Saturday, 19 September 2020
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Is Dubrovnik stuck in a permanent Groundhog Day?

By  Mar 10, 2018

Do you ever have the feeling that you are caught in the same day over and over again? Does the day to day routine somehow give you déjà vu? It’s like that 1990’s film with Bill Murray, Groundhog Day, where he continually wakes up in the same day for weeks. I have that Groundhog Day feeling at the moment.

It could be the winter blues. Dubrovnik may be a hive of activity in the warmer months when the swallows arrive but let’s face it in the winter it is a little…well boring. Maybe it’s good to be bored a little. But I am not really the kind of person who has time for being bored normally. I looked at the event calendar on the Dubrovnik Tourist Board website the other week looking for some inspiration, only to be greeted with two events that week, two all week!

At the moment I feel like I am running on auto-pilot a little. But it seems I am not the only one running around in circles. I was flicking through the newspaper archives a week ago and many of the headlines and articles I came across from five years ago and exactly the same headlines that are being used today. Coincidence? Probably not. Many of the problems Dubrovnik had five years ago, ten years ago and two decades ago are exactly the same problems it has today. Coincidence? Probably not.

Instead of forward movement, there is stagnation. This could be due to a couple of reasons. Lack of willing to move forward and solve problems. Lack of adequate knowledge to be able to solve the problem. Or a lack of sight, so as to be blind to the actual problems. I would suggest that a combination of these three is the situation. Most people can get excited about the results, the finished product, but they dread the process of doing the actual work, so they don’t bother to try.

Many of the challenges that the city faced decades ago - infrastructure, social issues, cultural inadequacies, education, health, finance and even something as benign as sewerage and exactly the same today. We are stuck in a never-ending Groundhog Day.

I was with a businessman from the US last week and he was reminiscing about how he had visited Dubrovnik in the early 2000’s. “To be honest apart from the odd building facelift and a few new hotels nothing much has changed,” he said over his coffee. I was desperate to prove him wrong, to praise a new development, but I was left scratching my head. “Of course you have a few more tourists and cruise ships coming, but apart from that it seems like status quo,” he concluded. He was right, unfortunately. Is it a lack of creativity? We have all been blessed to live in such a unique city, but maybe we really need some unique ideas and unique people to go with the city, to breathe live back into all of us. Change your thoughts and you change your world.

We seem stuck to this routine of – work all day every day through the summer – hibernate in the winter. And we all conform to this pattern, to this way of life, not wanting to break the mould and start something new. Of course that’s the easy option. It’s much harder to be a non-conformist than a conformist, especially in a small town. So we go with the flow and not rock the boat. “What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?” said Bill Murray in the film.

And here we are in March already. Soon the flights will arrive, soon the city will be full again, soon we will all be working at top speed, and in that melee of madness we will all forget that winter was even here. The same old problems will arise again, the same old shouts for something to be done and the same old excuses that we have all heard. And, guess what, nothing will be done. The sun will melt our memories as an ice-cream on the beach and the life will go on in our Dubrovnik Groundhog Day. And then the colder days will be here again and once again we will hibernate and like an emu bury our heads in the sand. Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower, once said Steve Jobs.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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