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Dusan Lazic - Vojka, Serbia - Life story, part 1 (Global Lives Project, 2009)

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- You are? - Dusan Lazic. Name and surname. - What do you do? - I'm unemployed at the moment. Hm, you could say that I'm a bee keeper at the moment. It's like my official occupation. We are going to film you for a day. Could you tell us what that day will include? Will this be a usual day for you? - Sure, one of the usual days when I do my regular chores around the house which is not small, in the yard which is not small, in the garden, and so on; when I go to the bees, do my most urgent chores, do something in the workshop before that. Later the family gathers. The usual. We sit to eat lunch. In the afternoon again I do some work around the house. In the evening I take... I steal some time for myself, and I go with my band to... to relax a bit. - OK. You grew up in Vojka... - It is one big village in Srem, in the so called, you could say pig's Srem, unlike the wine Srem, which is in Fruska Gora. We are, at least to me, somewhat handicapped since we don’t have a river. We don't have a lake. We don't have any water surface. It bothers me very much. But, I grew up here, in this dust. It's been the best for me here, of course. My best years were spent here. - What period in the history of Serbia, let's say, was that? What... Through the course of your life the whole Balkans, especially Serbia, has been through several political periods. - Well, I didn't count them. I'm not sure if anyone could count and analyze all of them. But in the period of my childhood... It was '52 when I was born... As I remember, in our family it was an economic uprising. An uprising of all segments of society. My family was... My father was a railway man and he got an apartment next to the train station, in Indjija. It was me, my brother, mother and father. And I remember him going to work, and coming back. Mother took care of us and the household, and so on. I remember some of his hobbies too, which means that he was, as I see it now, fulfilled. Hm, and I know he was preparing to build a house, and so on. As a matter of circumstances, the two of them got divorced then. so my life kind of turned in a completely different direction. Hm, well, I'll say that I came with my mother to her parents who lived here in Vojka. And that's where my childhood started. So, I have been here since I was about 2 or 3. And I remember that also, concerning this question on social situation in that period… I remember the village was like any other village: hardworking. Everyone was always working. Remarkably... They had their ways of relaxing too when they made feasts, when they made autumn pig slaughters, when they made collective works. That was like the television and computers, and things like that to them. - Could you tell us something more about that? How did those events look like? How did it... How did those moments influence your life. I mean some changes in the village that were happening, in the atmosphere itself. - Well, I tell you, I remember this... My grandfather had a horse. An incredibly strong, fat, hm, but a very peaceful horse that I used to ride. I could go into the barn and get on the horse on my own. And I remember his works in the field, his chores around the yard, everyday, in an agricultural yard. And I remember those collective works, the visits from the relatives who used to come and help my grandfather in some yearly seasonal works in the time of harvesting, corn picking, and gathering when it was... when it was time for that kind of work which demands company. I remember, after work they always sat for a good meal. We used to eat well. In general, as I said, I remember that the village was in the uprising in that time, because maybe 5-6 years after that, they started replacing the horses with tractors. So, the horses stopped being the workforce, the pulling force. The tractors came. The mechanization began. All of it gave some kind of a life force to the people. Now that I look at it, from this perspective, I realize it was the life force. - Your childhood in the village was very hardworking. But, how... You went to school. How did... How did that go? Where did you go to elementary school? - I went to elementary school here in the village. I had some additional chores too, of course. It was clear, hm... My grandmother had some geese and ducks, and one of my and my brother's chores was to, hm... There, a bit further from our house, was a pond. Our job was to take the geese and ducks there, take care of them... And so, it was a serious work and a responsible work that couldn't stand for naughtiness. So, you had to bring back the same number of animals that you took. - And how did you play? - Oh, playing was a special story. My brother was very talented at making things, to... He was fascinated by the wheel. He was fascinated by the transmission ratio. From the old cars... he’d put the belt over another, smaller wheel, and he used to spin it senselessly. And he felt even then that he has a touch for it. He also had an incredible gift with the knife and axe too. With a little saw he knew how to make figurines, to make them prettier, to paint them. He was the one who was great in it, and I used to absorbing everything, since I was younger. Three years, in that time it was a nice difference, so I used to absorb all that he did. Those were our games and toys. Well, they weren't. There was a lot of games, I can't even remember them all, but there were a lot of games. Our day was really active. I simply… I remember that, I used to wake up thinking that I was already late for something, that the crew already somewhere... that God-knows-what was happening, and I'm not present. It was always the case. And it was always... when the night came, it was always short, the day was short. My grandmother or my mother always used to call me to go inside, and I resisted, and so on. It means that... Of course, like any child. I was active, really