The research on Pristina focuses on culture, history and architecture. These dimensions are explored through personal accounts and tend to offer a pool of multiperspectival narratives, democratizing public discourse and the way local histories are told. By means of digital storytelling we want to bring out the many facets of the city and contribute towards a multilayered understanding of urban and socio-economic developments, starting from the interwar period until today.

Pristina project is part of the “Inter-community Dialogue through Inclusive Cultural Heritage Preservation” project funded by the European Union’s Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) and implemented by United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) in Kosovo.

 

Isa Rexha

Economist

I knew… I know everything about the Grand Hotel, everything, I don’t wanna say it but I also knew how many spoons there were, because I did the balancing, registration, balancing. There isn’t a point in the Grand Hotel that I don’t know in detail. I know the rooms better, so to say, rather than the host. I know the storehouse better than the storehouse worker does, or used to. I know better what was in the storehouse rather than the storehouse worker, or the kitchen the inventory they used. Because I dealt every month, at least once a month with them. Registrations, balancing, so… 

Did you have your spoons, since you mentioned spoons, were they engraved?

Yes.

Who made those?

We ordered them… We had them, but now, since you wanna know about the inventory at the time when Grand Hotel was built, Tito, I am talking about Tito again, he brought his own inventory for 300 people all silver, silver inventory for 300 people. When I say 300 people, I mean with all of it. With exceptions, what couldn’t be in silver, was crystal, first-class crystal. The silver inventory was made by Famipa from Prizren, Famipa from Prizren.

I am telling you there was a special care, the reality of how it’s good to accept a… It’s very special that the noble inventory, how we used to call it back then, silver, noble, was checked by Serbian police every six months. One single thing couldn’t be missing.

Jakup Qeshmexhiu

Tailor

I remember Pristina very well because I used to work at the Çarshi [Bazaar], that even Çarshi of Sarajevo or Skopje’s Bit Bazaar was not as great as our Çarshi. But, unfortunately, at the time, the occupier ruled and they were making us take it down bit by bit and lose the aesthetics of our city, and they achieved their goal. But mostly our people achieved that goal. I’ve worked in this craft since I was 14 years old.

I finished the former 28 Nëntori High School, at the high school of economics. These streets were paved with cobblestone, paved with cobblestone you know what it means, they were paved with stones. Our street was all muddy, and then it was paved with stones. Then from being stone-paved it started, no, it was paved with stones again, and then it was paved with concrete. Now, it is concrete, but it seems like it’s still paved with stones, the same.

The city was… now, it’s a fact that it’s been built, but back then it used to look way, way, way much more beautiful than now. But, to be honest, even the people were better then rather than now, there was no hatred for one another.

Münir Curi

Electrician

My father really liked Turkish classical music, while he was listening to them all day on the radio, he improved himself and he started playing banjo. After the mandolin, they bought a banjo and he started playing along with the radio, he didn’t have a professional degree. Music notes and such, he picked up playing banjo and improved himself. So in those times the associations were established, cultural associations. […] 

My father used to sing, he was a sound artist, he used to have a really nice voice, really nice. And while he was listening to songs on the radio, he was enjoying and learning. So while playing music together, he soon became very famous in this area. “Oh, there is a Rasim, Rasim, his surname is Rüşüt, but who is Rasim? Rasim is Salih’s son. Rasim, Barber Salih’s son, Master Salih, Salih’s son.” Rasim and Rasim Salih, that is how they started calling him, Rasim Salih. […]

There were more Turks living in Kosovo back then, unfortunately, a lot of them migrated. Then the [Executive] Council makes a decision in which Rasim Salih has to move to Pristina and establish an orchestra. The entire group of four friends, they wanted them to move to Pristina. Yes, no, yes, no, the final decision was that in the year ‘51 my dad moved here to establish the orchestra.

Avni Emincik

Dental technician

When we were here, we left in ‘59, but in ‘58 we gave the house to the Municipality, we didn’t give it to anyone else, and the house became a museum. When it became a museum, in one year, most of the workers were Serbian, and I started to talk to them in Serbian. They used to take me with them, I was seven years old, six-seven years old, they took me with them. They took me to do rounds with their car. They were calling me, I was in a carriage going to throw the trash away with them, ‘Come on Avni, come on Avni!’ So they were kind to me. They were loving, even though they were Serbian. After that, we moved as a family to Turkey. We immigrated. 

It was like that when they first came, the Serbs brought animals, like dogs, bears. After that, I remembered something, I told you that before that I entered inside the house for five minutes and a wolf escaped from the den, and it started attacking around. Fortunately, our house had a garden and its doors were locked. This was sometime between ‘58 and ‘59. 

You had a wolf in your garden?

Yes, a wolf in the garden had attacked everyone. We gave them blankets, and the caretaker saved them, and himself as well. Because the wolf was violent, was not a tamed animal. They had taken it from the mountains, brought it here. Later, they turned the rooms of the house to a forest. It was turned into a forest. There were stuffed bears, snakes, etc. There were six rooms, three on the upper floor and three downstairs, had opened it up for the tourists.  One always feels a chip on the shoulder about it, you feel sad, inevitably.

