Monday, November 30, 2009

The Druid Photographer

Yesterday I showed you a photo of a camera man with a state-of-the art tripod. Today I am presenting you with a 'druid' photographer, or so I have named the chap I 'shot' yesterday in Kalemegdan park. I have no idea why he was dressed like this. If you enlarge the photo, you'll see he has a little video camera perched on top of his 'tripod,' which is really an old-fashioned plant stand. I took this photo from a distance, and the 'druid' had a lady with him, who dashed behind him when she saw me. I watched for a while....he started the camera, then walked in front of it down the path, accompanied by the lady, also cloaked in black. Then he ran back, started it again, and they moved toward the camera. The lady glanced nervously at me from time to time, though I had holstered my camera.

And why the lab coat underneath? I would have asked, except I didn't think she'd like it...

Any guesses?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reciprocity

A week ago, an article appeared in a local newspaper, the theme being about me, a long-term expat in Belgrade. One of the consequences of that article (aside from being stopped by lots of people at my local green market and receiving many phone calls!) was a phone call from a TV station reporter who wanted to feature me today (7:30 p.m. local time, 'Pink' TV!) on the same topic.

We met on Friday in a park not far from where I work, and did the usual bla, bla. At one point, the cameraman wanted me to 'pretend' I was taking some photos (I always have my camera with me, and they knew I have this blog), so I obliged him...and also got him for today's post.

Fair's fair!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A bouquet you do not want to get.


Not a happy photo today. I took this one from my car, while deadlocked in a line of cars to cross a bridge I go over every day. Some sort of student protest caused a major jam.
It's the custom here to put flowers and even sometimes a little plaque or small monument where someone was killed on the highway. Unfortunately, you see these quite often.
Serbia has a high rate of car accidents relative to the overall European average, and anyone who has driven here will tell you that's for sure true. Authorities cite poor road conditions, lack of signals, poor vehicle maintenance, speeding, and drunk driving. Roads are often poorly maintained, especially in rural areas. During winter months, fog can obscure visibility while driving. The use of seat belts is mandatory, but not many use them, and the kids I see standing up in the rear between the two front seats make me shudder. A driver with a blood alcohol level higher than 0.05% is considered intoxicated.

Friday, November 27, 2009

SKYWATCH FRIDAY--Moon over urban landscape

Fiddling with a fish-eye attachment (not sure I want to splurge on a real lens) yielded this Skywatch Friday shot from a friend's balcony during the last full moon. There are no stars visible here; all washed out by the lights on the ground. It's at times like this when I recall the NATO bombing blackouts....lots of stars visible then!

Why don't you join SKYWATCH FRIDAY?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

No turkey for me today, since I am working and can't possibly celebrate in style, so I am doing Thanksgiving this Saturday! But I am thankful today for many things: my wonderful children, friends I've known for many years, new friends I've made through blogging and in recent years, my so-far good health, and for my husband, now gone, but who remains with me every day.

I'm also thankful right now that the little dog, Jackson, that I took in off the street has found a home. A colleague of mine adopted him, and in this photo you see him playing in his new home with her dog, Borko. The two are perfectly suited; it's a perpetual game to see who runs out of energy first. By the way, that's a happy show of teeth on Jackson's part.

Are you counting your blessings today?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

ABC Wednesday--"S" is for "Sonorous Saturday"

It's that time of year again....the season of 'slavas,' which are Orthodox Serbs' saints' days. I've explained last year. Some of the local Roma or gypsy population here wander through neighborhoods trying to earn some money by playing music. One definition of 'sonorous' is
"full and loud, deep, heavy sounds," and these two guys played true to form last Saturday afternoon, the day of the Saint Archangel slava. Like others in my building, I clipped some money with a clothespin and tossed it down to them. You can see that the drummer spotted me and my camera...!

Post your entry for ABC WEDNESDAY!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Feeling lucky?

The girl on the ball behind the car is saying, "I'm telling you, if you don't play, you won't win." That's true. I'm not a gambler, but I do keep saying, "Ah, when I win the lottery..."

I think I should choose a set of numbers and always play them... I'll let you know what happens.

Do you play Lotto or any 'big money' games?

