Monday, November 27, 2006

With cigarettes, you are never alone.

I went to Sedmica the other night with some friends. It is a great place except that it is thick with smoke and afterwards, your eyes burn and your clothes smell like an ashtray. So, someone in our group was smoking, and he was smoking York cigarettes. And he looked at the package and he said, the tag line is "With cigarettes, you are never alone " (Uz cigaretom nikad sama or something close to it) Yes, I know I am supposed to talk about health issues and stupidity issues, or religion, don't you know that you are never alone, or issues of consumption, that cigarettes don't make you really feel better, it has to come from within, and don't be so stupid to buy this tag line, to think that smoking will change that, and that I should be morally outraged this can be a legal tag line for a lethal product. This is a very inviting tag line, isn't it, because it directly addresses why people smoke, even if they don't want to say it out loud. They just want something to do, they just want something to stay busy with. I think this is jednostavno, or simple, enough, don't you?

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Yesterday I went swimming at Dom Sportova (it is in Trg Sportova, which you can find on a map here). First, I must tell you that I swam about 1,600 to 1,800 yards daily for the last two years. I even won a race across the Ohio River at Paducah, KY, where I grew up. I love to swim. But I haven't been in the pool since August, when I left Champaign. I arrived here and found out where the pool is and when I can go, but somehow I thought it would be too hard to find, too far from my apartment, and too complicated to go there. I did play tennis in the meantime, thinking that the courts down the street would be a good substitute. I did like tennis, but it isn't so great in the rain or cold, and partners are not always available. Yesterday, after finally feeling settled into my new apartment after living here for three weeks, after finishing up some aspects of my work, and feeling like I needed something interesting to do in the day, I walked to Dom Sportova with a backpack full of equipment: swimsuit, goggles, cap, shapoo, soap, comb ...

The walk on a sunny day through a leafy neighborhood took me about 20 minutes and I found my way easily and actually enjoyed it (I have to note that my cousin works across the street from Dom Sportova so I had been to that area once or twice before). First hurdle passed fine.
At Dom Sportova, I made my way to the mali bazin, the small pool, that is used just for training. At the cashier's desk, I paid for my entrance of 15 hrk (kindly discounted from 25 hrk because I came at the last 45 mintues of the 11.30-13.00 session), and I asked for information about how to proceed with changing etc. The cashier took me to the changing cabins for women and introduced me to the woman working at the garderrobe. I like the changing cabins because of the privacy, which I didn't have at the UIUC swimming pool. I like the garderrobe lady because she took my things and gave me a number for them. She also told me that I had to shower before I could enter the pool, which is great because it means that the water is really kept clean since she is probably making everyone do this.

When I walked into the pool area, I noticed that the people in the pool were almost all men. I also noticed that the light from outside came in, giving the place a nice resonance with summer, even though this is Novemeber (studeni click here for the names of months in Croatian and their origin). There were two lanes of swimmers listening to a man tell them what to do (I guess this is a swim club) and three lanes of swimmers. Two of those lanes were slow and one was more fast, so I went into the fast lane.

As I was swimming in the fast lane, I found a metaphor to describe how the pace was. It was like driving a car on the expressway here in Croatia. There are some cars that are going too slow and holding up the traffic, frustrating the other drivers. It was hard to find my timing as I am used to swimming in my own lane, or sharing it with one other person. I like to swim at a consistent pace and to lose my thoughts in that pace, so it is annoying to be slowed down. After about ten mintues, the swim club left, and my lane was less full, I guess some people migrated over, and some left. I was trying to push them out, so fine with me. And then I had a really nice swim for about 10 mintues. It was a really nice experience. Then I was exhausted and finished for the day.

In the shower room was an old woman who was there on my way into the pool-now she was washing her feet, with great lather. When I left, she was still there. The shower heads turn on automatically and the water temperature is comfortable. The garderroba lady is outside the glass door, monitoring. When you walk out of the shower room, she brings you your things, and you proceed to the cabins to get ready for the outside world. Much more comfortable than I can say for UIUC.