active. - You went to elementary school here in Vojka, or...? - Yes, there are 8 grades of elementary school here. And I remember that elementary school by being... I was a very good student. Let's say among the top 3 in the class. I know I used to like sports very much. Hm, I liked... Somehow I liked painting too. I know I used to have a talent for drawing. I also had a sense for music. All of that I... how could I say... I took those extracurricular lessons. And those were quite advanced in schools. There were extracurricular lessons of various kinds. I was interested in everything. I liked everything. I liked the photo lessons. I have here even now one photograph; I'll show it to you. I took this in the 7th grade of elementary school, developed it at the photo lessons that existed then, and won the 1st prize for it at the exhibition. It's called 'Alley players'. I still have it. I was into sports as much as the school offered sports programs, and... At home, we the children organized ourselves spontaneously. In any case, I was always the 1st. As you could say, what no one could do, I could. What no one would dare, I dared. What no one... and so on. I was one of that kind. - You've mentioned that music was always present in your life. How did you get interested in it? - Well, probably, probably it's... My father used to play the tambourine and the guitar, and I remembered that, those days, and I've kept his guitar too. Hm, it probably gave me an impulse to... make a real band sometime in the 6th grade with others from my school. At that time, there were... It was in '65/66. At that time, there were... Rock music was in bloom. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones... Hm... And we, I guess, stole some of it, and made a trio for school events and shows. I had a guitar. My friend plays with me even now. He switched to guitar now too. My next friend is now deceased. But, hm, they say we were talented. - You got your first guitar from your mother as a present? - Yes, hm, since my father wasn't around as a matter of circumstances. And that's also a separate story. But, OK, to get back to the guitar. I had this big wish to get an instrument, primarily guitar, and my mother made it come true, although we were of quite modest economic circumstances at that time. So, it was a big thing for me, as big as a house. This is that guitar. I can also say that by the next year this band already got its drummer too. My friend who contacted me from China last time… He's a technical engineer. Hm, so we were a real rock band, a classical one at that time. - You've mentioned that you're parents divorced. How do you think it influenced your life? - I think it left a really deep mark. Whether positive or maybe negative I don't know, but it surely left a mark on me. I can count maybe only the positive things. For instance, I realized right away, as little as I was, that both my father and my mother were good people, each on their own. Both of them were, so to say, very nicely appreciated in their company, in their communities, and respected as hardworking, honest people. But, it didn't work out between the two of them. And, hm... So I was growing up here without a father. But, regardless, he influenced me a lot. Besides, I picked up the music from him. I picked up the photography from him... He used to be into it too. As a matter of circumstance, now I started bee keeping for the past few years. He used to be a bee keeper at that time. So, it's obvious that I really looked up at him. And I think I've managed to catch his best qualities, really the best. And my mother was an exceptionally hardworking woman. Short, you could say, in stature, but exceptionally lively and hardworking woman. And I can say, for that time, very progressive, in the sense that although she was almost illiterate, she only finished 4 grades of elementary school, but she accepted new thing so easily. She was even ahead of her time. You could see that precisely in those village jobs, where she always used to search for something newer, better, more progressive, and that's where I see her great quality. I mean... I'll repeat again that I've evolved on my own somehow, but observing all that I'm talking about now, observing my parents and taking them as the role-models in good. - After the divorce, where did your father go to live? - Again since he was employed at the train station as train coordinator, he then... he stayed there, in Novi Sad I think, for a few years. Some time after he got married too. I realize he tried to find his peace. I understand that now, and I didn't take amiss then either. I can remember that now. I simply realized, as young as I was, that it was him way of finding himself in a company and of settling down as a man. But, it seems that marriage didn't last for long either. On the other hand, it really bothered me that my mother... mother and the rest of her relatives always had a very bad opinion about my father, but I think it was unjust, hm, biased. And I knew that then and, of course, I'm aware of it now. That was really hard on me. They always had bad words for him. And now I can understand that, since my mother left that marriage as, how could I put it, morally or, I don't know, mentally damaged. At least that's how she understood that divorce, I guess. So she always had this hatred for my father that followed her till the end, which she was transferring to me. It has been very hard on me, very, very, very hard, but somehow I've found a way to deal with it. - After you've finished elementary school, where did you go to continue your studies? My brother is 3 years older than me. He studied at the high school for mechanics in Zemun. Looking at his works, his drawings, his talent for mechanics in general that he expressed even as a child... I simply liked it and, so, I wanted to learn it too. But, something wasn't right, I can't remember now what was the real reason. Anyway, I don't remember high school for very good results. On the contrary, I've experienced how it’s like not to be the 