Tag Archives: Serbia

Collecting nuts

nuts
Photo by tamellu 2015

This is what I’ve been pretty much up to these last days – collecting nuts, golden fruits of autumn. There is a whole story behind it, a hidden meaning that makes them special for me – I’m getting it ready for Tuesday.

Take care!

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Hang in there

There is one good, middle aged man in my neighborhood who was born with a certain degree of disability due to which he has numerous health problems. I didn’t even know he existed, nor that he lived just several hundred meters away from me, because only in the block of adjacent buildings where I stay there are more or less 1,000 souls, not to mention that this whole area of the town with these same buildings consists of 13-14 such identical blocks. In reality, we are one entire little town by itself, condensed in not that much vast land area, there are so many people living literally ones on the top of others packed in apartments with mostly insufficient number of square meters yet you rarely know the person living next door, not to mention somebody from a different floor or in a different building within the same block. It wasn’t like that in the past, not even in that not very distant past when we moved in here a bit more than 30 years ago. People cared more about other people and life wasn’t so much about material possession and personal vanity as it is now, I sincerely and dearly miss that country called Yugoslavia I was born in. If I were still living in Yugoslavia (and I’m not, even though I haven’t moved an inch away in these last nearly 4 decades), the man from the beginning of this story would be in much better shape today. He would have completely free health care, some personal income due to his very legitimate disability issues, access to daily meals for people with income problems. He would have some dignity in this life and more people on the block would know he existed and offered some help, because social services would work on his integration in the community.

In his twenties, he used to live in Yugoslavia as well, and his father’s company helped him the best they could by letting him work in the company’s kitchen for their workers. He carried things around and peeled some vegetables, he had some little income and full insurance – those were the best days in his little unfortunate life, days before the world slowly but definitely started tumbling down on him.
Yugoslavia got torn up in pieces, swallowed by its own inhabitants who turned against each others, failing to understand that the consequences of these actions would harm only themselves and no one else. His dad’s company first suffered the beginning of a bad economical crisis. Then his dad passed away, failing to buy off their living space from the state in the midst of that crazy stellar inflation, as we all did and thus literally saved ourselves. His dad’s company eventually had to be restructured in the process of privatization, obligatory in the transition towards capitalism, but nothing prevented bankruptcy from happening. He lost his little job and remained with his mom who inherited his dad’s retirement money, as she didn’t have any income of her own. Life went on while his mom could take care of their lives in every possible sense, but in the end she passed away too several years ago. And this is when life stopped. He remained completely alone, lost, in Serbia now, with no means to live this life and expired ID, hidden among us with no electricity, with unpaid bills and no food for days in a row. He can do some things, but he needs to be told exactly what to do and he has to be partially supervised, which makes it almost impossible for him to find some kind of stable work position in this country. I found about him for the first time when an old lady involved in an organization for saving stray dogs moved in with him to help him out in exchange for the accommodation for her and the dogs she took care of. Things got better for a while, bills got payed again, there was some food on the table every day… but the lady’s age is such that she progressively needed more and more help for herself, and somewhere by the time my dad declined she left the man’s place as it seems for good. Dogs were took over by the organization, the lady was accepted by some relatives and he is alone again, growing older himself and becoming more and more helpless as time goes by. My mom helps him with food as always in these last years as much as she can, but life has hanged for us as well. I remember that in the middle of my worst panic ridden despair when I didn’t go anywhere, I secretly and deeply feared that I would end up like him and it scared me to death. Those fears returned all right with income problems and the shock my dad’s passing away caused in my little life.

I saw him today. I turned round the corner as he was emptying some huge bag of high class garbage into a container, obviously a chore he was asked to do for someone in exchange for an equivalent of a dollar or two, or a sandwich for that day. It was a sad contrast to see him, a man in a clearly very neglected state and torn clothes, throwing away very expensive waste items. My heart sank as I said hello to him, he wouldn’t notice me otherwise as his vision deteriorates heavily as well. He knows about my dad from my mom, so he asked how we were doing. We were standing in front of that container, the sky was heavy and black as the depths of my soul, and this person who’s lived genuine hardships asked me if I was coping, when the right question would be if and how he is coping. I said I was managing, somehow. He looked firmly at me and smiled, saying: “Hey, hang in there. You have to. Got it? HANG IN THERE.” Then he waved goodbye and wandered away as I stood in disbelief. Honestly speaking, what does he have to hope for in this world? He is doomed to soon lose even the bed he’s sleeping in when bills accumulate again, this time to the point of no return. He would have all the right to totally give up. This person who has sometimes hard time getting simple things wanted to make sure I got it that I had to hang in there. Ashamed, sad, amazed, humbled, shaken… that’s how I felt returning to my realistically really modest home, I have no idea how it feels to be wealthy or even just well off. I looked around me and thought… what would he give to exchange places with me and have my life, with all its hardships? Probably everything. It would be for him as if somebody had taken stars of the sky and spread them in front of his feet. Or it would equal touching that distant sky above us. He would be extremely happy. And I’m so miserable.

