I shall always remember my first day in school. In headmaster’s office, where my parents brought me for a short interview and welcome admission, first thing I had spotted high on the wall behind the headmaster’s desk was Tesla’s portrait. His eyes smiling and looking at me. « Mum, look, it’s Tesla over there », I yelled joyously as if I had recognized a long lost friend of mine.
Indeed, Tesla was not unknown to me, a little cheerful, lively kid growing up in peaceful Belgrade of seventies. I had been used to listen to bedtime stories that told not only about princes and fairy tales, but also quite a few Serbian epic poems as well. And, then, there were also stories about Tesla. A hero, wonder-maker, good-doer, a man almost magical but still human, real, caring and curious. I had kept asking my parents, already desperate and bored by infinite retells, to tell me this or that story all over again. And Tesla’s stories were, almost as a rule, high above on top of that wish list of mine. I had enjoyed hearing same lines again and again and vividly watching in my imagination pictures from Tesla’s childhood and youth. Nikola T. in a way became a pal of mine.
Many years later, while attending School of Electrical Engineering in Belgrade, in the school’s largest eponymous amphitheater Tesla in bronze stood silently in the corner. Nikola T. was resting his head against his fist, his regard absent and reflexive, while listening a tons of lessons about electricity, electromagnetic waves, frequency modulation, etc, etc. Nick was sharing all secrets, jokes and jargon of us eager and impatient freshmen, always there, and always our reliable confidant.
A real epiphany was, however, bound to occur in the new century. Mesmerized, I stood still without moving, fascinated, intimidated with my eyes fixed at powerful scenery of Niagara Falls, in a deafening tumult and thousands of miniscule water drops dispersed all around. It was not far away from there, some hundred and something years before, that Tesla had it built the first hydro-electric power plant in the world. At that divine place worthy of earthly beauty and Tesla’s genius, I was finally able to grasp the greatness of his achievements and spiritually recharge at the source of his inspiration.
Srdjan Pavlovic (electrical engineer & IT expert)