Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Previously, I wrote about a car that went around one day announcing something over a loudspeaker. It so happens that that day was the first day after daylight saving time, and that we were supposed to turn our clocks back. I hazarded a guess that the announcement might have been a reminder to be sure our clocks were changed. In tonight's American Corner conversation group, I was informed that this was not the case. Thanks to one reader of this blog who was present at the conversation group, I learned that, as in the US, the beginning and end of daylight saving time are announced in Serbian TV and newspapers, but that cars with loudspeakers are usually used to advertise some political candidate or upcoming nightclub party.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Odds and ends from my last month of not blogging

  • As a foreigner in a place like Kragujevac, which has relatively few foreigners, it's amazingly easy to meet interesting people. Within the same week, we went out with one of my colleagues, who's on his way to becoming a professor of Slavic historical linguistics; a prominent American law professor/death penalty activist who's working to reform the Serbian court system and guest lecturing in about four law schools here; and the former Pakistani ambassador to Nigeria. This last guy is particularly interesting; he moved here with his wife, who is from here, so that their 2-year-old twins could be close to her family. As a result, he seems starved for English-speaking contact, so while the kids played with their Serbian nanny and his Macedonian cook prepared a Pakistani meal, he picked my brain about the US political scene.
  • One of the common questions I get from Serbians is "What do you think of our music?" Usually they're thinking of the turbo-folk music I wrote about last time, but I've been educating myself on Serbian music so I can tell them about what I do like. In addition to the folk music from the kafana, I've heard some Serbian techno and Gypsy brass music, both of which I like a lot. Plus, last night Meaghan and I went to a performance of traditional music and dancing. It was just what we couldn't find when we looked for flamenco in Seville: local people performing their own traditional music for each other, not for tourists. It was a series of ten or eleven troupes, some of which danced like wedding guests, while others did very athletic performances with spinning and leaping, and still others seemed to be reenacting fairy tales. The costumes were great; we especially liked the guys wearing hats that looked like shaggy sheep skins.
  • I heard a great joke from one of my students: An Englishman, a German, and a Serb are stranded on a desert island when a magic fish comes by and says to them, "I will grant each of you one wish." "OK," says the Englishman, "send me home to England." And he disappears. "And send me home to Germany," says the German. He, likewise, disappears. Some time passes. Then, the Serb says to the fish, "I'm bored - bring those two guys back here."