Today I came to Tirana and pretended to act as an event photographer…because that’s now my personal legend. I came to Tirana, mainly to take photos of a French electro-pop group, Julia Jean-Baptiste. I saw them live in Elbasan and I liked them a lot so I decided to come see them live again in Tirana.
When I finally arrived to Tirana, I noticed there were police vehicles lined up on the street by the Prime Minister’s Office. Half of the boulevard Dëshmorët e Kombit was blocked for pedestrians. I wondered what was going on. People started clapping and cheering when Edi Rama walked out of the office to greet us. It turned out that Albanian soccer players just came home from France because they didn’t make it to the next phase in the game. People waited in front of the building for an hour. There were lots of policemen and policewomen to keep the people at bay and clearing the space for the soccer players to walk out of the bus safely. I was sweating and annoyed being around people. I was bombarded with kids calling me “kineze”several times and some random guy took a snapshot of me, thinking I wouldn’t notice. I took a snap shot back at him. The kids who called me kineze, I snapped some photos of them too. I was short and I didn’t think I would have a good shot at the front. I had no hope. Somehow, one of the security guards noticed that I had a professional camera, Barney Manson. That’s the name of my camera. He pointed at me to come to the front. He then told other security guards and a policewoman that I have a camera so they let me take some good shots once the players arrived. I thanked them and used my charm by impressing them with my Albanian skill. They smiled and gave me a bit more space to let me take pictures later. There were some annoying kids trying to get in front of me but the guards and officer told them to move elsewhere. I felt awesome. Being kind and calm really paid off that time. That’s what those punk kids get for calling me kineze. Go back to school!
Finally the red double-decker bus arrived. It was decorated as the Albanian flag, all red with the double-headed eagle on the side. Soccer players finally arrived, walked out and entered the office. People cheered and they were smelly. It grossed me out. I tried to take good shots of them but my mosh-pit instinct kicked in and pushed people away so I could take some pictures. Some idiot hit my camera unintentionally so I moved her away. When the players went inside the office, we waited for another 30 minutes outside so that they could come out. People cheered again as the soccer players went back to the red double-decker bus. I thanked the policewoman for letting me get to the front and we shook hands.
The bus took the players to Mother Teresa Square. People started walking towards there. I think Elvana Gjata was on stage singing “Xhamadani Vija vija”. The song that you hear everywhere in Albania because it’s overplayed. It was crowded and I was annoyed but I was trying to take some good shots (I’m trying to become an event photographer here….). Everyone started singing their Albanian anthem. It was very lively and the energy was very prideful.
I didn’t stay long so I began walking out. I noticed there was a bus parked inside the guarded fence. The space was big and wide enough for players to move around, take pictures with the fans and sign autographs. Kids were trying to climb on me but I pushed them off and walked out of the square…..again that was my mosh-pit instinct kicking in.
Then I met up with my roommate from Russia who I haven’t seen in 4 years. It was great catching up with her with a nice gyro.
After that, I finally caught up with the French group. The time and location got changed so I missed most of their show. Luckily I was able to catch their last song and took many snap shots. I met them briefly after the show and continued on our merry ways.
I walked around and there was so many things going on. Tirana has no chill today.
If it wasn’t for Barney Manson, I would not have a productive day.
I ended my night with Ice-Cream, juice box, and a nice cold bottled water.