Monday, 19 October 2009

Some perspective

I imagine it must be easy to write a snarky blog about people you don’t know personally. I don’t know for sure; I’ve never tried it. Here I’ve tried to avoid unnecessary references to people we work with and I’m definitely not looking to score points. We work with people from a variety of social and ethnic backgrounds in a country that can be highly sensitive to such things. This is one reason for discretion; a strong belief that all people should be treated as an individual not as a label is another reason.

This weekend a couple of us from the Novi Most team took a group of young people we’ve been teaching uni-hockey to a tournament in Tuzla. It’s not really that far from Mostar if you measure the kilometres, but twisty, single-carriageway roads that weave their way up and down mountains make it an ambitious day trip. And so it was we came to stay over at the big house of some generous people. At the end of a long Saturday – I’d got up at 4am – I sent Rowan a text summarising the day’s events. Her reply included the innocent question: will you get a real bed tonight or be on the floor?

Six of us were on the floor is a large basement room; foam mattresses neatly laid out in a row. It was as we unpacked our blankets and sleeping bags that it suddenly hit me. Perhaps for some of the guys I was sharing a room with it was actually unusual to have four walls complete with doors and windows around them at night. I’m almost certain running water and electricity are not the norm for some of them. I was struck by my privileged position. What I was tempted to consider a night of 'roughing it' might have been some rare comfort for a few of my room-mates.

I have complained about Mostar’s general lack of heating in its housing but I have not suffered at all when it comes to measuring life’s hardships. So if I’m pointing the finger at anyone here I hope it is at myself. Saturday night was a glaring reminder that all too often my perspective is informed by my position of relative comfort, wealth and luxury.

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