Podcasts de história

Convite para Sarajevo

Convite para Sarajevo

Em 1913, o arquiduque Franz Ferdinand foi nomeado inspetor geral do exército austro-húngaro. Promotor da expansão naval e da modernização militar, o arquiduque Franz Ferdinand era popular entre as forças armadas e, no verão de 1914, o general Oskar Potiorek, governador das províncias austríacas da Bósnia-Herzegovina, convidou o arquiduque para observar suas tropas em manobras. Quando Potieoek deixou claro que sua esposa, Dutchess Sophie também seria bem-vinda, Franz Ferdinand concordou em fazer a visita.

Franz Ferdinand sabia que a viagem seria perigosa. Um grande número de pessoas que viviam na Bósnia-Herzegovina estava descontente com o domínio austro-húngaro e era favorável à união com a Sérvia. Em 1910, um sérvio, Bogdan Zerajic, tentou assassinar o general Varesanin, o governador austríaco da Bósnia-Herzegovina, quando ele estava abrindo o parlamento em Sarajevo.

Zerajic era um membro da Mão Negra (Unidade ou Morte) que queria que a Bósnia-Herzegovina deixasse o Império Austro-Húngaro. O líder do grupo era o coronel Dragutin Dimitrijevic, chefe do Departamento de Inteligência do Estado-Maior da Sérvia. Dimitrijevic considerava Franz Ferdinand uma séria ameaça à união entre a Bósnia-Herzegovina e a Sérvia. Ele temia que os planos de Ferdinand de conceder concessões aos eslavos do sul tornassem mais difícil a obtenção de um Estado sérvio independente.


10 fatos sobre o assassinato de Sarajevo que desencadeou a Primeira Guerra Mundial

Curiosamente, os membros da Família Real dos Habsburgos foram alvos de tentativas de assassinato, e alguns também foram assassinados. Franz Ferdinand não foi o único membro da família real a ser morto por um assassino. Em 1989, a imperatriz consorte austríaca com mais tempo de serviço, Elisabeth, foi morta a facadas por um anarquista italiano chamado Luigi Lucheni. Mais cedo, Lucheni perdeu a chance de assassinar o príncipe Philippe, duque de Orl & Atilde & copyans, e jurou matar qualquer membro da realeza que visse. Felizmente, Elisabeth seguiu um convite da família Rothschild para Genebra e, ao sair do hotel onde passou uma noite incógnita, para se apressar para o navio a vapor & ldquoGen & Atilde & umlve & rdquo, ela encontrou a morte. O evento, que foi bem coberto pela imprensa contemporânea, foi um choque e deixou o público austro-húngaro em luto profundo.

Isso não é tudo! O imperador Franz Josef também foi alvo de duas tentativas fracassadas de assassinato, uma delas em particular em 18 de fevereiro de 1853, quando J & Atilde & iexclnos Lib & Atilde & copynyi, um nacionalista húngaro tentou assassiná-lo.

Com esse tipo de tentativa de assassinato, provavelmente se concordaria que a Família Real dos Habsburgos sabia que eles sempre foram alvos e tinham que ser sensíveis. Na verdade, tanto Franz Ferdinand quanto a Imperatriz Elisabeth foram avisados ​​de suas visitas antes de seus assassinatos.


Encontro em Sarajevo

A presença de Taizé foi muito sentida em toda a cidade nos dias que antecederam o encontro, com a chegada dos primeiros voluntários. Apesar de tantos idiomas diferentes, era fácil entender uns aos outros e organizar tudo. O início oficial foi na sexta-feira, 3 de setembro. Desde cedo, os jovens voluntários acolhem nas suas paróquias jovens de diversos países europeus. Peregrinos da Polônia, Alemanha, Croácia, Eslovênia, Eslováquia, França, Hungria, Sérvia, Romênia, Espanha, Portugal, Itália ... vieram a Sarajevo para passar três dias com jovens da Bósnia-Herzegovina e irmãos de Taizé para aprender sobre a cidade, o país, o povo e orar juntos por esperança, paz e confiança.

Muitas famílias abriram suas casas para os jovens peregrinos. Mais de 600 deles chegaram. A oração da tarde foi o primeiro evento do programa. O Sport Hall em Skenderija foi decorado como a igreja de Taizé, com velas, ícones e centenas de jovens rezando e cantando. O salão simplesmente não era mais o mesmo, estava cheio de um espírito de comunhão e alegria. O primeiro dia terminou com a oração da noite, durante a qual o irmão Alois cumprimentou a todos e falou sobre a importância de dar e receber perdão:

Os jovens convidados e seus anfitriões iniciaram o segundo dia com a oração da manhã nas paróquias e nas igrejas ortodoxas. Posteriormente, as equipes locais organizaram workshops cujo objetivo era apresentar pessoas, instituições e organizações que são particularmente marcantes em suas comunidades locais. Assim, os jovens visitaram diferentes mesquitas e igrejas, associações culturais, museus, hospitais e assim por diante.

A tarde foi reservada para outros nove workshops que proporcionaram aos convidados a oportunidade de conhecer pessoas de diferentes comunidades religiosas, bem como diferentes instituições culturais e educativas. Vários representantes oficiais participaram dessas oficinas.

No final da tarde, os peregrinos participaram das Vésperas, com a bênção do pão, na Antiga Igreja Ortodoxa.

Durante a Oração Vespertina, o purpurado e o metropolita expressaram a sua alegria e felicidade por ver que este encontro de Taizé se realiza na Bósnia-Herzegovina e que reúne tantos jovens de tão diversos países.

No último dia do encontro, houve celebrações nas paróquias e nas igrejas ortodoxas. O encontro terminou com uma oração na Igreja São José.

Em seus corações, para todos aqueles que foram acolhidos, como para todos aqueles que os acolheram, permanece um profundo sentimento de alegria, esperança e felicidade doada e recebida.

Tomislava (Bósnia-Herzegovina)

Fiquei entusiasmado com a ideia de um encontro em Sarjevo desde o início ... mas só me ocorreu quando vi tantos jovens de tantos países diferentes em frente a Skenderija e quando ouvi “Sto oko ne vidje. ”No pavilhão desportivo onde às vezes assistimos a um jogo. Fiquei tão emocionado: Taizé veio para a Bósnia-Herzegovina. Tive hóspedes tão agradáveis ​​em minha casa e conheci tantos jovens excelentes. Eu queria muito mostrar a eles minha querida cidade e compartilhar com eles minha experiência de vida aqui. Eles me deram muito mais em troca: sua compaixão, sua compreensão, suas orações, sua esperança e sua alegria.

Nicolas (França)

É um passo após o outro que a paz se constrói, o irmão Alois nos confidenciou em uma de suas meditações em Sarajevo. E foi dia após dia que os peregrinos vindos dos Balcãs e de toda a Europa à Bósnia-Herzegovina se alimentaram de encontros ricos de humanidade.

Como peregrinos, costumamos elogiar a qualidade do acolhimento das famílias nas reuniões de Taizé. E devo dizer, sem exagero, que o acolhimento que minha família nos deu foi excepcional. Para além do alojamento e da comida, foi a simplicidade do tempo partilhado sem contar, e a bondade natural nos olhos dos meus anfitriões que me tocaram profundamente.

A proximidade da minha família anfitriã e as nossas discussões sobre isto e aquilo no passado, presente e futuro também me permitiram descobrir as riquezas da Bósnia-Herzegovina. Essa riqueza permanece frágil em alguns aspectos, no entanto. Deve ser desenvolvido na vida cotidiana, especialmente em favor do diálogo inter-religioso e do aparecimento incessante de iniciativas que reúnam as diversas comunidades para um progresso comum.


A História do Convite

A evolução dos convites tem uma longa história. Conhecer a história e as tradições por trás do convite o ajudará na sua seleção. Os convites para eventos sociais eram usados ​​pela aristocracia na Inglaterra e na França a partir do século XVIII. Pode ser possível voltar mais cem ou duzentos anos para encontrar os fundamentos do convite.

Reis, rainhas, senhores, damas, duques, duquesas ou, no vernáculo de hoje, a "alta sociedade" convidaria seus pares para seus eventos sociais com anúncios escritos à mão. Estas foram escritas pela esposa, mordomo ou secretária. Escrever foi uma marca de educação. Mesmo depois da impressão, a mão da aristocracia escreveu convites, pois a produção em massa era de mau gosto.

