Expect the Unexpected – America and Croatia (Part 44)

Transposing emblem by Anastasia Kingsley
Here in Croatia, it is not wise to take things for granted.
“Bit će ako bude” – “It will be if it is [meant to be],”
“ako bog da” – “if God wills it.”
New York, America – Checking

In my native America, where I was born of European immigrants from (surprise) Croatia, people aren’t so passive. We take charge of life, as you know. To grab the brass ring, one must study, learn, network and (let’s face it) brown-nose. Most college graduates in the US expect to achieve the majority of their goals. Perhaps they won’t be CEOs or millionaires, but they do expect to reach a pinnacle of success demonstrated by nice automobiles, an attractive spouse and children, trophies like swanky vacations at least here and there, and a slice of the American apple pie. Why not go for the American dream? I can do it too!

Zagreb, Croatia – The steps

After living in Croatia for nearly 20 years, it simply isn’t so here. Imagine a dog that has been beaten too many times. Instead of anticipating a warm pat on the head, he is already cringing and preparing for the baton.

Young children are very well educated, learning English in nursery school with their parents’ hopes of beating the odds and experiencing some kind of economic security that will bring them peace of mind. More often than not, that would be a government job. Until very recently, many people had only one job all their lives. Get hired at 20 and retire at 60, particularly if you are lucky (or well-connected enough) to land a government job (at city hall, the police department or post office, etc.), but even that is no guarantee anymore.

Opatija, Croatia – Ready

Americans know something a little different – get a job and then, get a side hustle. Maybe then, and only then, will you live the good life, and not be at the mercy of one’s employer who may, on a whim, decide to let you go. Croatians have always moonlighted, but they think some options like working online seem a little bit unbelievable. In the past Yugoslavia, factory jobs were generally from 6 am to 2 pm, then family lunch time, a nap, and, at the end of the day, watch the evening news – and – Laku Noć (good night)! The pay wasn’t anything spectacular, probably half of what people now earn. The monetary unit was the Dinar, the standard was low, and leaving the country was out of the question, as was going on any type of holiday (except maybe to the seaside, particularly if you have a relative in Dalmatia).

Dubrovnik, Croatia – At the seaside

During the days of communism, families, like kittens, clumped together. Three generations in the same apartment (stan) was not unusual. Nowadays, grandma or grandpa are on one floor of the house, and the kids (with their spouse and offspring) live very close by, often on another floor, but there is some privacy, thank goodness. And the relationships have changed too. Back then, the man might occasionally cheat on his wife or beat her, but families stuck together. Nowadays, divorce isn’t on every corner, but it is certainly on every street.

Dubrovnik, Croatia – Painting the town red

To many people now, those were the good old days because two or three household members were employed, plus maybe a pensioner, so – although funds were tight – families were closely knit and no one starved. It does sound better in some ways than what we have today – four people at the table, each with his or her own electronic device – but it wasn’t paradise.

Atlanta, America – From Jackson Street Bridge

Another huge cultural difference is the idea that getting your paycheck in Croatia will happen, sooner or later, so just be patient and wait. And don’t complain, or else you might get fired and then you really won’t get anything. Logical? In the US, perhaps due to slavery, getting paid is an inalienable right. Even companies on the verge of bankruptcy will “of course” pay their employees. In Croatia, you can’t expect that. It all depends. Those who work in a hotel by the sea may wait for months until the summer season begins before receiving their pay from the following winter and spring. Maybe they will get half of their salary. Hopefully.

Vis, Croatia – The island

How do these people survive? They have a reserve fund – yes, savings. Even the poorest widow knows how to put money aside for her grandchild’s graduation present. Second, nearly every Croat I know has access to a small plot of land to plant seasonal vegetables. What isn’t eaten is frozen, and fruit trees are for canning and making homemade jams (marmalada) to spread on the crepes (palačhinka). Lunch is large, delicious and filling; soup or salad and a main dish, with dry bread for dipping the last droplet of sauce on the plate. However, dinners here are very modest; typically yogurt, or a plate of steamed potatoes and Swiss chard (blitva) seasoned with salt and pepper, garlic and homemade olive oil. (YUM!)

Rovinj, Croatia – Eternal

Third, they have faith in God. If they could survive Yugoslavia, the war, and now, the EU, they can certainly find a way to survive this. That is, if God wills it. The Croatian religion is predominantly Catholic, in a Mediterranean kind of way. I.e., young couples sleep together before marriage in the parents’ home if he or she is a good boy or girl. They definitely go to church as a type of insurance policy so that if worse comes to worse, they will be protected from evil. As a result, God keeps a scorecard of 90% mass attendance and rewards those who sacrifice Sunday mornings in church by giving them job security, healthy children and only mild illnesses during the cold and flu season. However, the younger generation is questioning this system, as well as the existence of God.