How is it possible for people to differ so much in the same circumstances? No matter what, if somebody like him tells you to hang in there, then you really have to do it. Such messages can’t be ignored.

Geraniums – other varieties 2

geranium

geranium

geranium

Flower days, day 4 🙂 Have I already mentioned that I have many different geranium types? 😀 I couldn’t resist sharing some more nice pictures, hoping that you’ll like them, too. My southern terrace is in a good covered position so all the flowers and other plants survived tonight’s heavy rainstorm with lots of thunders and lightnings, which hopefully means that I’ll have more nice photos to share in the coming months. Tomorrow I’ll present a new plant… 🙂 Till tomorrow then, have a great day or night wherever you are!

Geraniums – other varieties

Geranium

Geranium

Geranium

Here comes the sequel of the geranium story – these varieties are more classic, easier to grow from sprouts, have bigger flowers, but are less resistant to hard direct sunshine… in spite of their stunning blossom colors, I somehow prefer those tiny velvet-white little flowers I shared with you yesterday. They are no bigger than a fingernail, yet so strong and really charming. 🙂
Today’s geranium beauties are blossoming very well this year because we’re having tons of clouds and rain, even now in July – temperatures rise and fall like crazy every single day which is extremely unusual here where I live, and also very challenging health wise. Nevertheless, I’m doing my best to focus on these beautiful images to help me go through each of these days. It will also be a wonderful reminder of the fruits of this year’s summer, once the autumn and winter set in, putting nature to one more temporary sleep. 🙂

Geraniums

Geranium

Geranium

Here I am, trying to maintain my 7 days photo promise 🙂

The star of today’s story are geraniums – if I learnt something about growing flowers in not very friendly weather conditions, then I’d definitely say that geraniums are in most cases pretty robust and easy to grow plants, you should just pick the right variety and take care not to water the leaves if possible, or at least try not to leave water rest for too long on the plant. Hanging varieties are definitely a choice for heavy sun conditions, and this one blossoms all spring and summer long. It should be some sub variety of pelargonium – (regal) geranium Martha Washington, with its nice velvet-white little flowers.
I had to hold a branch with one hand to get a better shot, and I like how it turned out. It looks as though I am giving away these two little flowers as a gift – may it be my gift to you to brighten up this day! 🙂

Petunias

Petunia

My cleaning mission is surprisingly still in progress, very slow one though but progress is progress, I mustn’t complain. Yesterday I realized that my southern terrace flower box needed extra attention apart from just regular watering, so I ended up spending two straight hours there. Growing flowers in this extremely unfriendly place (Serbian summers always reach 95+ temperatures in this July-August period) because it is directly hit by boiling sun at noon was somehow out of question in the previous years of my life, then when things started going bad in my life these last years and when I needed something to cling to in the worst moments, flowers became one of my salvation belts and I wanted them to be present in this spot as well. It took some trial and error phases, but years went on and I realized what I could grow there and how. I just don’t understand why I never even considered the option of taking even a single photo of those nice little blossoms I manage to produce. Looking at them was somehow enough, and on some days just watering would be all I had strength to do in an entire day. So yesterday I took the camera, trying to capture different varieties that live together in one single earth box. Such a small piece of earth on the second floor and there are many photos, one for each day in the coming week! 🙂

Cherries – true survivors

tresnje
Cherries from Serbia

We feared that there wouldn’t be any cherries this year because they are really sensitive to rain, but here is the proof how hard they fight to survive especially because my father doesn’t use chemical to protect them. They usually pop open or rot in heavy rainy conditions, but to my surprise even those that got cut open closed and healed their “wounds” and grew, leaving visible only some thin long scar marks. I’m glad they are here! 🙂

