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Srbija 2020


The Serbian Diaspora - A new beginning?

A topic that often crops up during idle conversations in cafes in Toronto, bars in Adelaide or in the odd Chicago or London office concerns - a return to the old country.

Kosovo’s Adolf, KURIR and my friend Ed

Strike a poseStrike a poseIt was interesting to see an old ‘story' appear in last weeks tabloids and re-reported by news agencies on Mitrovica's Adolf Hitler. I suppose it's only fair as we've already had the ‘Serbian adolf' so its right that we should have an Albanian one too.

Where the streets have no name

Can you see it?Can you see it?

With the news that in their infinite wisdom, the governing city authorities of Belgrade have decided to rename (yet) another 300 streets, this is my attempt at using this specific example as a metaphor for the way waters are muddied in Serbian politics and important issues are left unanswered and unresolved.

A plumb bit of Serbian brandy

I have always been fond of Serbian brandy . It suits my needs perfectly - each brandy is specific. That is what drinking is about, truly enjoying what you are consuming, not mindlessly ordering a faceless (and tasteless) beer produced by a Western conglomerate - and there is the added bonus of not having to go through the chore of visiting the toilet more than 3 times per night.

Quite often visitors to Serbia have found that expressing a love of the short stuff will impress the locals - even to the extent of their donating a bottle of their finest to the lucky visitor. One should also be aware of the more cyncial tradition of greeting a visitor with brandy 'for guests'. They keep the best stuff for themselves.
Although I've been living in Serbia ‘full time' since 2000, other than a few visits to the odd smaller town I have not spent any length of time in a village. When my cousin told me that he was going on a rakija making expedition it was time for that purgatory to end.

The village of Debrc is located roughly halfway between Obrenovac and Sabac, hardly a long trek from Belgrade, but due to very poor roads and spacey landscape (and perhaps the lack of a village shop) it very much has an otherworldly feel to it.

October the 5th 2000 - Where were you? / Gde ste bili, Sta ste radili?

Update - zahvalujem se svima na odgovorima i srecan vam peti oktobar 

Naravno dajte komentar teksta koji sledi ali iznad svega zelim da znam gde ste bili sta ste radili 5 Oktobra 2000. 

By all means make comments about the following but above all I'd like to know where you were and what you were doing on October the 5th.

Big Brothers Miki walks out of the house

My colleague over at the Belgrade Blog has broken the news on the internet that beloved Miki has had enough and walked out of the Big Brother house:

Now that Miki has run from the tedium and colourless characters is there a reason to watch?

I think not. A sta vi mislite?

Djukanovic’s victory

Although the hot subject of the day should probably be the European Water Polo victory the sweetness of that victory was for me soured by news from our ‘nearest and dearest’.

I am of course referring to the elections in Montenegro that took place this weekend. (Not that you would have even noticed if you were living in Serbia coverage was minimal)

Incident na Zagreb Prajdu intervju / Zagreb pride incident 2006 interview

Readers may remember that this years Zagreb / parade was marked by an incident where a person from Serbia was arrested for allegedly giving the three finger salute.

Citaoci se sigurno secaju da je ovogodisnju paradu u Zg-u obelezio incident kada je osoba iz Srbije uhapsena zbog tzv pokazivanja 3 prsta.

Sledi intervju na engleskom / srpskom s tom osobom.

The following is an interview with the person in question:

B.Anon. Can you explain in your own words what happened?

B. Well, it was 10 in the morning when we left Green Action (the place where we had slept) en route to Zrinjevac (where the parade was held). We were part of a group of about 20 people in a convoy and we were escorted by a police car and 4 policemen. I turned around to face my friend who was taking a photo and did the three finger salute with my left hand at the level of my waist, so I didn’t raise my hand or yell 'Serbia, Serbia' (laughs).

Srebrenica - my view

(Please bear in mind that my opinion on this topic may be untypical – and duly lambasted by both sides of the political and ethic spectrum.)

The anniversary comes round again except this year it’s become obvious to me that I have avoided watching programmes on the issue. What’s the point, I think, there’s not a shadow of doubt in my mind that civilians should not be murdered in cold blood in war or any other time. How could listening to tales of suffering possibly help either myself or those unfortunate enough to have lost family and friends? There is a sense of voyeurism in all of this I tell myself. There is a sense of self flagellation somewhere here too - a kind of guilt by association of ethnic group, yes there is 'Serbian' blood running through my veins after all. And no, I don’t do flagellation for that reason alone.

Dear Mr Miskovic, (a consumer writes)

Like many people in Serbia I'm a regular visitor to your supermarket but have some concerns that need to be addressed. I write as a mere consumer rather than somebody who will mention the dirty monopoly word - perhaps we shall save that for another time.

First impressions of your well known shop are positive. It’s no wonder you are market leader (again leaving aside the fact that you have bought out most of your competitors). One is immediately greeted with air conditioning which in this heat is more than welcome. Soon after, depending on the stores location, one might hear your cute little jingle which is repeated for those that have momentarily forgotten where they are. Everything is laid out nicely, staff are polite and I see that you have finally added baked beans to your repertoire (even if completely overpriced) perhaps realising that the tin with the pork sausage inside is a little nasty.

Quite simply Ceca

As promised Ceca fulfilled her long stated desire to hold a concert at Usce close by the rivers Danube and Sava. A reported 100,000 people attended - standing room was 500 dinars and seats priced at 3,500.The only other event I can think of that took place there was an early Milosevic gathering in November 1988 where the crowd was also clearly hypnotised by the conductor.

Football fiasco - who's to blame?

Fingers are already being pointed and accusations traded.

The humiliation of a 6-0 defeat against Argentina is apparently too much to bear and is the primary issue today's newspapers are concentrating on. Headlines like 'pants fell (down) six times' are typical.

The classic situation of a coach inferring the media should take responsibility for the defeat and the media accusing the coach and the players is in motion.

The truth is a lot simpler than the coach and some sections of the media would have you believe. Yes the tactics were questionable but the players were simply not good enough.

The Politics of Cynicism

As I write some metres away is a stand draped with the slogan 'Red Card for the Radicals' on it. Next to that 'Citizens initiative for the banning of the Serbian Radical Party'. Closeby resting on the ground almost out of sight lies the G17 symbol printed upon a plastic tablecloth. Trade is enthusiastic if somewhat sporadic.

In case anybody missed the latest farce in the Serbian Parliament it involved a Serbian Radical Party MP calling a G17 MP an Ustase - she is apparently an ethnic Croat. To make matters even more comical presiding over the parliamentary session was Draza Mihajlovic's grandson. He sat in his seat unmoved - (Biljana Srbljanovic writes more on this).

A new ić in town

And so an introduction and explanation of my anonymity is in order.

I am a journalist, writer, NGO project manager, editor and translator (in order of competence) based in Belgrade for a number of years. Please dont let the brief resume put you off, my views arent as predictable as my career progression appears. I have never been a member of any political party - although was once a member of Greenpeace.

My identity isnt important compared to the importance of subjects that need to be discussed which brings me comfortably to the issue - the blog.

Some people have taken blog to be translated as dnevnik or diary and spend time using prosaic language writing about any amount of irrelevant subjects. Others seem to think that a blog is a fantastic excuse for public masturbation and use the opportunity to divulge the mundane details of their daily lives.

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