I was thinking about drying my hair, but as it wasn't really cold, and I was hungry and wanted to go home and eat, I skipped it. But I have to next time. No, not because of the cold. Because these are the coolest dryers I have ever seen. The way this works is that you sit on a wooden bench, with your back to a wall and your head under a hood (it looks like the hood over a fireplace) that is an extension of the heating system-all of this is easy to figure out because the pipes are exposed. The color is yellow. It is really super cool. Women are using this. It is great. It is exciting because I don't know what it will be like. Will let you know.

As I said, I was hungry and I wanted to go home and eat. So, I thought about walking but I also knew I would need to cross the train tracks by the Zapadni Kolodvor (click here for tram map) and take tram 1 to my place. And it was a thrill to walk out the door, cross Magazninska street, up the embankment, through the opening (it looked like it wasn't the result of vanzalism, but part of the design so that people could pass there) in the 6 ft tall cement barrier, covered with grafiti, across the train tracks (just after a local train passed) to the the other side, then walking across some grass to Hanuseva street (here is a map), where tram 1 was waiting for me. I wasn't alone in this, there was a young woman carrying folders of the type I see lots of students carry around town. Then a nice tram ride home. It was all about 15 mintues. The great thing is that I can take this route if the weather is wet or cold.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Today it is only 50f outside, overcast, no rain. Still, I have to find some winter boots. My cousin told me winter boots must have: thick rubber sole to keep out cold when I walk on snow and ice, insulation against cold when I am walking outside, space to tuck in my jeans so they stay dry. What this means is that I don't have a car like I did in Champaign, so when it is cold or wet, I have to face it, and not hide in the driver's seat. At least if I want to leave the apartment in the winter.
Today I also have to face the reality that I have to write my dissertation. I fear it like I fear the cold that will come this winter. There are no boots I can wear to make the process easier (or are there? Shoes have great powers).

Monday, November 06, 2006

What's your 20?

Joj! I haven't updated my blog in a long time! Sori! (I want you to know that I do know how to write using some Croatian words). You might be wondering if I have been away from Zagreb (I went to Ljubljana for a day, but that isn't what you mean) or if I have fallen in love (no, I have not) or been the victim of a tragic accident involving a derailed high-speed train (there are no high speed trains here). You are thinking that now I will say, well I've been busy, fieldwork and writing takes up a lot of time, plus you don't know what it is like to live in Zagreb, and then there is the time delay with the US, always like another shift starts after 4pm here. No, I won't tell you that because I get frustrated when people say to me, ok I've been too busy (to do what I told you to expect me to do). As if no one else in the world is busy. Actually, I have moved, I have met many new people, I have been to meetings all over town, I have visited an important field site, Hreljic, and some of the suburban neighborhoods, seen some stuff, I have visited cousins, been to a Public Enemy concert, enjoyed the visit of a great friend from days working at the Embassy of Croatia in Washington, DC, hosted a very welcome guest, completed some writing deadlines. And I really missed writing this blog, and I am glad to be back. I'll post some photos from Hreljic, from Ljubljana, and some other stuff, and some of the apartment, well not actually of the apartment, but of the view of the garden from the balcony. The apartment is around the corner from where I used to live, and it is in a great neighborhood called Britanski trg. This is the same street I lived on in 2002-03. I moved so that I could have more privacy and quiet (to be alone with you on this blog).
Ljubljana is to Zagreb, as my friend who went there with me said, a richer, better looking cousin, who doesn't have heartaches and who is, therefore, slightly boring, less sexy, more predictable, and less likely to change jobs often.


Hreljic is a place I went to for research. It is a flea market just outside Zagreb city center-it is possible to go there on tram 6, then walking about two miles. Most of the people who are there seem to be unable to afford to shop in stores. The sellers often seem to be selling whatever, or they are very organized in their stock and display (those professionals seem to be Roma or other marginal groups). This photo has a few things I like. One, it shows what items are sold and how they are displayed. Look in the bottom right-hand corner. Find the red and white "checkerboard" on a white background, in a frame. This is the Croatian "coat of arms" that is on the flag. In this case, it is displayed upside-down. If you went to Hrelic, or if you had a feeling for its position in Zagreb, you might think this upside-down image fit in perfectly here. Posted by Picasa

Britanski trg (where I live)

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Pensioner women on Heinzelova

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