What was told the last time about Mokrin House would not be complete without all the right pieces, as there are two sides to every good story.
Whenever I try to explain the project to those who have not heard of the Mokrin House and casually share information on the number of people from all over the world who stayed and worked in that tiny village, the most common first reaction is astonishment, followed by comments like “I can only imagine that clash of the worlds”. In all honesty, this kind of comment comes as no surprise. When an uninformed person first hears about it, it would make sense for the imagination to run wild placing silent foreigners in empty village streets, looking at abandoned ruins and deserted houses, passing by an occasional local person equally dumbfounded by the chance encounter.
But, is this truly a clash of such an unimaginable magnitude? Things may not be as simple as that. On one hand, Mokrin is that kind of a small village. Many empty houses, some in ruin and some abandoned. The image is further laced with sadness when you face all the deserted industrial warehouses and factories that once made the biggest village in old Yugoslavia with nearly 12K inhabitants, reduced to half of its population. People are leaving villages and smaller towns – and this is a global trend. Yet, over the Christmas holidays and during the summer a person walking through the promenade would notice many cars with Austrian, German, Slovenian, Dutch, Swiss and who-knows-which-other registration plates. Expats from all over are visiting their friends and families, with whom the are in touch over Skype, WhatsApp, Viber or FaceTime.
When you look at things this way, is there really a difference between Kendal, Tommy and Sarah who came to Mokrin House and Mara, Ilonka or Petar who left Mokrin years ago and are now visiting? If all these people are there just for a short while, passing by, doesn’t that make them all nomads? They come and go, staying temporarily in places after they leave Mokrin, or go back to a place where they came from.
Even within the walls of the Mokrin House, there are wanderers outside the list of guests who rent the rooms, work from the office and enjoy the beautiful peace and quiet of this special estate. Namely, many nomads can be found amidst the people who are there to greet the guests, who take care of the facilities and make sure that the community is pulsing properly at all hours. Dane and Robi were chefs in the Mokrin House kitchen – now they are living in Tenerife and Germany. Damir will soon move with his family to Novi Sad, Sanja will go to France. Mića may return from a cruiser he is currently on and settle back to Mokrin. Marko is getting ready to move to Canada, while Nikola is starting his business with another former “Mokriner”. Vlada has decided to leave and focus solely on football, his greatest love of all and it is only a matter of time when he will join the ranks of an infamous football club and start his nomadic journey – despite being very handy when he is around, helping his former colleagues whenever he can.
Tamara One and Tamara Two have also popped in from Belgrade – one is currently running the show as the CEO of Mokrin House ensuring everything works the way it should, while the other is in charge of community management and creating that “feels like home” vibe for everyone around. The fact that Ivan – after Switzerland, Valencia, Madrid, London and Budapest where he studied and worked – came to Mokrin to run the Mokrin House project is just another evidence that he was a nomad long before he ever got here. It would be hard to imagine that Mokrin will be his final destination – you know what they say: “Once a nomad, always a nomad”.
Milica has been here since day one, and as things are today, she probably has a hard time delineating whether Mokrin House is her first or a second home. While the work keeps her locally tied to a desk, the fact that so many people come and go from all over the globe and she interacts with everyone allows her to keep the aura of the nomadic lifestyle. The camera and video equipment enable Brana to film everything that happens at the estate, to capture moments, scenes and people who fluctuate constantly – turning her into a travel and adventure videographer with a local zip code.
Nomadism, as it seems, is taking many shapes and forms, becoming one of the leading global trends – or just another consequence of our lives turning digital. And if we are all to a greater or lesser extent nomads, then arrival of the digital roamers from across the globe to a half-deserted village off the highway is not a clash or collision, but a coordinated meeting of different yet compatible worlds that can understand each other with ease. It would seem that opening of different coliving and nomadic centers in villages and smaller towns may just be the right way to repopulate and revitalize rural environments: this is because today, an entire world can easily fit into Mokrin.
Mokrin = World.