Naquela época, a maioria dos que sabia ler e escrever tinha excelente caligrafia. Eles escreveram com uma pena, feita de uma pena com uma ponta cuidadosamente cortada. Como alguém escreveu, enquanto segurava a caneta em uma posição, os caracteres formados eram finos em uma direção e largos na outra. Por exemplo, um círculo ou 'o' pode ser fino na parte superior e inferior e largo nas laterais. Quando você combina uma caligrafia excelente com o instrumento de escrita da época, a caligrafia, pelos padrões de hoje, era uma obra de arte.

A redação real era muito semelhante às redações socialmente corretas usadas hoje. A grande diferença é que a redação, na maioria das vezes, inclui o nome do hóspede. Tudo foi explicado, incluindo a data e a hora do evento.

Depois de escrito, cada convite foi colocado em um invólucro protetor (um envelope feito à mão). Esse envelope, que agora é chamado de envelope interno, incluiria os nomes do convidado. Ao terminar, um lacre de cera quente foi afixado ao envelope. (Selos de cera costumavam ser o brasão da família.)

Sem qualquer tipo de serviço postal, esses convites deveriam ser entregues em mãos. Esta foi a tarefa de um dos criados, que os entregou a cavalo, em todas as condições meteorológicas.

Assim surgiu a necessidade de um envelope externo. Este envelope externo tinha um duplo propósito. Era usado para proteger o envelope interno da água e sujeira e para fornecer instruções sobre a propriedade, castelo ou fazenda do destinatário.

Assim que o criado chegasse, retiraria o envelope externo, faria o convite ao porteiro e aguardaria uma resposta.

A imprensa escrita apareceu na Europa em meados do século XIII. Mesmo assim, a impressão de convites de casamento e outros convites sociais só começou no início do século XX. Parte da elite, fascinada com a industrialização, começou a usar convites produzidos em massa - provavelmente como uma novidade ou simplesmente como outra expressão de riqueza.

O verdadeiro início do convite de casamento impresso comercialmente começou nos Estados Unidos após a Segunda Guerra Mundial. Uma das grandes características da combinação de democracia com industrialização foi dar ao homem comum a capacidade de imitar os estilos de vida e o materialismo da elite da sociedade. Mais ou menos na mesma época, Amy Vanderbilt e Emily Post apareceram em cena para ajudar a corrigir os erros da sociedade.

Como a tinta da impressora demorava para secar, à medida que cada convite era removido da impressora, um lenço de papel foi colocado sobre ele para que o próximo convite colocado por cima não pegasse a tinta do que estava abaixo.

Pode-se perguntar por que passou a ser comum o envio de convites com esse tecido protetor ainda colocado. Pode-se imaginar que foi apenas uma forma de mostrar claramente que o convite foi impresso com essa nova e fascinante tecnologia. A inclusão do tecido continua até hoje.

A impressão comum é um processo confuso e não produz letras de alta qualidade. A litografia, por outro lado, é um método de impressão que retém uma réplica de alta qualidade da arte desenhada ou esboçada. Produz uma tinta muito nítida e distinta.

Uma vez que todos podiam comprar convites impressos, a elite social precisava de uma maneira nova e especial de fazer convites. Eles decidiram gravá-los. Isso serviu a um segundo propósito. Isso permitiu que o convite impresso emulasse a escrita à mão, já que as placas de cobre gravadas eram feitas à mão.

A gravura, como o nome indica, exige que o artesão escreva à mão, ao contrário, em uma placa de metal usando uma ferramenta de entalhe. Até hoje, os melhores convites estão gravados.

A menos elite, para não ficar atrás, tentou novamente imitar a qualidade dos muito ricos. Junto veio uma versão barata de gravura chamada termografia ou impressão com tinta em relevo. Ao contrário da impressão comum, a gravação realmente corta a superfície do papel. A qualidade da impressão era linda e dava para sentir onde a tinta se depositava nos pequenos cortes na superfície do papel. O processo de termografia, ao contrário da gravura, usava o tipo de chumbo comum lavado com tinta. Quando o papel impresso foi removido da prensa com tinta úmida, um pó de plástico foi borrifado na tinta úmida e então soprado. O pó plástico absorveu a cor da tinta. O papel foi então aquecido até o pó plástico derreter, deixando uma tinta em relevo que você podia sentir. Assim, os envelopes e tecidos internos são simplesmente tradição. Da mesma forma, os selos de envelope são o equivalente produzido em massa para substituir o selo de cera quente.

Se você deseja os melhores convites possíveis, deve comprar o melhor papel e contratar um artista e um calígrafo. O artista personalizará seu convite com um desenho à mão em cada um. O calígrafo escreverá seu convite à mão e endereçará seus envelopes. Obviamente, um impressor experiente também pode fazer convites lindos para você.


O monstro no lago

Começando com sequências sobre educação de esqui, parcialmente em loops lentos, perturbados por flashes de imagens de cenas totalmente diferentes, mas também marcados por uma oscilação permanente e um som parcialmente distorcido, o espectador imediatamente sente que algo está errado neste mundo inofensivo. Um corpo morto fluindo em uma vala na montanha abre outras expectativas. Logo vemos o corpo levado por um homem em uma longa capa via trenó. Ouvimos telefonemas com mensagens de aviso de que eventos estranhos estão acontecendo em uma estação de alta montanha. Finalmente, vemos um monstro com olhos vermelhos aparecendo na natureza. O amplo panorama entre documentário suave, cenário de crime e terror se abre. Mais níveis são adicionados. Matéria sexual explícita, adolescentes falando sobre sua vida e trabalho, crianças se preparando para uma viagem na região de esqui e, finalmente, austríacos mais velhos falando sobre seus primeiros esforços para construir uma indústria de esqui nesta região argentina, relembrando muitos rumores que circulam por lá. Então, a voz de uma criança sussurra a história de um monstro que vive no lago de uma montanha próxima: Nahuel Trilque.

a voz de uma criança sussurra a história de um monstro que vive no lago de uma montanha próxima.

Uma narração nos informa que Bariloche, no sul do país, era apenas uma pequena cidade desconhecida há cinquenta anos. Hoje é conhecido como o centro de esqui mais importante da América Latina. Mas algo deu errado. Vemos o túmulo de um jovem, um ativista político, seguido por um aborígene cantando uma canção ritual na noite da montanha.

De repente, fora da tela, uma jovem voz feminina culpa o cineasta por seu estilo contemporâneo, evitando representações behavioristas. «Se você não tomar uma posição, você se torna um cúmplice.» Ela descreve imagens de arquivo em preto e branco, que agora encontram seu lugar na estrutura de La Banca & # 8217s. Estabelece-se um contexto sócio-político: a história dos povos indígenas massacrados e removidos desta região, nomeadamente os Mapuche e Tehuelche. Para abrir espaço para projetos comerciais em sua maioria organizados por empresários europeus, acompanhados pelo governo de direita por meio de sua Gendarmerie nacional durante a gestão de Mauricio Macri & # 8217, nativos foram executados ou transformados em mão de obra barata. Há apenas três anos, outra vítima foi encontrada morta.

Esqui, um filme de Manque La Banca


Sarajevo: beleza brilhando em uma história de violência

Situada em um vale de cada lado do rio Miljacka, Sarajevo não é conhecida como a "Jerusalém da Europa" à toa. Em seu passado mais harmonioso, esta foi a única cidade europeia a ter uma mesquita, igreja católica, igreja ortodoxa e sinagoga no mesmo bairro.

Eles ainda estão lá, lado a lado hoje - a sinagoga Ashkenazi, a mesquita Gazi Husrev-beg do século 16, um dos melhores edifícios otomanos na Bósnia, a Catedral Católica do Sagrado Coração de Jesus e a velha Igreja Ortodoxa de Sarajevo.

Claro, a vibração idílica mudou completamente desde o Cerco de Sarajevo, o mais longo cerco a uma cidade na história (5 de abril de 1992 a 29 de fevereiro de 1996), que matou mais de 11.500 pessoas. Isso é difícil de esquecer quando saio para dar meu primeiro passeio pela Rua Ferhadija em direção ao centro histórico de Sarajevo. Mas eu tento.

