Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bosnian Labor Day

Tomorrow is Bosnian Labor day - May 1, most of my fellow Americans will be out of town, road tripping through the country to get to the coast. Not us. I have never been a fan of road trips even in the USA but in Bosnia its 100 times worse. There are no major highways to speak of in the country (someone told me this was done purposely by Tito so it would be harder for the Soviets to invade) thus a driving road trip in this mountainous country requires mostly driving on two lane windy paths, up and down mountainsides with no safety railings and often in between two big trucks. I hate it. Its long and tiring and the kids and I soon get bored. If you get stuck behind someone slow, you often have to go many miles before you get a stretch of road where you can pass on the left (into incoming traffic) I'm not even brave enough to drive - make my husband do it.

I would love to get to the final destination of some beautiful beach town, but I don't relish the journey. I'm always amazed at how many of my fellow Americans do do the road trip, some nearly every weekend. It is the only way to explore this country and the countryside of Bosnia and Herzegovina is beautiful, like one big national park. Maybe in the future when the kids are older or hopefully when Bosnia develops and builds major highways. Tell than, I'm Sarajevo bound.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Bundling Up

Here in Bosnia, one thing I learned quite quickly on is that you must bundle your children - no matter the weather, bundle or they will get sick. At first I laughed it off, but after 2 years I've become Bosnian, I do the same thing. I'm constantly asking my 4-year old, 'are you cold?'  Today for school I made her put on a hoodie and a jacket, despite the weather forecast calling for in the 70's.

This past weekend we had the Embassy egg hunt and as I had been out earlier in the day vegetable shopping, I felt it was a bit cold; so I put the baby in warm pants and two layers of shirts.  Needless to say the day warmed up and by the time of the egg hunt, it was near 70 degrees. The poor little guy was so excited and running everywhere. His face was beet red. I had to take off one of the layers and do a quick wardrobe change right next to the petting zoo. Thank goodness he is only 19 months and doesn't mind such exhibitions (in fact relishes them).

I can't explain why Bosnians are so concerned with bundling up, a fear of sickness, some past communist history, old wives tales? All I know is if you don't bundle your child, you will hear about it from every passerby and you will be deemed by locals as a "bad parent."

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Romantic Fiction bric a brac

So the Guardian newspaper had this question on its book blog, is Romantic Fiction a Dangerous Passion?

Of course I say yes, an overwhelming yes! And yet I am as guilty as the next of reading romantic fiction, in fact I would say I am an addict. I do think for young sheltered girls like I was myself, it sets up unrealistic expectations and yet I think if you can remain sane they are a good healthy escapism. I like the author's proposition that when reading you know you are going to get a happy ending, that is what I love. So much in the real world is NOT a happy ending, its nice to have something to fall back onto no - a way to get away??

This is a picture of Burek, a meat pie and national dish of Bosnia. I have to say, I rather like it. My husband is not a fan, but the kids and I will eat it. Its flaky pie dough filled with spiced meat. They shape it into a circle. There is not much in the way of fast food in Sarajevo but you can always find burek in any grocery store here. Whenever I'm around town running errands I'll pick one up to eat. In Sarajevo they come a variety of sizes, big, small and hand-held. Like American hamburgers, they are not universally the same, some are more meat, some more greasy, but I like to eat them nonetheless. They are called burek or pita. Also, in that category is sirnica, filled with cheese, with spinach and cheese zeljanica, with potatoes krompiruša. But my favorite is the burek with the lamb/beef mix (NEVER pork, as Bosnia is a Muslim-majority country). The funny thing is burek is so similiar to what one finds all over the world, some form of bread stuffed with meat, in India samosas, in Poland perogies, in China dumplings. Just goes to show how humanity might be miles apart but we are essentially made of the same DNA. Why do I write about burek today, because I just had one for lunch - yummy!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sad News

Just learned a dear friend of mine has lost her husband. Both of them were so young, late 30's, they had just had a baby son a year ago. I am shocked as well. The death came on so suddenly. He had acute pancreatis, apparently he had been having stomach pains for a while but didn't go to the doctor. Sadly they say if he had gone earlier they could have treated it and he would have been fine. The whole thing is just so tragic. My heart aches for the baby, just a year old, how will he ever know his dad?? oh it makes me want to cry at my desk or go and run and hug my babies and never let go.

