Thursday, March 22, 2007

If only I listened...

Nenad the Neighbour was right: it is cold in March, and it started snowing.
On the 12th of January I wrote in my blog "Weather update" about his prediction for a cold and snowy half of March. I laughed it away. But damn- he is right!! I wrote dismissively that I should ask him for the winning lottery numbers, which of course I did not do. If only I would have taken him seriously. I would have been rich- I would have been big- I would have ruled the world.

Oh, well. I did not ask. Let's not regret thinks that can not be changed anymore. But still- power, money..... If only I had listened.....

Monday, March 19, 2007

Ciao to all that in pictures

Two pictures. One is in the park, opposite of the American embassy. Nicole, Ian the Monitor, Thomas, Aida H. and Caroline are in it.
The other one is of my bathroom, cleaned, but with some silent witnesses of the party stashed behind the bathtub.

Ciao to all that

Yesterday I spent in the Park, opposite of the American embassy, with My Friend Elias, Ian the Monitor, Thomas, Aida H., Nicole and Caroline. It was sunny, and nice. We had music, soft drinks, beers, chips, cookies and more music. We ate pizza. We were reading (comics and real books), talking about nothing, humming to the songs, playing badminton and making phone calls and pictures. We took blankets and cushions and sheets to sit and to lie on. We spent hours there, until the sun almost set. At night we were tanned, and tired.
Yesterday was a good day.

Saturday evening I spent in my house, with My Friend Elias, and all the other above-mentioned, and about 75 others too. It was our farewell party. We drunk, talked about nothing, played indoor- badminton, played indoor-cricket, indoor-bowling, and made a mess, and said ciao to a lot of people.
Saturday evening was a good evening.

Both were a normal Sunday and a sort-of-normal Saturday evening. However, in all their normality they are to be remembered. As good days in Bosnia.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Kosovo pictures

Three pictures:
One of Ian the Monitor, with whom I went on this trip. One of Lejla, with whom we stayed. She is the one I went to the Mosque with, and one of a Orthodox church in Przren.


Well, action, action, action. Let's say it is all in the eye of the beholder. And no. There was not the kind of action I expected. It was fun though, and it made me realize some things, manly about my course of action until September.

Kosovo has an interesting history, of which both the Kosovo Albanians and the Serbs are very proud. However, the pride in their country does not result in a feeling of ownership for it. For the layman that I am it seems that people are fed up with the international community and with the standstill the country is in for already quite some years. But I did not see much of civil courage with respect to rebuilding the city of Pristina or with regard to keeping their country clean from rubbish (I know it sounds patronizing, but if you can not even keep your streets clean, how can you than keep your politics clean..?). Then again- who am I to judge; I was there for 3 days, I have never lived there....

Everybody in BiH looked at me as if I was crazy for going there- there are supposed to be tensions and potential dangers. All true, but I did not see that. But of course there is an 'however' to this too: the people whom I talked to in Kosovo (German peace-keepers, lawyers, an OSCE diplomat) could not really asses the security situation either. Apparently no-one really saw the riots of March 2004 (today exactly 3 years ago) coming, nor did anyone see the violence during the demonstration of last month, in which two people got killed, coming either. That seems odd to me. It can mean three things: military intel is really poor, the situation is more volatile than one would think on first view, or both. And I think the latter. Which is worrying, if you look at the huge presence of the international community there. Because aren't they there to keep the peace...?

But let's hold my horses. Because: what do I know about the place? Nothing. But that never stopped me from having an opinion....

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I am.... own worst enemy. I am living the life of a college student, and I drink and party as if there is no tomorrow. However, up until now there has always been a tomorrow, and as a result, the morning after the night before I have to struggle to recollect my memories of what happened, to check whether I have to apologize to someone, or whether I have to do some damage control. Although I am a reasonable drunk, I do not really like the described feeling. I think I am a bad 'sabbaticaler'- it is a bit boring, and the described evenings are a nice change of routine, until they become routine- which happens before you know it. That is exactly the problem of routine: you are not aware of it until you start thinking about it. And when you have some time on your hands to think, which you, believe me, as 'sabbaticaler' have, you indeed do think. And analyze the problem, think it over again, look at it from a different angle, and than write about it. Which is boring to read. So basically: it is time for some action!! I guess.