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Potato Seller

This is a dedication to my favorite artist, Vincent van Gogh, who painted The Potato Eaters. This is The Potato Seller, sitting and smoking on sacks of spuds (how's that for alliteration?) You'll see he has a sack of onions thrown in for good measure.

This fellow is a regular seller beside an open market near where I live. You can also see that automobiles park all over the sidewalks, if they can get away with it. That is not the fellow's car you see behind him.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Roast lamb

I try not to think of little white wooly creatures when I devour, on a rare occasion, I must admit, roast lamb. My son took me out to dinner about a week ago at a new ethno restaurant called Pahuljica or "Snowflake." Ethno restaurants, serving home-cooked, 'like Grandma used to make' dishes, are the in thing now among Belgraders and tourists flock to them. This roast lamb was served over potatoes that had been roasted below the entire lamb, absorbing its juices. Added were a red roast pepper below, and a fresh green one on top. Sorry the photo is a little blurry....my hands wanted to hold the knife and fork, not the camera.....


If you read Serbian, check out the restaurant at this link. If you don't, have a look at the photos right here, but you won't see any food....I'll go back...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Have you hugged a turtle today?

Forget those warm, fuzzy teddy bears--turtles are the ones to hug, or so it seems from this photo. I took this photo with my zoom while enjoying an afternoon of reasonably and unseasonably warm weather at an outdoor cafe. I was too lazy to get up and see what was written on the turtle's shell when he ambled off in the other direction...out of zoom range.


Friday, November 20, 2009

SKYWATCH FRIDAY--GRAY SKY

Not a pretty sky in comparison with what most Skywatchers show, but although I changed this photo to black and white, it didn't look too much different in the color version. It was a chilly, gray morning...

To see other skies, probably in color, have a look at SKYWATCH

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Drawing on the window....

The other day I had the opportunity to chaperone two kindergarten classes from our school on a trip to the Ethnographic Museum. The 25 or so kids were much better behaved than some of the older classes I'd helped before...and so, so interested in everything in the museum and out.

This little girl, the daughter of a colleague of mine, was happily puffing on the window and drawing little pictures....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

ABC WEDNESDAY-R is for Reputation

It's not an obvious R here, but 'na dobrom glasu' means 'a good reputation,' and is also a play on words for this billboard advertising Fitosept, a throat lozenge. 'Dobrom glasu' can also mean 'a good voice,' which is what you will allegedly get back if you suck on Fitosept.

P.S. I don't think you have to balance the lozenge like that.... ;)

Join ABC WEDNESDAY!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

'Opanci'

I photographed these opanci (OH-pahn-tsee) that I showed you once before here at the Ethnographic Museum downtown. Please click on that link, for there are some wonderful photographs of the exhibits inside. A museum not to miss should you come to Belgrade.
downtown.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Vasa Čarapić

Vasa Čarapić (VA-sah CHAR-ah-peech) was a famous general born in 1770 on Avala mountain, which overlooks Belgrade. He died in 1806 in the struggle for the liberation of Belgrade from the Turks. His last name comes from the word čarapa, which means 'sock,' and the story goes that one of his ancestors accidentally killed a Turk's dog, and in compensation, the Turk demanded a large sum of money. The money was collected and sent to him not in a sack, but in a sock.

I like how his cape is echoed by the roll-down blinds on the windows of the building behind him.

Does your last name mean anything?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Moving van


This car is a moving van wannabe, with the sofa balancing precariously on its roof, and a washing machine stuffed into the trunk. Watch out for those speed bumps!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

All the news that's fit to print

"All the news that's fit to print" is the motto of the New York Times. Not sure if the text on this bra and panties was taken from the NYT, and I wonder if anyone will take the time to read it.


Friday, November 13, 2009

SKYWATCH FRIDAY--Pink streaks!

Days are getting shorter and shorter... Recently from inside a restaurant I snapped this photo of the trails two airplanes had left on the violet sky.

Join SKYWATCH FRIDAY.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Things go better with Coca-cola!

