Tell us about your NON-Western living experience
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08-11-2011, 06:29 AM
 
RE: Tell us about your NON-Western living experience
Filox, Thank you for the incredibly evocative account of Yugoslavia. I was there in 1967, on the Istria Peninsula: Rovinj and farther north along the Adriatic coast (Koper, Izola, Piran). It was an absolute heaven, just as you said. First time I saw the sea and it was so incredibly blue I couldn’t believe that it wasn’t ink!

I talked to many locals and they were happy. I was invited to dinner by a local Hungarian who showed me the stack of passports of his family, valid to the whole world, and I was green with envy, because it was freedom I could only dream about. Yogoslavs were allowed not only to travel to the west, but take jobs and bring the money home, making the country richer.

I have read the famous Alistair MacLean books on Yugoslav partisans and was awed by the incredible heroism with which they stood up to Hitler and Mussolini and, after the victory: both to the USSR and the US and German interests.

Tito’s death and the following disintegration was a tragedy on a gigantic scale -- followed by the feeding frenzy of foreign nations (and local unscrupulous con artists) trying to devour what was left of the country – very much like it happened in Hungary.

I can understand why you don’t want to leave: it is a country with such beauty and so old and rich a culture that it is hard to part with it. Believe me, I know.

Once more, thank you for sharing this with us and I hope we will hear more eye-opening stories like this from other Forum members from different parts of the world. We, in the west (especially in North America) badly need our horizons widened and life put into a planet-wide perspective, outside our comfortable and complacent bubble.

ETA: I went on a major shopping spree in Zagreb, with US$s I had had to smuggle out of Hungary, because we were forbidden to own western currency. In Zagreb you could buy goods the we could only dream about in Hungary -- while Yogoslavs took them for granted, while the shops happily accepted our US$-s. Maybe I will tell you later how my brother had escaped from Hungary to Yugoslavia and just walked across the border to Italy. No mine-fields, razor-wire fences and guard-towers like we had on the Austrian border.

PS. I have to tell you a joke we had in Hungary about Yugoslavia.

Khrushchev, Kennedy and Tito are driving on the road, in three separate cars and come to an intersection with 2 road signs: The one pointing to the left says “To Communism”, the other, pointing to the rights says “To Capitalism”. Khrushchev instructs his driver to turn left, Kennedy instructs his driver to turn right. Tito tells his driver: “Signal both to left and right and keep on driving straight ahead!” Big Grin
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08-11-2011, 07:09 AM (This post was last modified: 08-11-2011 07:15 AM by Filox.)
RE: Tell us about your NON-Western living experience
Yes, Yugoslavia had huge diplomatic power in the world at that time. HUGE. USA and USSR were too busy with all that cold war thing, but if that was not present, Yugoslavia would be the main topic of their discussions. It was also a torn in their eye, the one region they had no control over it and the one region that was collecting all other third-world countries into one big and strong group. Actually, we were lucky USA had all that cold war going on, who know what would happen if they turned their eyes to Yugoslavia.

Here is the example how strong it all was, this is the funeral for President Marshal Josip Broz Tito...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpJRsvZY26k

Although you could call him a dictator, there wasn't a single person In Yugoslavia that wasn't crying and the whole world stood still that day. It was the biggest blow to the country, it never recovered from it. There was never any single politician that had funeral this big, this was the biggest funeral in the 20th century. All the world leaders were present, you can see Kim Yong and Yasser Arafat in the video... There were also Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev (General Secretary of the Central Committee - USSR), Indira Gandhi (prime minister of India), Margareth Thatcher ( Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom), Sandro Pertinni (President of the Italian Republic), Keneth Kaunda (first President of Zambia), Sadam Husein (President of Iraq), Hans Dietrich Genscher (Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor of Germany), Todor Zhivkov (leader of the People's Republic of Bulgaria), Nikolae Ceausescu (Secretary General of the Romanian Communist Party), as well as 4 kings, princes and members of royal families and many other politicians and world leaders. Vatican also send 2 representatives. Vatican sending representative to a communist dictator, that is how strong he was. Smile

This was the first time that people like Margareth Thatcher and Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev were in the same room.

