Wednesday, January 1, 2003

A Reflection at the New Year and Kosovo Life (Humorous)

I have now been in the Kosovo mission for 1 1/2 years.  How time has flown and at other times, dragged on like the day would never end!!!  I have to say that I've learned quite a bit about life and the world.  And I've learnt to have more patience.  I noticed when sitting in traffic on the I-95 that I'm not frustrated to be delayed, I just relax and listen to the music.
What can I say about Kosovo?  Well, one thing that comes to mind is "time-warp"!  While the rest of the world relies on automobiles, some places in Kosovo still rely on horse and cart...and the more inventive "Kosovo Harley", which consists of a roto-tiller connected to a cart that can be driven down the street (Check the humorous Kosovo Driver's Handbook).  Often traffic on the highway is held up due to tractors, farm equipment, and the occasional power-saw-on-wheels that is being driven down the main road.  Naturally, it is done during peak hours as to cause the maximum amount of delays as possible :-D

Another thing that you won't fail to miss after being in Kosovo for awhile is what we call the "UN song".  Duh-duh duh-duh-duh-duh-DUH!!!    This reoccurring song is heard throughout the streets of Pristina on a regular basis, especially near HQ.  The song rings out loud and proud whenever a staff member fails to put the keys in the ignition of the vehicle within 30 seconds of opening the door.  There is an alternative wording to the song that goes a little like...I-am-a-dumb-@$$---And-I-just-got-here---I-for-got-the-car-alarm.

Parking is interesting as well.  It is basically wherever you can find a free spot to fit your vehicle.  This applies to on the road, on the sidewalk, half on the sidewalk-half on the road, or even in the middle of the street double-parked if only for a few minutes while you shop in the local market!!!  The favorite phrase when double-parking is "ein minute" which is strangely German for one minute.

Now this means one Kosovo minute which equates to 10-15 in American minutes.  Time is also slowed down in Kosovo.  Turkish time is also about 5-10 minutes late (sorry, Didem!) and UN time is usually 30 minutes late to not-gonna-happen.  Back to Kosovo time...if you arrange a meeting, it is better that you arrive on time or at least five minutes late because if you arrive early or on-time, you will end up waiting for the other person to show up.  Now if the person you are meeting is courteous, they will usually call that they are running late...but you will get a phone call every single time you meet that they are late!!!