Čiste namjere / Pure Intent

One day the misery will be defeated....and we will be the parents of many children of many races


Renaming BiH

Just when you think it couldn't get worse.....it does.

I don't think we need another entity. I think we need a large barbed wire fence and a new name for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We are taking new names and nominations from anyone who cares to vent.

I vote for Veliki Jagomir.


WANTED: moral compass reader

Now I really need your help. So please, any of you from this part of the world feel free to tell me if I'm craZy or I simply just don't get how things go here.

Quite some time ago a guy rammed his car into mine causing about 400 KM worth of damage. Apparently he wasn't insured at the time and begged me (with some rather pitiful whining) not to call the police. I didn't. We agreed to meet up so he would pay me for the damage. He dissed me three times.

Then I saw him at my neighbours place working and I basically told him what I thought of him. What I think of him is sort of irrelevant though. The thing is, most of my neighbours continue to hire him to do handy work around their properties. It ticks me off. One neighbour, and good friend, can't quite grasp why I won't even come over while he is there working.

I told him plain and simple - if someone did that to you, my dear friend, there is no way in hell I would invite him to work (and make money) right under your nose. Firstly, you're my friend and it would be (at least to me) insulting. Secondly, its sending the message that there are no sanctions for bad behaviour.

The carsija mentality here is 'if he hasn't cheated me....it's none of my business.' So the cycle of cheating, lying and being assholes continues without end.

My neighbour cannot fathom why this would bother me. The mentality of 'until someone shoots me in the forehead I'm immune and indifferent to him shooting others' puzzles me.  It doesn't make any sense. Social structures worldwide have always had their means of punishing others for bad deeds. Here, one is rewarded for bad behaviour - or at least never sanctioned.

I could care less about the 400 KM. But isn't there any moral compass working in this country? I have to go to my home and look at the guy who lied and cheated working for my neighbours and I'm the mad one for not wanting to go over to visit them whilst he's there. 

Please help me out...Am I nuts or is the carsija mentality the justified unwritten law of the land....?

"don't screw me and I could care less if you screw everybody around me.'


International everything days....

Forest Day. Down Syndrome Day. Water Day. We have all these 'international days of something' all the time. I find it rather bizarre.

Does anyone else find this human habit to be slightly ignorant?

I fully understand and appreciate the need to raise awareness and bring attention to many social issues. I am also well aware that we are over saturated with so many issues that its hard to keep anyone's attention about much of anything except the economy and radiation threats.

We talk about about destruction of the forest and the need to protect it for a whole day. Well, actually more like 12 hours. We give interviews and have kiddies running around with signs about saving the forest. So the air we breathe is worth a half-day effort. The lungs of the planet get a whole dozen hours for us to ponder. Same for water. A billion people on earth don't have access to clean drinking water. Startling news. But news that we only hear on that day. News that we do nothing about.

I agree, I'm being cynical.

So let's take Downs Syndrome Day. I think it's a good thing. Educate people about the plight and needs of people with Downs Syndrome. Having two cousins with Downs...I find it refreshing that the public is being at least a bit educated about the disease. And if just a handful of people have more understanding and passion - then I say job well done.

But water, mountains, forests...and all the other things that make life on this earth possible get a lousy single day of banners, expert opinions, and pathetic ceremonies. Hmmmm....sorry, just doesn't work for me.

What works for me is a transformational head shift of our place and role on this planet. A sense of belonging instead of owning. A bit of humbleness instead of arrogance. A slight air of respect in place of disdain.

So yes, a billion people don't have access to clean drinking water. The questions are WHY? and, more importantly, what are we going to do about it?



The IMT report....

Although some of my guide book readers have criticized me for being blinded by my love and admiration for the luda land called Bosnia and Herzegovina - I always felt i was able to be objective enough for my words and sentiment to be accurate.

After the research report by the World Economic Forum placed BiH second to last in terms of tourism, I was contacted by Radio Stari Grad to give a statement on what I thought about that report. The research showed many visitors saw the country as dirty, the people rude, the infrastructure in shambles- and that was just the tip of the iceberg.

