Grad, destinacija, praznik

Ovog proljeća napunit će se točno četvrt stoljeća otkako bez prestanka živim u Splitu. U prvo vrijeme lokalna me čeljad doživljavala kao platipusa, čudnovatoga kljunaša (u jednoj su me emisiji na javnoj televiziji baš tako bili i titulirali u potpisu ispod imena!) a poslije su se nekako privikli, uvjerili se da je stanje pacijenta stabilno i prestali se čuditi, shvativši smisao one dosjetke „Split happens“. Kao sisavca s kljunom koji ispod krzna nese jaja nastavili su me još neko vrijeme (mal)tretirati samo novinari, u vrijeme uspjeha mog prvog romana, valjda zato što mi nisu mogli pripisati ništa bizarnije od, eto, preseljenja iz „metropole“ u „grad slučaj“.

Priznajem, i samome mi je trebalo dosta vremena da se u Splitu počnem osjećati kao u vlastitoj koži i da od „Zagrepčanina u Splitu“ postanem „Splićanin iz Zagreba“. Pravim građaninom ovoga grada počeo sam se istinski doživljavati tek kad sam prema njemu počeo osjećati ono što svi pravi građani, bilo gdje, osjećaju prema svojim gradovima: u isto vrijeme i obožavanje i prezir.

Stoput sam već ponovio, pa mogu i ovdje: kad bi neka moćna strana TV-kuća odlučila napraviti dokumentarni serijal o Hrvatskoj, i kad bi se nekako dogodilo da terenskom producentu baš mene preporuče za konzultanta, odmah bih im rekao da prvu trećinu planiranog termina provedu u Splitu i najbližoj okolici. Ništa Plitvice, ništa Istra, ništa Kopački rit, ništa Dubrovnik ili Kornati, Paklenica ili Lonjsko polje. Za početak – samo Split. Zašto?

Pa eto, zato što ih nigdje u Hrvatskoj, kamo god da poslije krenu, gotovo ništa neće naročito iznenaditi ili zbuniti. Jer, jednostavno, sve što je u Hrvatskoj najbolje i sve što je u Hrvatskoj najgore, koncentriralo se na ovih osamdesetak četvornih kilometara i zgusnulo u dvjestotinjak tisuća ljudskih mozgova. Ništa se tim strancima više neće dogoditi, niti će išta doživjeti, a da ih to ne podsjeti na štogod što su već vidjeli, čuli ili osjetili u Splitu. Split je zasićena otopina svega valjanog i svega kvarnog u ovoj zemlji. „Zapuštena država zapuštenih ljudi“, to je najbolji opis suvremene Hrvatske koji sam dosad čuo. A u Splitu se u najkraćem vremenu može prepoznati njegovo puno značenje.

Zbog toga ga (između ostalog) eto, obožavam. Praktičan je za učenje o cijeloj Hrvatskoj.

A prezirem ga, kako rekoh, u isto vrijeme, zbog beskrajnog mantranja o tome da su seljaci doseljeni iza brda krivi za sve, zbog toga što se Splićani uvijek uzrujaju kad god ovu njihovu/moju sve više bezmediteransku kulisu netko sa strane nazove „gradom slučajem“, iako potajno uživaju u svojoj posebnosti, makar nosila i negativan predznak. Prezirem i mazohističku mantru o „najluđen gradu na svitu“ kao i onu umišljenu „Ko ovo more platit?“ Prezirem pritom pomalo i sebe samog, jer ove zadnje dvije izreke (premda rijetko, najviše jednom godišnje) i sam izgovorim…

Obožavam Split zbog neopisive fotogeničnosti, a prezirem zbog stihijske pohlepe koja nagrđuje tu ljepotu, zaklanja je čak i očima samih turista radi kojih je, tobože i krenula devastacija svega onog  što je samim Splićanima odveć poznato, pa time valjda i dosadno.

Fascinira me kreativna drskost i odlučnost gradskih vlasti iz druge polovine sedamdesetih godina prošlog stoljeća, vlasti koje su tad uskočile u zadnji predinflacijski vlak i (ponajprije zahvaljujući domaćinstvu jednoj banalnoj, ne odveć važnoj sportskoj manifestaciji, Mediteranskim igrama) učinile Split sličnim ozbiljnome gradu više nego ijedna kasnija vladajuća garnitura. Fascinira me podjednakom snagom – ali sa sasvim suprotnim predznakom! – i gađenje mnogih mojih sugrađana prema svemu stvorenom u razdoblju od 1945. do 1990., svemu onome bez čega bi se oni danas nazivali Splićanima s daleko manje ponosa.

