Sunday, March 26, 2006

"Falling over themselves to get all of the misery right."

A special prize for the first reader to tell me from whom I stole the title of this episode.

It was an amazing adventure the day they buried Slobodan Milosevic. In the late morning, people started arriving in waves to view his casket as it made a stop in front of the same Parliament Building people gathered around on October 5, 2000, and demanded he step down.

It was clear this was well organized. By 11:00 a.m. there were estimates of 50,000 -- some say 100,000 people crowded in the park across the street.

I was in the middle of the crowd taking pictures and video when I decided to call one of the producers from the TV station I'm working with and ask a simple questiong.

He told me that he was also there with a camera crew and that I should try to work my way through the crowd to where he was.

"The crowd is very angry," he said, "so whatever you do, don't speak English. Go to somewhere where there are policemen and stay there. Call me when you get there!"

By now, it was turning into one of those crowds where you actually feel the physical squeeze around you. It was nearly impossible to move. More people were trying to get to the center while I was trying to get out.

I discovered that the only way I could move against the flow was to follow behind two little old women who also had to get out.

People didn't go out of their way to help them, but they listened when the women barked at them to let them pass.

I slipped in behind them before people could close the openings they had made.

I eventually made it to an area where there were a lot of television news crews and their vans. There were two policemen standing nearby, so I stood just outside the barrier.

As I stood there, people in the crowd began throwing things at the reporters and technicians.
It turns out they were throwing snowballs, but who knew what was coming next.

Then part of the crowd started yelling in English. They only yelled two words: "F*** You! F*** You! F*** You!

I tried to call my producer friend, but the voice on my mobile phone told me, in Serbian, that I was out of credit.

Back into the crowd. It was even more difficult now. It took about 15 minutes but I pried myself through the crowd while I concentrated on not saying "Excuse me" aloud. Eventually I made it to a clearing and was able to go to a small store on a side street to buy more phone credits. By that time, the riot police arrived and I could safely return and get some more pictures and video. Eventually, the speeches ended, the casket moved on and everyone went home peacefully. Posted by Picasa

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