The First shot of the First World War

April 26th, 2015

The first actual shots of the war were fired just after 1am on 29 July when Austro-Hungarian naval vessels on the river Sava opened fire on the Serbian sappers who had blown up the bridge and on Belgrade itself. Remarkably, the gunboat, the Bodrog, from which the first shots were fired still survives today, largely forgotten, moored at the side of the river Danube in Belgrade (Source: Independent.co.uk).

Today I saw this ship and indeed it is totally forgotten, you can see the picture below which I took. Serbia suffered a lot during the First World War and paid a very high price (see our website www.secanje.nl for example) , it is unbelievable that this ship is now in this state on the bank of the Danube near Ada Huja.

The ship hundred years ago:

Bodrog

The ship now, on the bank of the Danube on Ada Huja:

bodrog

26/04/2015, Beograd (Serbia) : Bodrog, the Austrian-Hungarian ship which fired the first shot of WWI

 

Serbia bites -my first steps into Belgrade-

April 2nd, 2015

Today is the book launch of a friend of us, Yvo Kühling, a Dutchmen who lives like me in Serbia.  The book is called ” Serbia bites” and some pictures of me are in it and even a text about me. It is not about that, it is about the place where the book launch is: it is in Kafana ” Suri” at Belgrade’s main railway station.10271549_798394786917417_4297182378695700796_n

As you know maybe I am a fan of railways, but it is not even about that: no I remember this place with nostalgia, because this is the place where I made my first steps in Belgrade on the 28th August 2008.

In the early evening I arrived ( I think even around 19h00) with the train on platform 1 from Zagreb. Naive as I was with my backpack I walked out of the station into the white city. What I then did not know is that 7 years later I would live in this city with my future wife. Belgrade is a great city and Serbia a great country with friendly people. Back then my ” Balkan” odyssey started not knowing where it would end….

This evening I will enjoy the book presentation of Yvo (good luck Yvo!) with my future wife, but I also think about that beautiful moment 7 years ago when I made my first steps into Belgrade here…

 

beograd 28-08-2008

Košava

October 20th, 2014

We, Dutch people like to complain about the weather, I thought they do not do that here in Serbia, but I was obviously wrong. The Serbs can complain about the weather and they do! Always nice to find something we have in common, it is also good for my integration in a Serbian society. The summer was a disaster (too cold, too much rain, but according to Dutch standards quite pretty good), the after summer was pretty ok (for the Dutch it would be summer), but it seems a cold front is now approaching as you can see the weather prediction for Belgrade below.

20-10-2014 20-40-16

The Serbs told me about Košava and when I saw the weather prediction for this week I thought maybe I go to experience my first Košava? When I first heard about it I thought about a disastrous wind, a hurricane, a tornado or whatever (come on, in the Netherlands there is a lot of wind). Košava, a beautiful name, exotic for me, but my dear Serbs told me to be aware of it, because actually it is awful.  I searched it up a bit and Wikipedia writes this about this:

 Košava  is a cold, very squally southeastern wind found in Serbia and some nearby countries. It starts in the Carpathian Mountains and follows the Danube northwest through the Iron Gate region where it gains a jet effect, then continues to Belgrade. It can spread as far north as Hungary and as far south as Niš.

Anyway, the weather is something we cannot control so we will just wait and meanwhile listen to a beautiful song :-) , with or without Košava.

Surprises every day….

October 15th, 2014

Yesterday a drone was flying in the sky carrying a flag (an extremist flag of Greater Albania, this was pure provocation) and landed in the middle of the football game Serbia-Albania.  Tanks are driving in the street, fighter jets are flying over in the Indian summer sun as preparation for the military parade which will be held tomorrow because of the liberation of Belgrade in 1944 and the remembrance of the start of the First World War.

Just a ordinary day in Belgrade, nothing special.

I live now two and a half months in Serbia with my lovely fiancé and  it seems I got a kind of rhythm in daily life now and I have to admit: Serbia surprises me every single day in a very positive way.  It are the small things in live which makes life so beautiful here, extra advantage for me as a Dutch: they do not cost any dinar ( =the local currency here).

