Friday, February 13, 2009

borka's cronies

my current living situation goes a little something like this: amy +
chatty, elderly Serbian woman with chin growths named Borka + copious
amounts of mayonaise = shockingly functional balkan family. it's
actually been one of the lovlier parts of my stay in Macedonia thus
far (if you can imagine, what with all the fun flat tires the green
pony has suffered along with the 'second winter' we seem to be
experiencing now).

I had the thought when I first moved in with borka that this would be
helpful for both of us: I was in need of someone who might stop me
from burning down the apartment while cooking spaghetti and she seemed
to be in dire need of companionship. despite the fact that I had
absolutely no idea what she was saying, borka bombarded me with story
after story whenever I idled too long in her presence. I smiled and
went along with it, assuming I was the only human contact she recieved
outside of her Spanish soap opera. in the past few weeks, I've learned
how terribly, terribly incorrect that initial stereotype was.

borka has, for lack of a better word, a slew of cronies. some fraction
of the group visits probably every other day, even in the midst of our
cold spell. borka rarely leaves the house to visit them, a fact I have
concluded means she is either the ringleader and czar of this
mismatched bunch or simply its least healthy and mobile member. from
the amount of edible and drinkable offerings they bring, I'm inclined
to assume the former.

they're quite the assortment of characters, these fellow retirees. a
jovial, strapping older man, who I first confused for a gentleman
caller, is the 'Presidental' of a relatively new political party
called the Council of Tito. his business suit is never without its pen-
induced adorned of Tito's face and emblems of communism. in fact, your
dutiful blogger is, as a result of his many visits, the proud owner of
a pocket Tito 2009 calendar. borka's son rounds out the male members
of the group and is the only real English speaker of the lot. it is
from him that I have heard all the wonders of Tito's communist glory
days, a tale the always reminds me a bit of the conversations I had
with elderly Russians. back in the good ol' days of Yugoslavia, you
could sleep outside with you wallet strewn about in front of you and
be totally safe; everyone had jobs, enough to eat, and apparently a
healthy appetite for the outdoors. from the numerous assortment of
Tito namesake cafes, stores and streets in Skopje, perhaps the
communist sentiment is a rather fond one. her son is a delightful man
and despite the fact that he may be trying to set me up with his
unemployed son, I always look forward to his visits. two elderly
women provide the bulk of the estrogen to the posse, both equally
spunky and full of life despite their fraile appearance. one appears
to have lost her entire row of bottom teeth while the other is the
absolute embodiment of my fear of old-woman-chin-hair-growth- but they
both get so excited to see me that I can't help
adorning them.

they're a funny little bunch and when they're all together I have a
great time watching their interactions, despite the fact that I'm
usually clueless to what's being said. as an honorary member, they've
shared all kinds of interesting Macedonian cuisine with me, including
a popular yeasty juice that took me a while to properly identify and
finish, a donut-type pastry identified by the phrase 'LA PD,' and, of
course, plenty of great wine. I may bring little to the table in terms
of great conversations, but I can hardly turn down a situation
involving free food and wine. it'd be uncommunist of me.


At 11:37 PM , Blogger Jennifer said...

Oh, Amy, I miss you and your stories. Your tutorials on Tito remind me of Sara's bab. I interviewed her once about feminist issues, and she gave me a lecture about how great Stalin was and how much she hated Yeltsin for ruining everything.


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