Primeiro, porém, uma linha organizada de boinas azuis bebê passa pela janela do meu hotel - soldados da paz da ONU. Bem-vindo a Sarajevo. Alguns passos adiante, bem em frente à catedral católica, um outdoor em sanduíche anuncia a exposição permanente de Srebeniza da Galerija 11/07/1995 nas proximidades. O outro lado da placa-sanduíche anuncia exibições do documentário em movimento de Bill Carter em 1995 Miss Sarajevo, que inspirou a música homônima do U2 com Luciano Pavarotti. Bono era um visitante regular aqui na época do show da banda em Sarajevo em setembro de 1997.

Enquanto eu estou aqui, deve estar na mente de cada Sarajevan que Radovan Karadzic, que planejou o massacre de Srebeniza, está prestes a ser condenado por crimes de guerra em Haia. É difícil acreditar que um albergue da juventude acabou de receber o nome em homenagem a este notório "açougueiro da Bósnia" nas proximidades de Pale, na República de Sprska.

Em uma tentativa de olhar além disso e da reputação de classe da história de Sarajevo como "o barril de pólvora da Europa", eu vagueio pela Rua Ferhadija até Bascarsija (pronuncia-se Bash-Char-She-Yah), a linda cidade velha da cidade.

Na Fonte Sebilj, um ponto de encontro popular conhecido pelos turistas como “Praça dos Pombos”, pássaros voam enquanto tento fotografar o velho bonde elétrico. Um dos primeiros na Europa, o vagabundo mostra sua idade ao passar rastejando, cheio de Sarajevans cuidando de seus afazeres diários. Tiro outra fotografia do local onde o Oriente encontra o Ocidente.

A cidade velha de Sarajevo é incrivelmente charmosa com seus minaretes, narguilés e assentos baixos e descontraídos. As manhãs aqui começam lindamente com café bósnio, servido em potes de cobre (dzevas), talvez com um pouco de baklava bósnio à parte. O povo de Sarajevo não poderia ser mais caloroso e acolhedor.

Como pisar com leveza em um lugar tão carregado de história? Talvez a única solução seja fazer como um Sarajevan, sentar e socializar com amigos (e fazer novos amigos) durante o café ou alguma outra bebida local. Eu aproveito a deixa para diminuir a velocidade, relaxar e ter uma perspectiva de como todos nós temos sorte de que um atirador não esteja mirando em nós das encostas ao redor.

As pequenas ruas pitorescas de Bascarsija são organizadas como se estivessem de acordo com as guildas de artesãos medievais. Portanto, “Coppersmith Street” (Rua Kazandziluk), está repleta de belos produtos de cobre. Ao lado dessas tradicionais cafeteiras bósnias estão balas polidas, canetas-bala e jatos de combate feitos de balas, orgulhosamente oferecidos como souvenirs.

Também existe uma rua de ourives, ou zlatari, lembrando-me de Dubliner Zlata Filipovic, nascido em Sarajevo, produtor de cinema e autor de um best-seller internacional Diário de Zlata: a vida de uma criança em tempo de guerra em Sarajevo, que escapou para Dublin durante o cerco.

Para algo realmente especial, confira as joias tradicionais modeladas a partir de itens do Museu Nacional da Bósnia e Herzegovina em “Zlatar Sofic” (zlatarsofic. Com). A moda nessas bancas de mercado é cada vez mais turca do que bósnia, e cada vez mais mulheres jovens se cobrem com burcas e véus.

Seguindo um bom conselho, tomo um gole d'água na fonte pública do lado de fora da Mesquita de Bey (a primeira mesquita do mundo a ter eletricidade), o que, segundo a lenda, garante que estarei de volta aqui. Eu espero que sim.

Sarajevo, com sua população de cerca de 400.000, é pequena, o que a torna fácil de navegar e rapidamente se sentir em casa. Apenas vagando por você inevitavelmente acabará no local que todos nós aprendemos na escola, onde o assassinato do arquiduque Franz Ferdinand deflagrou a Primeira Guerra Mundial.

Aqui, na pitoresca Ponte Latina (conhecida como Ponte Prinzip durante a época de Tito), o Museu de Sarajevo 1878-1918 imortaliza a sequência de eventos que levaram ao tiro de Gavril Prinzip contra o Arquiduque da Áustria e sua esposa grávida quando sua carruagem real parou inesperadamente e revertido. Tire uma selfie aqui.

Eu reli a seção de Sarajevo no livro de viagem de Rebecca West de 1941 Cordeiro Preto e Falcão Cinzento, nos três voos que fiz de Dublin para Sarajevo. (West, cujo pai era um aristocrata anglo-irlandês de Kerry, relata o assassinato).

Há uma sensação de distorção do tempo em Sarajevo. Se Prinzip voltasse hoje, pouco teria mudado (bondes incluídos), nas pitorescas ruas do Império Habsburgo, desde que ele navegou por elas em 1914 para tirar suas três fotos que mudaram o mundo.

Meu local favorito, porém, é rio abaixo. A maravilhosa Ponte Festina Lente de 2012, cujo nome se traduz como "apresse-se lentamente", leva de forma descontraída à majestosa Academia de Belas Artes de Sarajevo. Ele se curva em um convite arquitetônico para desacelerar e cheirar as rosas - ou, neste caso, saborear a antiga vista do rio Miljacka.

Este é o clima descontraído que permeia esta cidade charmosa, embora volátil. Pode ser melancólico, mas estando rodeado por tantas lembranças de morte e destruição, com cemitérios em todos os espaços verdes disponíveis, não se pode deixar de respirar profundamente e sentir-se sortudo por estar vivo.

Sarajevo é um lugar estranhamente bonito e muito emocionante para se visitar.

Irish Times Travel

Pensando em fugir? Sonhe diurno com destinos com a Irish Times Travel


Zvizdic: A Instituição precisa reagir com firmeza, a História nos ensinou que

Em todos os documentos relacionados com a Bósnia e Herzegovina feitos sem a Bósnia-Herzegovina, as instituições têm de reagir com firmeza, a história ensinou-nos isso, disse Denis Zvizdic, vice-presidente da Câmara dos Representantes da Assembleia Parlamentar da Bósnia e Herzegovina.

Ele falou como convidado na sessão regular de domingo da Associação de Intelectuais Independentes do Círculo 99 sobre o tema & # 8220Não papel & # 8216of realpolitik e estabilidade de estados soberanos & # 8221.

Zvizdic lembrou que atualmente existem dois "não-documentos" públicos em que outros escrevem sobre a Bósnia e Herzegovina e, embora diferentes, ambos têm um denominador comum, que é a interferência nos assuntos internos de uma Bósnia e Herzegovina independente e soberana.

Acrescentou que a política externa dos países que têm um compromisso declarativo com a União Europeia não é acompanhada de procedimentos reais e realistas que estejam em consonância com a política da União Europeia e dos países da UE.

& # 8220Na BiH, podemos decidir o nosso destino, e esses países devem ajudar-nos no caminho para a UE, e não dificultar para nós, o que é um trabalho complexo de qualquer forma, & # 8221 Zvizdic disse.

É de opinião que é necessário proceder a uma reintegração completa e a uma alteração planeada, gradual, mas completa da Constituição da Bósnia-Herzegovina, o que aumentará o nível de funcionalidade da Bósnia-Herzegovina e fortalecerá as instituições estatais para implementar as reformas da UE.

Ele acredita que é necessário considerar o retorno às soluções de qualidade do chamado & # 8220April package & # 8221, que foi criado em cooperação com a comunidade internacional e que foi apoiado por todas as políticas atuais.


Túnel Sarajevo

Para alguns é um monumento à força do espírito humano, outros pensam que foi um local de tortura. Uma viagem ao túnel de Sarajevo, uma via subterrânea de 700 metros que, para os habitantes da capital da Bósnia, significou a diferença entre a vida e a morte

É realmente clandestino. Todo mundo sabe que existe, mesmo que não seja mencionado na lista telefônica, nos livros oficiais ou em discursos públicos. Não há sinais de trânsito para isso. E ainda é muito conhecido. Recebe inúmeras visitas, é procurado, encontrado, olhado e admirado. É o “túnel de Sarajevo”. Existe, mas, oficialmente, é como se não existisse.

Para o povo de Sarajevo, “o túnel” é o símbolo de coragem e sobrevivência. Para os sérvios da Bósnia Herzegovina, é o lugar onde os sérvios foram mortos e torturados.

Outro dia, um pequeno grupo de admiradores e simpatizantes que não se esqueceram do significado do túnel de Sarajevo durante a guerra, se reuniu para comemorar seu décimo oitavo aniversário. Foi uma cerimônia bastante modesta, muito mais baixa do que sua fama e importância histórica poderiam hoje implicar.

