Sunday, 20 January 2013

Aussie in Bosnia bids Farewell

It is with great sadness that I inform you today the Aussie in Bosnia page will cease all its activities, effective immediately.

Due to the fact I must depart from these shores in the coming weeks, it is a strong wish of mine to make the most of my remaining time here, and I fear this blog could prove to be too great a distraction.

In terms of writing this page, the journey until now has been magnificent; one I can genuinely say I have enjoyed from start to finish. The decision to hang the keyboard up, so to speak, has not been made lightly.

I originally held some hope of writing a rather in-depth review on the last 11-12 months I have spent in this wonderful country, but -- what can I say -- I currently don't know where to begin on such a subject that, in truth, deserves a lot of time and care.

Perhaps, the best time for such reflection will be waiting for me once I settle back in Australia.

Nonetheless, this blog has obviously played a very big part in my life over the past seven months, providing me with a platform to pursue my passion for writing and, more specifically, to write about topics I love and which interest me.

There are so many people from both within Bosnia-Herzegovina and across the world who I have been connected to thanks to An Aussie in Bosnia.

Some of these connections have even developed into personal friendships which will hopefully last for many years to come, illustrating the power a page such as this can hold.

On top of these real-life occurrences, we also managed to post 200 blog entries, whilst attaining a view-count which today sits in excess of 35,500 -- and, trust me, it's only been climbing and climbing in recent times -- at an average of more than 160 views per day.

That is something I could never have dreamed of when I began this page. Never.

I am very proud of the work I have churned out on here over the past half year, but I know I still have a lot of work to do to get to where I want to be as a writer, and I can't wait to look back on this in the future as a sort of measuring stick to check my progress.

As mentioned earlier in this post, it is hard to find the correct words right now to write a meaningful review (or reviews!) of my time in Bosnia, but it is something I plan on doing in the months following my return to Australia.

For that reason, if you would like to hear some of the stories I have to tell about Bosnia-Herzegovina, then you can keep up to date with my movements through my Twitter page. Alternatively, you can bookmark this very page and check back every couple of weeks to see if there have been any updates!

I would just like to use the end of this post here to express my gratitude for this country and how welcoming it has been to me. There is absolutely no way I would have written to this extent if it weren't for such factors.

There's no two ways about it: I love this country, and that is why it has been so easy to write about it for this long.

Rest assured, this will not be the end of my journalistic relationship with Bosnia. It is a strong wish of mine that future work of mine involves this nation and region. In what capacity, however, I am not sure. Only time will tell.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a place I would have struggled to find on a map a few years ago (I would've had some difficulty spelling it, too!) but it is now a country which has been etched into my heart forever.

Whilst here, my perceptions on everything in life were changing on a daily basis.

Moreover, I now possess a greater appreciation for the world thanks to my time here.

Thank you, Bosnia; despite my words, you really don't know the effect you've had on this Australian boy. I will never forget your people and their hospitality and kindness.

Once again, thank you to everyone who read this blog, whether you were a regular follower or a one-time reader, I am incredibly gracious for you taking the time to even click onto this page to see what I was rambling on about.

Now it is time to move onto the next chapter of my life.

Thank you. Hvala puno.


Saturday, 19 January 2013

Some more Saturday Satires - Mujo and Haso

Mujo and Haso are sitting at a park bench.

Mujo asks Haso: "Why are we here and not helping our wives?"

Haso responds: "We don't need to - it's their job. They only know how to clean and have sex!"

Mujo stands up in a hurry. Haso asks: "Mujo, where are you going?"

Mujo replies: "Running home, my wife doesn't know how to clean."

Friday, 18 January 2013

BiH in 65th place for most peaceful nations

Global Peace Index Rankings map, 2012.
(Source: Wikipedia)
Here's an interesting statistic that was brought to my attention by Bosnian portal Klix earlier this afternoon.

According to the Global Peace Index (GPI) for 2012, which was published in June last year by the Institute for Economics and Peace, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) ranks as the 65th most peaceful nation in the world.

