The Balkans… more than anything else it’s the peninsula of strong emotions. A geographical area where you can have the best and the worst experience at the same time. Nothing in between. Nothing average. Nothing “normal”. Nothing constant. No mild emotions. No shoulder shrugging. It’s either strong love or strong hatred. Actually I’m quite certain indifference is forbidden by law in the Balkans.
Sometimes I think the Balkan peninsula is bipolar in a way. There are times when there’s no place on Earth I’d rather be. At these times I’m laughing my heart out with the most warm hearted people. At these times I’m eating the best food in the whole wide world. At these times I feel so close to everyone here, even if we just met. At these times I feel like we’re one big family. At these times I adore the passion in this area. At these times I admire the hospitality of the people. At these times I love how much we’d do for each other.
Then there are these other times. At these other times the Balkans couldn’t possibly make me more angry. At these other times I can’t believe there are so many smart, educated people willing to work, but unable to find jobs. At these other times I can’t even comprehend the negativity and the inertia coming from this area. At these other times I can’t understand the rudeness coming from the people who work in customer service. At these other times I feel sad and disappointed because the few people that do have jobs aren’t getting paid for their work. At these other times I find all the Balkan yelling and screaming extremely off-putting.
More often than not, the Balkan people are “mistaken” for being crazy. When I studied abroad and lived with foreign flatmates – every time I Skyped someone back home, one of my flatmates would come to check if everything was OK. I’d be surprised as I just had a normal conversation, but they thought I had a huge fight as the Balkan people tend to yell and scream, rather than talk normally. They found our ways of communication crazy. When a Croatian guy I’ve never met before brought my suitcase from Croatia to Kuala Lumpur for me, my foreign friends were shocked. “Why would someone you don’t even know bring your stuff to the other side of the planet?” – they asked. For us it was normal – we want to help each other. They found helping someone you don’t even know crazy. When I’d meet someone I thought was nice and she/he needed a place to crash – I’d offer my place immediately, even if we just met ten minutes ago. My foreign friends found that kind of hospitality crazy.
So maybe we are crazy. Maybe we’re all bipolar just as the peninsula is. We either love or hate. We either laugh like crazy or scream and cry. We either help each other in ways others cannot even imagine or stop talking to each other for the dumbest reasons. Don’t blame us though, we come from the Balkans – we just can’t keep calm. It’s the peninsula’s fault!