...or should that be "Cars go better with Coke?" I had to pull over at a distance from this parked car last weekend to take this photo. The gas and motor oil on the roof reminded me so much of how gasoline was sold during the sanctions imposed on then Yugoslavia, and the subsequent bombing of Serbia. Gasoline was more than scarce, and was smuggled in from neighboring countries. It was possible to buy it as you see it here, by the Coke bottle, but more often such bottles were advertisements that more of the brew was available in larger quantities. Gasoline 'merchants' even provided home delivery, and people kept large canisters on their porches. This made me very uneasy, since Serbs smoke big time, and often flick cigarette butts off their balconies...

This lady (yep, a lady's sitting in there) probably has a steady clientele. By the way, I hadn't realized gasoline is pretty much colorless, and it's the additives that give it color. Don't know what the red one is.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

ABC Wednesday--Q is for 'Querent'

Actually, the 'querent' is not in this photo. The querent took it, since the word means, 'one who asks a question' (another 'q'). I asked the lady selling this enormous pumpkin how much the entire one weighed. "About 25 kilos," she answered, which is about 55 pounds.

One of these wedges, which baked, will make about 3-4 pumpkin pies. I make mine from scratch this way.

Join ABC WEDNESDAY!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Minjoni" for Katarina in Canada

Today's photo fulfills a request from Katarina in Canada, who wrote the following to me:

"I am a Belgrader by birth who has been living in Canada since the age of 9. I love your blog and read it almost every day! One of the things I miss the most about Belgrade is minjoni, and the Petkovic pastry shop on Takovska (number 18, I think) makes the best ones!! The little pastel-coloured fondant squares in the little crinkle papers bring back so many memories to me and I make sure to have them every time I go back to BGD..."

I was more than happy to oblige Katarina, and as you see, I bit into one (just for the sake of art, of course, so you could see the inside...), and by the time you read this, the 'petits fours' called minjoni (MEEN-yo-nee) here, will be history. I've eaten these little cakes before here in Belgrade, but Petkovic's bakery really does make good ones. They're not overly sweet, and the crust is just crunchy enough.... (Minjoni most probably got their name from the French word "mignon," meaning cute, or in the sense of filet mignon, "dainty.")

Anyone have any other requests???

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Berlin Wall in Belgrade, or 'Gone with the Wind'

Like many other cities in Europe aside from Berlin, 'Berlin Walls' were constructed to be torn down today, November 9th, on the 20th anniversary of the real wall's fall. In cooperation with the Goethe Institute here, German artist Frank Betler constructed a heavy cardboard 'brick' wall on Republic Square over two days' time. It was 40 meters long and three meters high. On this link you can see the artist at work, on a bright sunny day. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans for the wall, and right here you can see the result of strong winds and snow that hit the city on November 3rd. At that point, the wall was not completely damaged, and would have stood until the 9th when the rest would have been knocked down, but (and this is unofficial, but reasonably reliable), there were reports of late-night hooliganism that involved leaping over the wall and knocking it down.

So here you see the wall all packed up. Under the plastic are the remaining flattened cardboard boxes, and the poster panels are lying beside them.

Addendum: I'm adding this after the 8th comment. This morning I saw that now instead of the collapsed wall will be a 'Berlin Museum' that will be opened this evening by the German Ambassador. In this small 'museum' will be photographs of the original Berlin Wall and other memorabilia. If you want to see it, go:here.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Women's rights

With several of my past photos having been taken out my automobile window, you must think I spend my waking hours in a car. I was actually a passenger when I took this photo. Belgrade Boys are a particular group of Red Star soccer team fans gone bad...hooligans in the worst sense, but this blog isn't the place to go into that. Google if you like.

Not a group to emulate, and I can only hope that the 'girls' simply wanted a voice.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Serbian Orthodox "All Souls' Day"

Today is All Souls' Day for members of the Serbian Orthodox faith. It's actually called Zadušnice, which doesn't really translate as All Souls' Day, but the idea is basically the same, except zadušnice happen (the word is a plural) four times a year. These are days when when people visit the graves of loved ones, light candles for the souls of the dead, and offer food and drink at the graveside. These days always fall on a Saturday, usually on a second Saturday before the beginning of the Lenten season (Easter and Christmas, since Orthodox Serbs avoid fats during those periods), the Saturday before the Holy Trinity Day, (12th October), and Saint Demetrius Day (8th November).

