black cat, white cat

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As I mentioned in my previous post, we live in a gentrifying neighborhood of Vienna–an old working class district with a significant immigrant population. A third of the inhabitants of today’s Ottakring were born outside of Austria: about eleven percent speak Serbian, eight percent Turkish and more than four percent are native speakers of Croatian. There are numerous shops, restaurants and bars catering to the different communities–including several Turkish bakeries and an African and a Pakistani supermarket.

This colourful mix of cultures has attracted an increasingly visible young hip crowd. It is, nevertheless, the “Balkan” flair that is still one of the defining characteristics of our neighborhood. Last Tuesday, I heard lively brass band music playing in the street and I opened the window to realize that it was not some festival or a marching band but, in fact, a wedding: an Emir Kusturica movie come alive. Two brass bands played in front of the building of the bride as family members decorated a pimped-out Ferrari, which later led the car procession that included an RV. The bands played and guests danced in the middle of the street and, after a while, the bride and other family members joined them. It was, I think, a Serbian Roma wedding. More and more passers-by gathered in the street to watch: the mix of people who stopped and enjoyed the music was a cross-section of the population of our neighborhood. No one seemed to mind the blocked street and the traffic jam, even the UPS truck waited patiently.

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