Thai Food

Yesterday was good.

Renee invited me over for Thai food. It was us, plus 2 other people from work.

Renee picked me up around 2 before she went shopping for the final things she needed. BiH makes it hard to find some items, like coconut milk. Fittingly, she was there one month ago as part of my pick up crew at Zagreb. She came along to secure coconut milk. That same milk would be used for dinner. Renee collected her ingredients from a variety of countries with a marked determination to eat what she wants.

As an aside, Renee spent a year in Thailand. One of the consequences is her ability to make excellent Thai food, which is grand by me.

I took the part as an assistant cook. I sliced, primarily. Baby corns, 3 meats, onions, cucumbers, and probably other things slid past me. It was quite nice to find myself cooking. I don’t for a bit, and the joy of it can fade from my head. I am currently pestering her to get the recipes.

The day was also nice for me because Renee is from the States. It provided a nice respite that I didn’t have to worry about social mores and all this, and had a common arena where I could share my experiences.

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2 Weeks In.

Well, yesterday marked the 2 week mark for my time in BiH. So how am I doing? Read on!

Overall, I would say I am doing good. I get along with the people I have met, even if I can’t recall half the names. I have enough down pat that I can at least get money and food, and have a couple trusted people to ask stuff. (keep readin’…)

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Hanging with Lucio

The week was pretty tame. My supervisor was out this last week, so I did a good deal of reading, and trying to glean some questions that can be used to assess and track the state of Civil Society here. I am looking forward to his return, so I can start working in earnest.

The big visit this last week was to the Banja Luka Annex. It is the field office for this area. Nice folks. So far, the field offices have the feel of converted houses, with a micro-cosm of the regional centre working away. Human Rights, Democ, etc.

Friday night I went out though! I went home with Lucio, rather than take the shuttle. Lucio has been here for about 3years, and works in the Human Rights office, as a Rule of Law Adviser. He, Dragana (from Hum.R) and I had a beer. I got a good overview of the human rights work that is being done. What is more, I learned about the way the education system here works, and how some “old” attitudes prevail. Interestingly, many of the critiques I hold for the US are true here, if not to a greater degree. (keep readin’…)

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Valentine’s Day.

Well, well, well. This is certainly a plus. It is not recognized as much of a holiday here. To clarify, I don’t say it is a plus because I loathe the romantic (another discussion on that someday) but rather because it is a depressingly “Hallmark Holiday.” Red and white slathered everywhere. Hearts, Cupids, and doves flitting about. Obnoxious really. And, I see it as the “Proper Gender Roles and Expectations Holiday.” Are you a proper man? Woman? You can find out by examining the questions people ask you about this Holiday.

But, thankfully, I saw no red and white. From what Anja tells me, there is more of an inclination to celebrate March 8. That is international women’s day. Even then, not so much is done. Not by men anyway.

The UN website has a brief deal on it: Women’s Day. Is there anyone else concerned that the timeline covers a mere 8 years, almost 100 years ago? This link: Another Link looks a little more promising. I could not (quickly) find a relevant link for BiH. You get one, be sure to post it in the comments!

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A quick blurb about the police here.

First, from what I understand, they have not been very respected historically. This is in extreme constrast to the States, especially Chicago, where a lack of respect can end brutally. It’s one of those things you ‘just know’ growing up. You don’t fuck with a cop. Though, from talks with Dana, the experience with police in Chicagoland is not necessarily indicative of the Nation. It is my sound belief that the structure surrounding the instution of policing has the possibilities of abuse built into them. But, I digress.

I was told that here, becoming a police officer is a step down. It simply is not respected. It is along the lines of, “What? You weren’t smart enough to get a real job?” Much like McDonald’s before we became a service economy.

There are a good number of them about, and they do look pretty sharp, I will admit.

The kicker is how you get pulled over. I still have not made total sense of this one, so you will just have to read my words, and accept that it is the way it happens here.

It is pretty well know where they park their (tiny) cars. Usually you have 2 of them, so the works go quicker I suppose. The officer stands on the side of the road. He (all he so far that I have seen, which is something, since I am told there is a ratio of 7:1 F:M)… He has a little stop sign. Its maybe eight inches across, and its on a stick. At night, it even lights up! He will stretch out, and wave it at a car going by. The car pulls over, and they do whatever it is they do! I have seen it happen where the officer simply points to a car, and to the side of the road.

I am currently shy on what the criterion for getting pulled over are. I know things like lights out will do it. (Lucio works hard to avoid the police.) It also seems that it is just a random vehicle check. A remnant of the previous regime, and the inability to move as freely.

It is quite something to see, whatever the mechanics!

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My kingdom for an adapter?

I need an adapter. Hence, “The Long Walk.” Only one. For me, to think I have only one thing I plug in, it’s kind of remarkable. I am told they are cheap. I have heard from 50 fenning to 2KM quoted.

I was loaned one that I found didn’t work. The plug for the Laptop is 3 prong, and this could only accomidate 2. By the looks of it though, I could plug a 2 prong in, anywhere in the world.

The person got in contact with that, meaning at the end that Marge of SFOR brought me one. Alas, it is just 2 prong as well.

Before anyone goes all psycho, and I get like 9 in the mail, Marge said that one could be secured Sunday most likely. Some sort of traveling PX that will have an “American” section. They’d have them for sure.

We’ll see!

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Standing on a Corner

“Standing on a corner, waiting for a bus. Looks like somebody forgot about us.”– Violent Femmes, Waiting for a Bus

As I said, there is a shuttle that will come near my house when I don’t have a ride to work, and take me there. Luckily, I am on its route. Anja was kind enough to set it all up so they knew to look for me Monday morning, across from the OHR (Office of the High Representative) sign. Easy landmark, sizable fellow. What could go wrong? People who ride the bus were even told to look for me.

The shuttle is not so much of a bus, as it is a van. It was to go by near 8:20. I got down there at 8:05, figuring the time given was a loose framework, and I did not want to miss it.

8:05. 20. 25. 30. 40. 50. 8:50.

I walked, and arrived at 9:10-5. (Quite a contrast to the long walk, to be sure!)

I was a little annoyed, but wasn’t too concerned. I wasn’t the one who had goofed. It turns out a driver was sent to look for me, and several people called. The shuttle people had seen me, but it totally skipped their minds. A fellow, who didn’t recognize me, even drove by thinking, ‘An international trying to cross the street for OHR.’

I received an apology, and you can bet I was first in line for the shuttle home.

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The Long Walk

Ahh… It was Saturday. My first official day here all by my lonesome. My friend is off for the week, working at his house to get it ready for spring.

I was pretty happy, though. I felt I could really use the alone time to get rested, and get focused on my new world. I was still pretty damned tired from all the travel and general disorientation. Its not jetlag when you simply haven’t had enough sleep yet.

I wanted to be sure that I could find work from the flat. A shuttle was scheduled to pick me up on Monday, and take me to work, but you never know. I was told it is about a 25 minute walk in. Hah! I thought. Simple! (keep readin’…)

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A quick look around.

Things are pretty similar to in the States. I would not have known I was in another country except for the odd little cars, and even odder road signs. Some other novel differences have become evident. (keep readin’…)

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Hints of War

The last our Media (US) left his region, is was awful and completely “war torn.” Driving around, it is not readily evident, but as my eyes adjust to my new environment, I see more. (keep readin’…)

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