I found myself trying desperately to find the light at the end of the tunnel. I skwirmed like a fish out of water trying to deny or 'lighten up' some of the findings of the research. For the first time - really, the very first time - since I have been engaged in promoting the natural and cultural beauties of our beloved Bosna....I felt like i was lying through my teeth. And, in fact, i was. I lied. The research wasn't exaggerated or inaccurate at all. And regardless of the fact that there are many things in tourism that WE DO do right....we are only as strong as our weakest link. And those are a dime a dozen.

In all honesty....it is that bad. As the capitalist's love to say "Customer is King." And in many respects - they should be. Not here though. To many - guests are simply here to be taken for a ride. To suck as much out of them as possible. Quality doesn't come to mind much. Nor does what our guests experience matter. It's all about IMT. Our chronic post-war disease - IMT. 

So i've decided to confess my lies. I have started an article that I will send to all the major newspapers here - as most of them reported on the results of the research. But I couldn't wait that long. So I've brought the crunched version to the confession box.

Even though I don't consider myself a Christian....I've never been able to rid myself of the guilt that comes with being Catholic. When they get you young...they really get you! Forgive me father...

So it goes. peace

ps on a lighter note...we did manage to 'beat' Moldava! Not Albania though.


krokus' have gone....

There are three options here.

Either they read my mind.

Read my blog.

Or simply decided the eye sore in our back garden was even too much for them.

The garden, nonetheless, is a spotless oasis. There is not even a single leaf out of place.  It has restored, even if just slightly, the hope that someone - anyone - actually gives a shit.

It makes this rainy day a bit easier to bear. So it goes.



excusez moi mes amis!

I feel as if I've been rude.

I still really don't have much of a clue who reads this and why....but nonetheless I enjoy your company.

So....good morning to you good people. Sabina poignantly reminded me that when we were stateside for our extended holiday that I didn't write a word. Upon return to BiH I have written many. So it goes.

I'm not sure what that exactly means. But I guess in a sense it means that I'm back...with no clear direction or intention of who, what, where, when or why. Time will define that. At least its a good enough excuse for now....leave it up to the Gods ;).

I hope you've all coped at least somewhat decently with Bosnia's funky winter. Spring is upon us. See you on the other side. peace


Damn the dams

I wish I had a photo of the hydroelectric dam on the Zeljeznica River near Trnovo. Then I wouldn't need to write a word. The old cliche that a picture is worth a thousand words would certainly hold true on this occasion. But being that I don't have a picture - here are my words. Don't worry, I'll spare you all from a thousand of them.

We took a nice drive in the mountains yesterday. Snow still blocked a lot of fun highland dirt roads so we pretty much stuck to the asphalt and meandered throughout Bjelasnica and Treskavica...eventually coming out somewhere near Trnovo. On the way back to Sarajevo, on the Federation side, is a dam. Or should I say was.

The entire grounds surrounding the dam sort of looks like when an avalanche starts and the ground breaks up in what looks like large steps or blocks. There was a brand new house, certainly built with taxpayers money, for the EP folks to enjoy an outing in nature. Half of this new and expensive house has made its way down the hillside.  As for the hillside, well, that made its way to the main station and crushed it like it was in Sendai, Japan and not Trnovo.

So how about a little reality check...
This small and  hugely expensive disaster ALL happened under the careful watch and scrutiny of ELEKTROPRIVREDA BIH. Their experts designed it, built it, allowed the house to be built above it. And we're entrusting them to embark on major dam construction all over the construction!? Yugoslavia was a different era - the engineering corps that x-yu produced were world class and respected all over the world. EP management and its let-take-a-shortcut, criminal cronies (mainly from the Kante za BiH party) have proved time and time again that the only activities they are good at are illegal ones.

The English engineer I was traveling with noticed several things just by a quick 5 minute peek at the mess that was not too long ago a functional dam. He said the water levels created by the dam seemed to saturate into the hillside, making it unstable and sending the whole side of the hill and millions of your tax money crashing into the river. That was a 5 minute assessment. The nimrods at EP didn't help matters much by cutting down a few trees to build their weekend mansion.

For all you pro-dammers, keep in mind that they're the ones that are going to be responsible for building 90 meter high dam walls that have ten of thousands of people living downstream from them. To the people of Konjic, Gorazde and wherever Heco, Safa and company plan to ruin your backyard...i'd get the fuck out of Dodge if I were you. 


Spring Crocus/Krokus'

Below us in our flat in Dobrinje live two doctors and their daughters. They all seem to be nice enough people. For some reason their career choice and assumed level of eduction led me to expect certain things. Prejudice on my part? Absolutely.

