“Rootless” describes me well. I’ve never missed any of the places I’ve lived outside of the US, not even the country I grew up in.
But I miss Sarajevo. Oh, I miss Sarajevo.
Some of the things I miss:
1 ) Intelligent drinking conversations.
I just don’t have philosophical conversations about ethics and violence here in the US when my friends and I are ten drinks in.
2 ) Amusing juxtapositions.
See that kiosk across from the mosque? It sells porn.
3 ) My morning cup of wussy international coffee.
Bosnians drink Turkish coffee, a bitter, potent, syrupy mixture in a thimble-sized cup –a kind of coffee shot glass if you will. (Bosnians have a “go hard or go home” attitude about coffee and alcohol.) All non-Turkish coffee is called “Nescafe,” regardless of brand. My morning Nescafe and news rant was something I began dreaming about the night before, and was a source of literal and metaphorical warmth on the coldest Sarajevo mornings.
4 ) Nineties music blaring from coffee bars and clubs.
U2, REM, the Cranberries, good stuff. Not like here.
5 ) Bootleg DVDs from the vendors on Ferhadija.
For the equivalent of about five American dollars, I could get an entire season of Lost or Heroes. Perfect quality, too. Well, usually.
6 ) Down time.
Bosnians understand that human beings need leisure time. Lunches last two hours. The work day has built-in smoking breaks. Even poor people find a way to go on vacation in August, even if it’s just a (very rustic!) family camping trip to the nearby mountains or a rafting trip on the otherworldly Neretva River. Or a picnic at Vrelo Bosna. Whatever they can manage, they manage.
7 ) Being able to go to a club and not be man-handled.
Bosnia’s conservatism is often vastly overstated, but it’s true that dancing at a Bosnian club is not the, ahem, contact sport it is elsewhere in Europe. Dryhumping strangers is frowned upon. A guy is more likely to try to talk to you than just start rubbing his bits against you from behind.
8 ) Festivals.
Bosnians. Love. Festivals.
If there is a month of the year in which there isn’t SOME kind of festival, I’m sure that will be remedied shortly.
9 ) Political graffiti.
Sarajevo is covered in political graffiti –scrawly rants about economics, politics, war and peace. Some of it in Bosnian Engrish.