P.S.

This video is North Korea's gift to Tito for his birthday. These two little girls are singing a birthday song in Serbo-Croat language. Scary and funny at the same time. Poor girls, can you imagine what they had to go through, or what was the punishment for doing it wrong? And it is not easy to sing a song in our language if you are form Korea.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJ8sXaB1YKg

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08-11-2011, 09:20 AM
RE: Tell us about your NON-Western living experience
Quote:Filox:

So, you never heard that there were 2 wars, 20 years ago, one fought in Croatia, a war for independence, then it moved to Bosnia&Herzegovina and at the end NATO has bombarded Serbia. Then in the last few years you had a whole bunch of military conflicts and actions between Serbia and Kosovo, again with NATO, a full scale battles took place until Kosovo has been give their independence. If you lack wars, come to Balkan, we have plenty.

I'm sorry i forgot about that. It happened long after Zatamon left, and very long after i left, and probably wouldn't have influenced our childhoods anyway, but still, this was a huge oversight on my part.
In my dim memory, Yugo was East Bloc paradise - the place lucky people went on vacation. Certainly a shock to have tribal warfare erupt in countries so long civilized, so long perceived as peaceful.
Makes you wonder about federalism and frontiers drawn on maps by people who don't live there. Makes me wonder about the long-term viability of Canada and the US.

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08-11-2011, 03:08 PM
RE: Tell us about your NON-Western living experience
That account of Yugoslavia was super interesting - I spent my lunch break looking up Marshal Tito Smile Interesting that all you guys (Filox, Peterkin, Zatamon) have this connection... I had a couple of Eastern European lecturers at university in South Africa, I think also guys who did a similar thing to Zatamon... I never really got the courage to ask them about it though.

Quote:What was it like living there? Are you still living there? We can't look up personal experiences and every experience is real and important. I very much would like to know more!

I'm no longer living in either Zim or South Africa permanently - my parents are in SA and I might move back next year sometime, but currently the UK is where I'm at, apart from holidays.

I think... I'm gonna have to cut short Zim's potted history - 'cos it is available elsewhere and as you say, personal is more of the important stuff as far as forum discussions are concerned... um... I'm gonna take a time out to think about what to say though...

Meantime just an addendum to my previous post, the Mutapa empire is still a symbol in Zim. The bird on our flag is the Zimbabwe bird, found in the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, the largest of the stone forts built by the Mutapa crowd. There were about 6 or 9 of them, stone carved birds, set up on plinths. When the Brits found great Zim they moved the birds but as far as I can recall they've been returned now.

The image on our old one dollar coin was of the conical tower at Great Zimbabwe. Those were damn nice coins... really shiny Tongue Probably worth more as curiosities now, since the Zim dollar is not even legal tender in Zim anymore. The Zim dollar used to trade in 1980 apparently at about 1 for 1 with the pound... I couldn't begin to guess at the last exchange rate before it was discontinued as a currency... I left before the really bad economic crunch happened.
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08-11-2011, 05:01 PM
RE: Tell us about your NON-Western living experience
Interesting posts guys, I'm curious to here more. Smile
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09-11-2011, 03:23 PM
 
RE: Tell us about your NON-Western living experience
(08-11-2011 03:08 PM)morondog Wrote:  ... personal is more of the important stuff as far as forum discussions are concerned... um... I'm gonna take a time out to think about what to say though...

Yes, please, tell us more morondog, we want to hear what it was like living there. Smile
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09-11-2011, 04:59 PM
RE: Tell us about your NON-Western living experience
... Smile OK.

Um... all this talk of tribes and stuff might have got you guys to thinking that Africa's this crazy place... I must warn you that in reality it's pretty boring. It's much like everywhere else. The only thing that distinguishes us is our thoroughly useless politics and somewhat backwards society. And great scenery and wildlife...

Zimbabwe... it's odd you know. That place used to be my home. If Bob Mugabe hadn't stuffed it up I'd probably never have moved more than a kilometre from Harare... married some local girl, had a few kids... Now I think I'll probably never go back. My friends have all left - it's not unusual for a Zimbabwean ex-middle class family to have one member in Australia, another in the US and a third in the UK.

