Most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Susan’s stay in………….
No, I am in Bosnia-Hercegovina, part of the former Yugoslavia. For those
with who are geographically-handicapped, I am NOT in Kosovo, Yugoslavia
(Serbia and Montenegro), Macedonia or Croatia.
I am in Sarajevo, home of the 1984 Winter Olympics. Under siege from 1991 to 1995.
1. Has our Californian Susan turned into a Bosnian icicle?
Not yet, we are almost in December and it has not snowed yet. Last year it
snowed in October.
2. What exactly are you doing?
I am working for an American Non Governmental Organization (NGO) called
Mercy Corps on a reconstruction program for Bosnian Croat and Moslem
refugees who are returning to their pre-war homes in the Rspublika Srpska
(Serb entity of BH). I am designing a job creation program and I am
absolutely enthralled with my work. I will have to look for a new job soon as
my contract is up at the end of the year.
3. Do you have friends?
NO, I just sit around freezing on my terrace crying in loneliness.
Just kidding, I do have great friends. Local and foreign. Since I speak
Bosnian like Tarzan with a Russian accent, I am unfortunately limited to
English or Russian speaking Bosnians. I understand when people speak slowly,
allowing for some conversation, but I need to dedicate more time to learning
4. Is it dangerous?
Well, I keep away from open areas, so the land mines do not effect me.
I have never been robbed and I feel much more comfortable than in many
cities in the States. I walk alone at night with any problems.
Some good all night bakeries for those 2 am chocolate pastry urges!
Since I am very allergic to smoke and every other person seems to be a chain
smoker, I stay away from the two dance clubs and many other bars and cafes in
town. I call them “overcrowded ashtrays”.
6. What do you eat?
There is a French supermarket catering to the large international community.
So, when I want to get a good and cheap bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, I flee
to the wine section and revel in the selection. Sarajevo actually has a great selection of produce, locally grown organic and imported.
8. How is your vegetarianism keeping up?
What my attraction is to super meat eating countries where women wear tight
polyester, totally beats me. However, the gods of vegetarianism are frowning
on my periodic carnivorous deviations and will soon through snow at my
doorstep or on my path.
9. When are you coming back?
I AM NOT coming back to California any time soon. SO, PLEASE DON’T ASK. Even
my parents are getting tired of this question, as natural as it may be.
My life is here, I have no return ticket home. I am looking for a new job
and apartment for next year. Don’t let my proposed move prevent you from
mailing me stuff!!!
The mere thought of George Bush Jr. as president of the US is reason enough
to declare self exile for the next 4 years. Bosnians, in general, do not
want George Bush Jr. to be the next president because he wants to take
troops out of the area and his father could have prevented the war but
instead saw it as a civil war, which it was not, and left the problem for
the Europeans to handle, which they didn’t.
On that thought, here is an email I got about a man in Zimbabwe teaching
about the elections in the US.
A Zimbabwe politician has been quoted as saying that children should
study this event closely for it shows that election fraud is not only
phenomenon of the developing world.
1. Imagine that we read of an election occurring anywhere in the third
world in which the self-declared winner was the son of the former prime
minister and that former prime minister was himself the
former head of that nation’s secret police (CIA).
2. Imagine that the self-declared winner lost the popular vote but won
based on some old colonial holdover (electoral college) from the
nation’s pre-democracy past.
3. Imagine that the self-declared winner’s victory’ turned on disputed
votes cast in a province governed by his brother!
4. Imagine that the poorly drafted ballots of one district, a district
heavily favoring the self-declared winner’s opponent, led thousands
of voters to vote for the wrong candidate.
5. Imagine that members of that nation’s most despised caste, fearing
for their lives/livelihoods, turned out in record numbers to vote
in near-universal opposition to the self-declared winner’s candidacy.
6. Imagine that hundreds of members of that most-despised caste were
intercepted on their way to the polls by state police operating under
authority of the self-declared winner’s brother.
7. Imagine that six million people voted in the disputed province and that the self declared winner’s ‘lead’ was only 537 votes. Fewer, certainly, than the vote counting machines’ margin of error.
8. Imagine that the self-declared winner and his political party opposed a more careful by-hand inspection and re-counting of the ballots in disputed province or in its most hotly disputed district.
9. Imagine that the self-declared winner, himself a governor of a
major province, had the worst human rights record of any province in his
nation and actually led the nation in executions.
10. Imagine that a major campaign promise of the self-declared winner was to appoint like-minded human rights violators to lifetime positions on the high court of that nation.
None of us would deem such an election to be representative of anything other than the self-declared winner’s will-to-power. All of us, I imagine, would wearily turn the page thinking that it was another sad tale of pitiful pre-or anti-democracy peoples in some strange country elsewhere.