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Working on Bosnian Stories. These are personal experiences and insights about a place that has deep meaning for me, a place that I am attached to through family, through love. Stories of memories: seeds and pictures pieced together, morphed over time, with an almost magical life of their own. My infamous ghost writer seeds. I suppose it’s in the retelling that I will find out -what is truth or fiction,  hearsay …  fantasy. Snippets from the past, fiction travel, real time.  Journeys of the heart. Pictures of people, culture, food, buildings, bridges, rolling hills and rivers.  Things overheard in smokey living room political ramblings, sometimes with an anecdotal family story attached.  Mostly I like to write about my baka’s kitchen and her recipes, some times there will be less words, more photography and on occasion I allow myself to comment on current events. The war and it’s aftershocks creep in – it does, it just does.  The Bosnia I have experienced and hopefully the Bosnia I don’t know much about, will make a debut here within the ‘stories’, we can learn together.  It makes me happy that sharing something about a place I love, might inspire others to visit, who will then find their own lovely Bosnia, like I have.

blog3As a little girl, I listened to my grandfather’s tales of stara Bosnia and fell in love with the land and the people. Grandmother taught me etiquette in her tiny square kitchen and spoiled me with food. Hers was a different kind of hallowed space, tight knit and feminine, simultaneously secretive and gostoprimljiv in the way women form those parts of the world have perfected over centuries. Steaming plates of soup, gloriously delicate pita, perfect Baklava, golden palacinke, herbs in tight bundles, these were the stories Baka gave me. I miss her and her sparse sparrow kisses every single day.

blog2Stories often take on mythical proportions in Bosnia and so they do in my memory. Fierce, funny, exaggerated, ridiculous, passionate, hot tempered, sometimes completely insane and rarely delicate except when singing, or drunk with love.  Always hard workers, truthful, righteous, tearful, obstinate, obtuse and very often playful. Women dancing, laughing, singing, smoking, boys drinking homemade rakija, children running, lamb and pig on the spit in the back yard, tanned arms, the smell of wood, fire and the operatic incantations of men discussing Tito; the women making coffee, coffee being the story of life and the air wafting with the miris of “how life should be”.
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There is more of course. That’s what I go back for. The rest of the story. We were not always refugees. No, not at all. Great farm lands and great forests managed by wit and backbreaking physical labor, gaggles of children, young men with strong backs and obedient nature.  Intellectuals and pious men, church builders and factory owners, hunters, foresters in the service of the Empire and secret spies on the lam. Some mixed marriages, mostly god fearing but level headed types, not cruel – orphans, tragedies, stoic mustaches, smart girls sent off to nunneries, famous hunting dogs, various saints and many beatings, whispered stories of saving Jews and a gift of tobacco seeds at the train station that saved the family in yet more turbulent times to come.

I go back. I’ll always go back.