Salvação sob o aeroporto

30 de julho de 1993, às 20h40, as mãos de duas pessoas que cavavam o subsolo, uma em direção à cidade e a outra em direção ao subúrbio de Hrasnica, tocaram sob a pista do aeroporto de Sarajevo. Um breve abraço e depois, apressadamente, fecharam os últimos metros de parede e reforçaram a cobertura daquele buraco mais tarde conhecido e lembrado como “o túnel de Sarajevo” ou “o túnel da guerra” ou “o túnel da salvação”. Naquele momento, o Sarajevo sitiado abriu sua única linha segura para o resto do mundo. Naquela mesma noite, pelo túnel, doze toneladas de mercadorias foram transportadas para a cidade e uma brigada de soldados passou na direção oposta para ajudar as unidades que lutavam no Monte Igman, onde uma grande batalha estava acontecendo.

É um exagero chamá-lo de túnel: na verdade é uma cavidade de 760 metros de comprimento, 1 metro de 20 cm de largura, um metro e meio de altura, apenas em alguns lugares 1 metro de 80 cm. Entre março e julho de 1993, mais de 200 pessoas em sigilo absoluto e em condições medievais o desenterraram com as mãos, pás e picaretas à luz de lanternas. O túnel foi construído a apenas 50 metros da linha de frente, sob o nariz das forças internacionais, que teriam impedido sua construção se soubessem e, naturalmente, era um segredo do inimigo. Ele conectou as duas áreas livres da cidade, Dobrinja e Butmir. É por isso que no código era conhecido como D-B. As pessoas riam disso porque aquelas cartas eram iguais às usadas para o serviço secreto na velha Iugoslávia.

Sarajevo 1993

Para entender a importância do túnel naquele período, vale lembrar Sarajevo no inverno de 1993: selado por nacionalistas sérvios que o mantiveram sob cerco medieval com 600 peças de artilharia posicionadas nas montanhas circundantes, sem eletricidade, água corrente ou gás, em casas geladas onde os telefones não funcionavam, trezentos mil habitantes de uma cidade moderna suportaram fome, bombardeios e tiros de franco-atiradores. Disto a maioria, senão todos, queria escapar. Eles escaparam pelos canos de esgoto, cruzaram campos minados, sobre o rio congelado ou se esconderam nos raros caminhões para levar ajuda humanitária à cidade.

Os mais ousados, ou os mais desesperados, cruzavam a pista do aeroporto de Sarajevo. As chances de sobrevivência nessa rota eram de 50%. A incerteza perseguiu os fugitivos desesperados até o fim. A pista foi cruzada à noite, correndo na escuridão total, não só porque não havia iluminação, mas porque, uma vez sobre a pista não sabiam se iriam terminar nos braços de amigos ou inimigos, ou seja, em terreno controlado por Bósnios ou sérvios. Minha irmã conseguiu. Na quinta tentativa. Nas quatro vezes anteriores ela, junto com o pequeno grupo do qual tentava fugir, foi detida e levada de volta ao centro da cidade.

O aeroporto era controlado pelas forças internacionais que impediram a fuga dos cidadãos. As tropas estrangeiras policiaram a pista com, entre outras coisas, raios infravermelhos. Assim que notaram fugitivos, eles se aproximaram com carros blindados e apontaram os faróis para eles. A sua “presa”, como um animal iluminado na escuridão, parou de medo, transformou-se em pedra de terror. Apanhados pelos faróis, os fugitivos tornaram-se alvos fáceis para os agressores. Mais de 250 pessoas morreram desta forma.

As pessoas comuns sonhavam com o túnel, mas as autoridades também estavam considerando isso. Certamente não para esvaziar Sarajevo de seus habitantes, mas para suportar melhor o cerco, facilitar as manobras, levar comida e remédios para a cidade e pegar em armas nos dois sentidos.

Cavar sob o aeroporto era uma necessidade, um movimento desesperado.

Foi planejado por dois jovens engenheiros Sarajevan competentes: Nedzad Brankovic e Fadil Sero. A estrutura, que por dentro parecia um buraco, resistiu às toneladas que caíram na pista de pouso durante toda a guerra. Esses dois foram posteriormente premiados com medalhas. Infelizmente, Nedzad Brankovic, após a guerra, não manteve sua reputação. Envolveu-se em um escândalo, tendo obtido um apartamento ilegalmente, e o povo o obrigou a renunciar ao cargo de primeiro-ministro da Federação da Bósnia-Herzegovina.

O chalé dos Kolars

O túnel foi acessado através de uma casa indefinida perto do aeroporto pertencente à família Kolar. O sigilo do projeto impôs um limite à obra e os primeiros metros foram escavados por poucos de confiança. O trabalho prosseguia muito lentamente, os homens cavando sentados no chão ou ajoelhados. Vários problemas surgiram: o que fazer com o material escavado para não deixar os sérvios desconfiados, como lidar com a água que enchia o buraco, como agarrar o material necessário para proteger o teto e as paredes, enquanto todo o bombardeios-relógio interromperam o trabalho. Em março de 1993, o trabalho foi interrompido. Assim, o presidente, Alija Izetbegovic, interveio pessoalmente. O trabalho recomeçou, com homens do exército bósnio trabalhando em turnos de 24 horas por dia. Então chegaram os mineiros do centro da Bósnia. Oito horas de trabalho eram pagas com um maço de cigarros escassos e caros (15 euros o maço) e muito valorizados não só pelos fumantes, mas também porque também eram usados ​​na troca.

Do túnel concluído, foram retirados 2.300 metros cúbicos de terra, inseridos 170 metros cúbicos de madeira e 45 toneladas de metal.

A entrada no túnel era controlada pelo exército bósnio e era necessária uma licença para entrar e sair da cidade por esta rota subterrânea. No entanto, o trânsito em cada sentido era contínuo e todos os dias entre três e quatro mil pessoas e trinta toneladas de mercadorias diversas passavam pelo túnel. No início, as pessoas iam em grupos de vinte a mil pessoas. Em média, demorou duas horas para cobrir esses 760 metros. Depois de reforçada a passagem subterrânea, foram trazidos pequenos vagões, como os usados ​​nas minas. Eram empurrados por homens e era um trabalho árduo, pois havia curvas e inclinações no corredor, estando o ponto mais profundo 5 metros abaixo do pista.

Cada vagão carregava 400 quilos de mercadorias. As pessoas passando carregavam em média 50 quilos em mochilas e à mão. Um cidadão anônimo de Sarajevo chegou a carregar 105 quilos nas costas, principalmente cebolas e batatas. Para o presidente Izetbegovic foi instalada uma “cadeira presidencial”. Vê-lo hoje é cômico ouvir um objeto tão lamentável recebendo um título tão pomposo.

Os primeiros itens militares a passar pelo túnel foram bombas caseiras, preparadas na cidade bloqueada com qualquer metal que pudesse ser encontrado. “Postagens de sinalização rodoviária” escreveu minha irmã com orgulho em uma carta para mim.

O primeiro negócio do túnel envolveu trazer ovos para a cidade sitiada, mas muito mais lucrativo foi transportar álcool e gasolina. Este era o comércio dos ricos e poderosos, aqueles que podiam pagar e sabiam quem corromper. Oficialmente, o álcool não podia ser levado através do túnel, mas uma vez mais de duzentos litros de álcool foram descobertos nas sacolas dos jogadores do time de basquete “Bosna” no retorno de um torneio. Like cigarettes and coffee, alcohol was a bargaining tool in the besieged Sarajevo.

Divjak's head and Alma's courage

Through the tunnel went soldiers, common people, politicians, journalists, artists. General Jovo Divjak has a lasting memory: twelve stitches in his head. On his way through he hit his head on the low ceiling. The first foreigner to go through was the American Ambassador, Victor Jaković.

Alma G., a fifty year old, went through to get food for her family. “For months we'd been eating the leaves and rice distributed as humanitarian aid. Thanks to the tunnel I came home with two backpacks full of food, one on my back and one in front, plus a bag in each hand. I crossed Mount Igman, walking in two feet of snow. I was already tired when I got to the tunnel entrance. Those 760 metres seemed an eternity. I didn't think I'd make it. Outside my house I fell down. I couldn't take another step. But I knew an exit from that hell of Sarajevo existed – there was the tunnel, and that consoled me.”

