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Sounds and Smells of Sarajevo

Random Ramblings

This is probably going to be a weird entry to translate from the thoughts in my heads to this actual post. So I give you forewarning now as a reader, that it is likely to be a lot of babbling that may or may not all make sense at the end (most likely not).
When I go to a place, one of the things that stick in my mind more than the sights or faces or anything like that is the sounds and smells. This probably sounds really strange, but it's just those things that when after your travel experience is over and your thousands of miles away again that when you hear or when you catch a faint scent of, brings you back to all of the memories of your trip. Or they are those things that when you think back on you can just almost hear in the back of your mind.

For example, in China I remember the smell right after it rained and more specifically the fact that it is the only place I've ever been where the smell after it rains is awful and not at all like that nice clean, fresh smell you think of (if you've ever been in Beibei or Beijing or really most places there you know what I mean).Or I think of the distinct sound of our sandals on the slick stone slabs that surrounded our classroom building or just how the halls of our dorm echoed when people walked up it.

In India, I remember the smell of the shop right to the right of our hotel that sold some sort of ˝sweet delicacy˝ that to me always smelled revolting, but was also the smell I equated with getting home after a long day of filming or just a day of being lost (never trust Becca Lais' sense of direction). I also remember the smell of freshly made chai tea at Anjali's that they served us no matter what and the sense it created of being welcome and embraced by the amazing individuals that worked there. Or I remember with a smirk the sound of never ending car horns that deafened us from the moment we stepped out of the Kolkata airport until we boarded our homeward bound flight. The sound that reminded us we were in an epicenter of human activity surrounded by literally millions of people.

But wow, that's a lot of ramblings about memories and places where I no longer am. This blog's supposed to be about Sarajevo,( that's what I told you at least) so I should probably get back to it. Hopefully my slight tangent helped you get a sense of what I'm talking about when I say sounds and smells.

Anyways, in Sarajevo there are a few distinct sounds that have come to make me smile whenever I hear them. One of them is this sound of pavers clinking against each other. Okay that barely captures the sound at all, but that's the closest I can get to with words. There is one maybe six foot by three foot patch of cement paving stones that I walk over every day on my way to work that have either come loose from the cement that was holding them to the ground, or water eroded the bottom of them or tree roots are growing or something. But regardless, every morning I walk across these stones and can hear the difference between the sound they create when stepped on and the sound of all of the stones around them. While it might be too early to tell, I think it will be my way of remembering me walk/tram ride to work every day which winds through neighborhoods, shopping sections, across a river, through a gorgeous park and down an old path locals call the jungle right to the foothills of the Sarajevo hills where my work place is (I could totally make that a song, ˝through the forest and over the stream , to join KULT we go. ˝Okay on second thought that probably would not be the best, the last thing Sarajevo needs is for people to acquaint it to another Jamestown fiasco). I have yet to make the walk without being astounded by how beautiful this place is, without even trying, and those pavers are kind of my reminder each morning to stop and take in the fact that I am lucky enough to call this place home for two months.

The other sound that makes me smile is that of horse hooves hitting pavement. Yeah, you're probably thinking, what? Why do you hear horse hooves on a regular basis in Sarajevo, aren't they supposed to be developed or something? Or you're thinking the exact opposite and thinking that horses fit perfectly into your vision of Sarajevo, to which I respond: News flash, Sarajevo is not some hick town stuck in the 1800's. It's a European capital and well adapted to the 21st century (minus the whole water shutting off for the whole city at midnight every night, but that's another story). I've grown kind of defense about this city even though I've only been here a little while (someone has to be since Bosnians are going to be the last people to have nice things to say about this place, they tend to just laugh at me when I say good things about the city).

Back to the point. . . horse hooves. Every day as I sit at my desk and slave away (or write blog posts and eat frozen yoghurt as I am currently doing), I can hear horse hooves hitting the pavement. I look out off the balcony and see cute little carriages rolling down the street on their way to the park (the one I walk through part of to get to work). There the horses pull carriages, which for 10KM will talk you through one of the most beautiful places in Sarajevo so you don't die of heat trying to walk through it on foot (blog entry about the park to come at some point, maybe, we'll see). Anyways, hearing the horse hooves reminds me of a couple of things. One, that I'm at work. But not that I'm just at work, that I'm at work with an incredible NGO working to change the lives of young people in Bosnian and who believe that despite all of its problems, there is hope for a brighter future for the country (which I think it pretty cool). It also though reminds me of how connected this city (and country) are with their past. Everywhere I look there are remnants and reminders of the past and in many cases the city takes pride in preserving them. After China and India, both of which seemed to be doing everything they could to bulldoze their past and throw up modern looking high rises in its place, is refreshing.

As for smells, the one smell that so far has stuck out to me is also similar to the pavers in the sense that I don't know how I can describe it in words. It's the smell of flowers, but not just like all flowers or anything. There is a very distinct flower that's in random places in the city that I've seen in either red or orange. I have no idea what type it is (we all know I kind of fail with plants, the only reason Sherman is still alive is because he requires like zero water or attention). Regardless though, it gives off one of the best smells ever, which is kind of weird for me to say since I'm not really a floral scent type of person, most of the time it just doesn't do it for me. However, the first time I walked through the park on the way home, I literally just stopped and spent like a minute breathing in. And what's cool is there not flowers you have to get close to to smell. Just walking by the park you can smell it. There's also a patch of them between the walk from our apartment to Old Town. I find it fitting that whenever I walk to or from the places that have come to have the biggest impact on my life here, work (basically the reason I had an excuse to come here) and Old Town (the area of Sarajevo I spend the majority of my free time), I get to smell them. If I ever smell them back home, I have no doubt my mind will instantly be transported back to memories of this place.

Well there's my random blog entry about the smells and sounds of Sarajevo. Not sure if it ended up making more sense or less by the end, but you maybe got a slight understanding (or you 're just think ˝all of the time sitting at a desk has finally driven Rach insane˝). Regardless, thanks for reading!

Posted by remullin 12:52 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina

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