Da ne duljim i ne ponavljam opća mjesta, karakteristična vjerojatno za brojne druge mediteranske gradove (većina prezire one sugrađane koje bi trebala obožavati, ili barem respektirati, dok obožava i respektira one vrijedne jedino prezira, itd…) vratit ću se jednoj predkoronskoj statistici zbog koje mi je ovo vrijeme pandemije u neku ruku i simpatično. Naime, prije četiri godine australska je, globalno umrežena, turistička kompanija “Intrepid” objavila listu zemalja čije je stanovništvo najopterećenije turizmom. Drugim riječima, izračunali su omjer između broja domicilnog stanovništva i godišnjeg broja (stranih!) turista. Na Islandu, koji je u to vrijeme bio u silnom turističkom uzletu, taj je omjer bio 1:6. Dakle, šest stranih turista po glavi svakog Islandssona i svake Islandsdottir. S takvim rezultatom zauzeli su drugo mjesto na listi. A na prvome je bila Hrvatska, s omjerom, udahnite duboko, 1:14!

Hej, 14 turista na svakog, ali svakog, od nas!!! Uzmemo li u obzir da su Australci računali samo inozemne turiste, a ne i one domaće, te činjenicu da su baratali brojkama iz 2016. (kad je u Hrvatskoj domicilnog, još neiseljenog, pučanstva bilo osjetno više, a turista manje nego rekordne 2017.) logično je pretpostaviti da je na kraju još rekordnije 2018. omjer bio barem 1:18, a sljedeće, najrekordnije ikad, 2019., recimo – 1:19.  Pridodamo li tome činjenicu da u Hrvatskoj još ima poprilično turistički nerelevantnih područja, te da otoci i dobar dio obale od kraja jeseni do sredine proljeća praktički hiberniraju, amaterski procjenjujem da smo tu mogli doći i do odnosa 1:20, ako ne i više, na najfrekventnijim ljetnim  “destinacijama”. Poput središta Splita, na primjer.

Njih dvadeset na mene jednoga, u uzanoj kaleti popločanoj neravnim i skliskim kamenim pločama, uh, tu bi se i Spiderman malo teže snašao, sve da ih je i “samo” 14. A nikad ih nije samo četrnaest, bude ih i po trideset ako je stigao još jedan kruzer, ej, po trideset u svakoj kaleti, a svaka je slalomizirana sezonskim štekatićima, a svaki od ovih tridesetero još u ruci drži neki tupi ili šiljati predmet, suncobran ili selfie-stick, i nemaš kamo skrenuti, jer i iz svake bočne kalete nadiru jednake horde zombija koji se do pet popodne moraju vratiti na kruzer, gdje ih čeka tradicionalna ribarska noć s delicijama što imitiraju specijalitete destinacije koju upravo promatraju na zaslonu mobitela, postavljenog tik do tanjura, ne primjećujući da su već barem pet morskih milja daleko od nje, na putu prema sljedećoj…

Dobrih sam pet sezona, od sredine svibnja do polovice rujna, nastojao izbjegavati staru gradsku jezgru. Stanujem u širem gradskom centru i sve što mi ljeti (a i inače, doduše) treba tu mi je, u kvartu. Osim mora, u redu, ali u Splitu more ljeti ionako nema okus mora nego koktela UV-zaštitnih faktora i još koječega. Ne pamtim kad sam se zadnji put okupao na nekoj gradskoj plaži.

A onda je netko, negdje jako daleko, za ručak spremio šišmiša na vuhanski, pa zakuhao lijepu kašu diljem planeta.

Cijelog ljeta 2020. kroz najstroži se centar Splita moglo prolaziti sasvim normalnim korakom, bez zastajkivanja, uklanjanja i gužvanja, iako je turista bilo. Došlo ih je, međutim, kad se na kraju sezone zbrajalo, oko 50 posto manje nego prethodne godine, što je prijatelja i sugrađanina Juricu Pavičića potaklo da za novine napiše mini-esej o tome kako je možda upravo tih 50 posto – naša prava mjera. Možda je sve preko toga samo plod nezajažljive pohlepe i sebične iluzije o enormnom iznajmljivačkom i ugostiteljskom bogaćenju od proljeća do jeseni, sasvim u skladu s onom podlom dosjetkom kontinentalaca koji oduvijek tvrde da Dalmatinci rade samo ljeti, a ostatak godine lijeno vrte palce.

