2012年10月21日 星期日

The Duet Performed by Kosovar and Taiwanese

Kosovo, an officially new-born country in the 2000s, and one of the poorest countries in Europe, is the destination to whom I was eager to go last summer in 2011. The reason I felt like going might be simply based on my own superficial projection referring to Taiwanese identity which has been rejected by international reality. 

Before I went to Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, I had heard about some descriptions in regards with this city. For example, a polish girl I met in Ljubljana mentioned that (it was said) there were still some mines rested in many buildings. The owner of the hostel in Tivat where I stayed wrapped Pristina as a scary city with his jokingly erratic facial expression. Moreover, there was a Montenegrin guy told me that generally Kosovo was not a good place to visit then. There have been many sad and ugly things conducted by Serbians as well as by Kosovars. One of his uncle lost his lives during the war. 

All these comments may merely point to some facades among others. Nevertheless, it's no doubt that the legacy of the conflict was still there, and the tense between it and Serbia appeared to keep lasting for the coming generations. 

The journey to Pristina was long enough to help escalate the anxiety and nervousness in mind. Meanwhile, the rugged but breathtaking mountains eased my nerves. A Macedonian Australian guy and a beautiful Macedonian girl sat around me, both of whom were so friendly and chatted with me, also made me feel somewhat relieved. 

As long as the bus crossed the border, I overlooked the settlement located in the dark valley surrounded by the silent mountains. It's really hard for a person like me coming from a country with long peaceful situation to imagine the bullet-riddled grounds which just had been so real in the recent past. 

It was a few minutes to 4 a.m. when I woke up everyone who was heading for Skopje. The bus was pulled over on the side of the main road, where a fleet of tanks just passed. I went inside the bus station, taking a nap until 7 a.m. 

I observed the city landscape of Pristina from inside while the taxi rolled its wheels in the city. It was so different from the places where I had been to in Europe then. I felt as if I was watching a program on national geographic channel. The image impact became even stronger when I walked on the street after settling in hostel. Kosovo is for sure located in Europe, and I knew that it was such a different place given its history and culture. However, the landscape still made my frame of understanding fall apart; Mosque, music, traffic, market, tradutional custome, building, and so on all, every element here formed the slides that dazzled my eyes. 

Perhaps it's almost impossible to be a blank sheet of music paper when exploring a place you haven't been to before. In the very beginning every melody you write to a large extent denotes the clout of your assumption and understanding based on former experiences. The following key point is how to find different stories behind the evidences that are seemingly  in accordance with what you have been taught and told. It seemed that I didn't do this well. To me, the air was saturated with the legacy of the war against Serbia. The overflow of sad moisture was not condensed into rainwater and therefore the objects were surrounded by the depressed fog, looking gray, mottled, and dusty. The photos of missing people during the war hang on the wall of the governmental building (next to the Skanderberg statue) particularly weighted this kind of sorrowfulness. It reminded us of how real and horrible the war has been. It also manifested what innocent folks couldn't beg for option but luck when this kind of repeatedly historical trajectory  on the rail. 

Due to the escalating tension in the border with Serbia then, I determined not to linger here for too long. After two days of stay, I headed for Tirana from Pristina directly. Looking out from the window with the bus lurching forward on the main road to Tirana, while the desolate, ever-battled, wounded land cascading from horizon  in front of my eyes, recalling the Roma boy who might also crystal the solitude, I saw no immediate hope. 

It was apparently that I came up with this no-hope statement  based on not only the assumptions mentioned above but also my own definition shaped by my growing up in Taiwan of how the life should look like. Taiwan hasn't experience war for more than half a century. Since Chiang Kei-shek retreated to Taiwan in 1949, the island, including other small ones scattered on the ocean, has undergone dramatically changes and vicissitudes. These days Taiwan has removed the shackles of poverty / totalitarian rule and standed out in the world with its own fierceness. What I have grown up along with made it difficult for me to imagine how a country like Kosovo could recover from the wound and trauma and then regain its gorgeousness again.

In fact, there has been one hope existing in this land since the end of the war. Namely, Kosovars  have their own country at least. There are around 90 political entities that have recognized Kosovo as a country such as most of the EU members, US, Canada, and Japan. In other words, for the coming future Kosovars could keep enjoying their own identity without worrying about the insulting and confusing from outside, or, Serbia. The recognition from (most of) EU and US is like the ticket to the international community, the official and "normal" one. 

As for Taiwan, in contrast, China's threatening is becoming immense and closer. Tons of profits that can gained from China's market make most of the world silent in rights and justice regarding with Taiwanese people. Only around twenty countries still maintain official relationships with the island with most of them underpinned by the desire of money. The more and more difficulty situation in the international community and complicated historical legacies make many stuffs politically important. Meanwhile, emotionally burdensome and annoying, even the tiny things as well. The money thing, now matter it is related to the seduction of filthy lucre from China or simply refers to the basic survival, makes the situation more perplexing in this crisis era. Under those conditions, many  folks choose to be silent, pathetic, and, you may call it, practical.

Of course, the definition of hope varies. But both Kosovar and Taiwanese would like to keep having and looking their own hopes. What we (they) ask for, are simply the respect. Without respect, how could the easy and normal life fall upon us?

But, as I have said, Kosovar has their own country, and therefore other kind of hopes could be built upon its land. Taiwanese? I see no immediate hope.