Grandpa’s Red Lada

She was born in 1990 in Croatia, only a year before the country declared its independence from the socialist Yugoslav federation. She does not remember a lot from the first few years of her life, but here is a recurrent memory from the late 1990s. As they lived in the vicinity of Rijeka (on the northern Croatian coast), it was a common practice for many people, including her family, to go to Trieste (Italy) for weekend shopping to get clothes, especially jeans. Her family inherited grandpa's old red Russian Lada, and also owned a newer Opel Astra. Her father has managed to buy this car after he started working abroad. Nevertheless, whenever they would go to Trieste, they always preferred taking the Lada. She would often wonder about his decision before their trips and then finally she asked:

Her: “Why don’t you want to take our new car instead of the old Lada?”

Dad: “Well, taking the Lada is obviously better, because you see, the custom officers on the Slovenian and Italian border will think we are poor and will not ask us to show all the things we bought in Trieste.” 

She thought it was weird, but of course, she believed in the righteousness of his choice. The perception of socialist symbols as old remnants that would nevertheless protect them from the border inspection -  despite the fact that they had enjoyed the fruits of capitalism while shopping - was simply something she took for granted. After all, Lada always did the job of returning them with their precious Western acquisitions.