Friday, 26 March 2010

Becoming Bosnian, Staying English

Signs we have been in Bosnia for a loooong time and there may be some readjustment required before entry back into the UK:

1. When the traffic lights go green, my first instinct is now to hoot the horn, then to put the car in gear.

2. Pedestrians, what are they? (in my defence, if you take the definition of safe driving to be driving in a way that people expect you to, then stopping to let pedestrians cross the road does constitute dangerous driving as people will go into the back of you).

3. When I look out of the window and see some metal poles in the garden opposite, my first thought isn't ooo, look, football goalposts, it is oooo, look, a place to bash carpets.

4. It's 6pm. I've just decided to make the boys burgers for dinner, but we have no mince or buns. But that's ok, because we can nip round the corner to the butcher (open every day until 7pm) and then wander along just a little further to a bakers (open everyday until 10pm). On the way back I'll stop at the little local store to pick up some fresh tomatoes and free range eggs from the chickens in their backyard (open every day until 10pm). Total walking time for the entire round trip. 5 minutes. Total cost, not very much at all. England is going to come as a shock. I'm dreading Tesco's and the thought of the local convenience store veg there is making me feel a bit sick.

5. A no-smoking table? What's that?

6. A coffee in a cafe can last a good 90 minutes. Possibly longer.

7. Activities and meeting up with friends are to be arranged no earlier than the previous day. Any earlier, and the other person will just forget anyway. I've learnt to look at my week, stretching before me with nothing arranged at all and not be scared. I'm a little worried if I look at a week with many activities planned, I'm going to go into controlled chaotic panic.

8. Everything can be mended, fixed, put back together. Throw nothing away. If nothing else then the boys can play with it outside.

9. An obsession with cleaning windows has taken hold. The Bosnians are forever hanging out of high towers to ensure their windows are sparkling. It's quite nice, particularly when compared to the greasy smeared efforts of our house in the UK.

10. On learning that we have to go and see a Bosnian ministry, our first thought is now 'who do we know who might be able to help us' rather than just heading over with hope in our hearts and confidence in the system.

Signs that I will never be a Bosnian however long I stay

1. I do believe that sljivavica (plum brandy, the national drink) is not fit for human consumption. I am now ducking for cover as the Bosnians recoil in horror and start proceedings for our instant deportation.

2. My Bosnian is torture for the listener. But they seem to understand much better when I put on my best James Bond villain accent. Then I have no problems. Well except for the attack of the giggles as I imagine myself a karate chopping, leather wearing, sleek black bob sporting, kick ass kind of girl.

3. I can't wear jeans that tight. I just can't.

4. Dumping rubbish, especially in the parks and areas of beauty is just not acceptable. Smashing bottles all over the place isn't remotely amusing either.

5. I can't take the ticks. The season has started. I now spend my evenings grooming the dog and extracting them from her fur. They are disgusting creatures and meet their doom in a glass of sljivavica (see point 1).

6. When I say no chocolate for the kids, I really mean please don't give them any chocolate. Feeding them sugar out of the sugar bowl isn't acceptable either. Particularly when one has already been car sick that day and we've got a bit of a drive home.

7. I have no idea if food will be served when we go to visit someone. I've lost count of the number of times we've been served up an enormous meal, with multiple courses when all I was expecting was a coffee.

8. I like set meal times. Breakfast at the beginning of the day. Lunch after some morning activities. Dinner when it is getting dark. I have no idea when the Bosnians eat their meals, but it certainly isn't the same schedule as mine!

9. I like my children to go to bed by 8pm at the latest. By 8pm I have had enough of them, and they have had enough of me. Plus I want to have a bath in peace. The thought of them still being up at 10pm and later makes me feel a tad teary.

10. Playgrounds are good things. Playgrounds that are open are better. Playgrounds that aren't built on the thickest gloopiest mud imaginable are better still. Playgrounds with all of these and without nails sticking out of the equipment are best of all. My boys are going to be in seventh heaven when they get back and see their first playground since November. Come to think of it, so will I.


As you can see by the post, we are not sitting on a flight from Belgrade as was looking likely next week. The boys and I are coming back on Tuesday instead. I'm looking forward to the flight as much as the thought of searching for a bracelet in a bucket of vomit. To get me in the mood of flying with two small children I'm off to read the flying with kids carnival put together by Mellow Mummy. And then I'm stick my head in the sand about moving for a bit longer.


Muddling Along Mummy said...

Your James Bond Villan accent made me giggle!

Hope that you have a good flight home (or at least less bad then you expect)

Michelloui said...

Fantastic post, I really enjoyed this! After the first list I was thinking 'actually, it all sounds really lovely.' then on to the second list... and lots of chuckles. Apart from the bond villain accent :) I wonder if I put on an English accent if I would sound like a villain? Probably as villainous as Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. ;)

Good luck with the flight. Looking forward to hopefully seeing you in May!

London City Mum said...

Oh yes - bedtime! Have endless arguments (sorry, discussions) about the time ours go to bed (7.30 to 8pm at the latest) with my continental friends and relatives.

They think I am a tyrant.

I think they are inconsiderate a) for them child who NEEDS SLEEP, and b) for themselves (adult time, anyone?), and c) for me who as a guest has really had enough of other people's children by 10.30pm....

Humph. Probably last time I get a welcome elsewhere now!


Modern Dilemma said...

Love the idea of your JB villain accent. Very funny.

The shopping and hours of availability are still a big problem for me coming back to UK. I want to pop into a coffee shop after an evening walk for a drink and (of course) cake for desert, but no. Nadda. Brits only seem to want to be tucked up indoors after 5pm. It is ridiculous and the weather is no excuse.

MD xx

Victoria said...

The thought of my children being up beyond 8pm makes me a little teary too. Actually, make that 7.30pm. We're off on Tuesday to visit German brother in law. His children go to bed 'when they feel like it'. My children will want to too. I'll be glad to get home.

Infact, it seems that you and I have rather a lot in common. I found myself nodding and agreeing to everything.

nappy valley girl said...

Great post.
I like my children in bed by 8pm too. Unfortunately, my children seem to disagree with this idea....

I hope the flight is OK. (Just remind yourself, you could be flying to Australia. And that would be worse.) Our flight to the US was actually OK - it was just standing in line at JFK to get through immigration that was a nightmare, and you won't have that problem. If your flight has TV screens on the back of the seats, you will be laughing....

zvrk said...

Really enoyed reading your previous posts(and chuckled to lots of them).
from Croatian living in Kent

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

Oh bother bother bother! This is the post I wanted to write, except you have done it better than I could hope to do. And, erm.I haven't left yet! I've said it before but....... this could have been written about Albania. it's exactly the same. And it's ALL the same things bug me or please me. My driving has adapte dsimilarly too. I will seem SO rude & aggressive when I return to the UK.

TheMadHouse said...

I loved this post too. I guess readjusting would be a little strange, but I bet you will some be reminising. Have a safe flight

Anonymous said...

Just you wait till you're back and making a fool of yourself trying to buy things at the newsagent with whatever coins are the closest size to the ones you would have used in Bosnia... or automatically looking the wrong way when you cross the road... :)

My solution to the James Bond villain problem always used to be 'just try and do an impression of that TV presenter'... but then what if I've ended up sounding like the local equivalent of Davina McCall and nobody's ever told me? Eeek :)

Sandy Calico said...

Sounds like you'll miss a great deal of the Bosnian way of life. I'm looking forward to hearing your best JB accent at Cybermummy! Good luck for the flight home. x

lastofthemojitos said...

Poles specifically for bashing carpets and grocery stores open until 10 at night, can I move there???
Best of luck on the flight home with the kids, will the dog be ok with quarantine and all that, sorry just curious?

Anonymous said...

The image of searching for a bracelet in a bucket of vomit is gonna stay with me all day...thanks for that!

Nishant said...

Hope that you have a good flight home (or at least less bad then you expect)
home based data entry

Anonymous said...

Really interesting post - I particularly like the idea of looking for a braclet in a bucket of vomit - a very vivid image!

Emily O said...

Great post, I'm sure you're going to miss Bosnia a lot. Those shops being open late like that sounds brilliant, I hate Tesco too but after 7pm that's all you get here sadly.

ella said...

Oh I love the idea of a local butcher and baker!

Tesco deliver so in theory you might not have to face it - if we move to the US I don't know how I will manage without grocery delivery....

Good luck with the flight x

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

MAM - but it is true. I don't get understood unless I'm doing my most evil accent.

Michelloui - you should try the English accent. See what people think!

LCM - I am a tyrant too - although when it got really hot in the summer and the only nice time to be outside was after 4pm I did go a bit continental and got naps in the afternoon and then later nights. Nearly killed me though, to lose my evenings!

MD - What is it about post 5pm. So extraordinary!

Victoria - Wonder how your bedtime will go when you are travelling. When we are on the move, we tend to find that the boys stay up much later.

NVG - oh bother to the children that disagree with the rightness of their mother. Wish mine would learn that I am always right, and that I must be obeyed!

zvrk - glad you like them!

Paradise - Glad it isn't just me whose driving has gone to rudeness. I fit right in here now, even Dave says that I've become a Bosnian driver. They are going to hate me back in England...

MH - thanks. there'll be lots of reminising. WE will miss Bosnia very much.

Hampshire Flyer - I still look right on crossing the road. Old habits die hard!

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Sandy C - I'll put on a demonstration for those interested in learning.

Mojitos - The carpet bashing is quite a feature of Bosnian living. You know when a Mama is on the carpet rampage as the men do a runner before she can get a hold of them to do some work!

Mummmeeee - you can thank me when I get back to the UK. I've a whole store of similar phrases if you want them.

Nishant - thanks

Slummy Single Mummy - I like to leave you with a pretty picture to think about for the rest of the day.

Emily O - I can't tell you how much I am NOT looking forward to Tescos. I love the shops here.

Ella - it is wonderful. The shops are amazing - great quality, local, cheap. No one shops at the supermarkets for fruit, veg or meat. Not looking forward to that aspect of coming home.