There's a scene in the short film “(A)torzija” - “Torsion” (screenplay by Abdulah Sidran, prize winner at the 2003 Berlin Film Festival) at the tunnel entrance. Some members of a choir are awaiting their turn outside the tunnel, a cow starts to give birth, the calf is turned round in the uterus and the choir start to sing to help the birth because one of them remembered that music can alleviate pain.

The effect of music on the despairing was what inspired the invitation to the famous Croat tenor, Krunoslav Cigoj to perform at the Christmas concert in Sarajevo in 1994. He suffered from claustrophobia and, after the concert which was broadcast by CNN, Cigoj said the underground passage was one of the hardest moments in his life.

Three goats

The privilege of passing through the tunnel was also reserved for three goats, the fate of one of which I know. My colleague and friend, Fadila, originally from Prijedor in northern Bosnia, heard that all the men in her family had ended up in concentration camps set up by the Serbs in that area (Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje). For these relatives she could do nothing and for this reason Fadila had decided to help someone who was in need, this being a Bosnian tradition and ancient belief. The orphanage of Zenica had several children and, although Zenica is only half an hour from Sarajevo in peace time, during the war various permits, courage and a whole day were required to get there. Via radio operators, as telephones didn't work, Fadila asked a colleague working in the orphanage to help her choose a child. Her colleague suggested some nice healthy children. There was a boy, a two year old, who neither spoke nor walked he was very thin and seemed autistic. Fadila chose him and sent her husband to fetch him. He brought the child through the tunnel to a Sarajevo under siege and then went back through the tunnel to get a goat which they kept on the balcony in the middle of Sarajevo. A goat, where hunger was rife and shortages the norm, was worth a fortune. For us, goat's milk has properties which are considered miraculous. With this goat's milk and other cures they got this child back on his feet. Today he's a great boy and the pride of his family.

Mladić's grenades

In 1994 the Serbs got to know about the tunnel. General Ratko Mladić protested to the international forces and asked Unprofor, in vain, to close it. Officially Unprofor did not know, or did not want to know, of its existence in dealings with the Bosnian military the underground passage was referred to as “the tunnel which isn't”. So the besiegers tried to destroy it. They tried to deviate the Željeznica river to flood it and intensified their bombing in the area where they presumed the entrances were. In one of these bombardments twelve people were killed while waiting in line to go through.

After the war the tunnel was abandoned and most of it is in ruins. Thanks to the Kolar family, through whose house the tunnel was entered, today 25 metres can be visited. On their own initiative the Kolars have set up a small museum with objects connected to the place.

The Bosnian authorities have made several attempts to declare the tunnel a national monument, but the Bosnian Serbs are against this. Recently in the Federal Parliament Slavko Jovičić said that “under the runway there was not a tunnel of salvation but rather a torture gallery for the liquidation of the Serbs and a passage for contraband and arms trafficking.”According to the President of the Association of Prisoners in the Srpska Republic, Branislav Dukić, “medical experts have shown that more than 149 types of torture were inflicted on Serbs in this tunnel.

Sarajevo University Professor, Hidajet Repovac, a cultural sociologist, thinks differently: “ The tunnel had only one entrance and one exit. Anyone could go through it and no-one asked those in transit if they were Serbs, Croats or Bosnians. So the tunnel saved not only Muslims,” he concludes.

Tim Clancy, an American who worked for an Austrian humanitarian organization during the war, says, “the tunnel is a monument to the strength of the human spirit and should be visited by all Americans and Europeans to understand how difficult it was to live in Sarajevo under siege.”

To touch history

Today the tunnel of Sarajevo shares in the destiny of all that splits Bosnia Herzegovina. It reflects the divisions, hostilities and contradictions of a fragmented country and its peoples who insist on the things which estrange and divide them. That's why that underground structure, which survived the war, now hardly scrapes along.

However the visitors who come to Sarajevo are not interested in family quarrels. Most tourists, official delegations and important personalities ask to see it because they consider the tunnel of Sarajevo an historical monument, like “Check point Charlie” in Berlin, the hiding place of Anna Frank in Amsterdam, the “Cu Chi” galleries in Vietnam and other similar places. All historical locations, part of that history that we want at least to touch.


It takes time to understand Sarajevo…

I have a confession to make here. I didn’t like Sarajevo all that much at first, it just seemed like a random Central European city that already has its best times behind. But the more I wandered around, the more I learned about the terrible events in mid 90s, the more I felt the tragedy of the city and its people – the more I started loving it. I just needed time so Sarajevo could have grown inside me. The city is like a magnet, it’s impossible to forget about it and the moment you leave it you long to return as soon as possible. For me one of the reasons why I got so obsessed with the capital of Bosnia was the siege. It was the first event in the recent history that I remember (sadly I missed the end of communism in Poland or the fall of Berlin Wall as I was only 5 years old then) but since I was a kid then I didn’t really understand what’s happening in Bosnia, I was sure it’s just some kind of misunderstanding. I remember watching news from the first Markale market attack and I was certain it was just a terrible accident – I thought so until I visited Sarajevo and got to know the truth. Ever since then I try really hard to understand what exactly happened in Sarajevo and, more important, why it happened and why the outside world did nothing to help the city but the more I try, the harder it gets. The whole siege makes just no sense…


Mapping Home

In the spring of 1997, I flew from Chicago, where I was living, to Sarajevo, where I was born and grew up. This was my first return to Sarajevo since the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina had ended, a year and a half earlier. I’d left in 1992, a few months before the siege of the city began. I had no family there anymore (my parents and my sister now lived in Canada), except for Teta Jozefina, whom I considered to be my grandmother. When my parents had moved to Sarajevo after graduating from college in Belgrade, in 1963, they’d rented a room in an apartment that belonged to Jozefina and her husband, Martin, in the part of town called Marin Dvor. In that rented room I was conceived, and it was where I lived for the first two years of my life. Teta Jozefina and Čika Martin, who had two teen-age children at the time, treated me like their own grandchild—to this day, my mother believes that they spoiled me for life. For a couple of years after we moved out, to a different part of Sarajevo, I had to be taken back to Marin Dvor to visit them almost every day. And until the war shattered our common life we spent every Christmas at Teta Jozefina and Čika Martin’s, following the same ritual: the same elaborately caloric dishes crowding the big table, the same tongue-burning Herzegovinian wine, the same people telling the same jokes and stories, including the one that featured the toddler me running buck naked up and down the hallway before my nightly bath.

Čika Martin died of a stroke toward the end of the siege, so when I went back in 1997 Teta Jozefina was living alone. I stayed with her, in the room (and, possibly, the very bed) where I had commenced my messy existence. Its walls had been pockmarked by shrapnel and bullets—the apartment had been directly in the sight line of a Serb sniper across the river. Teta Jozefina was a devout Catholic, but she somehow managed to believe in essential human goodness, despite the abundant evidence to the contrary all around her. She felt that the sniper was essentially a good man, because during the siege, she said, he had often shot over her and her husband’s heads to warn them that he was watching and that they shouldn’t move so carelessly in their own apartment.

In my first few days back in Sarajevo, I did little but listen to my grandmother’s harrowing and humbling stories of the siege, which included a detailed rendition of her husband’s death (where he had sat, what he had said, how he had slumped), and wander around the city. I was trying to reconcile the new Sarajevo with the version I’d left behind in 1992. It was not easy for me to comprehend how the siege had transformed the city, because the transformation was not as simple as one thing becoming another. Everything was fantastically different from what I’d known and everything was fantastically the same as before. The buildings were in the same places the bridges crossed the river at the same points the streets followed the same obscure yet familiar logic the layout of the city was unaltered. But the buildings had been mutilated by shells and shrapnel showers, or reduced to crumbling walls some of the bridges had been destroyed and almost everything in their vicinity was levelled, because the river was the front line the streets were pocked with mortar-shell marks—lines radiating from each little crater, which an art group had filled with a red substance and which the people of Sarajevo now, incredibly, called “roses.” The map of the city that I carried in my head had to be fundamentally emended.

I revisited all my favorite spots in the city center, then roamed the narrow streets high up in the hills, beyond which lay a verdant world of unmapped minefields. I randomly entered building hallways and basements, just to smell them: in addition to the familiar scent of leather suitcases, old magazines, and damp coal dust, there was the odor of hard life and sewage—during the siege, people had often taken shelter from the shelling in their basements. I idled in coffee shops, drinking coffee that tasted like burned corn, instead of the foamy pungency I remembered from before the war. Everything around me was both familiar to the point of pain and entirely uncanny and distant.

