Thursday, April 21, 2011

updating URL

I see some of my friends are coming here, now and then, to check for updates.

I'm considering changing the URL to a slightly less-aggressive

If suddenly you find this blog non-existent, try

Friday, April 8, 2011


Belgrade is a truly filthy city.

This post is probably useless with out pics.

most people drive cars that wouldn't be allowed on the road in the civilized world.  Smoke from cars blackens the facades of buildings.  Belgrade means "white city".  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Dark-grey city would be more accurate.  Belgrade has a population of about 2 million.  The air pollution is that of a city 10X its size.

Graffiti is everywhere, most of it some kind of fascistic stamp (speaking to an entirely different variety of filth). 

The main tourist information centre had "death to fags" written in front of it for about 8 months.  In Serbia "death to fags" written on a wall isn't particularly controversial.  After a 500-strong gay-pride parade walking around one block, thousands of thugs rampaged the city chanting "kill, kill, kill the fags" click here.  I digress.

There might be more to be said on this.

stay tuned.

"why didn't you tell me before"

All of Serbia has gone to the Basil Fawlty school of customer service.

There is deep confusion amongst servers as to who is serving whom in any sort of customer-service situation.

the situation I'll describe is very, very, very common.  I try to take it in stride.  I've formulated all sorts of clever responses.  I've practised them in front of the mirror.  But, for some reason, whenever it happens, it surprises me.  I fill with rage and imagine many violent things I probably shouldn't describe here.

some variation on this:

me:  May I please have such-and-such?
....  oh...  wait a moment.  I'd like this too.

server:  (angrily) WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME BEFORE!?

Could you imagine such a scenario at a North American bank?  (or anywhere, really).

"I'd like to change this $1000 into local currency"
-she reaches for a stack of $50 bills.

me: oh,  could you please give me 20s?


Seriously...  This happens 3 times a week:  Bankers, waiters, store clerks, everyone!


Friday, March 25, 2011

March update.

People are asking me if I have forgotten my blog.

I haven't.

It's just that I find I do my best writing when I'm feeling the hate and, while I'm feeling the hate, it's just not intense enough these days.  Plus, since I'm not at the "want to kill randoms" stage yet, I don't want to jinx it.

But I'm sure I'll have a post soon.

Stay tuned for "Serbian propensity for believing profoundly stupid shit"

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The inevitable question

The inevitable question of people reading this, those familiar with Serbia and those not, will by "why am I living there if I hate it so much".

All I can say is I have my reasons, and they're good ones  :)

Life in Serbia is "freer" than in most places.

I seriously have no idea where Serbs come up with some of the crap they love repeating to each other.

I'm informed regularly that "life in Serbia is freer than in other countries" (usually some ubiquitous "the west").

This is such profound nonsense, I'm usually speechless when I hear this.

What could possibly be meant by this?

It's possible that they're talking about throwing trash out your window or, maybe, chain-smoking in the delivery room of a hospital.  Certainly one is free to drive a car that spits out black smoke from the tailpipe - the air quality in Belgrade is abysmal.  One is definitely freer to smash and burn the whole city centre in response to a 500-strong gay-pride parade marching around 1 block.  It could be that.

I think, maybe, this is what people who have emigrated from Serbia, failed at life in whichever country took them in and return to Serbia triumphantly say to people, who, in turn, then proudly repeat it to anyone who'll listen.

It's really the only thing I can think of, at this point, other than it's just something Serbs pull from their asses.

Perhaps if you're reading this and you think life in Serbia is "freer" than in other countries, you can comment on this post and tell me why you think such a thing.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Clearly, you haven't read enough history

You can have as much of the following conversation as you like in Serbia:

Random Serb:  Belgrade is the centre of the earth!  It's at the crossroads of civilization.  Belgrade has had it's hard times, but it is about to reclaim it's rightful place as the financial, business, industrial, transportation and cultural centre of Europe, if not the world.

me:  huh?  Why do you think that?  Serbia has the worst economy in the region, average monthly wage is $400, it's infrastructure is ancient and crumbling, the people are lazy and incompetent, it's not really central to anything.

Random Serb:  Clearly, you haven't read enough history.

endless variations on that theme.

----------- *edit*
Can also be:

anyone:  oh, look at this obvious and strange aspect about Serbia or the mentality of some Serbs.

random Serb:  clearly, you're not familiar enough with history (sometimes "geopolitics")

Serbian conceits, modern myths.

Many Serbs base their entire personal identity on demonstrably untrue myths.  Often I have had a Serb  boast to me how Serbs invented the fork in the 14th century courts of Czar Dusan.  Since forks were being used in Persia in the 8th century, this is demonstrably false.  Truth doesn't usually get in the way, however, of a Serb offering that Serbs invented the fork, usually as some sort of bombastic retort to, oh, I don't know, pretty much anything.  Say, complaining why it's such a pain to pay bills in Serbia, for example.  "yes, but Serbs invented the fork".  Serbs are quite good at proudly declaring some non-sequitor as though it's a kind of self-evident final conclusion.  Who cares about logic if you say it with sufficient pomposity.

This habit of repeating untruths until they become "common knowledge" doesn't stop with things that may or may not have happened in medieval times.  Serbs cling to certain conceits in modern times until they take on the properties of myth.

A few Serbian conceits I intend to smash soon:

1)  Belgrade has a fantastic nightlife

2)  Life in Serbia is "freer" than in most countries

Stay tuned!