Life must go on…

It’s needless to say, I’m not doing good these days. And it’s not a rant, it’s a simple fact. I’m somebody who’s battling with high anxiety day in day out, even at the best of times, so it’s really hard to keep going when the worst of times bring out the worst of what anxiety has to offer. It was already hard for me to take out the camera again after I can freely say years of “silence” and start shooting some pictures again, and when I finally got there somehow, once again it lost sense after the tragic events in my country. Taking camera out is hard because it is literally painful. It reminds me of where I used to be in life, why and how all the good things stopped, it makes me think of what I endured and where I could have been now if it weren’t for what happened… also, the camera’s shabby, neglected look infallibly reflects the amount of time that passed since I took it in my hands for the first time. It is run over by time, and in a way so am I, because I don’t really belong right here and right now. So many things changed while I kept sitting in my house and I feel as though I entered the state of coma back in 2007 and continued sleeping, while life naturally moved on without me. Now I’m probably sort of semi-awake, by there is this gap in time that is very hard to fill, sometimes I feel like an alien in the world that surrounds me. I started shooting things that my dad grows in his garden trying to reconnect with a place that for me lives only in my memory and with nature itself, it was my need to reach out to something beautiful and colorful that represents the better side of life, something that can represent me in a better way. And what happened? The floods came. Not only that beautiful and colorful pictures became insignificant, pointless and out of place in a tragic and very depressing situation, it also turned out that what could have been memorized with my camera literally vanished to a great extent. My dad’s garden suffered significant losses because of all that rain and the orchard will hardly give anything this year if it doesn’t recover. He replanted some of the things although it’s quite late for doing it, but the bottom line is that he’s been there twice in the last 3 days and hasn’t brought anything home. It’s God knows what time that my patience is at test because of having to stop something that I started or going back to square one, but I decided not to give up this time. There are so many people who lost their lives or everything they had in life, so I have no right to complain. I just wish I could suffer a bit less because of everything that happened here and be instead a bit more useful, but I can’t change myself. I can only try to be the best version of myself of today, do some good, help somehow, and look for a grain of hope for the future of everybody out there, as well as for myself.

Today I’d like to share a small photo story of the previous days from an agoraphobic’s point of view. This person couldn’t grab the camera and shoot in the critical places, I had only my immediate surroundings at my disposal.

1. THIS IS HOW IT STARTED…

kisobran

This photo was taken on the first day of the rain from my window… it was so dark and gloomy in the middle of the day, but ISO 1600 helped me to get something more than a blur of what was going on outside. There was quite a lot of wind at some point as well, and it brought along a small, smiling umbrella into our muddy pond. It did seem interesting and cute at the time, but thinking back from here, there was some very bitter irony in that smile as we couldn’t even dream of what was going to happen.

2. THE SECOND DAY OF RAIN, TERRACE

Lepi-Jova

We have a semi-covered terrace and rain hardly ever touches the flowers planted in boxes, but this time it just unleashed all the anger on smaller plants, ISO 1600 was a must even here and the camera got pretty wet in the process. I liked these little flowers, I picked them and planted myself… now they are gone, drowned in the rain. There is only this photo left.

3. HOPE

bozur

Instead of collecting vegetables from the garden, my father picked up this flower that was floating in water. He has shrubs of these flowers in 3 or 4 different color shades, but there was only this one left, looking bad and half dead. He brought it home anyway, and after more than a whole day of “recovering”, it incredibly regained both beauty and vitality, standing bold and upright. Life must go on, in one way or the other, it’s always been that way and always will be. We have to have faith that strength will rebuild beauty.