So the winter snows have quickly disappeared in the last few days. Including on the small patch of grass to the back of our building. With the melting of the snow in March often comes the grim reality of how dirty muddy march can be in Sarajevo. And I'm not talking about mud. It's all the hidden garbage that reappears after months in hibernation.

So as I gazed on the white confetti littering the lawn I called Sabina over and asked her to 'have a look at that!' She did. And she thought they were the onset of spring krokus' that can - I guess - slightly resemble the butt of a cigarette. Then again, she can't see a thing without her glasses.

In a slightly annoyed tone I informed her that they were the winter ciggies of our neighbors - the doctors. NNNNNOOOOOOO!!!!!! She replied. They can't be. More denial.

So the spring krokus' literally turned out to be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 200-300 cigarette butts. All from one balcony. All from two educated people dedicated to the health of our communities.

Yes, its the Amer whining about cigarettes again. And I will most likely continue to do so until I'm an  old and bitter man, hopefully not dying from the secondary smoke that was forced upon me all these years. But I'm not writing to complain about the billows of cigarette smoke that pour into our living room when the weather is nice from down below. It's more about chucking them off the balcony into the clear white snow. Now we have nicotine krokus' growing in the backyard.

I find it offensive. It just ain't right. I expected more.

So much for expectations, huh?


A just as interesting answer to Bojan Bajic

There should be no doubt that many people here will disagree about many things for a long time to come. It's in our DNA code to disagree. But if we are going to disagree....this seems like some of the most civilized exchanges I've experienced in a great long while. This article was also published on Banjalukain...which is run by Bojan.

If we keep showing respect and speaking in a civil manner like this I might start to think something really funky is going here.  So enough of this civility shit people! You're scaring me!

But for real, to me its just proof that when we allow ourselves to take the other sides perspective into play, even if just for a moment, our tone changes. Our blood pressure doesn't go through the roof. We don't want to send anyone 'u sto picki mile materine.' (excuse my French pls) 


I'm not sure how valuable it is for us to constantly go back 50, 100, 150 or a thousand years. We can interpret it in a million different ways. What we can be sure of is what we FEEL now. What our reality is now. And there are no rights and wrongs in how we FEEL. In that sense, it is a truth of sorts...even if some of our truths are based on the lies of the past.

Does that make any sense or should I just shut my computer down?

Have a good weekend my friends...bosanci....srbi.....peruanci...i svimirci.



happy 9. mart

I went to DM yesterday to get a few things.  Sabina was with me, milling through the baby food section to see if some new yummy organic treats had hit the shelves. They hadn't. But that's beside the point.

When we went to pay the very courteous cashier tried to give us a rose. I kindly rejected it. She looked at me as if I was insane....perhaps she even felt a bit insulted.

With all do respect to the many fine sisters out there....8 Marta is a sham. I find it to be a horribly chauvinistic and two-faced 'holiday.' I can't believe so many women eat it up...taking the flowers, the coffee and cake at the local slatiscarna, and the pitiful (and shortlived) ass-kissing from the male population with smiles from ear to ear. It's man manipulation.

You're underpaid and overworked. You are - quite literally - the backbone of family and community. You are our nurturers. And more often than not the voice of reason when the going gets tough.

Now I'm not declaring women the perfect species. Far from it. But the 8. marta thing...however well intended some of your male friends, sons, husbands, relatives, and bosses may be...is a total farce. See it for what it is. And ask for a raise next 8 marta instead of a carnation and a piece of cake.

Bob Marley was singing to you as well....

ya gotta get up, stand up....stand up for your rights

Men ain't  gonna give it to you. Plain and simple. And for that...I sincerely apologize for the way we are.



sun is shining...weather is sweet

I'm supposed to be working right now. Obviously that is not the case.

I am, as I'm sure many of you are, stuck in a room at the moment. That wouldn't be so bad if, let's say, it was -10, smoggy and downright crappy outside. But today, for the first time since we've returned to Bosnia, is a sunny one. And all we get to do is look at it through the window.

I have been racking my brain trying to figure out how on earth I can spend time in the place I think I love so much...and on the other hand how to get-the-fuck-out-of-Dodge for the winter. I'm not a skier. I'm not a big fan of coal residue polluted air, and I can guarantee that just under 50% of the cars on the road in Sarajevo (and BiH for that matter) would not even come close to passing any emissions tests in the EU.