Iceland came in at first place out of the 158 countries surveyed, followed closely by Denmark and New Zealand in equal-second, with the most dangerous nation on the planet deemed to be Somalia.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Dzeko: 'Za moje mahalce'

Some of you probably caught this at the weekend, however, here is a photo of the celebration from Bosnian footballer Edin Dzeko as he scored for his Manchester City side in their 2-0 win away to Arsenal.

After finding the back of the net, Dzeko ran towards a camera and lifted his jersey to reveal an under-shirt reading 'Za moje mahalce.'


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Film: ZENICA (1957)

(Source: ZenicaBlog)
Along with the film 'Uzavreli Grad' ('Burning City'), 'ZENICA' is one of the best-known feature-length movies about the city created during the mid-twentieth century.

Filmed in 1957 -- no less than 56 years ago -- the 78-minute black-and-white production revolves around the industrialisation of Zenica, which is also widely referred to as Steel City due to its long history of metal production.

Although the film is obviously in Bosnian language, and therefore a large number of you (including me!) will not be able to understand much, it is still worth skipping through the video and checking out the scenery of this city as it was more than half a century ago.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Aussie in Bosnia reaches 200 posts!

Following the tens of thousands viewers we have acclaimed over the past six-and-a-half months, the Aussie in Bosnia blog has knocked over another milestone today, reaching the 200-post mark.

I can tell you first-hand it has been a journey that was far from easy; but one that I have enjoyed throughout.

Hopefully you will all stick around a bit longer - and, hey, thanks for staying with me on the ride for this long!

Balkan Quiz - Week Seven

QUESTIONS (1 point):
  1. Recently performing shows in Australia, turbo-folk singer 'Ceca' hails from which nation?
  2. What is the name of the Croatian TV Soap Opera which has been sold to over 17 countries and was turned into a film titled 'Izgubljeni Princ' last year? (Hint: 'Larin ......'?)
  3. 'Karlovacko' is a beer originating from the city of Karlovac. In which country is Karlovac located?
  4. Which USA state is home to two cevapi restaurants known as 'Cevabdzinica Sarajevo'?
  5. Which Sarajevo institution last week celebrated 476 years of continuous operation?
  6. Which major international airline began running commercial flights last year between Zagreb and the Middle East, via Budapest?
  7. TRUE OR FALSE? The Austro-Hungarian Empire ruled Bosnia and Herzegovina until 1941.
  8. As part of their EURO Gap Year program, Australian TV personalities 'Hamish and Andy' jumped from the Stari Most ('Old Bridge') in which Bosnian city?
  9. What am I asking for if I say, "Moze li jedna kafa?"?
  10. Yugoslavia were eliminated from the 1990 Football World Cup by which South American nation?
BONUS (3 points):
  1. What food is this called?

[**Click 'Read more' - or scroll - for answers >>**]

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Things I'll Miss About Bosnia: #9

Free time in Bosnia allowed me to catch up with my Aussie
mate Dimitri Hantas on several occasions to discuss, among
other things, all to do with the local lifestyle.

Spare time for reflection

"Every cloud has a silver lining."

It is a quote that has survived centuries, and one that I find perfectly apt to describe the current situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Whilst this country has many -- and I mean many -- problems, it simultaneously possesses some unique traits which should be appreciated by the inhabitants here.

(The jury might come out after what I am about to say, but here goes anyway.)

So, what specific so-called traits am I referring to?

It's quite simple: the mass amounts of free time Bosnians have, allowing one to live their life free of the numerous obligations which tie down many of us Australians (or Westerners, even).

Woah, woah .. step back, bolan. I know this is not all good news.

Friday, 11 January 2013

A Few Friday Funnies - Mujo and Haso

It's been a pretty slow day, so lets brighten it up a little bit with some Mujo and Haso gags.

Mujo and Haso catch kids smoking cigarettes.
- What are you doing!?
- Do you know smoking takes away 50% of your life!? How old are you?
- 12.
- Well if you hadn't smoked, you would be 24 now!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Dear Bosnia, where is the snow!?