Sazan Shita

Housewife

At the time Ernest Koliqi had sent three-hundred teachers to Kosovo. Everywhere, in the villages and everywhere schools in the Albanian language started. In Mitrovica, Bedri Gjinaj, he was born and raised in Mitrovica, but educated in Albania. You know, how they used to go secretly… but very capable, he was a very capable man. When I enrolled, not only I, but the entire class, the first thing we learned was the flag. I was familiar with it, but his teachings were effective, whatever he would say stuck with you. When we began the class, he said to us, ‘Let’s learn the flag song.”’ {She recites} 

Oh red and black flag, 

all the joy and love that you wave, 

makes my heart spring with you, 

in the fields and meadows, 

mountains and brooks forward with you, 

I will fight fearlessly,

though I am young

I am your soldier and I’ll say,

Today that freedom has come,

May the  Albanian flag live long.’

When I went home, I recited it to my father, what a hug he gave to me, his tears poured out of joy. Of course… that school year, it was like ten years in one. Everything that they taught us, the lectures were such that you understood and internalized them immediately.

Shefqet Mullafazliu

Architect

At the intersection, you know, from Zahir Pajaziti Square and from this side of the Garibaldi Street… because in architecture, at the intersection, the corners always get blocked. The reason was not to block the view, and I came up with the idea to propose that solution, and he [lead architect] accepted it. Opposite of blocking the view, it attracted a lot of attention. I proposed a triangle, it does not have any function, but it’s like the make-up on a woman’s face. He accepted it, and this is how the idea was born. The bank being a bank has its standards and one cannot step out of those standards: the counters, the administrative section, the treasury on the first and second [floor], and so on. […] the bank has an advisor in the bank. We have submitted our proposal, the record exists, we have explained how the banks are being designed in the world. Though they were bankers, they have traveled, but to design did not know how and they could not.

Adnan Merovci

University lecturer

Rugova stayed, but people, that… the fact itself that everyone knew we were held hostage was discouraging for the people in Kosovo. Even those that had some courage to stay, to hide, it affected them negatively. The interview that I mentioned, it restored hope in people, because they realized we were alive, I’m saying it had this element of encouragement. But with time they started improvising, founding governing bodies, inviting people to come back, this kind of stuff was done under the the threat of bombing. Rugova never in his life tried to stop the bombings, it is a misunderstanding and misinterpretation and what not… when it is a misunderstanding, you say it, it was said, but it was misunderstood. 

No, no, not even for a second did Ibrahim Rugova say that the bombings should stop. If you take a press statement and there it says, let’s say, even if you signed under pressure by removing the term ‘Metohi’, and you say, ‘We are in favor of a peaceful solution and the bombs were dropped to achieve peace’. So what do you make of it? But, ‘I ask for the bombing to stop and to start a peace process’ or similar stuff like this, while Ibrahim Rugova was alive he never said that.

Pranvera Badivuku

Composer

You know, very, I don’t know what did they do, the things were all over the place. The machine, for example, was ruined, an old stove was taken upstairs, you know, I don’t know how did they carried them, those things. There was a lot of disorder in the building, empty apartments, without anything inside them. They didn’t touch the pictures and some documents because, after all, it was a building. 

And one, one resident there, she was Dalmatian, older, she didn’t have anywhere to go, so she stayed there. She told us that they brought the truck at the entry, so we couldn’t see what they took, what are they loading. Cassettes, we had a lot of video cassettes, all with serious music, recorded, different kinds. My husband was fond of classical music, he used to record instrumentals, orchestras, of different kind. We found those in another building. So, unexplained things happened, I don’t know, I don’t know.

But it’s interesting how one remembers everything he had, it happened a few times, people don’t remember everything they have, but if the things are missing… It was a bit funny. I made the list of everything that was missing because I knew what I had in my cabinet. Only notes, notes, my songs and so, I, I threw them behind the cabinet, there was free space but couldn’t go down further, I found them there.

Sevim Baki

Artist/Singer

When I was very young, there was a song by Emel Sayın, Sevda sevmessen [When you don’t love, love]… It was called Rüzgar [Wind], I was very young and I used to imitate her very often. When my cousins would come to stay over, I would say, ‘Do you want me to imitate Emel Sayın?’ I would sit down, put the pillows on the floor, my hair on one side {shows with her hands}, I would say, ‘Go get the hairdryer so my hair would look like it’s blown by wind just like hers in the music video.’ They applauded me. When a guest would come to visit us, my father always used to say, ‘Come on, sing some songs.’ Now, when I think about it, I can say that these were the hints that I was going to be connected to music.

Lidia Mirdita Tupeci

Accountant

Then the street lights were turned on, and we were like, like, for three months when you are like… When I saw the lights on, I said to my neighbor, ‘Kuku, something bad will happen.’ You know, I said, ‘They turned the lights on…’ I look at korzo and we are talking to one another, ‘Should we go out… let’s meet close to Grand.’ God knows what’s happening. Tomorrow morning, when KFOR troops came from Macedonia, I was looking out from the balcony. Now KFOR came from this side, the road from the hospital, perhaps they did not know the way or they were just too many of them, you know.

It was raining, I remember this. They were swearing, ‘Who invited you here?’ And I heard a Serb saying this, ‘Why are you swearing at them? Do you know who invited them here? Milošević did.’ I witnessed this. Afterwards, it was different. They started running away, you noticed it when your neighbors were not around anymore. They left at night or I don’t know, but they disappeared.