I don't have millions...so the option of buying a winter house on the canary islands is pure fantasy. If anyone knows a sure-proof recipe for spring-summer-autumn living in BiH and then an 'as-far-away-as-possible'  recipe for Bosnian winters....please do let me know.

...makes you want to move....your dancing feet.


Grasak on my mind....

I think i've written before about my 'take' on death. In a cold way - it's the only thing in life we're sure about. It's the only thing in life we'll never be able to avoid. I'm not a heartless person...so I can't say I'm not effected by death. In one way or another...we all are.

But I keep thinking about Grasak. He visits me just as I lay down to sleep. His smile, exposing the slight gap between his two front teeth, seems to follow me. For some reason I keep torturing myself with the thoughts of how his last moments were. With that scenario of a wall of snow repeating itself over and over.

I spoke to Pasa from Klub Spavalaca 2000. He assured me that Grasak 'nije imao kad' to suffer. Meaning he had no time whatsoever after the avalanche had him in its grip.

I try to ignore the mahalanje about Vanja, who was his wife to be. To be honest, although it may be a juicy theme for those who didn't know him...for those who do it's an ugly reality that this poor girl has to face. I will not publicly discuss this young ladies dilemma.

 I'm amazed at the capacity of this town to turn everything into a soap opera. I guess in a way its admirable the way we deal with death here. Even at the funeral I was standing to the back at the memorial service. Many people could not fit and gathered at the door. There must have been a handful of 5 or 6 people - all men of course - who were talking (very loudly) about their cars, jobs and whatever else came to mind. I was so angry. It was so inappropriate. People were trying to mourn. Yet people around me were either numb to it or simply learned to ignore it. I wanted to slap them upside their heads. I never want to slap anyone.

Then Grasak came to mind. And he just shrugged his shoulders and smiled...as if to say, 'ma, koga jebi druze.' And he was right.

So many things in life are 'out of sight out of mind.'  Grasak is not one of them. He is still here...and my guess is that he won't be leaving us anytime soon.

I wonder who it is that is having a hard time letting go....him or us.


a dose of pure intent from BB

My reasoning for the link to this article is simple. It's courageous. It's rational. It's honest. BUT....more to the point....it has pure intent.

There are many things I appreciate about Bojan Bajic. He is a true democrat. I may not always agree with him...but I will always get a fair, rational, objective and non-aggressive argument from him. And he will listen. He is willing to listen and learn. To me the sign of a great leader.

 Whether or not you share his view...I truly wish more people shared his values. His intent is to communicate. His intent is to create a Bosnia and Hercegovina that really works for everyone in it. Not an easy task if you think about....in fact, many would call it mission impossible. He believes in it though. And his sometimes painful insight into others perspectives could be a valuable tool we all could learn from.

For things to work here you have to understand all sides of the coin. Heads or tails just won't do.




wind beneath my wings

Crossroads can be scary sometimes. I know many people simply don't like to deal with uncertainty. Understandably so. I sort of get off on them.

Crossroads to me is a sign that change is on the horizon. And change is a good thing. At the very least it implies the possibility to grow. So that's where I'm at. A crossroads. I've put things in neutral at the moment to wait for the signs on which road is mine. It's interesting to see and feel oneself at different stages of ones life.  10 years ago the road less traveled would have been my chosen path. 10 years from now it may be the one with the biggest comfort zone or a big fuzzy security blanket. At the moment, it feels like the middle road may be the one for me.

So what in the hell am I talking about, huh? I'm  never actually sure of that to be quite honest. But my rambling definitely has something to do with the fact that I feel, at least for the moment, that an exit from my beloved Bosnia and Herzegovina is in the cards. That perspective, frankly, excites me to no end.
I was reading an interview with Demir Mahmutcehajic on sarajevo-x last night. It reminded me of a conversation I had with Jasmila Zbanic last autumn. She was angry. Mainly at herself. It came with the epiphany that, at least from what she could gather, only a small handful of people here were truly into creating something new, fresh, different....AKA - change.

She argued that if only a small percentage of people were 'fighting' for that change...what gave us the right over the 95% of the people who really aren't interested in change of any shape or form. Her conclusion was that we didn't. We were the fools. We were the ones who needed to leave here....not the primitive, provincial idiots running the country or their herds - but us.