Snowfall in Sarajevo during 2012. On a side note, this is
quite possibly the street I was residing in during my few
months in Sarajevo last year.
When there was no snow on Christmas Day, I was disappointed, but re-assured myself: "Don't worry, mate, there'll probably be some snowfall on New Year's Eve."

There wasn't.

Now we are ten days into January and there is still no snow - at least not here in Zenica.

Early yesterday morning, there was a bit of a fall, but it was all too brief, with all build-up melting away in minutes as soon as the sun reared itself.

With my return to Australia merely a matter of weeks away, I am starting to ponder if I will ever see a decent snowfall here again.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

VIDEO: Yugoslavia at 1990 Football World Cup

Take a look at this video of the old Yugoslavian national football side which made it to the Quarter-Finals of the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

Facing stiff opposition in Argentina -- led by Diego Maradona, no less -- the Yugoslavs lost out 2-3 on penalties after holding the South Americans to a 0-0 stalemate throughout normal time.

As seen on this video, the Yugoslavs actually had a chance to go ahead 3-2 in the penalty shoot-out when Dragoljub Brnovic stepped up to the spot, however his shot was parried away by Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Goycoechea.

Sadly -- at least for Yugoslavia -- Argentina would go on to win the shoot-out and face tournament hosts Italy in the semi-final (who they also defeated on penalties, before being defeated in the final by West Germany).

A friend recently uttered to me his belief that the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia, several years after the 1990 World Cup, could possibly have been avoided had the Yugoslavs somehow been successful in Italy.

Really, who knows?

That is a proposition far beyond my capabilities to answer, so lets just watch the video.

(If only Brnovic had shot to the right, eh!?)

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Sarajevo's Gazi Husrev-Beg Madrasa turns 476

The Gazi Husrev-Beg Madrasa in Sarajevo.
The oldest educational institution in Bosnia-Herzegovina celebrated its 476th birthday today.

The Gazi Husrev-Beg Madrasa, located in the old Turkish quarter of Sarajevo, has been in continuous operation since its foundation on January 8, 1537.

A vocational school specialising in the teachings of Islam -- whilst retaining much of the traditional curriculum taught across other BiH institutions -- the Madrasa was established by Gazi Husrev-Beg, the grandson of Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II.

Since its inception, the school has been credited as shaping the lives and careers of many prominent Bosnian identities, with its honour roll including the nation's Grand Mufti, Husein Kavazovic, as well as the current Mayor of Zenica, Husejin Smajlovic.

Both men were present at a Sarajevo ceremony today to celebrate the anniversary, with Kavazovic telling an audience of the effect the Madrasa had on his life.

"In this school I spent four years," Kavazovic said. "The best in my life happened right here under this roof.

"This school has shaped my life and was always with me. The thing that will remain with those of us who attended this school is the generosity of the people who raised and taught us."

For a greater history lesson on the Gazi Husrev-Beg Madrasa, check out THIS 2008 piece from 'Hijab-Bosnia.'

Monday, 7 January 2013

Srecan Bozic

A very big Merry Christmas or Srecan Bozic to all Orthodox Christians out there who are today marking Christmas, according to the Julian calendar.

Here is a photo from David Ruvic (REUTERS) showing Bosnian Serbs praying in a Zenica church on the eve of Orthodox Christmas:

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Balkan Quiz - Week Six

After hearing a couple of murmurs that the previous quizzes were, well, "too bloody hard," I have tried to make this week's instalment a little bit easier for you all (but - hey - not too easy!).

Good luck!

