Belgrade, Serbia – April 2012
A lone guard paces back and forth in front of the former Ministry of Defense buildings, which were bombed in an American-led NATO strike back in the nineties. His gait is slow and shuffling. He has a goofy grin on his face and his military uniform looks like it’s been slept in. I pull my camera out of my purse. This morning, I asked the owner of the hotel where I’m staying if it was okay if I took some photos of these buildings. I had read on a couple of travel forums that people get offended. “It’s fine to take photos. The buildings are still there so that people will remember,” the owner said. “But thanks for asking.”
The guard doesn’t so much as glance my way as I snap photos. Neither do people in the cars that pass through this busy intersection. A tram pulls up just as the light turns red. It is the after work rush hour, so it is packed so full that people’s faces are smushed up against the glass. I start to giggle, but the orneriness of their glares makes me flinch. It would be an interesting photo, this painfully crowded tram against the backdrop of the crumbling building. The light will be green before they can push their way out and chase me down. But empathy wins out. There are some photos you just shouldn’t take. I wait until the tram is gone and then I raise my camera for one final shot.