Zagreb, Croatia – Shadowed circle

In general, however, there is a type of helplessness that no one wants to talk about: Where are the jobs? What will the future hold? Does entrepreneurialism stand a chance? Will western apathy and immorality pollute the clear water of safety, fresh food and overall goodness that still exists here, on a yet underdeveloped level? We do not know the answers. But one thing can be expected: the unexpected.

Anastasia Kingsley

Credits

Photo 1: Dubrovnik, Croatia – Caught – Barry McGee

Photo 2: New York, America – Checking – Inolas

Photo 3: Zagreb, Croatia – The steps – Buco Balkanessi

Photo 4: Opatija, Croatia – Ready – John Cameron

Photo 5: Dubrovnik, Croatia – At the seaside – Radoslaw Maciejewski

Photo 6: Dubrovnik, Croatia – Painting the town red – Bezikus

Photo 7: Atlanta, America – From Jackson Street Bridge – Joe Yates

Photo 8: Vis, Croatia – The island – Ninopavisic

Photo 9: Rovinj, Croatia – Eternal – Igor Karasi

Photo 10: Zagreb, Croatia – Shadowed circle – Zvonimir Atletic

Locations

Home: www.perypatetik.net

Social: www.facebook.com/Perypatetik

Cinemblem: Perypatetik youtube channel


The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Awdejuk, Pawel. Niepewność – The Road to Freedom – Poland. July 2018.

Bell, Sarah. The Bushfire Drive – Australia. July 2018.

Bondarenko, Evgeny. Twenty Plus Years. August 2018.

Cajoto, Christina. The Trajectory of Life – España. August 2018.

Castañeda, Martha Corzo. Worried Workers – Peru. February 2018.

Cooleridge, Tweeney. Uncertainty in the Abstract – Slovakia. March 2018.

Cordido, Veronica. The Crib of Uncertainty – Venezuela. January 2018.

Dastan, S.A. Uncertain Waters – Turkey. March 2019.

Deiana, Sara. The Dark Side of Perfection. September 2018.

Electra P. Aβεβαιότητα: The Enemy of Romantic Relationships – Greece. February 2018

Escandell, Andrea da Silva. Compromise – Uruguay. March 2018

Fischer, Kristin. Talking about Cancer – Germany. September 2018.

Gómez, Javier. Uncharted Bliss. October 2018

Goumiri, Abdennour. Uncertainty Is All There Is – France. February 2018.

Guerrero, Marilin. Crossing the Uncertain Path of Life – Cuba. February 2018.

Guillot, Iuliana. Preparing for Change – Romania. June 2018.

Huihao, Mu. Going the Uncertain Way. July 2017.

Julber, Lillian. What Will Tomorrow Bring? – Chile. July 2018.

Kanunova, Nigina. Metamporphoses in Modern Life. June 2018.

Konbaz, Rahaf. So You Say You Want A Revolution – Syria. March 2018.

Korneeva, Kate. One We – Russia. April 2018.

Krnceska, Sofija. No Name Country – Macedonia. May 2018.

Lassa, Verónica. The Old Eastern Books of Uncertainty – Argentina. May 2018.

Lozano, Gabriela. El cuchillo de la incertidumbre : Piercing Uncertainty – México. January 2018.

Pang, Lian. Now or Later? October 2018.

Phelps, Jade. Healing Journey Pulls Us Apart – America. June 2018.

Protić, Aleksandar. Environmental Uncertainty. August 2018.

Romano, Mavi. An Uncertain Democracy – Spain. April 2018

Ranaldo, Mary. Incerto or Flexible: Italia and UK. March 2018.

Çakır, Peren. Building a Future in Times of Uncertainty – Argentina and Turkey. May 2018.

Sanmartín, Virginia. Qué Será, Será – Spain. June 2018.

Samir, Ahmed. Uncertainty in Personal Life. January 2018.

Sekulić, Jelena. Nesigurnost of the Past, Present and Future – Serbia. June 2018.

Sem, Sebastião. Vagrant Poets. September 2018.

Sepi, Andreea. Uncertainties Galore – Germany. April 2018.

Sitorus, Rina. When Uncertainty Reaches the Land of Certainty – Indonesia and the Netherlands. May 2018.

Trojnar, Kamila. Ephemeral. October 2018.

Quintero, Jonay. The Fear of Not Knowing – España. January 2018.

Uberti, Alejandra Baccino. Adventure – Uruguay. September 2018.

Vuka. Lacking Uncertainty in Political Culture – Serbia. April 2018.

Wallis, Toni. Living for Today – South Africa. October 2018.

Younes, Ghadir. Economic Uncertainty in Life – Lebanon. Part 38.

Zakharova, Anastasiya. LGBQT – Russia. August 2018.

Forthcoming

Translators and writers from Lebanon, India, Croatia, Brazil, Mexico and other parts of the world…

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

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