1st, not to be the best, not to be the strongest, not to be the... that I've always been. And that was... that period remained as something bad in my memory. Well, I guess it was the period of adolescence when I couldn't find my way through very well, when everything bothered me... I don't know. So that part I don't have the nicest memory of. Except the music, to which I dedicated myself more intensely, in the frame of rock music, I don't remember anything else nice from that period. And, of course, I remember the leisure time. I remember the beach in Cortanovci, and that's all from that period, from the high school period. - And how do you remember a wider social context? How did it, how did it... Did you feel a certain pressure from people around you to finish the school or you did it because you wanted to, because you made it your goal? - At that time, of course, it was a trend to finish the school. A job was practically already waiting for you. Then all the rest went with it, I mean a marriage, a house, an apartment, and family, and so on. However, while I've finished high school, somehow I guess in the society some things started to, hm... went in some new direction a bit, and so, till I finished high school... It was already a problem to find work. It didn't go as easily anymore. And so I, hm, when I finished high school... it was a problem where to work and what, and then, maybe following the lead of my friends, I enrolled in the college for mechanical engineers, although I was aware that I don't really have a good basic knowledge for that. But, I enrolled in the college for mechanical engineers in Novi Sad and attended it during that autumn. I've spent that winter there. Now, as I remember, I don't know if I passed maybe 2 colloquiums, and that was all. In spring I realized that it won't go well, and I dropped out. And I've spent that summer, as I told you, at the beach, passing time, and getting ready for the military service which was obligatory at that time in those age. So, in August I went into the military service. - How long did the military service take then? - Well, then it lasted for these guys who finished college... for them it lasted a year, and for the rest of us 15 months. That's how it was then. I spent my military service in... I was in Karlovac in the school for reserve officers. I see that as a nice school, useful in any case. It was a school for reserve officers where, hm... where we were becoming like the active officers, so to speak, but we needed to finish that 4 month course which was, as I remember it now, quite a tough and rich program. (to the dog) Aska! So that period was really... I was very active there, I was very... I've learned a lot. - And while you've finished your military service, that's a year and a half of your life... - Life goes on. I came back from the army and again the question of employment rises, where to work, what to do. As I said, the situation was already more tense, there wasn't as many work opportunities. - What years are that? - It was '74/75, I think, when I got back from the army. And so, as a matter of circumstances, literally not choosing the place to work, so as a matter of circumstances I got a job as a security in some company that used to deal with that then... those security agencies. And I stayed there for 3 months. And then an opportunity presented itself over the Bureau for unemployed to... They invited mechanical, chemical and electromechanical engineers for requalification, which meant we were supposed to finish a one year course and become train engine drivers at the railroad. At that time the line Belgrade - Bar was popular, and about a 100 of us, I remember, were supposed to work on that line Belgrade - Bar, which was very popular, and... In the meantime, hm, I realized that later... I realized that the dissolution of Yugoslavia began then, because they divided the railroad into ZTP, into ZTO, into.. I don't know. Uzice got its own, Belgrade its own, Ruma its own, of course the Montenegrians got their share. Everything was split into pieces. I think that was the beginning of the dissolution of Yugoslavia. That's my personal interpretation. And while we finished that course, that's what happened to the railroad, so we didn't go to that line, we were sent to different sides instead. I was here in Belgrade, and I've spent around 9 years there at the railway, wishing to leave it as soon as possible. I didn't like that mode of work, those night shifts, but what bothered me the most and what I... because of what I wanted to leave was that, when I was speaking to the older engine drivers during my first days, I witnessed this kind of conversations where one asks: How many run overs did you have? He said 5-6. And you? He said 12. And I asked what run overs, what? And then later I realized that they were running people over as a matter of circumstance- desperate people, in accidents, and so on, and all of that was counted and calculated into, let's say, years of service of an engine driver, railway man. - Because it was impossible to...? - Practically. That was, of course, clear to me and it has to be clear to everyone, because the stopping distance of the locomotive, that is the train, if it's going at 100 km/h, its stopping distance is 700 meters. So, your... capability is nonexistent to avoid any kind of situation that might happen on the tracks. But, as I said, that feeling was not pleasant at all, and that's why I wanted to leave the railroad the whole time, and so it happened after 9 years that I, hm, left a very decent salary, which wasn't a small thing, and came to Stara Pazova, and got a job in one small firm, with about 200 people, where I was employed as a technician in the product control.

Video Details

Duration: 30 minutes and 48 seconds
Country: Serbia
Language: Serbian
Views: 192
Posted by: globallives.serbia on Jul 25, 2009

Interview conducted by Stefan Ivanović * Executive Producer / Camera - Marko Popović * Production Assistant - Ana Lakčević

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