Friday, 30 April 2010

Zeljanica

Brits in Bosnia commented on a recent post that a picture of some zeljanica would provoke some jealousy in the now ex-expat blogger formerly known as Fraught Mummy*. When this healthy chunk of the aforementioned delicacy arrived as a gift for someone who attends Klub Novi Most I had to grab the opportunity to snatch a photo.

One of the older young people had decided to volunteer to resurrect the 'garden' at the front of the Klub building. What you see to the right of the photo are the first green shoots of new grass springing up where once there was nothing but hard baked earth. A neighbour had spotted him at work and asked for some assistance in her garden. The home-baked goodness you see is the reward for his generosity.

*So Bosnia is down one English blogger but if you're interested in how the UK looks after getting a little Balkan perspective in your life then I sure there'll be some good tales of readjustment at www.pantswithnames.com.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

High School...musical?

I love a good movie with a top musical moment: Free Bird in Elizabethtown, complete with its burning prop induced sprinkler downpour, would be a favourite example. Of course, a generation of kids are now being raised on Disney's take on the song and dance that is the high school experience. Naturally the premium peddler of fairytales presents an alternate reality where unrehearsed performances reach stunningly choreographed crescendos. In the real world that just doesn't happen.


This morning I was in a local high school to take part in a rehearsal for an end of term variety performance. I'm teaching one student how to play Soba za tugu by Toše Proeski on the keyboard. At his request I'm accompanying him on guitar. Another student is singing, although by the end of the morning at least three other vocalists had had a go singing the song. While the performance was by no means a disaster it was a million miles from Disney slickness. That said so were most of the the turns, which included a Balkan-accented rendition of Britney Spears' breakthrough hit...Baby One More Time. However everyone seemed genuinely happy with not just their own artistic achievements but with everyone else's too. I'll take that over a fake fairytale finale any day.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Earth Day


It's Earth Day. This is our contribution to environmental awareness. We've written before about the disaster that is the addiction to plastic bags that seems to grip most retailers we've encountered in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Rather than revisit those rants, here is a picture of creative recycling.

Rowan spent most of this morning starting work on this as-yet-unnamed eco-bunny. By cutting some of our surplus plastic bags into strips and then twisting them into a simple twine she was able to crochet away. This style of crochet is called amigurumi and if you'd like to see more examples of Rowan's cute creations visit her blog or her online shop.

This bunny may yet grow arms and legs and find his, or her, way onto Etsy. Until then, we hope they will remind you to dispose of your unwanted bags responsibly.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Food Photo


I was reading, I think it was in the LA Times, that some celebrity chefs are becoming increasingly annoyed at diners documenting their every mouthful with their digital cameras. It seems flashing the cash, and not your camera, is much more befitting to the aura of a fancy restaurant.

This is not a food blog (I'm not a fan of flash photography either!) but I have noticed we've had a sizeable number of hits that have come through searches for Little Mexico, Mostar's mexican bar/restaurant. We were there again the other day. It was a warm afternoon and we were sitting outside so I had no qualms about snapping the appetising sight in front of me. Behold the chimichanga!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

First Ride

I was going to get on my bike yesterday afternoon and head out into the countryside. I didn't. My excuse was the weather, that and trying to finish off some work. However, I did ride the Friday before, my first ride of 2010. Naturally, I wiped out my camera to commemorate the moment.


Wednesday, 14 April 2010

History. Who's story?

We had a timely reminder of the complexities of revisiting history the other night. A friend was recounting a version of the events surrounding Srebrenica in 1995 that she had heard from someone, who heard heard it from someone who had said they were there. The story was very different from the one widely reported, the story the has Karadzic currently on trial in the Hague.


It'd be too easy to say they were obviously misinformed. So much depends on perspective. I grew up being taught history from an English (or British, if you prefer) perspective; the things that are invariably told as triumphs are also someone else's tragedies. History is so often left in the hands of the victorious. The official version that is. But if the vanquished live to tell the tale they will tell it and the two will not agree.


