Balkans: Siege of Sarajevo – Two Decades After

October 2012 — It’s 9am and am sitting in a bus watching first snow of the winter falling. Bus is heading small town of Mostar, a few hour drive from Sarajevo. Weather in the region can differ a lot from valley to valley, or cantons, as locals call them like in Switzerland. Going up one side of mountain in a thick snowfall. After reaching the peak and start descent, ground color changes from white to green, and snow turns to rain.

Mostar old bridge over Neretva River, and surrounding old quarters have been restored nicely. During fighting in -90’s, this UNESCO world heritage site was badly damaged. Many buildings still have war scars, some are bare skeletons. But also big shiny shopping mall has risen to the town outskirts.

Past days have been cold in Sarajevo, just as it was 20 years ago when the siege on. Fighting erupted 1992 as part of several conflicts that were result of Yugoslavia’s disintegration, and fall of Communism in East Europe. Finally 1995, mortar fire and snipers stopped terrorizing civilians. Back then I was young student and from cacophony of politics and media circus, it was hard to follow who fought who, why someone attacked someone. Now in peace and with perspective of some time, its easier to try comprehend those years. I visited the siege museum to try to get an idea of how the war was felt by those that lived it. On display was improvised weapons, tools, heaters, kitchenware etc… Aid and commerce were blocked by the guns, so everything had to be self made. Money in general was replaced by bartering, black market was booming.

Weather in Mostar was fairly good today. In Sarajevo snow had covered everything while away, and still kept pouring more after return. Now its time for Cevapi dinner. Cevapi is a Bosnian traditional cuisine that makes from meaty sausages, flat bread, and just that. Yoghurt can also be served aside. Simply delicious! @ Sarajevo

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