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Preview: American for Hire

American for Hire



A picaresque account of a year in Kragujevac, Serbia.



Updated: 2014-10-03T00:39:46.315-04:00

 



Back in Boston

2006-06-25T13:31:17.333-04:00

Much to our amazement, we didn't have to pay a penny in extra baggage fees, even though we had twice the allowed amount (and my back still hurts). I'm not sure if it was because Dan spoke to the check-in guy in Serbian, because I smiled cutely, or just because the guy was too stunned by how much baggage we had to think about charging us. At any rate, we're home with all our stuff and we didn't



Last Day

2006-06-20T04:02:25.483-04:00

Today is our last full day in Serbia. We'll spend the day packing and visiting friends. Tomorrow morning we head back to Boston. Of course, I'm sad to leave behind my friends and the life we've made here. I still remember returning to Serbia from a trip to Budapest and sighing with relief at the sounds of Serbian. I like that for a short time a language other than my own meant "home." I'm



Serbian Wedding, Part II: The Bride's House

2006-06-18T04:45:09.853-04:00

As soon as we arrived and got out of the cars, the accordions started up (of course). When the groom's party arrives at the bride's house, there is a tradition that the groom must shoot an apple placed somewhere in the yard by the bride's family before being allowed inside. Sometimes they put it in a tricky spot, like on top of the house or up in a tree (how difficult the shot is supposedly



I love The Onion

2006-06-15T17:28:40.996-04:00

It's great to see that the US is caught up in World Cup fever this year (hah!).I was showing this piece to a friend in Serbia, and I had to explain the joke.



Pause

2006-06-07T03:43:34.113-04:00

Ok, so you'll have to wait a week for the rest of the wedding saga. We leave today for our tango vacation in Croatia. After that, we only have one more week in Serbia! See you soon in Boston.



Serbian Wedding, Part I: The Groom's House

2006-06-18T04:48:54.056-04:00

One question that has come up with surprising frequency over the past year is "Have you been to a Serbian wedding yet?"While none of our friends were willing to get married just so we could attend a wedding, our friend Milos did get us invited to his friend’s wedding, so I can now answer "Yes." And also "Wow!" Yesterday we spent about 15 hours at wedding-related activities. For blogging purposes,



Goulash Cook-Off

2006-06-03T11:06:13.173-04:00

Last Sunday, Kragujevac had its annual goulash cook-off down by the lake. Naturally, this wasn't something we could miss.It started at noon, and we arrived around 2 to the tantalizing smell of simmering goulash (and the sight of at least a dozen people dressed in traditional Serbian garb). There were about 30 contestants, including a team from the fire department, and each had set up a metal



A Serbian Perspective

2006-05-24T03:46:42.916-04:00

For my US readers who may be wondering what Serbians really think about the whole referendum thing, Bg Anon, a new contributor to Belgrade Blog, has posted his views on the Montenegrin referendum.Of course, there are other opinions, but most of the people I've spoken with have had very similar takes on the situation.



Change of address

2006-05-22T05:08:59.386-04:00

Unofficial results are showing that yesterday Montenegrins voted (by a very narrow margin) to dissolve the union with Serbia. As far as I can tell, today is business as usual here in Kragujevac. Over the past week I asked many Serbs for their opinions and predictions of the referendum, and I can sum up the overall response with one big shoulder shrug.I was watching the weather report on CNN this



The countdown is on

2006-05-21T07:05:37.313-04:00

We've been busy over the last few weeks completing projects and attending conferences, many of which have long been symbols of the end of our stay in Serbia. The only big thing we have left is our tango vacation.I don't want anyone to think that I'm impatiently counting down the days until we leave Serbia (because I'm not), but the fact is that today is May 21 and our return tickets to Boston are



It Don't Mean a Thing...

2006-05-08T09:54:58.796-04:00

Last Wednesday Dan and I taught a swing dance class at the American Corner. We had 10 couples, and everyone picked up the steps relatively quickly. Such fun!The flying hair! The green sneakers!



Sveti Djordje

2006-05-08T09:33:11.180-04:00

May 6th is the slava of the city of Kragujevac, so this past weekend was one big party.On Friday we celebrated the first anniversary of the American Corner. At the party, we announced the winners of the creative writing contest and gave out prizes and awards. I was chatting with one of the winners, talking about Lemony Snicket (her prize was the box set of the first three books) and she asked



Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

2006-05-08T07:02:55.580-04:00

Ok, I know that is perhaps the most obvious title I could have used for this post, but I couldn't resist. Who knows when I'll have another opportunity like this?Dan and I recently returned from five and a half glorious days of exploring Istanbul. The weather was just about perfect, the sights were magnificent, I tangoed in my fourth country, and (unhappily) there were throngs of tourists. We



While you're waiting for our Istanbul stories

2006-04-30T07:46:25.256-04:00

We just got back from our adventure in Istanbul, and we're still getting our thoughts in order for blogging. In the meantime, here are a few things worth checking out:Slate's Fred Kaplan on exporting more of American culture than The OC and tanks.Two Chinese Boys. Funniest thing I've seen in ages.New ads for Dunkin' Donuts. Music by They Might Be Giants.



