmed three women at the same time. What does he do when he’s not bored?
Strolling in Auckland – New Zealand
Passing through the city I run into a travel agency; I stop and examine the map of the world. I'm getting a sort of panic attack. It's not a kind of map that we – Europeans – are used to. The order of the continents, rivers, and the oceans is completely different. When looking at the map of the world, I usually see Europe and Africa in the middle, American continents are usually on the left, and Asia, and Australia on the right. This map is completely different! Suddenly in the middle of the world are New Zealand and Australia; there are vast expansions of water that keep a person from setting one’s feet on the ground, and Europe is just peeking around the corner somewhere! At that moment, I startingly become aware of the extreme distance from my home and am strangely, after all my travels, petrified…
Lunch in Tashkent – Uzbekistan
We were there and on the first day I am confused: people are walking down the streets in something that resembles colorful bathrobes. The tour-guide proposes that he take us somewhere to eat. He says we will eat Chuchvara, which I naively understand as "cicvara," a Serbian dish made of flour, eggs, butter, and cheese. In my mind I picture some kind of porridge. Time passes. I'm hungrier and hungrier. We arrive at our restaurant: mostly men, eating with hands, and it’s dirty. Our guide orders us the Chuchvara. It turns out Chuchvara is nothing like a porridge. Dumpling soup arrives with suspicious contents; it's gooey. I'm trying to eat because I am hungry, and I conclude that it would be wise to adapt as soon as possible.
Afternoon in Havana – Cuba
I pass through the old part of Havana in the afternoon and I stop in front of a bar at a cross-section of two streets. There’s a band playing. The bar is full of people. A few more passersby stop and watch the scene in the bar with me. The two Spaniards quickly take the camera out of the bag. An elderly couple closely observes the band, and two ladies from just to the side start to tap to the beat of the music. I realize that all of us – me, two Spaniards, and an elderly couple, and others all around, are enchanted by the tall, thin flutist in the band. Tall Métis, angular and without curves, but with a cloud of untamed hair; she moves to the music in an almost boyish way and transcends the moment, as well as us.
Passing down a suburb of Calcutta – India
I walk out of the hotel and directly into the streets of suburban Calcutta. It is a strange physical closeness – these two worlds, that, essentially, never have to collide. While guests may reside in the immediate vicinity, these streets of Calcutta and its meridians can remain distant from their rooms. I walk down the street: a woman wrapped up a sari pours water over herself; on both sides of the road are shallow channels with wastewater; a few steps away is a bunch of garbage and a pig pulls out something from the pile; horrible smells meander and spread; millions of tuck-tucks are passing by; there’s a crowd everywhere. I'm getting physical ill, I can barely control it, but in the end it is followed by the selfish relief of knowing that I belong to some another community.
Eve in Osaka – Japan
It was one of those evenings when a weight presses on your soul and the images and landscapes are drowning in your discomfort. Yesterday's euphoria about going to Kyoto evaporates under the weight of the evening. I pass by people who stand patiently in the line, waiting to cross the street. I’m walking to the restaurant and in the windows, I see photos of dishes from the menu. I go into the booth and turn to the only number I know in Japan. I still feel the pressure, as if the whole of Osaka, with all its street advertising, has come crashing down on me and threatens to choke me. I walk down the streets with a sense of emptiness haunting me; the kind that makes you feel weak to be alone and not strong enough to be with others. I enter the hotel, wash my hair, look in the mirror and I realize that at that moment I am completely "lost in translation."
"One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster / the bars are temples but the pearls ain’t free …" – Bangkok, Thailand
I walk with a group of people through a night market in Pat Pong . There is also one girl from my part of the world, with whom I talk. In the market absolutely everything is for sale – from bodies to souvenirs. Vendors are trying to draw our attention, pulling us at our sleeves and shouting "Beautiful Lady." Fifteen-years-old girls in nearby brothels perform vaginal spectacles with ping-pong balls. Transvestites are interweaving with tourists and young Thai women go off with old, fat Europeans. A woman sells rotten eggs that ostensibly promote potency. The girl with whom I found myself in conversation looks around at the colorful scene and concludes out loud: "This is how I imagined the judgment day."
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