a new view – part 1

There are times when suddenly things come into focus. When you see things as they are, but with greater clarity. With a different perspective, a new view. This happened today when I was walking back from the shop. Which is not at all an unusual thing. But it became very clear, in a moment, that where I was now, was not my usual life at all.

I was walking up a hill along a lane. A flock of birds swooped in front of me. The road curved ahead and I stepped aside to allow a passing car a clear path. Further along there are a few houses. A field with some animals.

This is not Australian suburbia with stop signs and traffic lights – which is my ‘native’ or normal habitat – but a hillside village on the outskirts of Sarajevo. It’s not really remote but it is certainly secluded. There are a few close neighbours, but there are more chickens and sheep than people.

How I got here isn’t important, although it is probably an interesting story in itself … but this moment of clarity about where I was, made me aware that I felt quite at home in place that wasn’t. Home, that is. It felt normal to be somewhere that wasn’t at all a part of my life story. Until now.

But truly being ‘at home’ needs something more from me. It’s more than just feeling comfortable living in a place. The place and its people must accommodate me too. I’m thinking specifically about language. Because I neither speak nor understand Bosnian. On previous trips here, I’ve managed well enough with English. My usual greeting of ‘dobar dan’ is quickly followed by a ‘Hello’ so that the person I’m speaking to is aware that any further conversation in Bosnian is pointless.

But living here is different to visiting. Last week, a passing motorist stopped to ask me something. I’ve no idea what. An elderly gentleman at the bus stop wanted to chat. He even tried speaking German. Sorry, but that’s no good either. So, living in a neighbourhood requires a more personal connection that only a common language can give. It would also be nice to be neighbourly and have an occasional meaningful conversation.

My previous objections to learning a new language are becoming harder to support with conviction. ‘I’m too old’. ‘It’s too difficult’. Both are probably true but I’m feeling more and more that I should at least try. Although, it will definitely be a challenge.

And I need to start soon. Because the doorbell just rang, and I’m pretty sure my neighbour has invited me for coffee or tea. But the part about when or what time has completely escaped me. It would be nice to know such things … 

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