A typical day at work: the quick run-down

Cooking with the group for Iftar at the Center
Cooking with the group for Iftar at the Center


Alarm goes off at 9am, but off course since I still haven’t adjusted my sleep schedule to Bosnian time I will sleepily, with my eyes half closed, set another alarm for 9:25am (and end up laying in bed until 9:30am). Of course, waking up as late as I do I never have time to make it down to the meager offerings the hostel calls “breakfast” (some corn flakes and rolls with jam). Next I will take my towel and walk over to the bathroom, to only have to wait outside for another 10min. for the shower to be free and regretting the whole time waking up so late that I half to wait for the shower and get cold water too. Once I’m finally ready, Ahmad, miraculously, will still not be ready, and I will end up waiting impatiently in the windy stairwell yelling at him that I will leave him behind in approximately 10 seconds.

Next comes the tram. Now, riding the tram as a foreigner without getting ticketed requires a certain art, an art I am proud to say I have nearly perfected (and have never once been ticketed). It’s all in the details. Firstly, you must be light skinned in order to blend in with the local population (being extremely white with blonde hair and blue eyes is incredibly helpful). Make sure you dress up nice to go to work like all the locals do; nothing too flashy, just stylish. Have your headphones on while your waiting for the tram, and never take them out until you get off the tram at your stop. Same with the sunglasses. While your waiting for the tram, look slightly bored; act like waiting for the tram is a regular thing for you (which it has become a regular thing for me). It is key that you maintain this casual look when the tram pulls up. Board at the back of the tram, the very back (riding crowded trams is the most secure because it is easy to blend in and hide behind the crowd). Never, ever wear a backpack on the tram (especially those huge backpacking backpacks the young tourists carry, immediate red flag giveaway). A large purse is the most suitable. Do not smile; in Bosnian culture people don’t go around smiling at strangers like we do in the U.S., so smiling is instantly suspicious. Keep to yourself, and never, ever EVER speak English on the tram.

The beloved tram of Sarajevo (I think the cars of from the 1940's)
The beloved tram of Sarajevo (I think the cars are from the 1940s)


Once I finally arrive at work I will spend most of the time bothering my friends Amra, Anel and Irma, socializing with the members, being served way too much coffee ( you end up drinking no matter how many times you decline the many kafa offers, which consequentially gives you caffeine jitters). At around 12pm the four of us will head over to the park which we have named “fat pigeon park” for a smoke break. During the smoke break we will spend time having intimate conversations, me being quizzed on my new Bosnian vocab, and complaining about the hundreds of smashed rezdelija (a small round red fruit) falling from the tree above our bench and eventually getting all over the bottom of our shoes. After our smoke break, we’ll walk over to our Pekara to buy pita (the type of pita depends on the day, we tend to switch every day). Note: 5km will buy you 1kilo of krompirusa and your friends at work will make you finish all of it (though they will of course help). After gorging ourselves on pita we’ll most likely have coffee again (Amra will try and teach me once again how to make Bosnian kafa, which will end up with her helping me). Finally, as the members are leaving together for the day in large groups, we’ll wind down by turning on the tv in the main room to watch What not to wear, sighing and yelling at the ridiculously dressed women on the screen.

Fat pigeon park
Fat pigeon park


Having fun with some of the members
Having fun with some of the members

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