--Wednesday, 01 November 00--
The DHL with my ballot arrives in DC. What will happen to it?
Another go-go, rush-rush, fall-further-behind kind of day, the kind I have
experienced so much. Perhaps my sense of a fast pace is why I notice that
people here don't seem to walk so much as amble and why not? If there is
no where to go and nothing to do when you get there, why rush?
--Thursday, 02 November 00--
Tony remarked that 20,000 homes had been rehabbed (on target) but the influx
of refugees means that the same number of people will be living in tents
this year as last. We have had a series of grants for "temporary community
shelters" from Switzerland (which is sending many refugees back), Norway
and Denmark (which I believe do not have significant Kosovar refugee populations).
It is one of the prices one pays for running a central finance operation
that I have no idea where these shelters are.
--Friday, 03 November 00--
After work, got a tan and then met the Aussie crew at the Kukrie. Glen seemed
in a contentious mood claiming variously that the US has a tradition of
political dynasties (he cited the Kennedy's and the Daily's but forgot the
Roosevelts', the Adams' and potential of the Bush's). He also claimed that
investments in infrastructure do not cause economic development. It was
a stranger than usual evening.
--Sunday, 05 November 00--
Smile said he would come by between 11 and 12. He was early! What a shock.
We had some intensive English training and then he took me to his home-under-construction.
Things are indeed moving fast; the ceiling of the ground floor was being
poured as I arrived. Smile told me it would take 80 bags of concrete.
He had collected three UN guards and five teachers to help with the work.
Everyone was working hard, mixing concrete in the two mixers Smile had
borrowed, pushing wheel barrows of the stuff to the floor/ceiling, tying
rebar together. It was an impressive show of mutual support.
Smile's house is set into a hillside. First the hillside was gouged out
to create a flat space for the lower foundation and then a slab with rebar
reinforcement was poured but not before rebar for six column was in place.
Cinder blocks became the wall between the columns and the outside was
covered with a thin coat of cement which was then covered with a thick
tar paper for water proofing. Half a staircase from the ground level was
then poured. The second half had to wait for the work on the floor of
the first floor.
Forms for the first floor floor were then prepared and numerous supporting
poles consisting of 4-inch diameter tree trunks were used to support the
weight of the concrete first floor. Rebar was placed on the forms and
tied with wires to the rebar that extended from the columns. The floor
rebar was then cross linked by more wire ties.
Today, a crew of Smile's friends were shoveling a mixture of concrete
and pebbly sand into a rotating mixer that contained two thirds of a bucket
of water. I asked about ratios and they told me it was one shovel of cement
to three of pebbly sand and two-thirds of a bucket of water. It all seemed
very unscientific to me. The outputs varied in volume and consistency
but the floor/ceiling is so thick and has so much rebar that it is probably
over-engineered for its simple task of standing up.
On the way there Smile told me that he had told his workers that I had
paid for the beer, soda and chebop he was feeding them. He made it clear
that I was not to contradict him in front of the group and I didn't. I
think that he was covering me for my not doing physical work on his house.
Of course, I had paid for the lunch, in a sense.
A worker assembles an interior wall of Smile's home.
I had met a number of the guys there before and they were as friendly
as ever. The geography teacher from Smile's school was there and was an
energetic worker. He told me he was a member of the Kosovo Republican
Party of Mitrovitsa and he supported Bush for President. I let it pass
since I suspect he thinks he was born in Texas.
He went on to say that he supported an independent Kosovo. I asked him
if he believed that Serbs should be allowed to live in Kosovo. He said
that he believed that if people wanted to live in peace that they should
be allowed to do so but went on to say that "You can't trust them,"
and "they would never want to live in peace here." Another day
--Tuesday, 07 November 00--
US election day. Did my vote count?
--Friday, 10 November 00--
After work Thuy, Glen and I walked over to the Kukri to have another goodbye
drink with Gary. I told them that I had heard that there was a good Chinese
restaurant in the block behind the Kukri. They asked who told me and I
said I wasn't sure and they told me that that ruined my credibility, blah,
blah, blah. I said that I thought it might have been Gary but later when
he arrived he said he didn't know anything about a Chinese restaurant
so the crew had at me again, claiming that I had no credibility. When
the subject came up later, I remembered that Matt Macellaro had told me
about the restaurant and I was reviled again for no particularly good
reason, except that perhaps Matt was American and thus equally suspect.
In looking back I wondered if they were trying to see if they could get
my goat by acting in concert to disagree with me. If that is what they
were trying, they failed. I was simply bemused that they were acting so
--Saturday, 11 November 00--
Having heard from Matt Macellaro about a Chinese restaurant in the complex
behind the Kukri, I asked Mike and Thuy if they wanted to go for lunch
there. They both decided that Chinese food was more for dinner than lunch
(go figure!) so they didn't want to go. Bobbing up and down, left and
right in anticipatory pleasure, Maureen quickly said that she would go,
volunteering this in an embarrassed school girl style. She had been there
on Thursday night and liked it so much she wanted to go back on Friday
night but couldn't. I told her to come down when she was ready and went
back to my office.
A little while later, Smile came in and we were chatting as Maureen came
in. I introduced them but they seemed to think that they had met before.
I asked Smile if he would like to join us for Chinese food and he said
yes. The Golden Road was missing most the usual Chinese kitsch but did
have good food. The chicken with peanuts and spicy sauce (effectively
Kung Pao chicken) was delicious, the fried rice was freshly prepared,
and the beef in peppery sauce was quite good. Smile was game about trying
to use chop sticks and did as well/badly as any first time user. Maureen
was in such a good mood that she treated us.
--Sunday, 12 November 00--
Last night I went to bed at 9:30 so I was wide awake at six thirty so
I got up and began the day. By 7:30 I was out the door and walked down
to the street that forks off to the left from Germia not very far from
the start of Germia. I followed it away from downtown for a couple of
miles. I didn't reach the end but when I saw haystacks, hens, horses and
cows, I realized that I was at the edge of the urban part of Prishtina
so I turned around and walked back. On the return trip I decided to take
a street that went further north since I haven't walked in that area of
the city yet.
After my invigorating walk I bought a twenty bottle case of Skopko beer,
came home and made myself a cheddar cheese omelet and cooked a package
of Oscar Meyer bacon. Delicious! But I am now out of cheddar and running
low on Grand Marnier. I will have to do something about that.
Smile came by after 11 and we had some abbreviated language training and
then when to get some food for his workers and to pick up Kimeta. This
was Kimeta's first visit to her future home. The walls of the first floor
were half built and progress was evident.
-Tuesday, 14 November 00--
Thuy and I had lunch in a new chebop place as most places were closed
for the ongoing demonstration about Albanian captives in Serbia. The staff
didn't speak any English but a customer very kindly translated my needs
for chopped onion.