This photo was taken looking away from my husband's grave that my son and I visited.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Skywatch Friday--Serbia from the Heart

Not your typical Skywatch for sure, but there are two skies in this photograph. One is idyllic, with a beautiful Serbian girl and bucolic scene proclaiming "Serbia from the Heart".

The scene below, with a hazy sky, depicts what I call 'the fringe factor' of New Belgrade's flea market. The actual flea market is behind the blue fence and back a bit. It is not a flea market in the true sense, but rather sells new goods, some real, some fake. If you wish to sell there, you need to rent a stand.

However, just outside its gate, stretch along the boulevard and under the railroad overpass, you will find masses of people, trying to make a few dinars selling what you would find on a true flea market, but not nearly as valuable. You can literally find the proverbial kitchen sink here.

(Did I say I took this from the car again while stopped at a red light...?)

You should join SKYWATCH.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What do you do in the bus?

Or perhaps you don't take the bus? Sometimes I do, and sometimes I take my car, like I did when I snapped this photo at a red light....I do this a lot.

The gentleman is reading a newspaper while another passenger reads over his shoulder. The lady in front is pick...uh, scratching her nose, another lady appears lost in her thoughts, and I can't make out what the silhouetted mystery figure is doing.

Perhaps she is watching me.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

ABC Wednesday --"P" is for "Popcorn"

I just love popcorn, all warm and salty, no butter, thank you. This stand, one of many in of a chain of them called "Pećina" (PEH-cheen-ya--another 'P'!) or 'cave,' stands across from the Cervantes Institute on Knez Mihailova, Belgrade's pedestrian street. A small bag (just enough for a quick tummy-filler) costs 30 dinars, or just under 50 cents, and you can see the prices go up from there. You can also buy a about a pound (500 grams) of unpopped kernels to take home. I love Pećina's because it is popped in a metal spinner that has just the right amount of oil so that it's not too greasy and not too dry. And I really like how they chain the little salt shaker to the stand.... (In the cup are little pieces of paper with contact info.)

Which reminds me: Once at school I was telling my class how I had made popcorn the night before and had had just enough oil for the pot to make the popcorn I had left. I got blank stares, puzzled looks..."What pot?" they asked. "Oil?"

These are kids who only know microwaved popcorn or who use an air popper.... I explained how I waited for the burner to be hot, then put in just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot, next a layer of popcorn to cover that, slapped on the lid, and shook the pot back and forth over the burner.

You could have heard a pin drop. "Can we make it like that sometime?" And so we did.

Join ABC Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Puzzling....

Yesterday's post involved a word/puzzle game, and today we have a jigsaw puzzle wall. The pieces are heavy nylon, and enclose a children's play area in a nearby suburb. Snapped from the car again while at a red light!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Hey, dude, where are my vowels?

Do you play Scrabble? I do, and sometimes I cart my Scrabble game over to an English friend's house to play. Like many other players, we sometimes draw impossible combinations in English, and I think I will suggest to her next time that we can also use Serbian words, since that's a pretty good way to use those letters that never seem to go together, at least without an a,e,i, o, or u. In Serbian, r's often serve as vowels along with the standard ones, being trilled on the tip of the tongue, not in your throat like the French ones. I've used my American set here, but since letters are given values for their frequency, the values on a Serbian set wouldn't necessarily be the same as the ones you can see here (some have accents on, but of course not here), lying on Morton-Benson's Dictionary.

Here's what they mean:
  • trg--a square, open place
  • krv--blood
  • trk--race, gallop
  • grb--a crest, like a family one
  • prst--finger
  • smrt--death
  • cvrst--strong
  • srz--marrow
  • cilj--a goal
  • rdja--rust
  • grm--a shrub
  • hleb--bread

If you read Serbian, you can read about Mattel's plans for Serbian Scrabble right here, since right now I've only seen 'Skrebl' in what must be a pirated edition.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Theme Day--Doorways--All aboard!

Not a fantastically beautiful doorway, but it caught my eye the other day while passing by. This is the side entrance to Belgrade's main train station, which I had shown you the other day, or at least part of it, right here!


Today is Theme day!
Click here to view thumbnails for all participants

TEXTING AT HOTEL MOSKVA

 It was 11 a.m.  This man had just finished a glass of white wine and an espresso, and now took to his phone.  And I to my camera. (I did NO...