       QUESTIONS (1 point):
  1. TRUE OR FALSE?: The An Aussie in Bosnia blog has never been named anything else.
  2. I celebrated the 2013 New Year in which Bosnian city?
  3. 'Luk' often makes people cry when looking at it. What is the English translation of 'luk'?
  4. What are the two traditional colours of the Celik Zenica football side?
  5. Bosanska Gradiska is a Bosnian town bordering which neighbouring nation?
  6. What is the capital city of the Republic of Macedonia?
  7. NK Maribor are a football club from which ex-Yugoslav nation?
  8. Which Balkan city was known as Titograd between 1946 and 1992?
  9. Which internationally-renowned Irish rock-star reportedly dined with the Bosnian foreign minister - among others - for the 1996 New Year in Sarajevo?
  10. Which Macedonian multi-genre musician was killed in a car crash in Croatia during 2007?
       BONUS (3 points):
  1. Who is this?

[**Click 'Read more' - or scroll - for answers >>**]

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Two Saturday Satires - Mujo, Haso, Fata and Suljo

These jokes should provide
you with some comic relief.
Mujo and Fata are sitting in a cafe drinking coffee. Suddenly, an attractive blonde girl approaches Mujo and kisses him.

Fata, surprised, asks Mujo:
- Tell me, who is this girl?

Mujo answers:
- Well, this is my mistress.

A bit confused, Fata asks:
- And what is a mistress?

So Mujo explains to Fata that, in a modern world, every man has a mistress. Fata listens to him and falls silent. After some time, Mujo points at an attractive brunette sitting a few tables away.
- Look, Fata, there is Suljo's mistress.

Fata responds with pride in her voice:
- Well, I must say that our mistress is much prettier.

Friday, 4 January 2013

New Year 2013 in Sarajevo

Who would have thought?

It is 2013 already. Another New Year's Eve has gone just as quickly as it had come.

Now, we're not interested in being all 'mopey' and sad about it. We want to know: how were your celebrations?
The stage is set and in place outside Sarajevo's BBI Centar
hours before New Year's Eve celebrations are due to kick off.

Were they what you expected to be? Was it all just the same as other years? Did you do anything?

Personally, I am not much of a New Year's Eve fan.

There have been some occasions where I have gone all-out and celebrated in style -- spending hundreds of Aussie dollars on tickets to world-famous DJs -- but there have been plenty more times where I have been content to sit at home and save my money, or even spend the night on the job!

However, unlike the previous twenty New Year's during my lifetime, I found myself located on the other side of the world on this occasion. In the city of Sarajevo, no less.

Alright then, do I sit inside and put my feet up all night? Heck no! I go out and experience how this city and its people celebrate this event!

Top 10 most popular articles in 2012

There's little doubting 2012 was a special year for myself. Among the many events which were going on in my life last year, creating the Aussie in Bosnia page ranks up there as one of the most memorable.

Since its launch in June, 189 posts have been published on the blog, in the process attracting in excess of 33,000 views, at an average of more than 170 views per day.

Listed here are the 10 most popular Aussie in Bosnia articles from 2012.

Taking out the top two spots were stories about Senad Hadzic's trek on foot from his northern Bosnian home-town to the Saudi city of Mecca as part of the Islamic Hajj pilgrimage.

Also featuring highly were articles I penned involving some of my personal experiences in Bosnia, including my first introduction to the Bajram (Bayram) religious holiday, as well as attending a local football match in Zenica.

1. Senad Hadzic closes in on Saudi Arabia - 2025 hits

Readers back BiH to reach football World Cup

More than 68 percent of readers believe BiH has what it
takes to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
After more than a month of voting, Aussie in Bosnia readers have overwhelmingly backed Bosnia's national football side to reach the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

A total of 52 votes were tallied for the question, 'Will Bosnia-Herzegovina qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil?', with more than 2 out of 3 voters believing the 'Zmajevi' side has what it takes to qualify for their first-ever major international tournament.

Only two people think BiH will fail in their task, while another two are of the opinion that it is all just a bit too difficult to decide whether the footballers will succeed.

A large portion of you - one-quarter, in fact - were obviously nursing 'grumbly' or empty stomachs when answering the poll question, indicating you did not care too much about the World Cup fate of Bosnia's football team - you simply wanted a taste of cevapi.

Hmm, can't really blame you for feeling that way!