Anyway tomorrow Putin will come, the traffic will be a mess, it will be a rainy day so enough to joke and complain about it…. I will cross the Sava river (once the border between Austria-Hungary and Serbia until 1914) via the new bridge Ada (see below).IMG_20141014_171424

Serbian azbuka -part 2

September 22nd, 2014
blic 18 09 2014

18/09/2014: Article from the Blic website.

My friend wrote on my facebook wall: you are famous ! I was pretty surprised that 24 Sata (the Serbian Metro) and Blic, two major newspapers in Serbia, took over my previous blog post on their websites.

The link from the website of 24 Sata: Kajmak, šalter, promaja i je*i ga: Stranac opisao Srbiju azbukom od A do Ш
The link from the website of Blic: Kajmak, šalter, promaja i je*i ga: Stranac opisao Srbiju azbukom od A do Ш

It was nice to read all the comments and now I feel even more welcome in Serbia!

Oh and if I may to use the freedom to just make little corrections :

Replace the “B” from ” busplus”  by ” brak”: brak means marriage in Serbian, but in Dutch it means you have a hangover…

The “V” from “Vojovodina” caused too much discussions I saw and I do not feel that it is up to me to have an opinion about that so I would replace it by “Vojnik”.

Why ” vojnik” ?
Two and half years ago I started, with the help of two friends and many others (Serbian/Dutch community in NL), a research about Serbian soldiers from the First World War who died in the Netherlands, my home country. Our website www.secanje.nl  (srpski) shows all the results we have found so far. There are many other words I can replace, like “Pivo” from “p”  (yes a good one, I am from a beer drinking country) or “Kafana” from “K” (oh I love kafanas), but in honor of your Serbian heroes I find this the most important one.

Večna im slava!

srpski vojnici

More information: www.secanje.nl

 

 

Life in Serbia according to the Serbian alphabet

September 17th, 2014

I have started living together with my fiancé in Beograd (Belgrade) the capital of Serbia.  Finally a dream has come true.  I am enjoying living here together with my lovely fiancé, but yeah I am still in a foreign country and things are not always like in my home country. Without judging , I try to sum them up via the Serbian alphabet. It starts already with the alphabet, because they have a different alphabet comparing to us in the Netherlands, so let’s start !

*First you see the letter in Serbian Cyrillic and then the Latin transcription.

Пример_српске_ћирилице

The Serbian alphabet, photo from Wikipedia( click to enlarge)

А-A from Autobus (= Bus)
Buses run through whole the country, but you need time and patience. In Belgrade there are many buses and it is my way of transport here. Every morning I take for example the 601 (beside the 65 and the 88) and it is a perfect way to test your ability to push and breath, because it is so crowded every morning. Beside this minor issue every morning (big deal, I can take also other buses, beside the 601) I somehow still like it to take the bus, but maybe it is time to grow and buy a car (a Zastava maybe? see under “Z”)

Б-B from Busplus (= an electronic ticketing system for the bus in Belgrade)
Everybody is supposed to use it, but only half of the people are using it. Nowadays the police has  to even protect the poor busplus ticket control inspectors. Anyway one day everything is going to be fine (a user and a ticket inspector on friendly terms).

busplus

A busplus card (click to enlarge)

В-V from Vojvodina (=a region in Northern-Serbia)
Vojvodina is a region in Northern-Serbia and has autonomy. Before World War I it had belonged to Austria-Hungary, since then it formed part of the Kingdom of Serbs,Croats and Slovenes, after that Kingdom of Yugoslavia, after that the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia after that to FYR Yugoslavia, after that the state union of Serbia and Montenegro and since 2006 Serbia. You can still follow it ?

Anyway it is mostly flat (almost like the Netherlands), people tend to be slower in behavior and they speak a dialect. Yeah if that last one I can recognize right now….

Г-G from Gostoprimstvo (=Hospitality)
Serbian people are really hospitable people. Don ‘t be surprised if you are invited for a drink or a lunch by somebody you just met. This hospitality is of course something beautiful. People tend to give water + coffee + special jam (and rakija if a visitor wants) when visitors come home, we decided to maintain this gesture when people come to our home.

Д –D from Dečko (=Boy)
Used in different ways. Older people tend to say this to me and I consider it a compliment. When I cross the main street near Ada every morning towards my office there is a police officer standing there who regulates the traffic. He stopped once the traffic for me and sad to me: “ hajde dečko” (go boy)….