Možda bismo tad imali bolji pregled i pogled na sve što smo devastirali, propustili spasiti, dopustili upropastiti i zaboravili dovršiti, sve jureći za novim rekordima u broju ostvarenih noćenja u sve brojnijim smještajnim kapacitetima. Možda bismo se tad – umjesto da ljeta provodimo u skučenoj garaži, dok svoj stan iznajmljujemo za stotinjak eura dnevno kao apartman s tri zvjezdice – vratili normalnoj svakodnevici, onoj iz uspomena na djetinjstva i mladosti. Možda bismo, ah, možda bismo ovo, ono… Možda bismo se i u stvarnosti približili onoj divno laskavoj rečenici kantautora i pjesnika Đorđa Balaševića: „Splite, odluči već jednom, jesi li grad ili praznik!?“.

Možda bi tada, ako osvijestimo koliko zapravo gubimo onim što navodno dobivamo zadnjih desetljeća, a pogotovo godina, neki novi Split mogao biti otprilike onakav kako su ga neki divni mladi ljudi 2014. prikazali u svojoj varijanti spota za pjesmu Pharrella Williamsa „Happy“:

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  The city, the destination, the festivity

This spring I will have been living in Split for no more and no less than a quarter of a century. At first, local folks saw me as a duck-billed platypus (somebody wrote exactly that under my name in one TV show on public television!) and later they sort of learned to live with it, even stopped being surprised after they understood the meaning of the pun “Split happens”, and once they made sure that the condition of the patient was stable. Only journalists continued to (mis)treat me as an egg-laying furry mammal with a duck beak for a while, at the time when my first novel was a huge success, I guess because nothing was as bizarre as moving from the national capital city to “a case-study city”.

I admit that it took me quite a while to start feeling at home in Split and to complete my metamorphosis from “a guy from Zagreb in Split” to “an inhabitant of Split originally from Zagreb”. I began to feel as the true citizen of this city only when I started to feel what all true citizens feel towards their cities everywhere: admiration and contempt at the same time.

Since I have said this a hundred times, I see no harm in mentioning it here again: if some powerful foreign TV production company decided to make a documentary series about Croatia, and if somehow somebody recommended no one else but me as a consultant to a field producer, I would immediately tell them to spend the first third of their planned time schedule in Split and its closest surroundings. No Plitvice Lakes, no Istria, no Kopački Rit, no Dubrovnik or Kornati Islands, Paklenica or Lonja Field. Only Split for the beginning. Why?

Well, because no matter where they go afterwards, practically nothing in Croatia will not be particularly surprising or confusing. Simply because all the best and all the worst of Croatia is concentrated on some eighty square kilometres, condensed in about two hundred thousand of human brains. Nothing more will happen to these foreign guests; they will not experience anything else without being reminded of something they have already seen or heard or felt in Split. Split is a saturated solution of all that is good and all that is rotten in this country. “A neglected state of neglected people” is the best description of the modern Croatia I have heard so far. And Split is a place where you can grasp its full meaning in the shortest possible time.  

And that is why I admire it (apart from some other reasons). It can be used as a practical tool for learning about the entire Croatia.

And I despise it at the same time, as I mentioned, because of endless chanting about how the countrymen who moved here from the hills are to be blamed for everything, because citizens of Split always get upset whenever any outsiders call their/mine, increasingly less Mediterranean backdrop, “a case-study city”, although secretly they enjoy their specialness, even though it has a negative connotation. I also despise masochistic mantra “Split is the craziest city in the world”, just as well as the arrogant one “Who could pay for all of this?”[1] In addition, I slightly despise even myself because I myself have been known to utter those last two sayings from time to time (though rarely, once a year, at most) …

I adore Split because of its indescribable attractiveness on photographs, and despise it because of uncontrolled greed uglifying that beauty, shielding it even from the eyes of tourists that were alleged cause for devastation of everything, that is far too well known to the citizens of Split and thus probably too boring for them.

I am fascinated by creative boldness and determination of city governments from late seventies of the last century and their jumping in on the last pre-inflation train (primarily thanks to hosting of a banal, not too relevant sporting event — Mediterranean Games) and thus making Split look like a serious city more than any other later political team in power. I am equally fascinated by — but with completely opposite prefix! — disgust of my fellow citizens towards everything created in the period from 1945 to 1990, towards everything without which they would not have been able to proudly claim to be from Split.

