by Lisiana F. Demiraj
We depart for Sarajevo, where everyone of us has been before, this time to experience it from within and for long days.
On the road in the Albanian territory we see foreign as well as Albanian vehicles. It is heartwarming, of course, admitting beforehand that that flow of world citizens chose to rest in Albania and not simply obliged to pass by.
Meeting other compatriots abroad is naturally very nice. We will dwell for about eight days. One could think what could you do for eight days, beside killing yourself.
As an expected comment to me as an Albanian, brought to my mind another remark, in the memories of a few years ago:
I depart to Sarajevo, at that time, with a group formed by the travel agency. Given that the weekend visit included another destination, to Sarajevo was left only one shord winter day. They took us to Vrelo Bosne, a park that reminded me of Drilon in Pogradec, to the Tunnel of Sarejevo, which requires a few lines of description below, and to the center of Sarajevo, where the women who were part of the touristic group and that made up the majority of the tourists, went to a shopping center. But the agency didn’t plan to go to Baščaršija, the old city. Then I was abducted by the Albanian women and I managed to go by myself towards Baščaršija.
When I got back a few hours later at the meeting point for the bus departure, tensed and wide open eyes were waiting for me there. They were seeing me in the same way and yes: there were questions. “You got lost?” “Were you scared?” “You cried?”
I could not explain to the tourists back then and neither to those of 2015 that you can see a place, but you can perceive it too.
Meanwhile at Baščaršija
The shops with wood doorfolds begin to open.
Two mothers sitting on a stone slab chat.
There are tourists. There are many.
He drinks water at the fountain in the center.
She is Bosnian, she has a beautiful scarf tied by her hair and the neck uncovered. I see many women like this.
The shopkeeper is making a cezve in the anvil. “Come in, – he says to us, – where there are people, there is grace.” He has a Phd in craf work and had as a comrade of war Kadri, an Albanian.
The adhān is being called.
She has a small coffee shop in her possession, with tables on the cobble. The tables are not placed the other day at the same place and they are not even identical to one another. “This one is from my father’s house, it’s more than 100 years old”, “In the winter when there are no tourists… I sell coffee to the neighbours”.
In the courtyard of the mosque are standing the cats of Selma. One of them is pregnant.
Somehow I manage to be understood by a Bosnian man who explains to me that during Jum’ah/Friday prayer women do not pray in the mosque. I remember the Eid prayer in Prizren, where women do not pray it.
I sit at the cofe near the courtyard, I hear with delight to the hutbe/sermon in a language that I do not understand at all.
They smoke hookah and make small talk. They seem wealthy.
Sebilj and a little boy buys and feeds the pigeons.
I ask a Bosnian woman about the women with scarfs and uncovered necks. She explains to me that some of them are about to be fully covered and they do it gradually, some of them do this for the sake of tradition. “There was a Turkish influence after the war and the presence of the headscarf is something traditional, while they may not be religiously inclined”. The explanation coincides with what I have heard from a friend of mine who lives in Turkey. “It belongs to the tradition to not go out with the uncovered hair, despite the religious part”. I strongly consider that this manner is a source of misunderstanding on the notion of the headscarf, that’s for sure, however they are quite poetic.
He enjoys so much that we are Albanians and I wear a headscarf, Sana allows us to get in without a ticket.
She is so amazed that we are Albanians and I wear a headscarf, that she asked several times for confirmation. Delighted. “It is extraordinary that there are believers, you were under that… how to say it… the dushman/enemy”.
They are eating something that is delivered to them on a sahan/dish at the Morića Han, built in 1551.
He sells at the shop of Isfahan. Insence flavor and Persian carpets. He is a sufi of the Naqshbandi tariqah/spiritual path.
They are going out dressed for the night club.
They are entering a club and the guard at the door checks them for weapons.
He will close the shop and is putting the stalls inside. Some cups are getting broken from his movements. He replies to us with a smile towards the empathy: “Do not worry, it happens to me every night”.
They keep silence when in the mosque. Just this subtle is the difference and we pray the most quieter namaz ever.
Alija Izetbegović is buried with the ones who died for his vision, according to his last will.
They are fallen in war with death dates mainly between ’92-93.
The city sleeps at night. Somebody cries, some prays, some makes love. Someone works. While some steal.
The tunnel of hope
Year 1993. Codename ‘Object BD’. The construction of the tunnel was made by the Bosnian army, in a secret mission to connect the sieged Sarajevo from the serb troops, without any possibility of food and munition supplies, with the rest of Bosnia. The tunnel passed under the ground of the aeroport of Sarajevo, which was controlled by UN forces.
The construction, by the lack of proper tools, was made by hands, shovels and hammers, 24 hours a day, with 8-hour shifts, digging from both sides. It began on March 1, 1993 and ended on June 30, 1993, when two tunnels joined in the midway. Its use began the next day and it enabled the supply of food, means of war, health assistance tools, telephone cables and movement of people.
Its presence was unheard of the serbs during the war.
When Sarajevo injures
Pity for something or someone, inevitably establishes you in a superior position towards. I think that Bosnians do not want sympathy, but just ‘to not forget’. To forget in this case, as a defense mechanism, would be but a lie.
And despite of the past, the city wakes up from scratch. We wake up with it too. During the night someone broke up the front door glass and opened the trunk. Confused, as much as we feel lucky that we didn’t have anything of value there. Between the lack of empathy and concern from the owner of the apartment and the swearing in Albanian emited by an Albanian who passes there by chance, we definitely feel better from the latter. We start to cool ourselves down. In the end, unpleasant situations with the car have happened to us even in Albania. Let us also remember the Czech coulpe in Albania, who had a tragic fate, but on the basis of the story was theft of the tourist. “Balkans!” we think and unfortunately this somehow justifies inside of us the event.
I even can not hide the thought that they may have been a Serbian gang.
A couple with the long face is passing, they reside in the next alley. Someone broke to them the same car window. “We were in two cars.” Their friend, possibly the one in the other car, comes after them. “They took us everything. Suitcases and cameras, we had it all in the baggage.”
But those, non-Albanians, how will they realize stealing to a tourist?
And everything goes back to Him
And this lack of perfection does nothing but bears witness to me the Creator, the only perfect. Therefore, apart from everything else in this trip, we reconcile to continue loving Sarajevo the same.