Previously I have been writing about plans which are to be materialized, plans for the future. I am still waiting, but at least I now when I will hear more- within two weeks. I guess. For someone like me, who likes to be in charge over things, it is a very unwavering feeling not to be so, and this 'in between things' period that I am in now feels very much 'out of control'. For the time being I do not know when I will leave Sarajevo, and what I will do next- both depend a bit on factors out of my hands. But let me not overreact, it is a know disease, this feeling- it's Channel Fever.

Anyway, action it is. Tonight I am going to Kosovo. Apparently there is some action expected there in the coming days, weeks, months...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Gender equality

To half of my avid readers: congratulations with the day of today! It is International Women's Day!! As the UN website says: "When women on all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, come together to celebrate their Day, they can look back to a tradition that represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development." Jajajajajajajajajaj. So according to the UN the 8th of March is 'their' day (i.e. of the women). The rhetorical question I am asking then, and I guess with me many, many other men: does this mean that the other 364 days are 'our' days? Yes? Great! I can not but wholeheartedly support that.

But what a thing, this women's day. In a time when men and women are supposed to be completely equal, and want to be treated equally at all times (except in matters relating love- then suddenly men are supposed to be forthcoming and with initiative, and should behave like men, and women are the weaker sex again. For modern guys raised in gender aware societies like in Western Europe, this is hopelessly confusing), why is there such a day, stressing the differences between men and women? Ok, in all fairness, I can see why, but still....

Until I got to Sarajevo, I never heard of this specific day. And I am under the impression that most people here never read the UN website about this day either. Because it seems merely a day for men to give flowers to women (I actually think that 'International Flower Industry Day' would be a more appropriate name for this day- there is a flower stand every 10 meters in town right now), than a day of awareness and empowerment of and for women- I have not seen any protests of 'housewives for housewives', or 'men for women' or the likes, at least.

Anyway, it is a fun tradition, this day. Everybody runs around town with flowers, and you see blushing sixteen-year old schoolboys giving roses to fashionably cool fifteen-year old schoolgirls.
But I am a rebel, and did the most manly thing I could think of today: I went to the hairdresser and had my four-day beard shaven of. Wow.

Monday, March 05, 2007


Two random pictures. One of me, somewhere in BiH, the other one is in Sarajevo, of other people than me. Both of them are taken by my friend Elias Fels.

Missionaries, Mercenaries and Misfits

Mercenaries, Missionaries and Misfits. That is how someone once explained the members of 'the international community' anywhere in the world to me. Of course this member of this exclusive guild did only refer to others when he explained this to me, and not to himself or me, but it made me wonder. Where do I fit in in this picture?

Preferably in none. But by default in all, I guess.
I came as a missionary, a do-gooder, to BiH. However, experience, disappointments and realism made me view my job at the Court more and more as very cool work, but not as a mission anymore. I looked at my work with interest, instead of with zeal. No missionary anymore, therefore. But am I a Mercenary then? It would mean I am in it for the money. And that is not how I want to see my existence here- it would devaluate what I did here. But it can also mean that I am in it for the excitement of the work that 'the International Community' does all over the world (btw: I put 'The International Community' between quotation marks, since I do not exactly know what it is. It is a concept, that even my favorite website Wikipedia can not clearly describe. However, I guess most people can make an impression of it), and that I am a gun for hire, that I can and will go anywhere to do the same work that I did here. If that means that I am a mercenary, then I guess I am one. A hesitant one, because at a certain point I want to live in North Western Europe again, but still, a mercenary.
And a misfit? Although I would like to see myself as socially apt, I guess I would currently be a misfit in certain parts of the professional world (read the disclaimer that I put in this sentence!). In the world of '9 to 5', the world of 'knowing that on Tuesday March 5th 2008 you have lunch in the same cantine as you are having lunch in today', the world of expectations of others, in the world of 'normal'.

The first time I heard my colleague talk like this about 'The International Community' I was a bit peeved. Now it makes me smile, and use it to upset others. Because granted, most people do not want themselves boxed in in one of those labels. But I guess everyone can be, more or less.
But then again: who cares? It is good bar-talk.....