Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sarajevo from the hill, and a 1 litre bottle of 1 pound thirty wine

Oh, and thanks to my followers for following me, we shall all commit suicide very soon, but for now read on! And a special hello to a new follower, ATOPOS from Spain, a stranger to em I think, so welcome, it is great to have reached the Iberian peninsula.
While Suki was in the flat making love (again!), he had asked me to go away for a couple of hours, I crept, well flop-flipped, up the cobbled and cracked streets of this side of the ravine that is the steep hill south of the center just 100metres away below. The city is really an oblong, the flat part particularly, and seen from on high it forms a narrow strip, only fanning out away to the west in the modern part, where the modern tower blocks jut out goofily white like teeth, catching the last light. The main street, statistically, you will cross once a day, most likely! In the middle distance, the Avaz building (meaning voice) and several other modern sky scrapers stand tall and watchful, one of them a chalky grey blue with a matrix of windows variegated into midnight blue motes with occasional panes colourwashed with milk white splashes as the sky catches them. Its sharp sides were also rimmed in an ergonomic white casing, the entire rectangular prism curt sharp looking like a wonderful imitation of what God's remote control must look like. And a s I ascended, I saw the 'centar' cupped by the green crests of the hills around, a bowl of buildings in a niche of a great rucked carpet and the stark white and prickly paddocks of grave stones stuck to the heights of the hills took on a bolder emphasis as night fell.
Climbing higher, at one point watching to avoid a mini avalanche of falling apples down the lane, the sweep of the city revealing the only town planning limited to the modern quarters, the financial, diplomatic and administrative centre and the third arm of the city, its third dimension, the vertiginous reach of the skyscrapers. All else lacked definition, and houses swarmed this way and that way up the sides of the central basin, clustering around white mosques, their central white minarets looking like the centre-piece turret of a Disney castle, or at least a sinister, perhaps soviet, rocket. Fields encroached into the main metropolis, giving the whole thing a saggy feel to it structurally, further enforced by the spotting of buildings, this way and that, that were collapsing in situ, perhaps wrecked during the brim and rage of recent history.
The tower blocks visible in the centre, housing ordinary folk, looked positively scorched, or at least as grimy as a pub toilet in an east lancashire mill town, bearing also a passing resemblance to burned-out cigarrette machines. I could imagine the American realist expressionist, Edward Hopper, enjoying such buildings, his thickly applied, wistful and tenderly felt oils apt to render their facades, scenes of urban melancholy.
But turning my back upon the grand sweep of things, the intimacy of the steep street and its dwellings was pleasant to behold and the people on the whole friendly, one Macedonian shop keeper, cheerfully chatting with me in my halting Bosnian mini-array of one word communication tools as she gave me a full bag of goodies for only two pounds twenty! The houses were quaint but almost looked foolhardy in their basic construction, seemingly finished with only breeze blocks mortared together and the only finery being the red tiled roofs, lintels and doorways. And yes, there was a one litre bottle of cheap Bosnian wine, and when i got back poor Suki had been stood up, i washed my clothes (a nightly chore) Suki went out and I slept, being woken at 3am by a cat (we leave the door open) and leaving the house at 5am to get the 6am bus to Belgrade. I wanted to see the piece of Turkish art that is the Old Bridge at Mostar, but it would have been going backwards and I was getting soft, so 20 euros bought me a ticket on quite a fun and interesting bus ride. Thanks for reading, and hope you enjoy the next one.

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