Floods in Serbia – recapitulation

It’s been a bit more than a week since the start of one of the worst natural disasters that hit Serbia and the neighboring regions, especially Bosnia and Croatia. It’s past midnight, so this is the beginning of the third official day of mourning for all those who lost their lives and those left with nothing in these devastating floods. It’s too early for real recapitulations, I’m well aware of that, but as the water goes down in some areas and as the initial dread and adrenalin rush get slowly replaced by anger, revolt, resignation, disbelief, depression and the initial phase of acceptance, I felt a need to close a circle of things that happened so far to understand better where we were, where we are now and where to go from now. This is just a small, new blog and I’m immensely grateful for all the views it got in the previous days and for all the care and help of people from a number of countries who read what I posted. I’m very happy to hear how much help is arriving by official channels to the state from everywhere to help rebuild the country and people’s lives, because the weeks and months, if not years ahead of us will be immensely challenging. There is one good thing though that came out of all this, this tragedy helped reunite even just for a short while the ex Yugoslavia, beautiful and prosperous country I was born in and that I miss so much, even though I’m only 37 and I didn’t have enough time to remember it truly well. Nevertheless, the memories I have, the photos from my childhood and my roots that are from both Bosnia and Croatia even though I was born and raised in Serbia will continue to keep that nostalgia alive. The tragedy didn’t unite only us who used to live peacefully together until some craziness made all hell break loose and changed things forever, it also united us with many people from everywhere in the world who felt and understood the language of human pain and gave their best to help. This is all that matters in the end, that realization that we truly only have this fragile naked life and that we should use it to generate good. There are of course those who try to take advantage of the situation, there are bad situations and bad stories, but this time they are fairly rare. This time I want to focus on goodness, because I truly believe that by shedding light on good, you can only generate even more good everywhere. To all of you who were with me these days, thank you very much indeed for being there and listening and for all the good that you brought into my days and the days of my country!

1. THE BEGINNINGS: water, water, water… and people fighting with bare hands, sandbags and limited mechanization.

Video by Dragan Trifunovic, Helivideo: All interested TV stations can buy broadcasting rights for this video. All money will go to humanitarian funds.

2. EVACUATION: PEOPLE

srbija-obrenovac-poplave-katastrofa-1400274184-498051

Source: http://www.udarno.com

images (1)

Source: http://www.telegraf.rs

images (2)

Source: http://www.blic.rs

3. EVACUATION: ANIMALS

macka-pas-poplave-foto-tviter-1400417739-499531

Source: http://www.kurir-info.rs

psi-u-poplavi-1400422848-499597

Source: http://www.kurir-info.rs

image_3_8889

Source: http://www.ezadar.hr

pas-i-lane-foto-twitter-1400619373-501343

Source: http://www.kurir-info.rs

4. RESCUE POINTS AND HUMANITARIAN AID

POPLAVE; OBRENOVACANI U BEOGRADSKOJ SPORTSKOJ HALI

Source: http://www.b92.net

19.05_.2014_._Aktivisti_CRvenog_krsta_sortiranje_

Source: http://www.sombor.rs

crveni-krst-pomoc

Source: http://www.belami.rs

images (4)

Famous chef Rudolph Van Veen (24 Kitchen) cooking for and with flood victims
Source: http://www.sr.rs.facebook.com

5. WHAT TO DO NOW…

download (2)

Source: http://www.vijesti.me

6. HOPE – EVERYBODY WILL HELP TO REBUILD LIFE!

140522017

http://www.klix.ba

Novak Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic won titles in Rome and dedicated them to people in Serbia and Bosnia

nole_rim2014_10-590x393

Source: http://www.novakdjokovic.com

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Nenad Zimonjic and Daniel Nestor won the title in Rome
Source: http://t.co/Q3ugC47ELa

Yesterday evening I wrote a blog about these two great athletes and wonderful guys and how they took the initiative to help the victims of the floods in Serbia, Bosnia and other surrounding areas. As my people is still battling with the consequences of the worst flood ever in this region, these guys made a huge effort to be the best today on the Roman court and succeeded. They didn’t play only for themselves, but also for all those who are suffering back home and who will be helped from their prize money from this tournament.

I’m just a common, insignificant person myself and my life situation is such that I can’t make a true difference and give some important contribution to help people in need, 25.000 have been evacuated so far only in Serbia. My heart is with them and their stories touch me deeply, which makes me even more angry with my condition. When I see them immensely happy and grateful even for one plastic bottle of safe water, I really wish I could be able to be somewhere out there to offer some tangible help, such as filling the sandbags or carrying goods to the evacuation points. I did send several sms donations and apart from that, I have this blog to reach out to the world and share our story, hoping that maybe somewhere out there even just one person might send some little help. That would make me truly happy, because I would know that I contributed somehow to make things better. It would make me feel a bit more meaningful as a person I guess if something that I did brought some good to somebody left with nothing.

If you have time, check out Novak’s foundation’s site which explains the situation and ways to help:
http://novakdjokovicfoundation.org/news/news/2014.734.html

or his official website:
http://www.novakdjokovic.com

Thank you on behalf of those who suffer and to whom it will mean a whole world!
Together we are stronger!

Djokovic per la Bosnia 5 _mediagallery-page
Source: http://www.gazzetta.it