Saturday, September 19, 2009

Rocking in the former Yugoslavia

I'm in Slovenija, the city of Celje (the j is pronounced like a y) and really enjoying the people and culture. There is still a connection to Serbia in the music. The people and the music are linked through rock.

I spent the last few nights with an awesome group of art, theatre and music fiends. We drank Laško (the local beer) and sang old Serbian rock songs late into the night. You can meet the most genuine people as you travel. People who have heart and stand for their ideals.

My host, Patricija, and her family are superb and super friendly. It was fun to see a photoshopped picture of her parents getting married on a beach in Hawaii.

Most people here speak English very well (the Slovene language is difficult to learn) although, along with the language, people seem to have embraced the US and British consumer culture. Large shopping centers spring up everywhere in a country where the average yearly earnings are around 12,000 euros a year. At least university is free and people receive a nice pension when the retire.

Before the Balkan karaoke we had a poetry slam. I told some Hawaiian myths and then listened to the rhyming rhythms of Slovene poetry. Some of it was kindly translated into English although most of the time I just enjoyed the laughter and expressions of those participating. It is really inspiring to be in a small city without much going on for the youth and to have people creating community and bringing art and culture out and engaging their friends. Patricija and her friends are the catalyst that ignites the creativity of the city.

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