Read, Write, Run, Roam

Bagging it, Belgrade-style

When I look back on my year in Belgrade, I’ll remember the little things: the mini cheese pite at my favorite bakery, the way people beam at puppies and children, and men wearing purses with pride.

Call it whatever you like–a a murse, a manbag, or a European carryall–but don’t call it girly. Tough guys all over town sport these smaller messenger bags, often called torbica. Personally, I’m all for them. If Muz paid me a nickel ever time I held his Blackberry/sunglasses/keys, I could buy him the fanciest one available.

The guy on the left has a backpack AND a torbica. Pro.

In my totally unscientific poll, I’d say 50% of Belgrade men have a torbica or two. What’s in them? I had grand plans for man-on-the-street interviews, but between my camera’s “video” function and my halting Serbian, I’ll just guess instead: cigarettes (naturally), sunglasses, phone, bottle opener (why not?), keys, and identification. Serbians often carry ID booklets that don’t quite fit in wallets, so a torbica prevents the dreaded “Costanza wallet.”

Indeed, the European carryall has its benefits. A guy can carry many valuable possessions yet remain hands-free for important taxi-hailing or phone calls. For once, a lady can ask her guy to hold something besides ID and lipstick. No girlfriend? The torbica also becomes a useful pick-up tool: “Miss, would you like a mint from my torbica?” Acually, that sounds kind of dirty. Better to offer a cigarette.

It’s even a health aid. This guy may be suffering from liver damage, but he’s not going to get “fat wallet syndrome,” aka piriformis.

Photo credit: Majmun

Though Balkan men have popularized the man purse, there’s a long tradition of tough guys sporting bags: Santa Claus, Indiana Jones, and Chewbacca, to name a few. These pioneers have helped Balkan men be stylish, manly, and courteous to the women who don’t want to carry their stuff. RHOB says, long live the manbag! Or, excuse me, satchel.




3 responses

  1. Kuma

    I consider this to be one of your top 5 posts! Constanza is a necessary reference, but I especially enjoyed the unexpected Chewbacca shout-out. PS the dude on the bench probably has roofies in his torbica and he ate one by mistake.

    July 28, 2011 at 5:43 pm

  2. I really enjoy your posts! This was very entertaining, especially the torbica part, it’s funny ’cause it’s true 🙂 My husband wears one, but owns at least 3 which helps me to make him carry all my things and keeps my hands free 😀

    July 30, 2011 at 5:48 am

  3. Thanks! As you can tell, I am pro-torbica. Someone should carry MY sunglasses for a change…
    Your blog is great. We housewives have to stick together!

    July 30, 2011 at 10:12 am

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