Monday, February 21, 2011

Life in Niš: Family

We arrived in Niš about a month and a half ago so by now our schedules are set in their ways. We've established relationships at home and work, found shortcuts through the city, developed a weekly routine, and located our favorite palacinka parlors.

Frankly I prefer the city of Niš to that of Novi Sad because: it's not flat, the buildings are fewer, smaller, and more modest, poverty is more visible so there's a stronger feeling of need making me feel more purposeful, English-speakers are more anomalous and those who do speak English let me practice my Serbian more than in Novi Sad, my direct neighborhood bears the feeling of a village, there's more of an Eastern and less of a Western influence in the food and architecture, people have a friendlier, more down-to-earth disposition, there's more but this is what's come to mind.

I have landed another great family, the Manić-es. I'm playing the more familiar role as the younger sister but now I'm the youngest of three ladies and being the youngest girl out of all girls is quite different than being harassed by an older brother. Just kidding. Usually the inverse carried more truth. However there exists a degree of imposed geniality between these ladies and me that emerges less frequently in the Clifton household. My eldest sister, Jelena, is 28 I believe and she actually lives in Belgrade studying law so unfortunately my time with her is limited. The middle sis, Milena, shares the same birthday as my brother back home (what a coinkidink!) and recently turned 24. She studies English language and literature in Niš so we have little difficulty communicating. My host mother, Draginja, works as a doctor in the hitni pomoč(emergency room) of the hospital in Niš although she hasn't been working since he injured her shoulder the first week I arrived. She took great care of me last week when I was under the weather and I'm so lucky to have a healer at home. My host father, Miodrag nickname Miki (like the Mouse), used to work for the Mayor's office and now teaches at the Mechanical Engineering faculty. There are also two canine members who both reside outside so my interaction with them is limited. Come spring we'll be buds playing in the sun together. Ahhh sun I cannot wait for your return!

My parents in Novi Sad are a generation younger than my parents here and I'm grateful for this change because now I can feel the difference. The most obvious difference is that of language; Miki and Draginja were taught Russian through school, not English, so their speech is much more limited though they are eager to learn from me. There is more importance place on food and its preparation in my Niš family; they prepare food more traditionally and they get produce, meat, and dairy products from nearby villages. Tea is also a thrice daily routine for this family and often they will have friends and family over for čaj (tea). This goes hand in hand with the tea-trait but the polako live life slower mentality is a lot more evident with these host parents and their friends of the same generation. Milena (middle child Jan) is always in a rush and doesn't like her parent's insistence on sipping tea and letting time be which is more characteristic of Serbia's youth.

Alright well tomorrow I'll write about my Niš work placement but that's a summary of my home-life. A bothersome gmail ad claimed that it's International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day today and after a mindless google search it appears this is true. It's a day for the dogs so give the pooch in your family (if one exists) a treat and let him/her do the appreciating!

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