Water, water, everywhere...

2006-04-16T12:36:25.186-04:00

In case you guys over in the States haven't heard, the Balkans are pretty much under water at the moment (although not being situated on any of the major rivers, we are A-OK here in Kragujevac). The Danube has reached record levels, and the flooding is destroying houses and farmland throughout the region. When I was returning from Budapest last Monday, there were times when the water was less



Hey, look, I'm adjusting

2006-04-11T09:56:38.466-04:00

While Dan has been busy blogging away over the past few days, I've been taking my mom around Serbia and Budapest. We had a great trip, and my mom did the work of the USPS by hauling lots of my favorite things across the ocean. Three cheers for Ginger Betty's ginger snaps! Also gingerbread cookies that look like the Serbian flag. Thank you mom!It was interesting to watch someone having first



Road Trip

2006-03-27T15:31:26.170-05:00

Yesterday our landlords took us on a road trip through central Serbia. We were in search of the Resava Monastery. Fortunately, the man we stopped for directions thought we were looking for a different monastery and told us entirely the wrong way to go.The monastery the guy sent us to was smaller, but sometimes when you don't end up where you planned, you do end up exactly where you're supposed to



Why I don't like to play scrabble with Dan

2006-03-25T15:15:41.183-05:00

I was having a good game (for me). I was definitely on track to break 300. But I had to call "uncle."Dan got not one (decides), not two (adjutant), but THREE (illness) bingos. It's just not sportsman-like.



Serb's Eye View

2006-03-25T09:30:21.353-05:00

Viktor from Belgrade Blog posted an excellent answer to my often thought (but rarely vocalized for fear of being insensitive) question of what it was like during the bombings. Very informative for Americans who have not had to live through anything similar.



I don't care about politics.
Unfortunately, politics care about me.

2006-03-25T05:32:44.286-05:00

We were having coffee with friends after a jazz concert last night, and the conversation turned, as it almost always does, to politics. None of us (except Dan) actually like talking about politics, but it's something you just can't avoid. As our Serb friend put it, "I don't care about politics, but politics care about me."In Serbia, what's going on with politics actually effects people's lives.



Recap

2006-03-19T06:47:24.886-05:00

Belgrade "Help Desk" Blog posted a recap of the events of the past week. Great pictures of the "Spring arrives three days earlier this year" event, where citizens got together in Belgrade on the day of the funeral to wish that "Milosevic doesn't happen to us ever again." Inspiring!



La de da, politics as usual

2006-03-13T18:52:38.930-05:00

My U.S. readers may be wondering about the atmosphere in Serbia following the death of Slobodan Milosevic. I can report that in some quarters, his death has been dramatically overshadowed by the Eurovision fiasco.Eurovision is an annual musical competition among the European countries, and every country is allowed to send one representative performer or group. Serbia and Montenegro are two



Holy Cow

2006-03-09T07:17:20.573-05:00

The Canadians beat the US baseball team yesterday in the first World Baseball Classic. I know, I know, I didn't want to believe it either. But it's in the New York Times.Now, I was expecting to face some competition from, say, the Dominican Republic. But Canada? Didn't they just shut down the Expos because no one went to the games?My boy Varitek hit a grand slam, but Red Sox youngster (and



An Aesthetic Kidnapping

2006-03-07T09:55:54.850-05:00

Last Friday was opening night of a film festival at our local theater - it seems that the films from the Belgrade festival are making the rounds to the regional theaters. We met up with our friends, bought some popcorn, and went in to see the first film, Broken Flowers. According to the advertisements, the movie was supposed to be followed by some sort of concert.We took our seats, glad that



Great event coming up at the American Corner

2006-03-04T11:01:52.086-05:00

In case you don't check our "official" blog, Serbia ELF News, here's the scoop on an exciting event we have planned at the American Corner. Thanks to Speedy Rice for volunteering to come speak.Is a newspaper wrong to print cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, even if hundreds of people die in the resulting protests?Should a newspaper blow the cover of a covert CIA operative? Should reporters go to