Posts tagged “Kosovo

Fear: A Style Guide

Posted on February 2, 2014

I always enjoy it when Google News goes democratic and features, right below something from the BBC or New York Times, blog entries from the sort of sites that allege (in green Comic Sans) that the Queen of England is a reptilian shape-shifter. Today’s example greeted me when I loaded the “Kosovo” section of my newsreader. Though (unfortunately) offering no paranormal speculations, Julia Gorin’s “Our Muslim Kosovo: Throw Mormons From The Stairs” column — published at a U.S. outfit called “Right Side News” (get it?) — was a treasure in its own right, as charmingly mid-2000s as a white studded belt. Written from a “War on Terror” perspective for a U.S. Mormon/Evangelical audience, Gorin’s column connects a 2013 incident in which two Mormon missionaries…

Kosovo Quits Smoking*

Posted on June 3, 2013

There are times, here in Kosovo, where it can be nice to be reminded of home. I will confess that I derive a comical and inordinate amount of satisfaction from the tiny Petro-Canada logo at the corner of a billboard near Qafa. I get a kick out of seeing a small boy rocking a Montreal Expos cap in the traditional red, white, and blue. But sometimes it’s not quite so warm and fuzzy. Sometimes it’s annoying as hell. On April 4, Kosovo – in keeping with modern norms and prejudices – adopted a series of anti-smoking laws that prevent people from smoking in cafés, bars, and “public areas”. As has been the case in Canada (or at least my part of Canada) since 2008,…

Here Comes The Money

Posted on April 24, 2013

Yesterday, I wrote about the recent agreement between Serbia and Pristina, and about how perhaps not every Serbian person in the world is totally over-the-moon about it. In Mitrovica, 20,000 people gathered on Monday to say “No To The Brussels Agreement.” At the headquarters of the Serbian Orthodox Church, meanwhile, Patriarch Irinej told press that the deal “appears to mark the pure surrender […] of our most important territory in spiritual and historical terms.” So it’s obviously kind of touchy. Not everyone is happy. The Serbian Orthodox Patriarch isn’t happy, and Tom Hanks (seriously) isn’t happy either. And even though the talks were sponsored by the European Union, Brussels is not the sort of entity to really delve into things like this, or to have…

We Have A Deal

Posted on April 23, 2013

Last Friday, Belgrade and Pristina agreed to “normalize relations” between Serbia and its breakaway, independent-with-an-asterisk former territory of Kosovo. Like so many supposedly certain things here, this newest declaration is full of ambiguities, mismatched definitions, and opportunities for plausible denial. It’s easy to be cynical about these things. When I arrived here, I was astonished at the degree to which Kosovo was willing to depend on vague assurances, “dialogues,” and other such questionable things. But it’s better than the alternative. When, I have come to realize, you see major world powers and organizations giving their imprimatur to these sorts of labored, dishonest-seeming constructions, its because they are concerned that guns will fire in their absence. All parties remain, for the moment, able to see…

Unchained Melodies

Posted on January 22, 2013

As per Edmund Burke, those who cannot remember the past may well be doomed to repeat it. But so are those who do remember it; who remember it obsessively and minutely, who pore over its many defeats and setbacks, who almost savor the righteous grief provided by its catalogue of shrieks and horrors. The recent spate of vandalisms, desecrations, and passive-aggressive incursions around Kosovo and Southern Serbia is not due to any failure of memory. The other night, I went with a group of internationals (to use the Pristina shorthand) to watch Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained at ABC Cinema, and it was entertaining. A Spaghetti Western with mythic overtones, let’s say, or an exquisitely realized cartoon. A Siegfried fresco in bloody watercolors. A fun…

Kosovo 1.0

Posted on December 19, 2012

Last Friday, a remarkable thing happened in Pristina. I mean that in the original sense, of course: a thing worthy of remark, or perhaps created solely to prompt remark, occurred here, and now everybody is talking about it. As all of my local readers are already aware, I am referring to the violent cancellation of Kosovo 2.0’s “Sex” issue party, which was shut down by a mob of club-wielding thugs whilst police – according to eyewitness reports, if not official record – did noticeably less than they may have been expected to do, or less than they may have done in another jurisdiction. People got hurt. Things were destroyed. Luckily, it did not go any further than that. Because sometimes these things do. What…

Cycling In Germia Park

Posted on October 10, 2012

Cycling gets the monsters out. It really does. It works. Now, I can see why, say, Trek Bicycles (“come out and play”) might not want to use that as their marketing slogan, or why cycling advocacy groups might choose to emphasize the environmental benefits of cycling (“What carbon emissions?”) over the “personal demons”-related ones – but between you and me, I’m onto something. There is just something about the combination of balance, of speed, of covering distance, and of capital-S Suffering that does the trick. It really gets them out. When I was much younger — a million years ago, you know, back in the era of land lines and Archers of Loaf concerts – cycling was something I spent a lot of time…

The Dog Days Of Dogana

Posted on September 7, 2012

So “Dogana” means “customs” in Kosovar Albanian, and “customs” means “four loosely related offices between which you are sent in patterns of increasing complexity and cost” – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Mere delineations of procedure don’t really tell the whole story. Here’s what happened. Here’s how a couple of naïve, online retail-enjoying North Americans were again reminded that they are very, very far from home. It began with a purse. A bright yellow purse on a cutely named American shopping site for girls. It was a grey humid afternoon, all of our neighborhood restaurants sucked (and continue to suck – more on this to come), and our heroine was in need of a little cheering up. “Just buy it,” I said,…

Baby, Baby (Or: Why Birth Rates Matter)

Posted on July 29, 2012

In Kosovo, people still have babies. Not as many as they once did, perhaps, and not so many that nobody wishes for more, but they still fill the bunkbeds around here. They make sure that my front stoop, for instance, has the tell-tale hearts and scratched-out names of fickle teen romance carved into its side, and it seems required that my bedroom window be hit (hard) by a football at least once every week. Note the plural: in Kosovo, they have babies. With an “s.” These are not the long-shot, fertility pill-aided one-offs familiar to (say) New Yorker subscribers back home near the Empire’s center. These are not the lonesome little Augustens and Caits we see peering from the rear windows of Audis as…

The Lion King: Balkans Edition

Posted on July 21, 2012

So last night I was persuaded to watch Disney’s The Lion King for the first time ever. I know it’s meant to be a classic, you know, a modern myth and a watershed moment as far as big-budget animation goes… but it came out in 1994. I was 16 then, and at that age you tend to be reflexively scornful of mass-market blockbusters, and intent instead on making sure the record-store clerk is aware that you knew who the Smithereens were before Kurt Cobain started talking about them (untrue in my case, and yes, it’s consumerism all the way down). In any case, I watched it a bit too late in life, I guess, or maybe I’m just in a Kosovo state of mind.…