Ђ –Đ from Đevrek (=a kind of bread)
They say it is typically Serbian and that it is the best of course. I am not in the position to object, so I won ‘ t  😉 . And yes it does taste good, that I cannot deny at all :-).

đevrek

Đevrek

Е-E  from Eskim (=Eskimo)
So far I have not spotted any Eskimos in Serbia. For sure I will spot them later when winter starts, because in Serbia everything is possible.

Ж –Ž from Železnica (=Railways)
The  Serbian Railways, officially here called Železnice Srbije, drives trains from A to B and from B to C via D to A, just like every other railway company in the world. One railway line is specifically very beautiful and is a true masterpiece of human engineering which was built under Tito’ s reign: it is the railway line from Beograd to Bar ( in Montenegro nowadays). For me as a railway fan it is a pity to see that the railways are declining in this country, but there is always hope of course. A couple of years ago  new trains were purchased from Russia and I hope more investments will be made, so I can skip the “A” (from Autobus) part.

ZS in Kraljevo

441-703 in Kraljevo for a train to Požega (click to enlarge).

З-Z from Zastava (=a flag or a brand of an ex-Yugoslav car)
The Serbian zastava below:
Flag_of_Serbia.svgAnd below a Zastava Fića made in Serbia (or in Yugoslavia?):

Zastava

A Zastava Fića in the wild in Bežanijska Koša (Novi Beograd), click to enlarge.

И-I from Izvinite (= excuse me)
I have to admit Serbs are pretty polite (more polite than in the Netherlands for example), this word  you can use when you screw things up (like for example when you step on somebody ‘s foot in bus 601 )and it works. If not look under the “J”

Ј-J from Jebi  ga (= Fuck it)
Ok, yes I did it, I used a swear word. See under the “I” for more information. Oh more polite version could be ” nema veze” (=nothing to be worried about)

К-K from kajmak (=creamy dairy product)
Kajmak is a delicious creamy diary product. If Serbia will join the European Union I would suggest that they immediately ask a patent on Kajmak (and I advise them to do that on many other products).

Л-L  from Leskovac (=a town in Serbia)
Leskovac is a city which lies south of Niš. The Leskovac Grill Festival (Serbian:  Роштиљијада, Roštiljijada, also translated as “barbecue week”) is in the beginning of September. I still have a wish to go there and since I live now here I think I will make it for sure. In this area they speak with a strong dialect and it sounds very funny (Sorry Dimitrije, my friend, I hope you do not read this, it is nothing about you 😉 ). Then this is the second dialect I think I can recognize I just realize.

Љ-Lj from Ljubav (=Love)
Reason why I moved to Serbia: First of all for my ljubav (my love aka my fiancé) without her I would not be here. Beside this main reason I also have a love for the Serbian people and its country, which is obvious.  Serbia is not the easiest country to live in, but as anywhere in the world you have to learn and understand people, language and its culture. If you do your best enough you will get your efforts paid back and I am not talking about money here. Ljubav for my love and her country,
volimsrbiju

М-M from Meso (Meat)
Serbians do not like meat, no they like A LOT of meat. You have of course the pljeskavica (the Serbian hamburger) which is delicious, but also ćevapčići (also delicious) and many other delicious sorts of meat: I can create a whole website about it, but I won ‘t, I just eat it and enjoy it.

Н-N from Nema (problema) (=no problem)
“Nema” is most of the time with “problema” (problems).  Nema problema can mean that there is indeed no problem, or it can mean that you have a lot of problems.

Њ-Nj from Njam Njam (=yammie,yammie)
It was hard to find a word with Nj I have no idea why Vuk Stefanović Karadžić (seen as the father of the Serbian language) put it in the Serbian alphabet. Sometimes it is better to not understand things, next or njext ?

О -O from obrazac (= form)
Forms are pretty important for the civil administration in Serbia. It is necessary to have the right forms with the right numbers, stamps and signatures when you need something from the government.  If you don ‘t have the right form, or you miss something (like a stamp or number) then you have a serious problem . You can try to go to a šalter (see under ” š” ) of the institute to settle the things.

