Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Surrounded by Minks & Millionaires in a Belgrade Green Market

I am fumbling my way through a green market in the heart of downtown Belgrade Serbia in a bleary haze of jet-lag. It's a damp and chilly February day, so I'm glad to be snuggled into the full-length mink coat my husband bought me as a Christmas surprise this year.

It's an American-style mink, which means that you can't actually tell it's a mink unless you're wearing it, as the fur is hidden as the interior lining. From the outside it just looks like an unusually bulky raincoat. Although well-off women of my grandmothers' generation certainly all wore minks publicly, no one I've known in my generation owns one, let alone flaunts it. All those PETA ads I suppose (which makes little sense given how much leather and meat typical Americans buy, but there it is.)

Standing in the midst of the green market stalls, I am surrounded by furs of every sort. None of which are hidden. They're not exactly flaunted either, but worn as a normal coat would be. I start counting. Every third or fourth woman is wearing some real fur, either as a jacket and/or a hat. About the same percentage are wearing faux fur. The others are bundled into elegant wool coats. Zero parkas.

My husband tells me furs are much cheaper in Serbia than they are in the US (I get the impression he had profound sticker shock when he bought my coat in America.) Everyone knows someone who knows someone just back from a trip to Russia with a stack of coats to sell from the bedroom of their apartment.

I turn my attention from fur-counting to paying for our purchases. Fresh from the money exchange, all we have are larger denominations. I apologize, but the man at the stall smiles and pulls a simply enormous wad of dinars from his pocket to make change. "Wow, you're a millionaire!" I blurt out.

He starts laughing and shows me his money roll is thick with mostly 20 and 50 dinar notes worth far less than a dollar. "Take it! Take it!" he cries, "Now you can be rich."

1 comment:

Rosemary Bailey Brown said...

One thing I forgot to mention -- be sure to check your US bank balance at a Serbian ATM when you visit. It will show up in Dinars instead of Dollars. Tens of thousands of dinars! I'm saving this ATM receipt to perk me up when I feel down.