They say our first impressions linger with us for a long time. It includes a quick thought – an automatic thought – to judge, assess, appraise or otherwise identify a person, place or thing. Tonight I sit under mosque on Ulica Kovaci – or Kovaci Street. It is a street which used to be inhabited by blacksmiths, that is what Kovaci means. And, now here is the Evening Call to Prayer which rings from mosque to mosque throughout the city. Set amongst mosques are synagogues, cathedrals, monastaries, cemeteries, markets, cobblestone streets and packs of dogs. The dogs are descendants of those pets which were abandoned due to hardship during the siege of 1992-1995.
Our tour guide lived through the siege. As we drive through the streets we share in her distant, constant memories of survival, humanity and determination. With dark humor she shares the inane perversity of an Old Jewish Cemetery used as a sniper nest to shoot at the citizens of Sarajevo. Anger, frustration, heart ache and redemption move like reverberating gunshots.
A spiritual woman taught me many years ago to use the visualization of roses and the imagination of the scent of roses as a grounding tool for triggers of stressful situations. This comes to mind as we move through the streets of Sarajevo where most houses, parks and cemeteries have lush rose gardens of all colors. Walking to the top of Ulica Kovaci the air is lifted with the scent of roses; away from the mortar shell pavement explosions of the other Sarajevo Roses.