will you be honest and say what(or who) makes you really angry here in serbia? be honest... how do you like people here?I've heard this question dozens of times (seems like thousands), and it's hard for me to answer, partially because there's so much good here in Serbia, partially because I don't want to be an ungrateful guest, and partially because I just don't get "really angry." No matter how many times I duck the question, it keeps coming back; Serbs seem to have this masochistic desire to hear foreigners say horrible things about Serbia. Do they want the chance to defend their country against a foreigner's misunderstandings? Do they hate their country, and want independent confirmation that their own anti-patriotic feelings are warranted? Personally, I believe the key is in that "be honest" that so often accompanies the question: maybe they think that positive comments are flattery, meant to conceal the negative, "honest" truth. So, anonymous commenter, I hope you're not too disappointed to learn that I really do like it here. The people are great - as I've often said, when you make friends with Serbs, you feel that they'd do anything for you. To understand my perspective, keep in mind that I lived in an apartment building in Brookline, Massachusetts with 40 other apartments and I never met my neighbors. Here in Serbia, that kind of social isolation is impossible. When I went a couple of weeks without visiting my landlady for coffee, she stopped by and said, "What's wrong? Are you angry with me? Please have some of this cake!" I've been invited to Christmas and Slava, I've appeared on TV and in the newspaper, and I've met all sorts of interesting people - because they came looking for me. Spending so much time with so many people, I've noticed that Serbs talk about politics all the time. Of course, this is because politics effects people's lives in a very direct way: everything from the NATO bombing to the Eurosong competition bears the mark of Serbian politics, and you have to talk about it because you couldn't ignore it even if you wanted to. Luckily for me, I don't really want to. Some foreigners get frustrated with the nonstop politics, but I sort of enjoy it. (I guess it's in my nature. The other day was my mom's birthday and I called her to wish her a happy day, and we ended up discussing President Bush's newest non-plan for Iraq.) So I'm quite happy to talk politics with Serbs. Here's what does frustrate me, though:
- I'll never go to Kosovo/Montenegro myself, but Serbia can't exist without it.
- Albanians/Bosnians/"Turks" are not normal people.
- Albanians/Bosnians/Muslims are taking over the world.
- The Hague/Western media/historians are all anti-Serbian.
- I miss the good old days of Milosevic/Tito/Milos Obrenovic.
- Europe/America/everyone hates Serbs.