The Tito-Canada Connection

Today is Dan Mladih, or Day of Youth, in the former Yugoslavia. Dan Mladih marks Josip Broz Tito's "birthday". Actually he was born on May 7th, but the 25th is the anniversary of an attempt on his life, and was enshrined as his official birthday. Every year a "relay of youth" across Yugoslavia would culminate at a Belgrade stadium with a hand-off of a baton and symbolic message from the youth of the country to Tito.

Just in time for the big day, I thought I'd post some pictures I found on Titoville a few weeks ago. It would seem that a certain young man had a forged Canadian passport in the name of Spiridon Mekas, as a British subject of Yugoslav origin. When he wasn't masquerading as the Canadian Spiridon, the young man was better known by his other name, Josip Broz.


Liberation Day.

On Friday, Ljubljana locals commemorated the liberation of their city during the Second World War by partisan fighters. Every year people walk the 35 kilometer trail that circumvents the city, exactly where a massive fence was erected to contain the populace.

I did the walk last year (I'll find the post about it later) but I can't this year, unfortunately. Dr. Filomena is liveblogging the event even as I write this post. You can follow along here. Pengovsky's post on the subject is here.


This might of interest to my Slovenian friends.

Today I'm meeting my professor for a consultation. He's teaching three of the three classes I'm taking this term, so I suppose I'll be meeting frequently with him for the duration of my stay.

For one of my classes, Social Ideologies and Modern Literature, I decided to focus on Slovenia. Most international students write about their home or the European Union. That's acceptable, but I want to try my hand at writing about my temporary home.

My paper will compare poetry written by women in Communist and post-Communist Slovenia. Some of the poets I'm focusing on are Maja Vidmar, Barbara Korun, Taja Kramberger and Svetlana Makarovič. I'm still looking for women who wrote during World War Two and prior to the Tito-Stalin split around 1948. I have two books in my possession that have some excellent examples from that era.

So it goes. I'll update more if anything interesting happens. Today the sky is bright blue and the sun is fat and proud. I'd like to venture out there and soak it up.


For some reason the cat is afraid of brooms.

"I hate you people."

Nobody likes old people.

Tonight there's a free concert in Tivoli. Every year this happens. Students pour into the streets and drink in the parks before they stagger into the makeshift outdoor venue, singing and swaying.

I'm too old and tired and sick to show my face. Besides, I have some writing to get done.

I went to the hospital.

That's right, I did. A Slovenian hospital!

This was about two weeks ago. I was having severe stomach pains and acid reflux that burned my throat. Lisa dragged me out of bed, where I was curled up in the fetal position and crying, and got me inside a cab.

The hospital here is organized like the university. Rather than just one central building, several wards are scattered around the main complex. I stepped out of the cab and saw streets lined with leafy trees fluttering in the sunlight. After entering the wide lobby the entire hospital becomes a labyrinth of slender halls. You can tell the hospital was built in the 70's: the walls are painted in solid mid-tones and corners and edges are rounded. The interior smelled clean, like a hotel room. After asking several people where the emergency room was, an exuberant middle-aged man in a smooth green smock lead us to the reception desk, but not after chatting with everyone he passed on the way.

When we told him we were from Canada, he immediately mimed sweeping the floor. He likes curling.

We sat in a narrow hallway. Elderly patients laid on gurneys down the length of the hall, murmuring to themselves or staring stoically at the ceiling. Someone called my name. I walked into one of the many small rooms adjoined to the hallway and hopped up onto the examination table. A young woman entered the room and pulled a pink curtain behind her. An intern was assigned to me; I got lucky. I'll digress a moment and explain something. In my short thirty-odd years, I've seen the inside of a hospital more times than most honest people. In my experience, having an intern examine you before the senior doctor swaggers in and coughs out his final diagnosis is like nibbling on a garden salad before tucking into foie gras.

I won't extend that metaphor anymore than I have to.

We waited in the crowded hall, shifting our legs to avoid the incoming gurneys carrying groaning patients. After an hour I was called back in and the doctor, in his staggered English, told me I was indeed suffering from acid reflux. He didn't know why. He wrote me a prescription and ordered me to see a specialist. Not just any specialist, but the kind that gleefully slides a fiber-optic camera down my esophagus and probes around my stomach. Everything else was fine. My bloodwork came back normal and the examination found nothing egregious.

I think, objectively, the moment was fascinating. I've never received medical treatment in a foreign country though I knew in advance that Slovenia has excellent healthcare. I found myself taking mental notes on how the hospital functioned; unfortunately, the pain and anxiety distracted me from my amateur observations. If I sit under a tree, with an open book draped over my thigh, my thoughts will have a chance to mingle.


Rog appears in the news.

I wrote about the gargatuan squat known as Rog last year for my journalism class. The squat is making the rounds again:
The future of the former Tovarna Rog (Horn) bicycle factory on Trubarjeva cesta iscausing controversy. On one hand, it is an ugly abandoned building that the citywants to put to reasonable use. On the other hand, it is a lively, autonomous centre for freedom and creativity, which the occupants want to preserve.

Slovenian film nominated for Oscar.

From the Slovenian Times:
Luzar's film "Vucko" (Wolfie) about a lonely retired man looking for ways to meet new people has been nominated among films from Germany, Spain, Israel and the Czech Republic.
The five finalists were selected among 45 works from 29 countries, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said on its website.