Tag Archives: Tirana lifestyle

My Hometown Tirana

How do we relate to our hometowns? I think we are like verbs that love, hate, run away, forget, feel eternal affection, or never leave that single unique spot on earth we were brought to life. In the meantime our hometown is like a rock-solid noun that never goes away. It follows us unconditionally, throughout life and beyond death. I was born in here on a settled Sunday morning. Since then, I don’t know how this deep connection for my hometown Tirana was rooted on me. May be was ingrained during early childhood or by some unexplained mystical feeling that gets socially inherited in us. I can’t word it. It’s strange, since it’s not the best city in world; it yet needs to be urbanized; there remain many MUST developing areas; it’s far from being perfect, with no beach or river going through (Lana is not a river). Still it’s the only single place I call home, I feel at home, makes me homesick when I’m far away, triggers my madness, my joy, or my sadness like no other city in the world.

Today is yet another day and that’s how this lovely day looks like in Tirana.

It’s a long sunny weekend and I go for a walk at the lake. On the way back I stop at my favorite street, the Pedonale of Tirana. Surprise, surprise! The Albanian models have occupied the outdoor expo of the well-know Albanian photographer Fadil Berisha. Great setting with all the beauty queens proudly confirming their exquisiteness and splendor in various frames; traditional, attractive, symbolic,  magnificent, contemporary, goth, and spicy. 

Further up I notice these colorful umbrellas floating up in the air. Underneath this colorful ceiling visitors go through the walls of another interesting expo “Let’s pull off the boundaries”. A student majoring in urban planning at POLIS University starts explaining the idea of how the housing boundaries have developed in our history from the period of fortification of castle-cities to nowadays formal and informal urban areas. Great effort for a good cause, Congrats guys!!!

But I’m not done yet as I decide to watch Das System a German movie showing in framework of German October activities which are organized every year in the capital.

The movie was a good choice, heavily dramatic referring to the pernicious influence of the former East Germany’s very corrupt system which even  20+ years after the reunification continues to be felt in today’s Federal Republic. Great plot to watch.

When I thought this lovely day was coming to an end, the iPhone rang. Yes, my friend I’ll sure join you tonight at the Living Room for some VIP cameo appearance of the SP left wing opposition leader, and for a long time former Mayor of Tirana Mr. Edi Rama

Why so?

Nor I’m too crazy to be part of some VIP snob party, neither too nuts about aligning myself with any political groupies. Just that I found quite intriguing to see him in that setting, invited by a right wing political analyst who happens to run a private university, and Rama appears to greet its FRESSH Students. Complicated, but still very amusing.

In the end Tirana is a very small place. Still, it’s my Hometown, like Bruce Springsteen smoothly played in his beautiful heart felt song – My Hometown.

Coffee Culture in Tirana

I love drinking coffee, especially my morning coffee. It boosts my energies to actively start the day. Most likely, I’m not an exception among other coffee lovers. Also people who don’t drink coffee use some kind of caffeine substitute to get this energy kick, like coca cola, tea and so on. Even now that I’m writing these thoughts, I so need a coffee:) Once I got a little upset when I heard an English consultant saying to me “…unbelievable, this country runs on coffee”. My counter-reaction was obvious and pretty fast “same like England that runs on beers, no…” A bit silly I know, but it is the typical reaction when you don’t want to hear from a random foreigner insulting neither your country nor your people.

It is not easy to stay far from coffee shops when you live in Tirana. They are everywhere and usually they serve as a meeting point for everything, you name it: doing business, meeting a date, breaking up, killing spare time, planning the weekend with friends, doing group work, lobbing and even reaching political deals. In other words, a coffee shop is the place to got, so let’s meet for a coffee;)

For many of us it is a fast way to get things done, meet with an acquaintance, talk over things and let’s get it on. Someone can find the social impact of this attitude more comforting or healthier by spending spare time sitting face to face with a person in a coffee shop, than hiding after a monitor screen, chatting for hours with someone, tweeting and re-tweeting hundreds of time a day, going through pictures and status updates on Facebook or endlessly adding 500+ new professional connections in LinkedIn.

To some extend it is more common for us Albanians to establish bondage in real life then sinking deep in the virtual world with a good intention of living a life they imagined. And that’s beautiful, makes life much more sizzling and lovely. I guess that’s the Mediterranean gene in us. But not always the big picture reflects optimism and joy. By walking through these coffee shops in Tirana you often notice these annoyed faces filled with boredom, sitting in this outdoor little spaces defined by a coffee table and four chairs (expect on times when people are busy cheering for their favorite Euro team, of course). It is normal considering that it’s a rather passive activity and when it’s overdone, results in reduced satisfaction. Only we Albanians can understand this rather “schizophrenic” behavior which simultaneously explains its dullness and excitement.

There are many reasons for rooting the coffee culture so deeply in our cells. The past heritage plays its own importance. It is known that coffee was born in northeast Ethiopia and migrated to Europe back in XV century through Turkish traders. Being occupied by Ottoman Empire for 5 centuries, it was unthinkable to believe that this powerful social drink could not make it through Albania.

Another reason which helps explains this social attitude is the lack of sufficient public spaces in Tirana like parks, squares, playgrounds, public sportive and youth centers. The creation of those facilities would re-orient people especially the youngsters on spending more free time on open space recreational areas.

Furthermore, meetings for business talks in coffee shops, like it happens randomly with public officials, is a dangerous approach. It transfers outside doors of the institutions formal issues on serious public/private matters. It is not professionally serious plus through making this process informal stimulates corruptive affairs and strengthens exhausting red tape attitudes. “Coffee informality” is also a well know phenomena in other South Eastern countries which have already taken measurements for strengthening the institutional powers in regards to social – economic and administrative matters.

In a light of coffee culture talks, here is a very special coffee bean mosaic by the Albanian artist Saimir Strati, depicting five musicians, entered the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest coffee bean mosaic.