One day I was strolling, aimlessly and anxiously, down the street whose prewar name had been Ulica J.N.A. (the Yugoslav People’s Army Street) and now was Ulica Branilaca Sarajeva (the Defenders of Sarajevo Street). As I passed what had been called, in the times of socialism—which now seemed positively prehistoric—the Workers University, something made me turn and look over my shoulder into its cavernous entranceway. The turn was not of my own volition: it was my body that turned my head back, while my mind continued forward for a few steps. Impeding impatient pedestrian traffic, I stood there puzzled until I realized what had made me look back: the Workers University used to house a movie theatre (it had shut down a couple of years before the war), and whenever I’d walked by in those days I’d stopped to look at the display cases where the movie posters and showtimes were exhibited. From the lightless shafts of corporal memory, my body had recalled the action of turning to see what was playing. It had been trained to seek out stimulation in the form of a new movie poster, and it still remembered, the fucker, the way it remembered how to swim when thrown into deep water. Following that involuntary turn, my mind was flooded with a Proustian, if banal, memory: once upon a time in Sarajevo, at the Workers University, I had watched Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in America,” and I recalled the acrid smell of the disinfectant that was used to clean the floors of the cinema I recalled having to peel myself off the sticky fake-leather seats I recalled the rattle of the parting curtain.

I had left Sarajevo on January 24, 1992. I was twenty-seven (and a half) and had never lived anywhere else, or had any desire to do so. I had spent the few years before that working as a journalist in what was known, in socialist, peacetime Yugoslavia, as “the youth press,” which was generally less constrained than the established, mainstream press, reared in the pressure chamber of Tito’s one-party state. Though most of my friends in the field were defiant muckrakers, my beat was what was endearingly called “culture.” (Before the war, the domain of “culture” seemed to offer a haven from the increasingly hateful world of politics. Now, when I hear the word “culture,” I pull out the quote usually attributed to Hermann Göring: “When I hear the word ‘culture,’ I reach for my revolver.”)

In 1991, I worked at the biweekly Naši Dani, writing film reviews and a column called “Sarajevo Republika.” I considered myself militantly urban, a fanatical Sarajevan. (The title of my column was an allusion to the Mediterranean Renaissance city-states—Dubrovnik and Venice—as well as to the slogan “Kosovo Republika_,_” which had been sprayed on the walls of Kosovo by “the irredentists,” who wanted Kosovo to be given the status of a sovereign republic in the Federal Yugoslavia, rather than being classified as an “autonomous province” of Serbia.) In my column, I set out to prove Sarajevo’s uniqueness, the inherent sovereignty of its spirit, by reproducing and extolling its mythology in prose that was arrogantly thick with abstruse Sarajevo slang. The first column I ever published was about an aščcinica—a traditional Bosnian storefront restaurant that served prepared (as opposed to grilled) food—which had been run by a local family, the Hadžibajrićs, for a hundred and fifty years or so. One of the urban legends about Hadžibajrić’s claimed that, back in the seventies, during the filming of the movie “The Battle of Sutjeska”—a state-produced Second World War spectacle, in which Richard Burton played Tito—a Yugoslav People’s Army helicopter was frequently deployed to transport Hadžibajrić’s buredžici (meat pies in sour cream) to the set, deep in the mountains of eastern Bosnia, for Elizabeth Taylor’s gastronomic enjoyment. To this day, many of us are still proud of the possibility that some of the fat in Purple Eyes’ ass might have come from Sarajevo.

Other columns covered other subjects: the philosophy of Sarajevo’s baroque slang the myriad time-wasting strategies that I believed were essential for urban-mythology (re)production, and which I executed daily in innumerable kafanas (a kafana is a coffee shop, bar, restaurant, or any other place where you can spend a lot of time doing nothing, while consuming coffee or alcohol) and Sarajevo’s bingo venues, which were frequented by habitual losers, bottom-feeders, and young urbanites in pursuit of coolness credentials. One of the columns was about Vase Miskina Street (now known as Ferhadija), the main pedestrian thoroughfare in the heart of the city, which stretched from downtown to the old town. I referred to it as the city’s “artery,” because, if you spent enough time drinking coffee at one of its many kafanas, the whole city would eventually circulate past you. In the early nineties, street peddlers stationed themselves along Vase Miskina, pushing the penny-cheap detritus of the wrecked workers’ state: sewing-machine needles, screwdrivers, and Russian/Serbo-Croat dictionaries. (These days, it’s all Third World-capitalism junk: made-in-China plastic toys, miraculous herbal remedies, pirated DVDs.)

Fancying myself a street-savvy columnist, I raked the city for material, absorbing impressions and details and generating ideas for my writing. I don’t know if I would’ve used the word back then, but now I am prone to reimagining my younger self as one of Baudelaire’s flâneurs, as someone who wanted to be everywhere and nowhere in particular, for whom wandering was the main means of communication with the city. Sarajevo was a small town, viscous with stories and history, brimming with people I knew and loved, all of whom I could monitor from a well-chosen kafana perch or while patrolling the streets. As I surveyed the estuaries of Vase Miskina or the obscure, narrow streets in the hills, complete paragraphs flooded my brain not infrequently, and mysteriously, a simple lust would possess my body. The city laid itself down for me wandering stimulated my body as well as my mind. It probably didn’t hurt that my daily caffeine and nicotine intake bordered on stroke-inducing—what wine and opium must have been for Baudelaire, coffee and cigarettes were for me.

As I would when I came back in 1997, I entered buildings just to smell their hallways. I studied the edges of stone stairs rounded by the many soles that had rubbed against them in the past century or two. I spent gameless days at the Željo soccer stadium, eavesdropping on the pensioners—the retirees who were lifelong season-ticket holders—as they strolled in circles within its walls, discussing the heartrending losses and unlikely victories of the past. I returned to places I had known my whole life in order to capture details that had been blurred by excessive familiarity. I collected sensations and faces, smells and sights, fully internalizing Sarajevo’s architecture and its physiognomies. I gradually became aware that my interiority was inseparable from my exteriority, that the geography of my city was the geography of my soul. Physically and metaphysically, I was placed. If my friends spotted me on a side street looking up at the friezes typical of Austro-Hungarian architecture, or lingering on a lonely park bench, watching dogs fetch and couples make out—the kinds of behavior that might have seemed worrisome in someone else—they just assumed that I was working on a column. And I probably was.

Despite my grand plans, I ended up writing only six or seven “Sarajevo Republika” columns before Naši Dani ran out of money. The magazine’s dissolution was inconspicuous within the ongoing dissolution of Yugoslavia. In the summer of 1991, incidents in neighboring Croatia developed into a full-fledged, fast-spreading war. There were persistent rumors that the Yugoslav People’s Army, controlled by the Serbs and happily engaged in Croatia, was secretly transferring troops and weapons to the parts of Bosnia with a majority Serb population. De fato, Oslobodjenje, the Sarajevo daily paper, got hold of a military plan outlining a troop redeployment in Bosnia and Herzegovina that clearly suggested the imminence of war, even though the Army firmly denied the plan.

The Army spokespeople weren’t the only ones denying the blatant likelihood of war. The urbanites of Sarajevo were also intent on ignoring the obvious, if for different reasons. Thus the summer of 1991, the last one before the war in Bosnia, was for many of us a continuous festival of disaster euphoria: the streets were packed day and night parties, sex, and drugs were abundant the laughter was hysterical. In the seductive glow of inevitable catastrophe, the city appeared more beautiful than ever. By September, however, the complicated operations of denial were winding down. With troubling frequency, I found myself speculating about which of the buildings around me would provide good sniper positions. Yet, even as I envisioned myself and my fellow-citizens ducking under fire, I took those visions to be simply paranoid manifestations of the stress induced by the ubiquitous warmongering politics. I understand now that I was imagining incidents, as it was hard for me to imagine guerra in all its force, in much the same way that a young person can imagine the symptoms of an illness but finds it hard to imagine death: life seems so continuously, intensely present.

