Na Coşu is a small and elegant restaurant in Belgrade.
Contrary to other restaurants in the city, such as Dva Jelena, it doesn’t have a local character. When you’re dining there, you won’t be able to hear Balkan sounds like in restaurants on Skadarlija Street. It doesn’t have the futuristic and wicked feel of Lorenzo İ Kakalamba. It mostly reminds you of La Belle Époque French bistros.
When we went to Belgrade for two years because of my father’s job, I was just eleven years old. They enrolled me in a school which the children of diplomats went. The teachers were British. If someone in my co-ed class misbehaved they would enforce the ‘underwear’ punishment, which entailed spanking the kid on the bottom after slipping off their underwear. Either they didn’t know that such a punishment was a huge blow on the psyche of the kid or that this type of punishment was a part of the education system in England at that time. I can honestly say that I didn’t learn anything tangible at that school. In fact, I guess the purpose wasn’t teaching kids anything but to subjugate them. There were no shared values, joys or pains children from different countries could share. Except for one: When I got to school on Monday morning, I saw that all the children were frowning and the British kids crying. I asked around and found out that the plane of Manchester United, who had a match against the Yugoslavian team Crvena Zvezda in Belgrade, had gone down and all had lost their lives except a few. This made me sad more that the other kids because I had seen that game the other day with my father at Partizan Stadium. The score was 3-3 and Manchester United had made it to the semi final of the European Champions Cup. Sadly, now there was no one to play in the semi final !
I have often witnesses joys and unhappiness arrive at the same time. I don’t know if this is a coincidence or the natural flow of life. One thing I do know is that I’ve been a Manchester United fan since.
Besides school, my sister and I got French lessons from two spinsters. There was an ice skating rink on Taşmegdan near our house and we used to skate there. My sister also took ballet lessons. When my father’s post ended and we were about to leave Belgrade, her teachers said that she had great talent and that they would make her a world class ballerina if she stayed in Belgrade. However, it wasn’t an option to leave an 8 year old girl there. That’s why my sister missed the chance to become a famous ballerina but she became a professor of political sciences!
As for me, my father had bought me a violin and had hired a young and beautiful teacher from the conservatory. Somehow, he’d wanted his kids to become violinists. Previously, he’d bought a violin for my brother when we was a little kid. Unfortunately, my brother too didn’t become a violinist but a professor of constitutional law. At that time, the most famous violinist was Yascha Heifetz. My father hoped that I would also become a virtuoso like him one day and even called me “Hayfez”. My first lessons went great. Lessons that dealt with how to hold the violin and the bow and where the fingers went was east. But when it was time to look at the notes and play and my homework turned into writing the notes and playing the tunes, that young and beautiful teacher of mine turned into a witch with a broom in my eyes. I began to sneak off to my friends pretending that I’d forgotten about my lessons when the day came. My father realized the situation in no time and ended the lessons. Years passed and during a conversation over drinks, he said :
-“We hired you an 18 year old fox and even then you couldn’t deal with this violin stuff” It was the time I was going through Andropause so I shot back :
-“But daddy, I was just 11 years old at that time. Now you hire me an 18 year old fox and watch me tackle that violin”!
Unfortunately, I couldn’t be a violinist. However, I told this story to my postgraduate students studying capital market law and they liked it.