Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cafe Society in Sombor

When my husband leaves the house, he always gives a time estimate. As in "I'll be back in an hour." In America, he'll match that ETA. But, in Sombor Serbia, he's on Balkan time. It's the cafes he blames. He meant to get home when he said he would. He really really did. There was just this cafe on the way, no matter where he was coming from, where it so happened an old friend was sitting. So he joined him for just one quick coffee, which completely unexpectedly turned into two coffees. Then someone else came along and it would be rude to leave without talking for bit to him too! And somehow one hour turned to two... sometimes even three.

He always looks so hangdog when he gets back. As though he's expecting to be in trouble. He shuffles his feet and apologizes. Which in itself is heroic, because Serbs rarely apologize for anything. The whole routine makes me smile. He has no idea how happy I am to have him out for hours at his cafes, getting his Balkan on.

I feel so guilty in America where he doesn't have that outlet. That casual dropping into the cafe man-time. Because no matter how much you love your wife, shooting the shit with her at home just doesn't feel the same.


Lisa Petrarca said...

I can relate to, "Serb's never apologize." I don't think I've ever heard my dad say he's sorry!

Cute post & very true!


Anonymous said...

Whenever I return to the US, I have to adjust to both the jet-lag *and* the return to "jenki time"

Anonymous said...

haha, this made me laugh. My husband and I are actually going back to Belgrade in a week and I am very curious to see his social behavior once back home and truly in his comfort zone. The apology thing is very true...sorry to say. My husband has adapted to my "american" interactions. Another difference I noticed when we first dated was the lack of "Pleases" and "Thankyou's" I initially took it as he did not have the best manners....but he was so polite otherwise. According to my Serbian family, it is not that they intend to not say please and thankyou. It is just not a common part of conversation. Who knew :) I was raised to say please and thankyou constantly, so it was definitely an adjustment for both of us ;)

Becka said...

Hello Rosemary!
I have recently come upon your blog and found it very interesting. I am originally from Bosnia,Jewish partially partially Serb. I married an American man and live in Iowa since 2006. Your essays give nice insight into Balkan mentality. I on the other hand am in your shoes but in US, trying to understand different culture and assimilate and accept different lifestyle and mentality.
Your articles also gave me an idea of what it is that I am missing here your article in particular about Serbs not being alone for most of the time. I look forward to your post with excitement.
All the best in your life in Vojvodina.

Holly said...

So true.
My Croatian husband makes do with dropping in at his "home away from home" bar here in America, but it's not quite the same.
He still doesn't understand quite how different it is to our mindsets(bars vs. cafes), but I do understand the "cafe' culture" he comes from and let it slide-mostly.

Anonymous said...

Interesting and cute post... :)