П-P from Promaja (= draft)
It sounds very nice, but actually it is a very cruel thing: if you want to kill a Serb arrange some “promaja” and he or she will start complaining like hell and eventually die (so don’t dare to open a window and a door at the same time, because the air which is circulating can give Serbs a pain in a back or head).
promaja

 

Р-R from Radna Knjižica (=workbook)
I wanted to write something about “rostilj”, but everybody knows what barbecued meat is so I thought it was nice to use something which a lot of foreigners did not know about it including me. When you start working you need to have a “working book”: you need to “activate” it in your “opština” (your local government) or in my case in the opština where your company is registered. My radna knjižica has not been activated since, yet, ok, we will solve this relic from the good old days. I personally hope that this “icon” will be the first victim of harmonization of EU laws and I think many Serbs will join me.

radna knjižica

My “Radna Knjižica” still waiting to be “activated”.

С-S from Sudovi (=dishes)
The dishes has to be done in Serbia as well, but don’t dare to not rinse  them well after you washed them with soap. Not rinsing away the soap is a sin, so if you do the “sudovi” just rinse them with water so you will not have a fight.

Т-T from Turbofolk (=a music “style” in Serbia)
Turbo folk is a music style in Serbia: some people hate it, some people love it,  Turbofolk is a mixture of Serbian folk music with modern Pop music elements, with similar styles later appearing in Greece (Skiladiko), Bulgaria (Chalga), Romania (Manele) and Albania (Tallava). Personally I like it, but when I started to live with my love I can only listen to it via a transistor radio in the dining room next to the computer….

Ћ-Ć from Ćirilica (Cyrillic)
Serbian Cyrillic  (no Russian is not the same and since a couple of years also Montenegrin is not the same) is the official script of Serbia, but good for me Latin script is widely used. I have recently started to understand it more and more, but come on give me a break, would you understand the difference between ч, ћ ор ц ? Оr з,ж ор ђ. But now we know, because you are reading this blog and it is the Serbian alphabet with both ćirilica and latin script.

У-U from Ulica (=street)
As Belgrade is a big city it can be quite a mess on the streets. Surprisingly  it always seems to happen when it is raining, question is: are drivers in Belgrade afraid of the rain? When it is not raining they do not seem afraid at all….

Trg Republike, 8th September 2014: this is the main square in Belgrade (click to enlarge).

Ф-F from Filmovi (=movies)

During the Yugoslav times the film industry started the boom and until today the film industry is still booming. Of course you have the world famous movies from Emir Kusturica, and during the Yugoslav times a lot of partisan movies came out, but there are many others. A good partisan movie on a lazy Sunday afternoon is hurting nobody. I can recommend you “Montevideo” (part 1-2) and of course Kusturica’s movies. There are many other good movies, just google yourself or ask me.

 Х-H from hleb (=bread)
Serbia has of course the best bread in the world, no discussion about that –next-.

DSC_6220

Special bread for a “slava” in Miločaj, 2nd August 2014 (click to enlarge)

Ц-C from Crkva (=church)
There are a lot of churches in Serbia and they are mainly Orthodox, because that is the main religion of Serbia. Other religions have their churches, synagogues or mosques as well, that is not a problem as well. The Orthodox churches or monasteries are beautiful and some are modern and some are really old.  There is a special atmosphere in Orthodox churches and monasteries which I cannot describe, but I felt always welcome. Personally I like Žiča, a monastery near Kraljevo, a lot.

Žiča

Žiča (click to enlarge)

Ч-Č from Čestitam (=congratulations)

This word is used for several occasions when you want to congratulate somebody with something, nothing special actually :-)

Џ-Dž from Džem (=Jam)
Welcome to your introduction course Serbian: this word sounds so exotic, but it is nothing more than just jam. Serbian language is a language of “what you see is what you get”. By the way the first Serb who like to eat sweet things in the morning, like jam, I still have to meet. We have a friend and his name is John, in Serbian it is Džon :-) for example.

Ш-Š from Šalter (=counter)
Serbia has šalters (unfortunately) for a lot of things, for too much unfortunately I have to write. The E-Government (E from Electronic) is far, far away. Personally I find it quite surprising, because there are so many skilled IT-technicians in this country ( I have —the privilege to work with them), why don’t use them and reform the government to improve services to the citizens via the Internet ? But on the other hand, this is Serbia  and you should not worry too much in front of a šalter : ovo je Srbija:  sve je moguće !

