From Uvil Zajmi
– From the “Bridge of Sighs” in Venice, to the “Puente de los Suspiros” in Peru and that of RTS…!-
Memorie.al / In general, bridges have also gained fame for the events they carry and have conveyed over the centuries. It is very intriguing when behind them lies a story as romantic as it is dramatic, about which endless books have been written, many theatrical pieces have been performed and staged, as well as colossal Hollywood films. The “Bridge of Sighs” in Venice, 11 meters long designed by Antonio Conti in the early 1600s, with a double crossing was built to connect the ‘Ducal’ Palace with the new prisons, crossing the Rio di Palazzo. The name “Ponte dei Sospiri” (Bridge of Sighs) does not have a romantic origin, and is far from it. The legend says that the sighs were those of the prisoners who crossed the bridge, going to the prison, and from its windows they saw the lagoon, which was also the last image of freedom lost forever.
In reality, nothing can be seen from inside the bridge and therefore the name probably refers to the last breath of the prisoners as a momentary freedom because anyone who was sentenced had no other fate than to die in prison. Even more, the sighs were actually a cry of the prisoners, echoing in the channel through the narrow windows of the prisons.
A legend, perhaps invented for the use and consumption of the millions of tourists who visit Venice each year, persuades many couples to pass under the Bridge of Sighs by gondola, because a kiss exchanged at sunset, when the bells of San Marco begin to ring, as a guarantee of eternal love and happiness.
From this “legend” was also made “A small love story”, with Lorenc Olivier and D. Lane, a film from 1979, awarded with an Oscar. In the center is Daniel, a Parisian teenager, who knows Lauren, an American girl of the same age. A quick love is born between them, but the girl’s mother does not like it. Terrified by the idea that they will never meet again, the lovers decide to go to Venice, to kiss romantically, passing in a gondola under the Bridge of Sighs.
In the world there are several structures called “Bridge of Sighs”, such as the one in Cambridge and Oxford, England, or in Lima, Peru, “Puente de los Suspiros”, one of the most romantic places in the city, very visited by tourists. In Albania, in general, well-known bridges are connected to those built over rivers, such as King Zog over Mat, or Buna Bridge, etc.
Although Tirana has the Great Bridge on the great Boulevard “Dëshmorët e Kombit”, that of Tabakë, another one not with the fame of the epic events of platonic love “over a bridge, or under a bridge”, is that of the Albanian Radio-Television, with its unique history as “Bridge of Love”.
Along with the purpose why it was conceived, and for the main function, it kept a big secret, the name and what it served the most. “Bridge of Love”, on the Albanian Radio Television, present for decades in the life, relationships, daily work of the employees, has also been the symbol of the loves from the modest ones without noise to the sensational ones of that institution.
Why was he given this name?! Unknown to some citizens, but not to those who have experienced it, so much so that when you ask its veteran employees, they tell you with passion that even that bridge has its own history, as part of the love for many of them. The first acquaintances, exchanges of glances, chance meetings, exactly on that or on that passage are made.
A completely normal architecture, not by word of mouth, with a project by engineer Sami Pashallari, that bridge was built to join the two buildings and create the large Albanian Radio-Television complex, a functional communication bridge mainly for the movement of employees.
Located at a height, on the upper floor, engineer Pashallari did not even think that that Bridge would also serve as the “Bridge of Love”, for sentimental and passionate connections between the people of those two institutions, including directors, journalists, broadcasters, etc. Although over the years, its structure has undergone changes, the “Bridge” of Agron Çobani, with the stories of love it carries are there, somewhere on its walls, railings, sole.
Reading the book “Radio-Tirana speaks to you…”
Many may have seen that bridge between Radio and Television thousands of times. But, that’s all, without knowing that she would later have great events and love stories. I have seen it too, and I have even passed endlessly in front of it, without ever thinking that it would be the pages of a book by the well-known journalist of that institution, Agron Çobani, who passed away a few years ago, that would remind me harassed
A very interesting book, entitled “Radio Tirana is speaking to you”, with history, known and unknown events, for those who lived and worked there, but also for ordinary readers. A long, memorable description, in every detail, from the hand of the libohovite Çobani, the man who lived that building from the steps, the radio-chronicles and the first radio-television broadcasts, all installed in his memory, where in the center there are also many characters, public names.
Together with the “Bridge of Love”. Two single words, which you encounter when you read on one of the pages of the book: “….. For the last time, I met Todd at the Bridge of Love. That was the name of the concrete slab with handrails on the sides that connected the Radio building with the Television building.
Even for this designation, Todi was criticized, because, which says, he talked about the immoral connections of Radio employees with those of Television”. So, a “Bridge of love”, of meetings, relationships and even romantic ones of people who worked in those two buildings? A bridge no more than 15 meters long, not covered by rain, sun, wind, but enough to cross and meet there, like the beginnings of “a radio-television love”.
Suzana (Grashi) Lubonja: “We exchanged glances at that bridge, it was the place where we met and fell in love!”
A story that is also related to the acquaintance, then the meetings and the love of two public figures of the Albanian Radio-Television, the couple Suzana Grashi and Pushkin Lubonja. “There are no lovers on Radio and Television that have not passed, stayed or are not related to the “Bridge of Love”! Such has been ours as well”.
Editor from her beginnings in the 70’s, then acquaintance and professional, family coexistence with the journalist Lubonja, separated from life a few years ago. In a story where she tells what were the secrets, friendships, emotions, memories, even loves of that institution. “Zerina’s story with Paul is one of the most famous, but there are also others, all stories with the “Bridge of Love” as the protagonist,” he says.
