expat blogger

living in Serbia

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

foreign concepts

Hello friends and family,
The weather is finally feeling as it should, clouds have moved in and the thermometer has dropped below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Christmas is around the corner and I have finally settled in for the winter. Please enjoy the newest thoughts typed out on my computer.

The toilets in our condo are so small. This is the part where you say, "How Small is it?" It is so small I can was my hands, take a shower, do the laundry, and put on my makeup all at the same time. I am pretty much not kidding. The concept of large spaces inside the home seems to be more western. We have a large country with lots of room to roam. Rooms are used more space efficiently in Europe.
The view from outside our larger bathroom.. and BTW: reading the washing machine is impossible.
 and then the view from inside...taken standing in the tub.
The last one is even smaller than it looks. It is difficult to get in and shut the door without straddling the the toilet.

Some of the differences from the western world.
Time seems to stand still here. Modern is coveted, while antiquities are a not only a part of the landscape,  it is also part of most peoples daily lifestyle. Old and new live side by side. Cell phones and WWII trucks, microwaves and wood-burning all purpose stove/ovens are still used daily. Red peppers dry inside kitchens while hanging like a wreath around the windows. These same garnishes decorate porches, terraces, and barn walls. Chickens peck around grounds and geese guard homesteads like Rottweilers.

In our condo a waffle maker doubles as a toaster. I am not sure if it has ever been used for waffles, but it does make some yummy pressed, hot sandwiches. Fresh bread is served daily, and when it is a day old, it is served toasted or fed to the dog, pig, or any other random animal you may have.

This is all fascinating, and would be even more so if this was a drive-by. But I am in for the long haul. Or long enough, and sometimes these antiquities become tiresome.
Dinner for instance, I have told you about the many courses. Imagine day after day of lingering over salads, and I do mean salads, plural. One is almost never enough! Then there is the soup. (This week I got to eat Sheep head stew! Yes, I do know how lucky I am.) Next is the main course. This may be one of two or three parts. Then there is always dessert, and Turkish coffee. The last two are separate events. All of this while having dinner with my loving husband who enjoys watching me try to understand Serbian conversations with he and his parents. He especially loves to watch me struggle to speak or converse with both of the former non-English speaking wonderful people. Normally, I do not find this as amusing as my other half.

The upside of this is my mother-in-laws super, awesome, gut-busting, yummy food! IT is possible she is the best cook on earth. She is a loving, sweet, hard working woman. Just like my own mom at home. Love you Mom!!! So I know how lucky I am to have two Truely amazing moms who love me! I am blessed, and Thankful.
The Travel Mug
I went shopping for a travel mug here last week. I wanted to be able to take a cup of tea or coffee with me when I go wherever I may. I finally found one at the Kineski shop. This is the Chinese shop. That is where I go to find the things I find normal that are foreign to my Serbian hosts.

Travel mugs are a completely foreign concept here. One does not take coffee or tea with them, it is enjoyed at leisure with friends and family. There are NO cup holders in vehicles here. There are nice cafes on the side of the road so that you can sit and relax during a long drive from one town to the next. 

Last week I took a short block and a half walk from my apt to Mama and Papa's house and carried a mug of tea with me. Mama looked like she might have a heart attack. She was shocked, and maybe I even hurt her feelings because I brought my tea along. I am not sure, but I had to assure her this was normal for Americans to walk with a drink in hand.

Another foreign concept, not celebrating Thanksgiving. I think I am skipping it this year. I am not really in the mood. I am extremely grateful for my family and friends, both near and far. But going to find the food, figuring out the foreign oven, and the myriad of other issues associated with shopping for and preparing food here is more of a hassle than it is worth. I am not up to the task. And it would only be for me. I have a thankful spirit and that is more than enough. 

Happy Thanksgiving friends!


Anonymous said...

We love seeing the country and its traditions through your eyes. Miss you. Have a great (uncelebrated) Thanksgiving Holiday.

Anonymous said...

Glad to know that you are safe and sound in Serbia. Happy Thanksgiving anyway. Not really jealous of the sheep's head food! Love the blog .... thanks for sharing! xo p and m

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your posts like this one (where you describe the differences between Serbia and the western world).

Happy Thanksgiving!