"Before the 1990s, we were like drunk Americans!" a friend proclaimed in a Sombor cafe to me as he expounded on the history of the area. "We had good schools, free apartments, cars, we could travel anywhere we wanted ... even the cleaning women had $10,000 a month!"
It's a theme I've heard before many times from my husband's lips, although for him the time was the 1970s that were truly golden in Yugoslavia (before he grew up and had to try to find a job in the 1980s that interested him remotely.) He can speak for hours quite poetically about the free apartments, free healthcare,
According to The Economist's 2008 World Rankings Book, the average Serb (man, woman, and child) smokes 5.8 cigs per day, ranking them as the Top 9 Most Smoking Countries on Earth. That's a lot of smoking.
Greece comes in at #1 with 8.4 cigs per day; Macedonia is #2 at 7.1 cigs per day, Russia is #3 at 6.8, and Slovenia kicks Serbian smoker ass at #5 with 6.2 cigs per day. Bosnia is below at #13 (5.2 per day) and Croatia is not ranked on the list. Yet oddly, Croatia has by far the highest cancer deaths rate of the region at 167 deaths per 100,000 population. (Serbia spends a far
As the political situation and the economy have eased in the past few years, a trickle of ex-patriots (Serb citizens who moved abroad) have begun to return. I know personally of three families in my circle alone and have received emails from several other returning Serb expats who read this blog.
I suspect the government would like to see the diaspora reversed even more. More expat retirees coming home to spend their last years and life savings living well in a land that's pretty cheap (as long as you stay out of downtown Belgrade.) Plus, more young workers with college degrees
Last week I mentioned here in passing that I liked architecture in Serbia. A commenter replied, "Architecture? Which architecture? Many years ago famous architect Le Corbusier said about Belgrade that it is the ugliest city built on one of the most beautiful locations".
This is just one of many times I've heard or read Belgrade-based people use the words Belgrade and Serbia interchangably -- as though they are two words that mean the exact same
Per our discussion on Serbs in Diaspora that sprang out of comments in my last blog post, I just phoned Ivana Cerovic, who is the Conference Organizer at America's Serbian Unity Congress, for details about the upcoming conference. In case you're interested, here's what I discovered:
* the 17th annual conference is being held in downtown San Francisco
I'm not a Serb myself, just married to one. So I only understood about 10% of the jokes on these sites... but they seemed fairly funny to me. I showed them to my step-children who laughed hard but wouldn't explain anything, "You have to be a Serb to understand." Well, ok, you guys are Serbs, so maybe you'll understand. Are these funny or not? And are there any better funny sites about being a Serb? Because, you know, sometimes we just all need a laugh.
#1. You Know You're
I had one the absolute happiest times of my life these past two months in Serbia... the air, the greenmarket, the architecture, the friendly and social people, the air of relaxation (after routine 80 hour work weeks in the US). Serbia is a wonderful place. I just wish it was happier for its citizens.
According to a 2004 study (ok it's dated and Serbia has come a long way since 2004) of global happiness, Mexicans were the second happiest nation on the planet. Surveyed citizens said they were
I've been thinking a lot about citizenship recently both because of Serbia's political debate about new citizenship laws, and also because many B92 readers have emailed me letters (thank you!) often mentioning they themselves are citizens of multiple countries. Many members of my extended family including my Father, also have multiple citizenships. I'm not qualified to comment on political debate, but I can extend three practical considerations:
#1. Useful papers vs heartfelt allegiance
I've noticed as people start collecting citizenships, the importance and meaning of
On Sunday night, a couple of local friends stopped by our little house in Sombor, Serbia with their 13 year old daughter. After half an hour of polite attention, she began to slump in her chair, bored, bored, bored with all the grownups chatter. "Rosemary, I bet she would like to play on the Internet. Show her your computer," my husband ordered. Armed with a plateful of chocolate cookies, I led her into my home office to go online.
She honestly had no idea what to do online (something unimaginable in a 13 year old US girl but typical of her peers here I've found). So I
This is my first post to B92 (thanks for inviting me Dejan!) and I feel rather self conscious about it. Which proves to be inspirational because that is the way I think most Serbs feel about America. According to most of my Serb acquaintances, America as a country hates Serbia. America is a big mean bully, glittering with gold, nuclear weapons, and Hollywood celebrities, that personally hates Serbs and wants to cause problems for them.
When I married my Serb husband, none of his family and friends from Serbia came to the wedding in the US even when we offered to pay for all travel.