Monday, July 28, 2008

I'm sure this is just another side effect of learning a slavic language

Something I've noticed when speaking or writing extensively in English: the English language is soo... imprecise. As it, it lacks cases. It's starting to feel so sloppy!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Hague's Most Wanted

My host country is again in the news for something good, which is almost a newsworthy even in and of itself. Just kidding. I love you, Serbia.

It seems that notorious Bosnian Serb war criminal Karadzic has been arrested in Belgrade, where he had been hiding under an assumed identity. This is a really big deal since one of the main conditions for Serbia entering talks with the EU is they cooperate handing over war criminals to the Hague. It's kinda an open secret that Karadzic and Mladic were hiding somewhere in Bosnia or Serbia and that if they reeeeally wanted to, the Serb authorities could track them down and arrest them. The fact that Karadzic was arrested two weeks after a new, pro-Europe government came to power in Serbia sort of seems to confirm this. A lot of people think Serbia will never join the EU, but a lot of people also thought that Karadzic would never get arrested, so who knows. I guess anything can happen in this crazy world.

So what do the people on the street think? Unfortunately I am not any special help here, as I haven't heard anyone talking about it. My language school is stubbornly apolitical and the two people I've hung out with today didn't mention in. Instead of politics we talked about music and sex in the city. Maybe there is more in common between Americans and Serbs than previously suspected! But I do know that most Serbs are fed up with the Hague because a lot of Croatian and KLA war criminals "suspects" have been acquitted. I can't really blame them, and it would be hypocritical anyway since America has such issues with the ICJ. Extradite Bush!! I mean...

Anyway, I am an optimist and like to take any sign as a hail of the coming of good times. So, yay. Basically anything that will get Serbia closer to joining the EU is a good thing in my opinion, whatever the naysayers say. If I know anything about the current situation in Serbia, it's that Serbs are tired of having to get visas to move ten feet to the left. But I think this article from the NYT, basically crediting the EU with everything good that has happened is Serbia in pretty much ever, is a little over the top. Sooo typical. Never the twain shall meet?

despite appearances, I actually don't know what I'm talking about. So if you disagree, please don't get mad.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

It’s a winding road

Exactly one year ago I got on a plane with a backpack and two suitcases and officially became an expat. What followed is an era of great excitement and satisfaction, but also frustration and disappointment. The greatest adventure of my life turned out to also be one of the most difficult. Had I know that, I might not have attempted – or I would have at least thought twice about it. But is it worth it? Hell, yeah. I don’t want to dissuade anyone who might be thinking of taking a giant leap, so maybe I should focus on the glamorous side. But, on the other hand, there are always people so much better at that than I am.

You're an expatriate. You've lost touch with the soil. You get precious. Fake European standards have ruined you. You drink yourself to death. You become obsessed by sex. You spend all your time talking, not working. You are an expatriate, see? You hang around caf├ęs.

--Ernest Hemmingway

Friday, July 4, 2008

Celebrating defeat

Happy fourth of July to all my American readers. (Is there anyone else?) If I were in America I would have sent the day swimming and eating and the evening watching fireworks subconsciously thinking it was a German bombardment. If I were in England I would have gone with Jenn to some celebration in the American part of East Anglia. But here in Serbia, the 4th has passed without remark. In its honor I’d like to talk about another national holiday that has been (at least seemingly) ignored.
If you paid attention in history class or listened to Franz Ferdinand’s self-referential B-side, you might recognize June 28th as the day Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated. In fact the holiday goes back even further to 1389 and the battle of Kosovo, where the Serbs were defeated by the Turks, marking the beginning of 500 years of Ottoman oppression blah blah blah. I was a little nervous, having read in Misha Glenny’s The Fall of Yugoslavia about the showy nationalistic events that marked the 600th anniversary of the day, about even being in Serbia on Vidovdan, especially this year, the first year of Kosovo’s Independence (maybe. We try not to talk about it too much.) However, much to my surprise, had I not known that June the 28th was a remarkable day, I would not have noticed. In fact even knowing, I did not notice. Not one event did I see advertised, not one comment was made to me (that I understood) that would indicate that it was the day that until recently many considered the most important day in the history of Serbia.
On Saturday I met up with some friends and friends of friends in the center (as the cool part of Novi Sad is called). Novi Sad, being the cosmopolitan capital of a cosmopolitan region, was hosting an alternative theatre festival. We went to a performance in dunavska park. It mostly involved dramatic (exhaust fumiful) car chases, in line skating, acrobatics and fire stunts. There were a few monologues of which I managed to catch a few words, but I think my lack of understanding actually added quite a bit to my enjoyment of the show. I could make up my own interpretation of what each bit was supposed to symbolize. The man being hung by his feet by the two black-clad assassins (NATO?) was Kosovo; the woman bringing him back to life was Serbia. I don’t know. Does it matter? Apparently, not. That, at least, is something to be thankful for.

These are only my impressions. Your results may vary.