When summer hit Prizren it felt like the electricity just came on after a few hours of a power outage. You hear the beeps and sounds of all the appliances returning to function and everything is brighter - so much it hurts your eyes at first. It is hard to believe this is the same town I have been living in since October. The city seems to buzz with people from all over and they bring refreshing diversity to this quaint little town.
I consider myself a native foreigner, since I have been working here at the American Corner library for the past ten months. Although ten months is a short time, to me Prizren is like a second home; I have met so many people that I cannot walk down the street now without running into a friend. I love it when a tourist asks me where Marash is or how to get somewhere because I have walked Prizren so much I know the map like the back of my hand. Since May I have seen a lot of new faces. And the tourists I can spot a mile away. I have met many of these visitors, some first timers and some returning diaspora.
Regardless of the many differences between Prizren in summer and Prizren the rest of the year, the town remains the laid back and friendly city I have come to love, with just a few more people and more events. In my opinion, the Shadervan is the ultimate spot to relax over drinks and talk with friends or family (in a variety of languages, another Prizren characteristic) and enjoy the beauty of the city, anytime of year. Diaspora or not, visitors are welcomed with a familiar and warm atmosphere.
Although sometimes I miss the quiet cold, especially around the late afternoon when it is sweltering and there is traffic, it is exciting this time of year. All of the events and all of the people and lots of exchange going on is electrifying, and so are the conversations I have with visitors. I cannot say I have a preferred season, since we need the winter to appreciate the summer and vice versa, and there is much to admire about the city during any time. In fact, besides meeting new people, I still do the same things I was doing in the winter: drinking a coffee or tea, getting an ice cream, or going for a walk in Marash. I feel that the winter was a period of rest and restoration, while the summer is time for reuniting and recharging (especially the economy).
One thing I appreciate in the summer however, is how much the city cares about maintenance. City spaces appear to be cleaner, and I assume it is because of all the visitors. I think Prizren is beautiful year round though and public spaces deserve the same amount of attention as they do in the summer. I feel fortunate to experience Prizren for a full year and so happy I can attend and even contribute to Dokufest, the city’s flagship event. The festival totally transforms the city, and in this edition provokes us with the delicate question: How to survive?
In the future I will be like the returning diaspora, even though I have no actual family here, but I will come back for the friends that feel like family and the charm of Prizren.
By Brina Rahmaty
Photo Credits: Agon Dana