The Snorer - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

December 23, 2013

The Snorer

I can't get to sleep. I blame it on the Burek, those meat filled pastries I'd for supper and are a tad salty, making my mouth all dry. Though it's also due to a lack of physical activity during the day. My daily routine since arriving in Sarajevo has been: rise about nine; breakfast and browsing the internet for an hour and a half. Then spent the remainder of the daylight hours with a walk about town, taking in the sights and perhaps a visit to a museum; and of course stop somewhere for lunch. Eating out in Bosnia is cheap with steak and salad costing six Marks (there are two Marks to one Euro). Burek four Marks. And Cevapcici, a kind of beef sausage served with pitta bread, Six Marks for a large one. There isn't much vegetables and as I've said there's copious amounts of salt in everything.

I get up and go to the kitchen for a glass of water which washes the salty taste from my mouth and feel it won't be long until sleep comes when I return to bed. Then Memet, the Turkish guy in the bed across from me has music playing on his tablet. Why can't he use headphones. He's so inconsiderate. Though, given that it's not noisy music, it's like oprah and he hasn't it very high, it isn't that much of a disturbance. But I'm irritated by not getting to sleep and decide it must stop. I get out of bed and go over. He has dozed off so I give him a light shake on the shoulder. He shudders awake and lets out a cry, then realises where he is. I tell him to turn it off. I'm trying to sleep. He turns it off and I return to bed. I must've slept then.

The next I hear is snoring. I'm in a bottom bunk and the snoring is from the bunk over me. Looking at the watch, it's eight thirty, so it is time to get up anyway. I notice a pair of shoes on the floor beside my bed that weren't there last night. And when I get out and stand up, I see the snorer, a guy in the top bunk that must've checked in since I slept. He has stopped snoring now and is lying on his stomach face down.

Breakfast today like it has been for the days I've been here, is porridge. Eating-in in Bosnia is even cheaper than eating out. My daily grocery bill is five marks (2.50 Euros) That buys me the fruit and veg I need, plus porridge. Though cheese is near as expensive as in the west. And, if I wanted to cook meat, it'd work out just as cost effective to go out to a restaurant.

I walk two blocks from the hostel and turn left along the riverbank, where it's a couple of blocks more to the city museum. It was on this street that Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his pregnant wife Sofia were assassinated by a Serbian nationalist. In the museum, there is a short clip of original footage from that day, June 24th 1914. There's also a more recent film using actors called: Sarajevo: A Day That Shook The World. It shows the official car trundling along the street: the chauffeur wearing a peaked-hat and goggles like pilots of the day wore. And the Archduke and his misses in the rear of the open car waving to the people out to get a glimpse of the successor to the Austro-Hungarian throne.

The political lay-out of Central Europe and the Balkan peninsular in 1910.
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There were two attempts to kill the royal visitors that day. The first was a bomb. The camera focuses in as Sofia's face changes in horror as she spots the perpetrator throw the device, a bottle packed with explosives, from the line of people. In an instant she alerts the Archduke who acts swiftly, catching the bottle and throwing it out the back; where, it hits the road and explodes ahead of the following car, injuring its occupants.

Then moments later, a young man is seen moving along the rear of onlookers, making his way through a space and pulling a piston from his waistband. The car is turning a corner when the shots ring out. This time the Duke is hit in the chest and slumps down in the car. His wife is hit next and slumps too.

Most of the other exhibits are to do with the city's commercial life in the later part of the nineteenth century. But the assassination of Franz Ferdinand was the fuse which set off the biggest war in history until then: World War One.

The unification and formation of Italy and Germany in the 1860s and 70s respectively; and at the same time, a declining Ottoman Empire, encouraged the Balkan Revolt 1875-78 (The Balkans were the northern extreme of that empire). Serbians, Montenegrins , Romanians and Bulgarians wanted to run their own affairs. And with the help of Russia, achieved independent states. That increased tension in countries still under foreign rule as national pride spread. And in the decades following, nationalism escalated in the region with many more interregional conflicts, while powerful adversaries Russia and Germany looked on. Germany had large business interests in Turkey and were also allies of the Austrian-Hungarians, so would've wanted to preserve the status quo. And the other two big players of the era, Britain and France also had interests. A bigger war was imminent.

A tram approaches on the street by the river.
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Back in the hostel, the snorer is sitting in the common room on the sofa opposite me. He's Chinese, but speaks good English as he's a student in New York.

Later he is snoring again. He is not a loud snorer; more an intake of breath and rumbling exhale. He isn't like an elephant. And besides people cannot help snoring. But it's disturbing Memet. Mister considerate. He who plays music on his tablet without headphones in a dormitory during the night with others trying to sleep. He shouts out to stop. Then seconds later when the snoring continues, gets out of bed, making an awful racket. Poor him, someone is making noise when he wants to sleep. He's making more noise than the guy snoring, as he walks heavy-footed across the room, grabs hold of the bed and shakes it violently. The snoring stops and Memet returns across the room. He gets into bed just, went the snoring begins again. I couldn't conceal my amusement at this and burst out laughing.

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Pigeons take flight.
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On another day. Sarajevo is located in a mountain valley and in Winter, smog remains at street level.
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Sarajevo's central post office.
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The waning afternoon sun.
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This house was built by a wealthy doctor in 1903. It became the American embassy in 1945. Today it is the museum of the 1984 Winter Olympics.
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