In terms of recent history 2002 is when it all went downhill. I was in final year high school at the time. We had a referendum on the constitution. Mugabe had until that time been regarded as a pretty good guy, even by the whites. (Aside: That's one thing you can't avoid, either in SA or Zim. You're *always* a white or a black or 'coloured' or Indian. There's a bit of a move away from it now, especially among younger people, overt racism is definitely no longer cool, but when I was growing up... eish...)

Anyway, Bob was so happy with himself that he didn't bother to stuff the ballot boxes, and he lost. If he'd won, the new constitution would have made him president for life and given him basically king-like powers. He already had pretty amazing powers as it is. For almost a decade he ruled by decree because while he had an absolute majority in parliament in the 90s he quietly arranged to be given the power to arbitrarily make laws, enforcable for a six month period and renewable after that, without reference to parliament or anybody. He never used it until people started not doing what they were told, then he used it plenty.

We all were brought up on the standard dictators diet spoon fed to us in history class. The basic slant was that communism and Russia and all were cool, but not as cool as Bob Mugabe and his boys, who chucked out the evil whites and then magnanimously let them stay after they'd been beaten, on condition that they played nice with everyone. (That's literally what happened incidentally, Bob was widely praised for his reconciliation policy, which he rolled out in 1980 shortly after the end of the liberation war). I swallowed it all up like a good little communist and caused my parents some annoyance during dinner conversations Tongue

Hmm... this getting long, I leave it at that for the moment...
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10-11-2011, 04:10 AM
RE: Tell us about your NON-Western living experience
See now, I had no idea that Zimbabwe had anything to do with communism, I always assumed it was just some kind of dictatorship, king, tribal, warlord, something like that, but not communism. Is there any particular reason why Zimbabwe loves Russia and communism?

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10-11-2011, 10:29 AM
RE: Tell us about your NON-Western living experience
(10-11-2011 04:10 AM)Filox Wrote:  See now, I had no idea that Zimbabwe had anything to do with communism, I always assumed it was just some kind of dictatorship, king, tribal, warlord, something like that, but not communism. Is there any particular reason why Zimbabwe loves Russia and communism?

Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa... the Russians helped the liberation movements out to dick with the Americans... bit of one-upmanship in the cold war - the CIA were also around. Anyway, even Che Guevara made it over to Africa - (just checked Wikipedia and ja, he was there in Congo...)

In South Africa the communist party is extremely strong, in fact they're part of the 'tripartite alliance' which means that they cooperate with the ANC (ruling party) and COSATU, the trade union guys. All 3 members of the alliance think very highly of themselves for this cooperation and try to use it as a tool to force the other guys to do what they want...

In Zimbabwe... Zim was a one party state for 20 years after independance. I think communism was abandoned fairly early on in practice, but the ideology was kinda worked into the school system... I remember being taught about Karl Marx in warm fuzzy terms and the bourgeois Capitalists in distinctly unfuzzy terms... but then, I was a government school boy the whole time - I think in private schools they got taught proper history Tongue I figured out in about second year of high school that our history textbook was a bastardized copy of an earlier much better written edition with extra bits about Comrade Bob tacked on...

Anyway... no more procrastionation for me Tongue
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11-11-2011, 12:53 AM
RE: Tell us about your NON-Western living experience
(29-10-2011 02:36 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  In theory communism is a social and economic system of total Utopia: humanity is one big family, everybody produces according to their abilities and consumes according to his needs. The state withered away, there is no crime, corruption, total fairness and compassion. Jesus would have approved.

Nah. That'll be technocratic anarchy. After I halt the global economic collapse and establish the world capital in Ithaca, NY; the'll be a statue of me and my Gwynnies holding hands there - the Two Lovers, that's the symbol. Big Grin

Zat may be, shall I say, prejudiced, here? I mean, I understood the tao before I read the tao te ching; there is definite Eastern in this mind... Tongue

Of course I'm pulling Zat's tail. Great thread. Worth a read now and a reread later. Wink

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