Is true objectivity obtainable? Somehow I doubt it. Should we seek it? Probably. I know I should type an emphatic yes but permit me my pragmatism. Those who do not want to believe will never buy a version of history they don't agree with, however high the court that decreed it. The 'probably' recognises that some will find closure in the establishing of facts. My question is whether, so long after the fact, any ruling will be enough to heal the hurt and hatred. Are such changes of heart a usual result of judicial decision making?


The future lies not in attributing blame but in enabling reconciliation. The person who discovers the perfect prescription for that can take out the patent on world peace.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Officially Punk Rock!

'Is this the set list?' I put down the cable I was coiling and glanced up at the table where the bar owner was pointing. I nodded. 'And you wrote all the songs?' I replied that, yes, apart for the obvious inclusion of some U2 and Lenny Kravitz, I'd written all the rest. (Truth be told, I co-wrote three of the track with musician-friends from previous bands, but I felt this was unnecessary detail at the time!) 'Good. Very good band.' My denim and leather clad critic pointed to the first track and then somewhere towards the bottom of the set list. “These song are the best. Very good.”


We not the only band to receive such praise. “U2. Very good. Not heavy metal but very good band.” Iron Maiden are his favourite. U2 and Dire Straits make up his list of good non-heavy-metal bands. Then came the comparison. I've always had mixed feelings when people start down the 'that song sounds like...' route. As a song writer you know what's in your record collection and where your inspiration comes from. No one wants to be accused of being a sound-a-like to some band you don't listen to or, worse still, have never heard of!


“A little bit Green Day, a little Offspring with a little bit Oasis” That's a rock-lover's assessment of Gilgal. Officially punk rock with a dash of Brit Pop. It could be worse! After a good gig, which while not being a perfect performance showed we're getting better with plenty more to come, I was happy to take that. (Insert your own Take That related joke here!)

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Backdrop to Rock

We're just home for a quick break - the chance to eat and check Facebook! - before our gig tonight. In a hour we'll be wandering back to Mostar's Stari Grad to make music or noise, depending on what your view on alternative punk rock is!

I took this picture after our soundcheck. It's our backdrop to rock: the view over our little mixer, out of the window and up towards the mountains. It's by no means a great photo but in reality it's a great view. Not that it'll be n show tonight as it'll be dark at least an hour before we kick into our first song.

This is Gilgal's third gig in this bar and we're experimenting with a third way of squeezing us and all our equipment into a tiny corner. Hopefully we've chosen well, although I'm aware I run the risk of getting a clip round the ear from a Musicman headstock if I step out of line!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Celebrity Sighting

We were driving off to a rehearsal late this morning. (First Gilgal gig of 2010 happens Thursday night!) At one end of Mostar's Bulevar our progress was hindered by a guy trying to pull off a reversing-off-the-pavement-into-traffic manoeuvre. His move was a little ill-timed but we stopped anyway. The car coming the other way sort-of did too, but not completely. It kept trying to squeeze through the ever-decreasing gap between the opposite curb and the rear light cluster of an Opel Zafira.


Having nudged himself suitability back into the face of the oncoming traffic the driver of the blue Opel turned his face towards us, pulling a blame-it-on-the-other-guy face, with accompanying shrug and hand gesture. I turned to Rowan: “I know that person, aren't they an actor?” She thought for a moment before nailing it in one. Alex Baldwin. Put politely, the real Alex Baldwin carries more weight but the likeness was uncanny. For this we forgive the driver his impatient exit from his pavement parking space.


However, Bosnia and Herzegovina can boast a real, bonafide celebrity sighting, even if we can't. Yesterday Brangelina (that's Hollywood actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to the celebrity averse) lent their weight – although not in the Alex Baldwin sense – to the plight of Bosnia's many refugees. Thousands are still displaced fifteen years after armed conflict ended in the country. Jolie has been an ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees since 2001. As volunteers with an organisation that has been personally involved in the lives of displaced people since the mid-nineties we only too aware of how important it is that these people are not forgotten.


Defining 'not forgotten' would be a long and complicated post. Perhaps one day I'll offer my opinion on it but for now let's just hope this flying visit plays its part in building a better future for the disadvantaged in Bosnia and Herzegovina.