A nostalgic Montmartre.

A few nights ago I found myself in great company having a chilly evening stroll around one of the city’s most famous corners- Montmartre. When approaching the famous basilica from the metro station Anvers up Rue de Steinkerque you’ll find the upwards sloping street filled with cheap souvenir shops and scents of different fast food. Try to avoid a hardly pleasant encounter with the annoying dudes trying to sell you bracelets in front of Sacre Coeur. Believe me on that one.

After treating ourselves to some bruschetti and a warm sip of coffee at the oddly empty Place du Tertre (often filled with people), the air seemed to get colder all at once and we were relying on the little heater above us even more to enjoy the view of the historical little square.

While rambling on about life and travels and time, two old men passing by stopped at our table to ask us if we wanted our potraits taken… I politely answered “Non, merci”, but it seemed as though that night parisians wouldn’t take no for an answer. “Where do you come from, young ladies?”, he asked. “Croatia”, I replied. “Really? Me too.” All this was in French, and he continued on- “You’re both from Croatia? So are we” he said, turning towards his friend. I was confused to why two 70-year-old men would find pleasure in trying to convince us that they were from my country on a gloomy yet romantic night on Montmartre. They both looked so French, both fit into the scenery perfectly with their brushes and canvases and old dark coats and sad faces.

But then he started speaking my language. “I came here over 40 years ago, my parents escaped during hard times…I’m from an island in the northern part of the coast, Krk..and he.. He’s not even ours, hah- he’s Bosnian! But we’re real Croatian, right? Aren’t you?” The tone of his voice prayed for an affirmative response. As I glanced at the other old man he smiled broadly, showing much space between his teeth. You could tell that he had kind eyes and a healthy sense of humor. He reminded me of someone I knew. “Yeah, of course I’m not, who cares about the Bosnians! We’re not real Croatian are we? hah…” After a few more words, they realized they had nothing more to say to us. After all, they knew they were two lonely old men, trapped on the city’s hill, bound to paint peoples faces until they would grow even too old for that. They wished us a good night they headed off into one of the darkened cobblestone streets, having just encountered something so close to them in complete strangers. Still, so many years later, their mother country was at the tips of their tongues.

-Marija

Prije par noci sam se nasla u odlicnom drustvu lutajuci po jednom od najpoznatijim dijelovima grada- Montmartre. Dok prilazite legendarnoj bazilici s metro stanice Anvers ulicom Steinkerque, zamjetit cete da je prepuna kicastim i jeftinim suvernir shopovima i mirisima razlicite brze hrane. Toplo preporucam da izbjegnete cesto neugodan susret s ekipom koja prodaje narukvice ispred Sacre Coeura…stvarno znaju biti naporni.

Nakon sto smo se pocastile bruschettima i toplom kavicom na neobicno praznom Place du Tertreu (koji zna biti krcat ljudima), odjednom je nekako naglo zahladilo, pa smo se stisle jedna uz drugu ispod blazenog grijaca kako bi jos malo uzivale u pogledu na simpatican stari trg.

Dok smo vodile uobicajne rasprave o zivotu i putovanjima i vremenu, dvoje staraca je zastalo za nasim stolom da nas pitaju zelimo li da nam oslikaju portrete. Lijepo sam im odgovorila “non, merci”, ali me nisu bas dozivljavali parizani tu vecer. “Odakle dolazite, djevojke?” upita starac, a ja mu odgovorim “iz Hrvatske” “Stvarno? i ja.” Cijelo vrijeme smo pricali na francuskom, pa je tako i nastavio- “Obadvije ste hrvatice? I mi smo..” dodao je, okrecuci se prema svom prijatelju. Zacudilo me da se dvoje staraca od 70tak godina zabavlja tako sto nas pokusavaju uvjeriti da su hrvati pricajuci na francuskom, jedne tmurne ali i romanticne noci na Montmartreu. Obojica su izgledali bas ko’ pravi francuzi, savrseno su se uklapali u okolinu sa svojim dugim tamnim kaputima i tuznim izrazima lica, pod rukama noseci svoje kistove i platna.

Najednom su stvarno krenuli pricati hrvatski. “Ja sam tu stigao ima vise od 40 godina, roditelji su mi odlucili pobjeci dok su vremena bila losa.. Ja sam s otoka Krka.. a on, on nije ni nas! Ovaj nije ni pravi hrvat, nego bosanac! Ali mi smo pravi hrvati, zar ne??” Ton njegova glasa je silno trazio potvrdan odgovor. Okrenula sam se prema drugom starcu i kako sam ga pogledala, siroko se nasmijesio, pokazivsi dosta prostora medu zubima. Imao je njezne oci i zdrav duh. Podsjetio me na nekoga. “Da, pa normalno da ja nisam pravi hrvat, koga briga za Bosance..hah, Bosandjeros!” Nakon jos nekoliko izmjenjih rijeci, shvatili su da nemaju sta vise raditi kod nasega stola. Uostalom, oni su znali da su na kraju krajeva dvoje usamljenih staraca, zarobljeni u malom selu, brdu iznad grada, osudeni na slikanje tudih lica dok ne postanu cak i za to prestari. Zazeljeli su nam laku noc i krenuli dalje prema jednoj od zatamnjenih kamenih ulicica, upravo se suocivsi s necim tako bliskim u potpunim strancima. Ipak sto je toliko godina proslo, domovina im je ostala na vrhu jezika.

Perceptive. Detailed. Impatient. Curious. Eager. Believer. Leo. marija@lestandart.com

1 Comment

  • January 11, 2013

    mestreseo

    that was a lovely article. i liked reading it. thanks for sharing.