Not much of an introduction is needed. I can see the day coming when I will be leaving Sarajevo and truly my heart aches a great deal concerning this temporary departure. Beyond just saying that I love it here, I want to give you some concrete, albeit abstracted, reasons why? I trust that you understand.
4. When you travel or live away from home, so much can cling to your name as a clear reference to where you come from and who you are. I have chosen to “wear” the abstracted name of Luka both abroad and at home as I like its ring and enjoy the resulting conversations. Well, I have gotten another name over here and it is also story worthy. My newest name is Amer, which is obviously short for American but is also a traditional Bosnian/Turkish name so it stretches. Members from the hiking club “Lisin” gave me the name and really adopted me as a son. Then my host father Haso, got such a kick out of it that he now calls me Amer, as do my co-workers at Mozaik. When saying Amer, try giving it either an extra “rolled r…ihhh” or “rolled r…ay” at the end and you might get it right!
5. There is an evident rhythm to life here. Dramatically, the “ezan,” Islamic call to prayer, resonates throughout the city five times a day. For me, it is a powerful experience to hear it punctuating the landscape as dusk is befalling the city- first one mosque and then another in a harmonious give and take. Married to the ezan is the churning commotion of traffic that is something in between NYC and small town USA. As an observer I can simply breathe and hum along to the melody that is.
6. In Sarajevo I can bend the rules. With the preliminary schooling as a Landscape Architect (I think I am a pretty good one?) I am here working with Mozaik on a mostly architectural project; developing plans to rebuild a historic Ottoman house that is a marriage of purely traditional and appropriate contemporary artistic/functional elements. In the states I could never touch a project like this and I have been making the most of this unique chance.
Another oddity is my opportunity to sit in on grammar classes and help teach some English classes in the Hadzici middle high school. In America I would be screened, processed and preened (it rhymed) before I could step foot back in middle school but here I am blessed with friendly and trusting connections and a looser system.
7. Friendship is interesting. I think our western tradition promotes an initial bond of trust; until that trust is broken, and, you can become “best friends” or brothers after one drink or experience. (Please note that I am not naïve about the depth of our momentary, western friendships but the moral legacy of trust is meaningful!) From this part of the world, the reality of trusting friendship is a longer process forged over shared time, committed communication and acts of compassion and respect. However, there is spacious room here for outstanding measures of friendship in-the- moment among strangers.
For example, on the tram yesterday I had the briefest of conversations with an older guy relating to irresponsible youth and when he exited he invited me to go out for coffee- “dali ti zelis izaci na pitce?” Saying “no” due to my schedule, I thought about it, got off the tram and went along with the invite so that maybe, Aid and I can someday be better friends.