——————————————-
Special thanks to / posebno hvala :
Mojoj dragoj i Srbiji i Srbima!
(My love, Serbia and its people)

Serbian word for floodings is “poplave”….

May 22nd, 2014

poplaveWritten for all those affected of the floods in the Balkans. If you want to donate please look the image below for instructions.

10385433_10152431956919137_1177772108167890126_n

15 years ago…

March 24th, 2014

Fifteen years ago I was a student studying public administration in the Netherlands and I was member of AEGEE, the European student organization.  Fifteen years ago my Serbian friends had to search shelter for bombs which NATO dropped on their country during 78 days.

During those days more than 2500 people were killed. A lot of children were also killed, below a monument in the center of Belgrade dedicated to them.
DSC_0836Since 2004 I visited Serbia many times and NOBODY accused me of anything , NOBODY blamed me about the fact that my government was also participating in those shameful bombardments . Instead I was everywhere welcomed  with hospitality and I made true friends.

I was and I am still surprised about that simple fact that I never felt hate in Serbia towards me as a Dutch citizen, where  in the Netherlands still 74 years after the German invasion of the Netherlands  during World War 2, a lot of people feel hate against the Germans.

Many discussions I had with my Serbian friends about how they suffered, about their fears, their sleepless nights, about their angers and after all those discussions I can only say that I admire them. My Dutch friends asked me about Serbia and if you could still see the damage of the bombardments and if there is still hate. Hate is everywhere for that I just have to open the door here and walk outside.  Yes, Serbia did repair most of the damages, but it still suffers, 15 years later of the consequences: personally and economically, but most important that we bombed a country which fought so hard during WWI and WWII on our side (not for the Netherlands during WWI as we were neutral).  Serbs never could believe that it would happen, but it happened.

Fifteen years later I am still a Dutch citizen, which I will forever stay, but I will move to Serbia, because I found love which I never found before.

This post is dedicated to all the innocent victims of those bombardments. Let us never forget them…
serbia-april2011_00523

Interesting documentary can be found here: ЗАШТО? WHY? Stories of bombed Yugoslavia

 

Memorial service in Garderen

October 16th, 2013

The 5th October there was a memorial service for the Serbian WWI soldiers who died in the Netherlands by the monument for them in Garderen . This year the 29 white crosses which were placed  last year got name plates with the soldiers who died in the Prisoners of War camp in Nieuw-Milligen, near Garderen.DSC_3832There was a Serbian Orthodox memorial service by the monument and all the names were read and the crosses got the blessings. “Father Vojo”, the priest of the Rotterdam Serbian-Orthodox community did the service.  After the service there was a reception.DSC_3829For me this memorial service was very personal since we (me, Tanja and  John) did a lot of research to the faith of those 92 soldiers. It became just more than a little research  to their remains and their fate: we spent hours with creating exel files, creating and updating our website www.secanje.nl  etc. etc. 

Beside that, and this is the most grateful part of our research,  is that we have found family from the soldiers who died in the Netherlands. Lately my friend Tanja from Serbia found again family from a WWI soldier who died here in the Netherlands. Through a friend of her, family of Stanislav Marinković now know that he died in Nieuw-Milligen, near Garderen,  and that he is not forgotten.

For us it is not any more a simple cross with a name: it is for Stanislav Marinković who was from Tavnik (Raška) who died in Garderen the 20th January 1919. He was a soldier from the 4th company, 6th battalion from the infantry.  Actually he got his name on a cross in Garderen the 5th October, although his remains were transported on the 18th May 1938 to  Jindřichovice (nowadays Czech Republic).

We did not forgot him, just like all the others: ВечнаимСлава (Eternal glory to them)!DSC_3819

More info on www.secanje.nl

Proud and grateful :-)

July 9th, 2013

Last Saturday we (Tanja, John and I)  got a “thank you” certificate (see below) from the consul of Serbia in the Netherlands and personally I am proud and grateful that I got it. Of course we worked all hard for it and the results of our 1 one year research can be found on  www.secanje.nl . The main question we had is answered, but there are still many interesting questions which are unanswered, so we continue  just for those Serbian WWI soldiers who died in the Netherlands.

An article appeared again in Politika, the main Serbian newspaper, the article can be found here.

Certificate