Miss Suzana, do you remember your beginnings in Albanian Radio-Television?
I started work in July 1972, as an editor of artistic programs. These are the beginnings of television, which was filled with young people, all graduates, a generation of beautiful girls, handsome boys. Journalists, musicians, directors came. Among them Vera Grabockën, Pali Kuken, Mevlan Shanaj, Albert Mingën, Pandi Laçon, etc. Acquaintances and attitudes began, such as smoking a cigarette, even waiting to meet someone.
Have you read Agron Çobani’s book?
Yes, of course, since it came out a long time ago, I liked it and from the fact that each of us, being there, finds himself as a part of the many years of history of that institution.
Do you know that in RTS, there was also “Bridge of Love?”
When I read the book, I also encountered this name. We have known something, that the passage or connecting bridge between the two buildings was also called that. I was surprised though, an ideal find, very romantic. A ‘Bridge’ not likes the famous ones, not public, not noisy or frequented by visitors and tourists, but which for us had a special feeling.
Was it really like that?
The bridge served for a double transition from Radio to Television, or vice versa. With doors on both sides, but never closed, there was still a motive, or a reason to go there more than once a day. One passage was enough to see, meet and exchange a few words. But also to smoke a cigarette, as an excuse to stay even under the rain, wet for a few minutes there. Or to sneak out of the Television, from the Radio we had to cross that bridge. Someone in front, the other later, or the opposite, so as not to be noticed. All those who have fallen in love in that institution have passed there, fallen in love there.
Many radio and television lovers, all at “Ura”?
There has been no love on Radio-Television except for this one moment at “Bridge of Love”. Everyone, who more or less, has a moment, a meeting, a deep breath, a different emotion when they have exchanged, seen and met at the Bridge. For the lovers, the meeting in the Radio studios was more comfortable, more intimate, while in the premises of the Albanian Television, there were only large recording studios.
Who could be Ura’s first loves?
Among the first, but which I have not lived, may be those of Vera Zhei with Emil Plumbi, or Vitori and Abaz Xhomos.
Do you remember some of Ura’s classic loves?
Many couples who have met and fallen in love, there and whose stories have left a mark as we knew each other and were aware of their relationship. All with the “Bridge” at the center of relationships. There are not a few, such as: the Shoshi couple, Mark and Evgeni, the Shpuza couple, Natasha and Vladimir, the Rexhvelaj family, Zana and Shaqir, Luljeta and Apostol Notin, Timo and Vjosa Luton, Moza and Vullnet Musaraj, Arjan Bakiri and Teuta ( Stoli Bel’s granddaughter), Violeta Gjoka with singer Dorian Nini, Elvira Dones with violinist Pirro Gjezi, the Meçani family, Liljana e Pëllumbi, Mira Bregu with Ruzhdi Pulaha. Without forgetting Francesk Radin with Tefta. They met in Fushë Arrëz, but in RTS they made their love concrete. There are others.
Is there a “Bridge of Love” celebrity?
There are several, but I think the one of the Kuke couple was and remains one of the most beautiful loves. Zerina, a young, elegant girl, and Pali, who fell in love with her beauty, through the camera during the shows. Then the meetings, sometimes secretly, sometimes not, of course also with “Ura”, as a witness of that connection.
Your acquaintance with the husband, the late Pushkin?
Pushkini came to RTSh in 1976, in the Information Office. Beautiful, quiet boy, he read a lot, almost all the literature that was published. He liked music, he came to listen to music at my place, and this was one of the reasons why we got to know each other and became close. And on that “Bridge” how many times have we crossed, exchanged, seen each other, passed together, endlessly. After his death, we published a volume of his poems, “My daughter…”! They move me every time I read them, I re-read those poems. His relationship with the girl has been extraordinary.
Was there a café in the premises of the RTS?
Yes, there was also a club, for a morning coffee, to meet friends, colleagues during the day, but also as a place to meet your lover, it was called Tana’s club. But “Ura” was more sentimental, more beautiful, more liked, especially in the beginnings of love.
Were there times when that “Bridge” did not work like “Love”?
Yes, of course not all acquaintances, relationships, loves have been solid. Most of them do, but some have not stood the test of time, like unfounded loves. This for many reasons, work with no schedule, services with days and weeks away from the family have often become the cause of divorces, the failure of a love born at “Ura”. But, in many cases, the love of that Bridge has served as a harmonious, stable, professional relationship at work, with secure financial income in the family.
Films have been made for “Ura” with such stories, for that of RTSh, none…?!
It would be nice why not. It also has its own history, which has been written, including many events, with public people, charming couples, and well-known but also secret loves. A screenwriter, director could have come up with such a theme.
Eg, Ylli Pepo, better than him, right?
Without discussion. He and other people, who have given hours, days, work commitments, but also parts of their lives to that institution. Together with the love they found, but also offered.
Suzana, you were also a rare collector for the time?
It has been a great passion of mine to collect photos of famous artists. Those are the years when boys had a passion for stamps, and girls for photos of actresses. I used to get them from foreign magazines that my father, a journalist, brought to me, often secretly. I created a beautiful collection, with Brixit Bardo, Klaudia Cardinale, etc. My friends would come, we would gather at my house to see them. I don’t have it, because encouraged by my mother, her fear, one day I burned them all.
Did you also tell me about your director son, also known in “Ura”?
Ergys is called, “product” of our love. Directors works with shows. On television, he met the girl he loves. I don’t know if he went to “Ura”, like his parents. Different times then, different today. Memorie.al