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Author: Nikola Zdravkovic


“Life, it’s a scene play with no previous practice.
So, sing, smile, dance and love…And live every single moment of your life.
Before the scene closes and the play ends with no audience clapper.”

It was 1999 when these words first time came to my ears. I was only 9, and I couldn’t understand what they meant. My entire life was based on worries like my math homework, scoring in the football game against the opposite school team, and would my father let me watch TV after 9 p.m. What I remember most dearly, those carefree times gave me the satisfaction of reading fairytales, and imagining the world somewhere outside my small room and my tiny world. That’s how my love for travelling was born. And even being too small, I knew I’ll cross it over some day. As years passed by, people always spoke of how I should spend my life doing things that would make me happy, and define who I was. If you ask me, I was still dreaming about all those things and people across the border that I will be able to meet. This was how I began realizing Mr. Chaplin’s words; no man will live forever, so use the present called life!

In the summer of 2007, I stepped on Canadian soil for the first time. I’ve been to Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria before, but this was different. Unusual flats, new faces on the balconies, new graffiti on the walls. Not a single sign that resembles Macedonia. I didn’t like it at first glance – people seemed so cold, like no one was interested in anything else but their own business. I also hated the hip hop sound that seemed to be resonating from every corner. That first week I kept asking myself if this was the promise land people talked about. Refusing to accept the disappointment, I started looking for the beauty.

Sometimes it is right there, just in front of your eyes, waiting to be seen. I found it in the diversity like I was not used to; all kinds of people passing by you, different accents, each one bringing their own story…all of this in one place. The pleasure of learning about distant countries and unknown cultures made me feel like a modern pirate; digging up a new treasure each day, every spoken word fostered a new friendship. I still remember the conversation I had with the cute Argentine girl at this hip hop party, and her wink before saying ‘So long!’. It just ignited my desire of discovering new spaces, making my hunger stronger and stronger. People everywhere are different, but the same…attracted to unusual stories, to unusual places and other people. The plane took off about 1 a.m. One of the loveliest nights I’ve ever had.
CN Tower shining as a gentle giant, keeping the city safe. Sleepy lights I didn’t even notice pierced my heart.

Next destination – Budapest, Hungary. The European princess that washes her face in the waters of Danube every morning. The home of kings, whose streets centuries ago bore witness to the steps of counts, breathing the air of Middle Ages Europe. Standing on the Gellert Hill, you look over the place where the golden pages of world history were written. Buda and Pest, two hearts – one soul. Have you ever had that strange feeling, as if you’re somewhere far, in some other time and space, and there’s such a past around, you can’t describe it by words, but you must feel it. If this amazing feeling is not familiar to you, visit Buda Castle, a place where the past kisses the present, leaving a trail to the future on every step among the walls. A couple of minutes spent inside, and you can have a taste of how it feels like being a Goth at least for a moment.

Budapest is not the only place that leaves you breathless. Take the globe, close your eyes.
All you need to do is point a place. Ancient Egypt, the land of Pharaohs and mysteries…Paris, the city where romance was born and guys still woo reciting D’Orleans, Taureau, de Ronsard…The old Chinese wisdom, the Mayans with their concepts of science and fascinating future calendar. Or maybe Florence, the air breath by Dante, where the architecture shows you what you only saw in your childhood fairytales books… The world gives you inspiration wherever you go. It inspires you with the great people it welcomed, the remarkable moments that happened ages before your time, the myths and mysteries that we daydream of solving, the people you never imagined you’d meet. I guess you had that feeling, at least once in your lifetime, you met someone’s eyes in some narrow street far away, and for a second you thought ‘Where have you been all this time..?’

But you know, there is no place like home. Even though I left a piece of myself in several cities, there’s only one I can call ‘my kingdom’. Skopje, my dear friend waiting for me to be back and recount the story of its bigger brothers abroad, and the pretty ladies that smiled at me…when I speak, Skopje listens. No city is like it. I learnt the holiness of friendship among its buildings, felt the madness of football down its streets, shared chocolate with my first crush…What a feeling! I felt like John Travolta in the cult “Grease”, trying to sing her something. Now, 12 years later I know why she laughed and blushed. How foolish I must have looked. At least I now know that I can’t make it as a singer.

I don’t know where the life will take me next, but what I know for sure is that I’ll be back right here. Like the Romans used to say ‘All paths lead to Rome’, all my paths lead to Skopje. The happiness of getting back to it and the joy of breathing the unknown, some far away air creates a bond inside me that can be cut off as soon as Skopje calls for me. You can never know where the new day takes you; yesterday you had your coffee in Wien, flirting with a pretty brunette, today enjoy the Stonehenge silence, and tomorrow…who knows? Don’t think, just embark on the adventure.

Find your inspiration, and dare for more. Make sure that when one day you wake up and see a grey-haired man in your mirror, you can say to the guy ‘Cheers pal! You did it! You played the role of your life!’

No matter how stupid that phrase from the beginning seems to a 9-year old, now I consider Mr. Chaplin a very wise man.
And believe me, the best thing your birth fairies can tell you is ‘Let this kid be a world traveler!’

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