And for my friend, what will she do? She is pretty helpless, she doesn't drive, she is very innocent, not worldly-wise, how will she navigate the world? At least the good thing is she has her family nearby and I hope they will help.  What do for her, I wish I could be there to give her a big hug.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Photo Feature: On the migration road in Serbia — IRIN

Photo Feature: On the migration road in Serbia — IRIN

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sarajevo at night

                                              Another beautiful pic of Sarajevo at night!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Driving in Sarajevo

Where to start with driving in Sarajevo? 

First off, it’s terrible! Like other big cities, Sarajevo has seen an explosion of cars and the tiny roads are just not equipped to handle that much influx. But if that wasn’t a problem it is also the arcane motor laws: no right turn on red, you can turn right on green at the same time those with the left turn signal from the opposite side are coming. Actually there are few left turn signals, but not many. 

Yellow means go, as does green. Green flashing means the light is going to turn to red. At some intersections the green light goes for both directions and that means you can also take a left or a right, mind the oncoming traffic (um what?). Add to that pedestrians who walk everywhere and at any time on the street, completely disregarding if they have the walk sign or not and you have a recipe for a mess.

Sarajevo is a small town, it really shouldn’t take one ages to get from one part of the city to another and yet it does because of all this plus, inordinate amount of traffic lights, none of which coordinate with the other. Also, inevitably I’ll end up with the slowest driver in front of me and a NASCAR racer behind me. Aye! Day to day I see many cases of road rage, a guy jumps out to cross the street just as the light turns green, car honks at him (rightfully as it is not the pedestrian’s turn) and the pedestrian gets pissed, throwing up arms, sometimes swearing or giving the finger.

The other day I was walking home, waiting at a light for the left turn cars to finish up. The one guy goes and the second car overtakes him to take the left (very typical over here), the first car guy gets peeved and there is a lot of honking and screaming, second car guy equally upset and decides to tailgate first car and then rev up and pass him on this one-way tiny street. At that point they were too far down the street for me to see what else happened but the weirdest part of the whole thing – these were clearly elderly men, had to be in their 60’s or above.

More and more here in Sarajevo you hear about road rage cases involving guns (since the Bosnian war guns are very easy to get here). It is scary. When I can, I prefer walking, just a lot less chances for an accident or incident, no?

Tuesday, April 07, 2015


My latest dilemma is not particularly a dilemma but a quandary for this lazy person – I want to get back into writing freelance articles. I virtually stopped when the babies were born; it was too much to think about even writing, when I could barely cobble 4 fours of sleep together. Now the kids are a tiny bit bigger and I have gotten a better handle on how to do things at work, so I would like to write again. To me, living in Sarajevo, Bosnia, it’s a treasure trove for article writing but (and you knew there was a but), doing proper feature articles with interviews of people is not within the realm of possibility. I still have to take care of two toddlers and I work a full-time job.

It is my ambitious nature that is driving me to want to do this, the idea that I’m here, I can write, plentiful story ideas are all over, why shouldn’t I? No?

Perhaps it is also a bit of worrying that if I don’t write, years later I will regret that I didn’t take the opportunity.

Maybe I could pen a few short travel pieces, keep my hand in it but without too much commitment. What to do??

Friday, April 03, 2015

Spring in Sarajevo

This picture was actually taken by the Embassy doctor about a week ago, and I commandeered it from his facebook page. I think it is a beautiful shot of early springtime in Sarajevo. This is taken in old town Sarajevo, with its narrow cobblestone streets and Ottoman influenced architecture. You can see the many wares on sale, rugs, blankets, pillows, etc.