As they approached the main gate of the Belgrade Fair, Aleksandar was thinking about the way his mother had wrapped him up firmly with a thick scarf. She said that one could never trust Baba Marta , еven in April, while they were leaving the flat. He asked his father who Baba Marta was but his father just laughed heartily and brushed it off.
“Come on, forget about Baba Marta or apples and oranges now, look at this! This is the future, this is the gate to Europe for our Belgrade.” he said, pointing to the main gate of the Belgrade Fair.
“One day you and your children will live in a much better world, in a world in which men will use industry, science and technology to make everybody’s lives better! And here, at this very spot, Belgrade becomes a part of that future. I am lucky to be living in these times and to have seen this, and you, my son, are even luckier for this is how your future will be.” Father spoke deeply inspired.
“Europe, my son, this is Europe!” he shook his head and sighed deeply as he walked along.
The whole city was decorated in splendid lights, the most important buildings were lit with spotlights and King Aleksandar’s bridge particularly shone, glistening in special lights that led towards the fair. As they were entering the fair, Aleksandar was impressed by father’s enthusiasm and looked solemnly and proudly at the flags of various countries that were fluttering above each pavilion.
“Father, can we first…?” he uttered and paused but the father already knew what he had in mind.
“Yeah, yeah, we shall go straight to the Car Exhibition!” Father exclaimed.
That day, the Car Exhibition Pavilion was the most exciting place in the world! There were so many people around and Aleksandar’s view was blocked by their wide winter coats. He could clearly distinguish the specific smells of engine oil and petroleum. Brand new car models from various world manufacturers were arranged in several rows along the width of the pavilion. Visitors were separated from the cars by only a rope that stretched between posts, marking the edge of the exhibition space. Aleksandar finally managed to get through the crowd and find the brand new Mercedes Benz model. He wanted to stretch out his arm over the rope and feel the metal frame of the car, at least with just the tip of his finger but he did not dare.
It was in the Car Gallery that his father met Mr. Demajo.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Frelih!” Mr. Demajo greeted father cordially with a strong voice, offering his hand to him.
“How was your lecture about Zionism at the Jewish Library? I’m sorry I couldn’t make it but I followed your discussions in the newspapers with great interest” Father answered.
Aleksandar quickly concluded that Mr. Demajo was a very important person, for it seemed that he was greeted by everybody who was passing by. Since his father and Mr. Demajo kept chatting, Aleksandar lost his patience and couldn’t wait any longer–he turned back to the new Mercedes Benz. He remembered Pavle stating that German cars were the best and he studied it very thoroughly, paying special attention. He could see his own reflection in the shine of the polished round metal as well as the reflections of the people passing behind him. He could already feel his excitement growing, knowing that the next day at school he would tell Bogdan about everything. In fact, he was a bit sorry that Bogdan was not there, then they would be able to look at various car models and analyze them together, though probably they would end up quarreling about which model was the best. Aleksandar smiled at this thought. We are not fighting for real, he thought, as if he was trying to excuse himself.