On her way to Naples and another world
Sanji is 34, but looks younger. “How come you stayed so calm when the one girl took one hour to buy a ticket?” she says. “It wasn’t a purchase it was an act of therapy.” I say. I had an hour and a bit to make the train – and made it by a “bit”.
“Calm is good,” Sanji says. She’s a muslim Serb, born in Novi Sad, now married to an Italian living in Naples. So why is she at La Chambre railway station taking a train to Mondane high in the French Alps? “I’ve been in jail for four days – it’s just a film.”
Sanji makes mosaics in Naples, has a busy work life. Her husband was away in Japan for a while, so she took a trip to Dusseldorf to see her friend. They drove back in a borrowed car. At La Chambre the French police found 63kg of marawana in the boot. “Eight or nine bags.”
“My friend, she told me in jail, she met a nice boy on the train in Germany…I didn’t know anything; I was asleep when they stopped us, they saw that I was surprised. They wrote it down; it was part of the Avacatto’s defence of me.”
The pair went before the Judge in La Chambre, after four nights in windowless cells; they were there with two Dutch men who’d been caught with a much smaller amount. “They thought the Dutch boys were the leaders, they only had a little to disguise us. We’d never seen them before.”
At the trial Sanji was asked couldn’t she smell the drugs? Her defence: “we both wear powerful perfume, she Chanel, me Dolce & Gabanna. The judge laughed. He said: ‘well at least you will know the smell now.’”
Sanji said her defence lawyer was very good, had seen a lot of this kind of thing over the past 20 years. “It’s my job, and I knew they did not have enough evidence on you.” The same was not true for her friend, who today begins four years in jail at Chambery. “During the trial she told the judge she was so sorry to have hurt me. I will come to see her.”
Sanji wears a necklace from the RAEL movement; in Serbia, Montengro and Macedonia she organises conferences and lectures about the movement’s beliefs. Which are: that millions of years ago extra-terrestrials made an experiment of the earth, used a bomb to create the continents…embedded its sophisticated technology for us to discover. The virgin birth was a Raelian (Joseph) and Mary (Earthling). The immaculate conception was done with lasers.
Sanji’s mother is a Bosnian muslim. She lost five brothers in the Yugoslav wars. “One of my uncles was killed by his own side because he was a pacifist, he wouldn’t fight.” The family moved to Serbia, though they no longer practice the muslim faith. In fact her mother is attracted to the Raelian beliefs, is coming to a conference about it near Naples. “She sees that I am happy, that I am calm, and she says: ‘then it is good.’”
One of Sanji’s other jobs is for a non-profit organisation in Naples, it has raised ten thousand euros for a clinic in Burkino Fasso. “You know how in some African countries they have the operation for women, they remove the clitoris? Well we are establishing the first clinic, using stem-cell techniques, so that the women who have been operated on can grow a new clitoris. We call the project clitorate.”
Raelians believe in freedom and no jealousy, though I am pleased when Sanji’s husband gets through here in Mondane and organizes a flight for her from Turin tonight. There is freedom and freedom.
I’m reminded of stories Olen tells about Serbs who believed The Matrix to be true. Sanji tells me that a woman called Brigitte Bonsoleil is doing much stem cell and cloning research. “You know the first baby that was cloned? “’Eva’? Well in Serbia there are ten cloned babies now, for parents that can’t have children. It is good. The founder of RAEL, he was a Formula One driver, he predicted all this 30 years ago.”
How did she stay calm in the jail cell? “I meditated. My beliefs are anti all drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, because it ruins the DNA. So I meditated. In fact I sleep better in the jail than in the hotel last night. I couldn’t get angry, Rael says it is just a loss of our conscience when we are angry, or get jealous.
“Serbian are good people, but the politics is bad, the sides at each other like cats and dogs. Even now. That is why I found such peace with Rael,” she says. The phone rings: Sanji and her Italian husband speak and SMS in English, the new Language of pan-European Love. “Sweetie, I’ll ask,” she says. The couple met in Slovenia, in the countryside between Celle and Maribor. “When we first slept together I couldn’t sleep at all, I just looked at him. I thought he was an angel.”
Sanji has to go: she wants to get her hair washed, cut and blow-dried before she takes the bus to Turin. “Mama mia, I was so lucky,” she says. “But now I have freedom again. What does money mean if you don’t have that? You should come to my conference, Brigitte Beausoleil will be there: check it out on the internet. You are the archer, Sagittarius, I think.” We exchange ciaos.
Cut and blown she is with a Frenchman when I see her get onto her bus for Italy 90 minutes later. She has the white Cavalli bag, the small suitcase, the mini-back-pack and the necklace from outer-space. And most of all she has her freedom, and her
way of seeing the world.
Meanwhile another world lives on.