Daniel puts a brave face on it as the priest draws a symbolic cross on his forehead, sprinkles him with water and continues with a ritual he understands absolutely nothing of. Being baptised in a Serbian orthodox church is no sinecure for a baby barely eight months old, particularly when the temperature in the church is approaching 40 degrees Celsius.
A longing - sometimes melancholic, sometimes painful - for the security of something familiar.
It can happen to anyone. Migrants who leave their home countries. Children who are away from home for the first time. Elderly people for whom changes sometimes go too quickly. This summer Radio Netherlands Worldwide has produced a series of stories, tips and recipes on the theme of homesickness. A universal longing for something that is not there.
Daniel is the son of Sasa and Sandra Novak from the town of Emmen in the Netherlands. He is the son of Serb immigrants to the Netherlands. She comes from the village of Ribari in northwest Serbia, where Daniel is being baptised, but she too has lived in the Netherlands for many years.
Asked why he is having his son baptised in Serbia, Sasa answers: "I'm doing it because most of my family comes from round here, my roots are here. It's part of my identity, my culture."
Sasa's father is Slovenian, his mother Serbian, he was born and raised in Emmen and he works across the border in Germany. He describes himself as "European" and proud of it. "I'm of Serbian extraction plus I'm a Dutchman too." he laughs.
Listen to David-Jan Godfroid's report
He and Sandra don't holiday in Spain, France or Greece. They spend every summer at the family house in Ribari. Back home in Emmen they miss Serbia. "I need the change from the hectic Western life. It's more southern European. Time passes more slowly, more of the day is your own." It's not just relaxation, Sasa believes people are happier in Serbia: "It's to do with the mentality and the culture. The richness of the culture."
He claims not to get homesick but Serbian village life obviously exerts a pull on this Dutch Serb. "I have a really great job that a lot of people would love, but I'm only doing it for the money. If I won the lottery I would be here in Serbia doing something totally different, just for the pure quality of life, to enjoy myself. Yes, I could easily live here. Sure."
Dancing the kolo
Later the company moves to a restaurant down the road. The glasses are charged, food is served and from the moment they enter, they're dancing the kolo to breakneck rhythms. Sasa's father, who went to the Netherlands 41 years ago on a contract for a Yugoslavian insulation company, surrenders to the prevailing Balkan nostalgia.
"The older you get the more homesick you feel for the country of your birth," he says. His heart is "a bit here and a bit there" - partly in Serbia and partly in the Netherlands.
Asked if he would like to return to Serbia for good, he hesitates - although the glint in his eyes has already given the answer. There are practical problems, however.
"It's a difficult question," he says "Very difficult. I'm so used to it there. The children are there and the grandchildren. I have four grandchildren in the Netherlands, one of them, the eldest, has started going to primary school." He thinks there may be a compromise solution. "When I've retired. A few months here, a few months there. For as long as I can."
Bookmark/Search this post with: