Monday, 29 September 2008

Tuzla town

On hearing that we have moved to Tuzla most Bosnians, including quite a few who live in Tuzla, ask why? Not why have we moved, but why have we moved to Tuzla. On return to a grey, drizzlefest in Tuzla I asked myself the same question. After all we could have moved anywhere in Bosnia. We could have moved to Mostar with its old town, beautiful river and easy access to Dubrovnik and the Croatian coast. We could have moved to cosmopolitan Sarajevo with its internationally renown film festival, numerous other cultural opportunities and 2 areas for wintertime weekend skiing within half an hour of the city. But no, we chose Tuzla, a town in the industrial heartland of Bosnia known for its factories. There is even a factory on the entrance to the city which is lit up luminous green at night time, just to remind us that it is there. We knew Tuzla well already, but for goodness sake there isn't even a cinema.

No, Tuzla is not the obvious place to end up when you have the pick of the country. But, when the sun shone today the boys and I took ourselves off to collect leaves in the mountain behind the city and it was glorious. The woods seemed almost magical and we all, including the dog had a wonderful time. Into the old town of Tuzla we went in search of ice cream this afternoon and remembered that the Korzo (central pedestrianised street) is not without its charm. People were relaxed, drinking coffee and enjoying what was there. We bumped into 2 people that we knew within the space of half an hour.

For all their charms Sarajevo and Mostar also have their drawbacks. The parking in Sarajevo is a nightmare (and this is from a girl born and bought up in London). Mostar is beautiful but hides an obviously destroyed cultural fabric. But most of all, we don't know anyone in Sarajevo or Mostar. In Tuzla we have friends, friends who have invited us round to make slivovica (also known as plum brandy, will put hairs on your chest in seconds), friends who go out of their way to help us with translation when we need it, friends whose parents ask us over for coffee and to play with the boys, friends who want us to come over tomorrow to celebrate the end of Ramadan. Ultimately, it is the people who make the city and the people from Tuzla are just fine. We couldn't imagine being anywhere else.

(and before I get too dewy eyed I should probably mention there are always the more practical factors as well - my research is based not far from Tuzla and Tuzla is positioning itself as an IT centre with entrepreneurial centres for IT start-ups, always useful for D and his software development company)


dreznicar said...

Hi there. My name is Admir, me and my family are Bosnians from Tuzla but we live in West Yorkshire now. I am just curious, you have mentioned that your husband is starting up a software company, so I wanted to ask if there is any possible project that I could maybe participate in(on a volunteer basis) to build my portfolio as I am currently studying on IT course(Business computing solutions with internet applications). Thanks

fraught mummy said...

Hi Admir, How are you finding West Yorkshire after Tuzla? I spoke to my husband who said that there is always room for someone to volunteer. If, by any chance, he is not able to help he is based in an IT entrepreneurial centre with many IT startups (the BIT centre), I'm sure you would find some leads there. Contact him directly - Good luck.

dreznicar said...

Hi again. I personally love West Yorkshire but in respect to my wife I had a great advantage of knowing the language as my wife had to struggle with it. So when we first moved here she was not very happy , and it was very hard for her to adapt just like you, she was seeing invisible barriers wherever she goes. But as the times move on she is getting more and more involved in local life, and the activities with the kids. I know that there is a lot more activities to do with kids here but in Bosnia there is that great number of family members that we took for granted that are always willing to help. I am sorry that we are unable to help you guys with the transition period but it will get easier.
Also thanks for the advice regarding IT experience I will be contacting your husband thanks for the contact.
All the best.