Nowadays in Sarajevo death is all too easy to imagine and is itself continuously, intensely present, but back then the city was fully alive, both inside me and outside me. Its indelible sensory dimensions, its concreteness, seemed to defy the abstractions of war. I have learned since then that war is the most concrete thing there is, a reality that swallows all, easily overriding any other mode of existence and levelling both interiority and exteriority into the flatness of a crushed soul.

One day in the early summer of 1991, I went to the American Cultural Center in Sarajevo for an interview that was supposed to assess my suitability for the International Visitor Program, a cultural exchange program that was run by the now defunct United States Information Agency—which I hoped was a spy outfit, whose employees went undercover as culture lovers. I met the man in charge of the center, chatted a bit about this and that (mainly that), and then went home. I did not think that my visit to America would ever come to pass, nor had I noticed the man actually evaluating me. I didn’t care all that much. Though I thought it might be fun to Kerouac about in America for a while, I loved my city I intended to tell stories about it to my children and my grandchildren, to grow old and die there. Around that time, I was having a passionate on-and-off affair with a young woman who was planning to move abroad, because, she said, she felt that she did not belong in Sarajevo. “It is not about where you belong—it is about what belongs to you,” I told her, possibly quoting from some movie. I was twenty-seven (and a half) and Sarajevo belonged to me.

I had pretty much forgotten about my summer chat at the American Cultural Center when, in the late fall, I received a call inviting me to visit the United States. I accepted the invitation. I planned to follow the U.S.I.A.’s monthlong itinerary, and then, before returning to Sarajevo, visit an old friend in Chicago. I landed at O’Hare on March 14, 1992. I remember that day as clear and sunny. On my way in from the airport, I saw for the first time Chicago’s skyline—an enormous, distant, geometrical city, less emerald than dark against the blue firmament.

By this time, the Yugoslav People’s Army was heavily deployed all over Bosnia, following the previously denied plan Serbian paramilitaries were crazy busy slaughtering there were random barricades and shootings on the streets of Sarajevo. In early April, a peaceful demonstration in front of the Bosnian Parliament Building was targeted by Serb snipers. In an ensuing series of incidents, two women were killed on the Vrbanja Bridge, a hundred yards or so from Teta Jozefina’s apartment, quite conceivably by the same good sniper who later maculated the walls in the room of my conception. On the outskirts of the city and in the hills above, the war was already mature and raging, but in the heart of Sarajevo people still seemed to think that it would somehow stop before it bit into their flesh. To my anxious inquiries from Chicago, my mother would respond, “There is already less shooting than yesterday”—as though war were a spring rain.

My father, however, advised me to stay away. Nothing good was going to happen at home, he said. I was supposed to fly back from Chicago on May 1st, and as things got progressively worse in Sarajevo I was kept awake by my fear for my parents’ and friends’ lives and by worries about my previously unimagined and currently unimaginable future in America. Daily, I wrangled with my conscience: if you were the author of a column titled “Sarajevo Republika,” then wasn’t it your duty to go back and defend your city and its spirit from annihilation?

“Well, not going to starve—now who’s the crazy cat lady?”

Much of that wrangling I did while incessantly roaming the streets of Chicago, as though I could simply walk off my moral anxiety. I’d pick a movie that I wanted to see—both for distraction and out of my old habits as a film reviewer—then locate, with my friend’s help, a theatre that was showing it. From Ukrainian Village, the neighborhood where I was staying, I’d take public transportation a couple of hours before the movie started, buy a ticket, and then wander in concentric circles around the movie theatre. My first journey was to the Esquire (now no longer a movie venue) on Oak Street, in the affluent Gold Coast neighborhood. The Esquire was my Plymouth Rock. The movie was Michael Apted’s “Thunderheart,” in which Val Kilmer played an F.B.I. agent of Native American background coming to terms with his past and his heritage. I remember the movie being as bad as it sounds, though I don’t remember many details. Nor do I remember much of my first Gold Coast roam, because it has become indistinguishable from all the other ones, the way the first day of school is subsumed in the entirety of your educational experience.

I subsequently journeyed to movie theatres all over Chicago and walked in circles around all of them. I saw more bad movies, in so-called bad neighborhoods, where, the movies notwithstanding, nothing bad ever happened to me. There was always plenty of space for walking, as few cared to crowd the streets in those parts of Chicago. When I had no money for the movies—my main source of income was the card game Preference, which I had taught my friend and his buddies to play—I would explore the areas of Wicker Park, Bucktown, and Humboldt Park (Saul Bellow’s childhood neighborhood), which was adjacent to Ukrainian Village and, I was warned, gang-infested.

I could not quit. A tormented flâneur, I kept walking, my Achilles tendons sore, my head in the clouds of fear and longing for Sarajevo, until I finally reconciled myself to the idea of staying. On May 1st, I did not fly home. On May 2nd, all the exits out of the city were blocked the longest siege in modern history began. In Chicago, I submitted my application for political asylum. The rest is the rest of my life.

In my ambulatory expeditions, I be came acquainted with Chicago, but I did not yet know the city. The need to know it in my body, to locate myself in the world, had not been satisfied. I did not know how to live in Chicago, how to communicate with it in the urban language I had acquired at home. The American city was organized in a fundamentally different way from Sarajevo. (A few years later, I would find a Bellow quotation that perfectly encapsulated my feeling about the city at the time: “Chicago was nowhere. It had no setting. It was something released into American space.”)

In the Sarajevo I knew, you possessed a personal infrastructure: your kafana, your barber, your butcher the landmarks of your life (the spot where you fell and broke your arm playing soccer, the corner where you waited to meet the first of the many loves of your life, the bench where you first kissed her) the streets where people would forever know and recognize you, the space that identified you. Because anonymity was well nigh impossible and privacy literally incomprehensible (there is no word for “privacy” in Bosnian), your fellow-Sarajevans knew you as well as you knew them. If you somehow vanished, your fellow-citizens could have reconstructed you from their collective memory and the gossip that had accrued over years. Your sense of who you were, your deepest identity, was determined by your position in a human network, whose physical corollary was the architecture of the city.

Chicago, on the other hand, was built not for people to come together but for them to be safely apart. Size, power, and the need for privacy seemed to be the dominant elements of its architecture. Vast as it was, Chicago ignored the distinctions between freedom and isolation, between independence and selfishness, between privacy and loneliness. In this city, I had no human network within which to place myself. My displacement was metaphysical to precisely the same extent to which it was physical. But I couldn’t live nowhere. I wanted from Chicago what I had got from Sarajevo: a geography of the soul.

More walking was needed, as was, even more pressingly, reasonably gainful employment. After a few illegal, below-minimum-wage jobs, some of which required me to furnish someone else’s Social Security number (fuck you, Arizona!), I took my first legal job, canvassing door to door for Greenpeace. When I first called to inquire about the job, I did not even know what it was, what the word “canvassing” meant. Naturally, I was terrified of talking to Americans on their doorsteps, what with my insufficient English, devoid of articles and contaminated with a thick foreign accent, but I craved the ambulatory freedom between the doors. So, in the early summer of 1992, I found myself canvassing in the proudly indistinguishable, dull western suburbs (Schaumburg, Naperville) in the wealthy North Shore ones (Wilmette, Winnetka, Lake Forest), with their hospital-size houses and herds of cars in palatial garages and in the southern working-class ones (Blue Island, Park Forest), where people invited me into their homes and offered me stale Twinkies. But my favorite turf was, predictably, in the city: Pullman, Beverly, Lakeview, and then the Parks—Hyde, Lincoln, Rogers. Little by little, I began to sort out the geography of Chicagoland, assembling a street map in my mind, building by building, door by door. Occasionally, I slacked off before canvassing, in a local diner, struggling to enjoy the burned-corn taste of American coffee, monitoring the foot traffic, the corner drug trade, the friendly ladies. A few times, I skipped work entirely and just walked and walked in the neighborhood assigned to me. I became a low-wage, immigrant flâneur.

At the same time, I was obsessively following TV reports from the besieged Sarajevo, trying to assess from afar the extent of the devastation. Toward the end of May, I had watched the footage of a massacre on Vase Miskina, when a Serb shell hit a breadline, killing scores of Sarajevans. I’d attempted to identify the people on the screen—writhing in a puddle of rose-red blood, their legs torn off, their faces distorted with shock and pain—but I could not. I had a hard time recognizing the place as well. The street I’d thought I owned, and had frivolously dubbed the city artery, was now awash in the actual blood of those I’d left behind, and all I could do was watch the looping thirty-second stories on “Headline News.”