To cut the long story short and not to repeat common knowledge, probably characteristic for many other Mediterranean cities (majority holds in contempt those fellow citizens they are supposed to admire, or respect, at least, at the same time admiring and respecting those worthy only of scorn, etc…), let me go back to statistics from precorona times, which made this pandemic period kind of likeable to me. Namely, four years ago, globally linked, Australian tour company Intrepid, published a list of countries whose population is most impacted by tourism. In other words, they calculated ratio between a number of domicile population and annual number of (foreign!) tourists. In Iceland, at that time experiencing a huge tourist boom, that ratio was 1:6. Hence, six foreign tourists for each Icelandsson and each Icelandsdottir. Such a result positioned them as the second country on the list. And Croatia came first with a ratio of — now take a deep breath — 1:14!

Hey there, 14 tourists for each one of us, I mean, each and every one of us!!! Considering that Australians prepared their calculation taking into account only foreign tourist, and not domestic ones, and also, considering the fact that the figures they used were from 2016 (when not so many Croats emigrated and there were less tourists than in record-breaking 2017), it is logical to presume that this ratio was at least 1:18 in the end of 2018 as even higher record-breaker, and in the highest record-breaker ever — 2019, this ratio could have been, say – 1:19. If we add to this the fact that there are still some undeveloped tourist areas in Croatia, and that the islands and a considerable part of coast are practically in hibernation from late autumn until mid-spring, my uneducated guess would be that we could have reached a ratio of 1:20, if not higher, in the most frequent summer destinations. Such as Split city centre, for example.

Twenty of them against only myself, in a narrow little street paved by uneven and slippery stone slabs, urgh, Spiderman himself would have had some problems handling it, even if there were “only” 14 of them. And there are never only 14, there can be 30 of them if another cruiser sailed in, hey, thirty of them in every little street and in each of those streets you have to weave through tables and chairs on terraces just like on a slalom course. All thirty ones hold some blunt or sharp object in their hands, parasol or selfie-stick, and you cannot turn anywhere, because the same zombie hordes pour in from every side alley as well, and they have to be back on board of cruiser by five o’clock in the afternoon for that night, as they would look at photos of the destination they visited on their mobile screens, placed next to their plates, a traditional fishermen’s night with imitations of local fine food would be held and they would not even notice that at the time they would already be at least five miles away from that day’s destination on their way to the next one…

For some five seasons, from mid-May to mid-September, I tried to avoid the old city centre. I live in a wider city centre area and everything I need during summer (and in any other season, anyway) is right there, in my neighbourhood. Apart from the sea, but anyway sea in Split during summer does not taste like sea, but like a cocktail of UV-protection factors and all sorts of other things. I do not remember last time when I bathed on any of the city beaches.

And then somebody, somewhere very far away, prepared bat à la Wuhan for lunch cooking it up for the entire planet.

Throughout the whole summer of 2020, you could walk at a quite normal pace through the streets of the very core of Split, without stopping, without avoiding people, without crowding, although there were some tourists. In the end of the season, after all the calculations, it turned out that there were 50 per cent less tourists than in the previous year, which inspired my friend and fellow citizen Jurica Pavičić to write a mini-essay for the papers, saying that maybe exactly those 50 per cent is the right quantity for us. Maybe all above this figure is just a fruit of insatiable greed and selfish illusion about enormous amassment of wealth of apartment renters and hospitality business owners from spring to autumn, quite in line with that mean joke of mainlanders, always saying that Dalmatians work only in summer, and idly twiddle their thumbs for the rest of the year.

In that case, we might have a better overview and view of everything we have devastated, missed saving, allowed to be destroyed and forgotten to complete, all while chasing new record numbers of overnight stays in ever increasing accommodation capacities. In that case, instead of spending our summers in a crowded garage while renting our flats converted to three-star apartments for hundred euros per day, we might go back to normal everyday life, from our childhood and youth memories. We might have, ah, we might have this and that… We might, actually, come closer to wonderfully flattering sentence of singer-songwriter Đorđe Balašević: “Split, once and for all, make up your mind, are you a city or a holiday!?”.

Maybe then, if we become aware of how much, actually, we have lost in comparison with what we, allegedly, have gained in the course of recent decades, and particularly years, a new kind of Split might just look like as envisioned in a video to Pharrell Williams’ Happy made by some wonderful young people in 2014:

[1] Meaning that everything in Split is of such value that it is priceless — translator’s note

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