Now Jasmila will always put things in a slightly harsher form than I would. But I've been chewing on her words since then. I don't have much faith in the hopes of change here. But on a personal level, the thought of a drastic change after almost two decades is a most pleasant one. In a way it makes me sad that I have finally succeeded in emotionally detaching myself from BiH (who am I kidding, I will never be able to cut the chord all the way thru). On the other hand....its a fresh wind under my wings.

It could be time to fly. 



Graso druze....thank you for your smile!

I keep googling Gradimir Krajisnik’s name. I’m not exactly sure why. Either way, our friend is gone. I have this compulsive obsession to find out more about the death of the fun-loving kid that went to high school with my wife. They studied together at II Gimnazija. She was always impressed by his intelligence but even more so by his jovial nature. We hung out together when he studied to be veterinarian. And it was always a happy occasion whenever we met in the years afterward.

My google searches keep leading me to exactly the same text, regardless of what portal I open. It seems like such an impersonal way to announce the passing of such a personal person. All my searches resulted in was being able to find out his name, date of birth, address and that he’s dead – that’s all the media had to say about this fabulous young man. So although I didn’t know him as well as some others…he still touched my life in a special and unique way. So please allow me to tell you a little bit of what I know about Grasak.

I guess in Bosnian terms many would call him otkacen – but in a positive way. He had a zest for life that few people I met here have. He had a tremendous sense of humour and a contagious smile. His humour was sharp. He was a sharp kid. He liked to laugh and made others do the same whether they wanted to or not. He always seemed ready to do something out of the ordinary. He loved life. And he wasn’t afraid to walk on the edge.

He too struggled with his hometown. We had a similar feeling about Sarajevo. A strange love/hate relationship with the place we both love to call home. He was simply a young man who wanted to love and be loved. He didn’t care what anybody’s name was or what holidays they celebrated. It bothered him tremendously when so many other people from his hometown did seem to care. After graduating he decided to try to live on the ‘other side.’ He moved to Novi Grad, or Bosanski Novi, in the RS to see what life would be like there and whether or not his name and surname would be treated any different.

He didn’t find it much different. He made some friends. Had a good time. But missed home.  So he came back…and from what I gather it felt he looked at Sarajevo with a set of different eyes this time. He was unsettled – not because of anything but the sometimes restless soul that he was. He never – ever – lost his sense of humor though. And he never lost the ability to make people around him smile. And then he found Vanja. She made him smile. From the look in his eyes…she was ‘the one.’

My heart aches to think of the bouncy, happy-go-lucky kid that was crushed by tonnes of fast flowing snow. He loved that mountain. He loved the freedom it gave him. And it was that mountain that set him free. My heart goes out to his mother and family, whom I never met. If it is of any comfort to his mom – she must know that he was a dearly, dearly loved young man. His smile…his walk….his goofiness….his intelligence….have carved a place in all of our hearts.

God speed to you sweet brother. You will not be forgotten. Peace  

Čiste namjere / Pure Intent
<< 03/2011 >>


What is cista namjera
Although i have become an honorary balkanite, one thing that truly bothers me is how distrustful we are of each other and how quick we are to criticize without necessarily knowing all the facts. I will certainly criticize...and rant & rave about the environment and other things that get ispod moj koze. But i promise to do it with the pure intent. No lies. No bull shit. And entirely open to criticism.

about me
I am a semi-nomadic global activist...bosnaphile, ecologist, hiker, writer, new yorker/sarajevan. Bosnia and Herzegovina has been my home after i hitchhiked from Germany to BiH on Christmas day 1992. People always ask me what was the hardest thing about coming to Bosnia during those times. My answer is always the same...'leaving!'

What about you?
This blog isn't about me. It's about us. I'd love to hear from you...your comments, complaints, suggestions, passions, fears, whatever. What I'd rather not have is a stupid nationalistic exchange on who did what, when. I'm not interested in finger pointing but constructive dialog. If you happen to be one of those negativci...leave your negative energy somewhere else please. Hvala.

I have already received comments from some of you asking me to write or comment on certain issues. That, in fact, is what this is all about. I welcome requests to write about certain topics...and if i can, i surely will. Feel free to ask me to address specific topics.



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