Even from Chicago, I could guess at the magnitude of my home town’s transformation. The street that connected my neighborhood (Socijalno) with downtown was rechristened Sniper Alley. The Željo stadium, where I had eavesdropped on the pensioners, was now controlled by the Serbs, its wooden stands burned down. The little bakery in Kovaci that produced the best somun (which is like leavened pita bread) in town, and therefore in the world, was also burned down. The Museum of the 1984 Winter Olympic Games, housed in a beautiful Austro-Hungarian building of no strategic value whatsoever, was shelled (and is still a ruin). The pseudo-Moorish National Library was shelled it burned, along with its hundreds of thousands of books (and is still a ruin).

In December of 1994, I briefly volunteered at the International Human Rights Law Institute of DePaul University’s College of Law, where evidence of possible war crimes in Bosnia was being collected. By then, I had quit canvassing and enrolled in graduate school at Northwestern, and I desperately needed a job, so I showed up at the institute’s downtown office, hoping that someone would give me one. There was no way for my prospective employers to know who I was or had been—I could easily have been a spy—so they offered me what they thought were simple volunteer tasks. At first, I input some data for the concentration-camp database, where every testimony about or mention of a camp or a site that had served as such was filed. But eventually I was given a stack of photographs of destroyed and damaged buildings in Sarajevo, as yet unidentified, and asked to note their locations. Many of the buildings were roofless or hole-ridden or burned, their windows blown out. There were few people in those pictures, but what I was doing felt very much like identifying corpses.

Now and then I could recall the street or even the exact address sometimes the buildings were so familiar they seemed unreal. There was, for example, the building at the corner of Danijela Ozme and Kralja Tomislava, across from which I used to wait for Renata, my high-school girlfriend, to come down from Džidžikovac. Back then, there was a supermarket on the ground floor of the building, where I would buy candy or cigarettes when she was late, which was always. I’d known that building for years. It had stood in its place solid, indelible. I’d never devoted any thought to it until I saw its picture in Chicago. In the photograph, the building was hollow, disembowelled by a Serb shell, which had evidently fallen through the roof and dropped down a few floors. The supermarket now existed only in the flooded storage space of my memory.

There were also buildings that I recognized but could not exactly place. And then there were ones that were wholly unknown to me—I couldn’t even figure out what part of town they might have been in. I have since learned that you don’t need to know every part of a city to own the whole of it, but in that office in downtown Chicago it terrified me to think that there was some sector of Sarajevo that I did not know and probably never would, as it was now disintegrating like a cardboard stage set, in the downpour of Serb shells. The siege was making it impossible for me ever to return to the defined space of my previous life. If my mind and my city were the same thing, then I was losing my mind. Converting Chicago into my mental space, developing a new personal urban infrastructure, became psychiatrically urgent, metaphysically essential.

In the spring of 1993, after a year or so of living in Ukrainian Village, I moved to a lakeside neighborhood called Edgewater, on Chicago’s North Side. I rented a tiny studio in a building called the Artist in Residence, in which various lonely and not exactly successful artists resided. The AiR provided a loose sense of community within the city’s anonymity it offered a rehearsal space for musicians, dancers, and actors, as well as access to a computer for those of us who harbored writerly hopes. The building manager’s implausibly appropriate name was Art.

Back then, Edgewater was where one went to acquire cheap—and bad—heroin. I had been warned that it was a rough neighborhood, but what I saw there were varieties of despair that seemed to match my own. One day I stood on Winthrop Avenue looking up at the top of a building on whose ledge a young woman sat deliberating whether to kill herself, while a couple of guys down on the street kept shouting “Jump!” They did so out of sheer asshole malice, of course, but at the time their suggestion seemed to me a reasonable resolution to the continuous problem we call life.

I was still working for Greenpeace at this point, walking different city neighborhoods and suburbs every day, but every night I came back to the Edgewater studio I could call my own. I was beginning to develop a set of ritualistic practices. Before sleep, I would listen to a demented monologue delivered by a chemically stimulated corner loiterer, and occasionally muffled by the soothing sound of trains clattering past on the El tracks. In the morning, drinking coffee, I would watch from my window the people waiting at the Granville El stop, recognizing the regulars. Sometimes I’d splurge on breakfast at a Shoney’s on Broadway (now long gone) that offered a $2.99 all-you-can-eat deal to the likes of me and the residents of a nursing home on Winthrop, who would arrive en masse, holding hands like schoolchildren. At Gino’s North, where there was only one beer on tap and where many an artist got shitfaced, I’d watch the victorious Bulls’ games, high-fiving only the select few who were not too drunk to lift their elbows off the bar. I’d spend weekends playing chess at a Rogers Park coffee shop, next to a movie theatre. I often played with an old Assyrian named Peter, who owned a perfume shop and who, whenever he put me in an indefensible position and forced me to resign, would make the same joke: “Can I have that in writing?” But there was no writing coming from me. Deeply displaced, I could write neither in Bosnian nor in English.

Little by little, people in Edgewater began to recognize me I started greeting them on the street. Over time, I acquired a barber and a butcher and a movie theatre and a coffee shop with a steady cast of colorful characters (the chess players). I discovered that in order to transform an American city into a personal space you had to start in a particular neighborhood. Soon, I began to claim Edgewater as mine I became a local. It was there that I understood what Nelson Algren meant when he wrote that loving Chicago was like loving a woman with a broken nose: I fell in love with the broken noses of Edgewater. On the AiR’s ancient communal Mac, I typed my first attempts at stories in English.

Therefore it was of the utmost significance that Edgewater turned out to be the neighborhood where shiploads of Bosnians escaping the war washed up in the spring of 1994. I experienced a shock of recognition one day, when I looked out my window and saw a family strolling down the street—where few ever walked, except in pursuit of heroin—in an unmistakably Bosnian formation: the eldest member leading the way at a slow, aimless pace, all of them slouching, hands on their butts, as though burdened by a weighty load of worries. Before long, Edgewater was dense with Bosnians: contrary to the local customs, they took evening walks, the anxiety of displacement clear in their gait in large, silent groups, they drank coffee at a lakeside Turkish café (thereby converting it into a proper kafana), a dark cloud of war trauma and cigarette smoke hovering over them their children played on the street, oblivious of the business conducted on the corner. It was as if they had come looking for me in Edgewater my home had followed me to Chicago, just as I was turning Chicago into my home. The circle seemed to be serendipitously closing.

In February, 1997, a couple of months before my first return to Sarajevo, my best friend, Veba, came to Chicago for a visit. For the first few days, I listened to the stories of his life in Sarajevo during the siege, the stories of horrible transformation that the war had brought upon the besieged. I was still living at the AiR. Despite the February cold, Veba wanted to see where my life was taking place, so we wandered around Edgewater: to the Shoney’s, the chess café, the kafana on the shore of the now iced-over lake. Veba got a haircut at my barber’s we bought meat at my butcher’s. I told him my Edgewater stories: about the young woman on the ledge, about the Bosnian family in walking formation, about Peter the Assyrian.

Then we ventured out of Edgewater, to Ukrainian Village. I showed him where I’d lived in that neighborhood. I took him to the Burger King where I had fattened myself into American shape while listening to old Ukes discussing Ukrainian politics over sixty-nine-cent coffee—I used to call them the Knights of the Burger King. We wandered around the Gold Coast, spotting a Matisse in some rich person’s apartment, nicely positioned so that it could be seen from the street we saw a movie at the Esquire. We visited the Water Tower, and I told Veba about the great Chicago fire. We had a drink at the Green Mill, where Al Capone used to imbibe Martinis, and where many giants of jazz history had performed. I showed him where the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre had taken place: the garage was long gone, but urban myth had it that dogs still growled at the site, because they could smell the blood.

Showing Veba around, telling him the stories of Chicago and of my life in Edgewater, I realized that large parts of the city had entered me and settled there I owned those parts now. They had been selected based on the criteria I had acquired at home. I saw my new city through the eyes of Sarajevo Chicago’s map had been superimposed on the map of my home town in my head. The two places had now combined to form a complicated internal landscape, a space where I could wander and feel at home, and in which stories could be generated. When I came back from my first visit to Sarajevo, in the spring of 1997, the Chicago I came back to belonged to me. Returning from home, I returned home. ♦


Assista o vídeo: Holiday Inn Sarajevo: In the Eye of the Siege. War Hotels (Janeiro 2022).