"How do you like Serbia?"

It's probably an innocent question that I'm sure foreigners get asked in any country.  I shouldn't fault people for asking me.  It's really just a making-conversation thing, mostly.

But, since I have Serbian roots, people really need me to tell them that I love it.  They look up to me when they ask me why I have "returned" to my homeland.  Telling them it's to exploit cheap labour and to make money in the cracks of a broken system usually doesn't end well.

I know the right answer is to smile and say, "nice nice"

I just can't do it.

That's, basically, the purpose of this blog.  I'm going to dump all my hate into here, and when some Serb asks me how I like Belgrade, I'll be able to smile and say, with a modicum of convincingly contrived sincerity, "nice nice"

Paying bills 2

Oh yes, I forgot.

Serbs love to change the names of all their streets.  They do it every decade or so.

Basically, Serbia has a few categories of problems.

1)  Deeply rooted problems that wars, revolutions, border-changes, multiple regime changes have made impossible to fix.  Sad, but true.

2) Problems that are fixable in the distant future, but not without a lot of pain in the short and medium term

or......  you can change all the street names.

I mean, that's doing something, right?

So, the first place I lived in, had a new street name a few years before.  For some reason, the phone company started sending the bills to a different city that happened to have a street named the same as the old street name.

So, for 6 months, I had to go through the process I mentioned in the previous post - go to the phone company to get a new bill, go to the post office to pay the bill and get a receipt, go back to the phone company to pay, get the phone connected the next day.

Next month, they would deliver to the correct address.

The month after, no bill again, service gets cut off.

and again

and again

and then that "wanting to kill" feeling starts to come.

And then someone asks me, with great expectation in their eyes "How do you like Serbia?

Paying bills.

Before I start getting into the nitty-gritty of what's seriously wrong with Serbs themselves, I'll start with some trivial stories illustrating how day-to-day life in Serbia is full of stupid.

Serbia's financial system is in the dark ages.

I'm pushing middle-age and I have never, in my life, until I came to Belgrade, had to leave the house to pay any kind of bill.  Just log onto your online banking, pay your bills, when you're done, get off the toilet and get on with your day.  easy-peasy.

Before the internet, there was telephone banking.

I think, maybe, when I was in university, I was paying bills by check through the mail.

Never in my life, and I'm sure never in the life of pretty much anyone living in any civilized country, have I even had to imagine the notion of having to GO somewhere to pay a bill (we're talking telephone, electricity, internet, that kind of stuff).

In Serbia, you have to take the actual, physical bill (that you get in the mail - the kind that the postman delivers), you have to leave the house and go to the post office or bank.  You have to line up.  Then you have to be abused by the person working at the teller  (there will be more posts on this, I'm sure), you pay your will with cash (!) and then you go home.  That is, if you get a bill in the mail.  The internet companies are a bit more modern.  They email you the bill.  Then you must go to the book-store and buy a stack of blank invoices.  You must then transcribe the contents of the email onto the blank invoice (printing it out doesn't do) and then proceed with the above process.

If you forget to pay a bill one month, and you get and pay the bill the next month, you'll get your services cut off immediately.


That's right.

Because, when you get a bill, it's just for that month.  If you forgot to pay the last month, they don't tell you on your next bill.  You have to have the actual piece of paper that they had sent you the month before.

So, you just paid your bill and you find your services cut off.  What do you do?  Well, you have to go to the head office of the company who's bill you forgot to pay last month.  You must line up (of course).  You have to explain that you lost your bill and be abused by some idiot while they deign to print out another copy of your bill from the previous month.  Then you must find a post office, line up, pay for the bill and receive a receipt.  You then take that piece of paper, return to the office of the company where you had the duplicate bill printed, line up again, present your receipt to the rude worker at the teller, wait for a long time for them to do something on their computer from the 80s, and then be told that you'll have your service reconnected by the evening or the next morning.

Remember, Serbs.  In civilized countries, you do all this in a few minutes while you're squeezing out a turd on the shitter.

At first, I kind of thought it was an adventure.

Then it made me want to kill.

As of recently, I have staff to do this kind of thing.

Sill.  It kind of makes me want to kill a little, having to have a personal assistant in order to administer the most basic things you need to do in life.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

First post


This blog will be my therapy.

I'm a North American of Serbian roots currently living in Serbia due to a unique employment situation.

I hate it.  I think it's the worst place on earth.  Since I can't say these things out loud to hyper-sensitive Serbs (nor should I), nor can I post these things on my facebook, I've decided to make this blog.

This is my toxic waste dumping ground.

I single out Serbia, because I happen to live there.  I'm sure all the other former yugoslav countries are just as bad.  I didn't set this blog up to bash Serbs vis-a-vis the whole ethnic situation there.  I set it up because I think most Serbs live in some sort of fantasy-land about the country they live in, and defend these fantasies tooth-and-nail.

So, this is my place to vent.

If you're some kind of loser foreigner english teacher making $400/month in Serbia and have come here to defend your "belgrade is made of awesome" fantasy-construct, welcome.

If you're a Serb, living in Belgrade who's outraged by some foreigner telling it like it is about the squalid, god-forsaken, backwater you live in, welcome.

If you are a Serb who lives abroad and have all sorts of fantasy-notions about how things are in Belgrade or Serbia and might be offended by someone telling it like it is, welcome.

If you hate Serbs because of some kind of ethnic prejudice, this isn't the place for you