Visit me at http://charlescather.net/ ! I have moved my site! Thanks for all of your support!!!!!!
You might remember my other post about Serbia leading the world in highest self esteem ….https://serbiathroughamericaneyes.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/serbs-1-in-the-world-in-highest-self-esteem/….. I just found out something else that Serbia leads the planet in…….
Thank God I never started smoking. My insides would be a total loss!! ;) Alcohol is enough for me!! I have a lot of friends that tell me that they only smoke when they drink. Is this possible? How do you get the urge to smoke only when you drink? I have a lot of friends that smoke and I’m not going to sit here and lecture them about their habit! I believe in the slogan ” live and let live”, but just keep your smoke away from me! I like beer and am not ashamed to say that. I don’t go around pouring beer down the throats of those that don’t drink so why should I have to breathe your cigarette smoke?
The state of Illinois adopted the Smoke-Free Illinois Act on January 1st, 2008. The Smoke-free Illinois Act prohibits smoking in virtually all public places and workplaces, including offices, theaters, museums, libraries, educational institutions, schools, commercial establishments, enclosed shopping centers and retail stores, restaurants, bars, private clubs and gaming facilities. It also prohibits smoking within 15 feet of all public entrances, doorways, windows, etc. A person who smokes in an area where smoking is prohibited can fined between $100 and $250. A person who owns, operates or otherwise controls a public place or place of employment who violates the act can be fined not less than $250 for the first violation, not less than $500 for the second violation within one year after the first violation and not less than $2,500 for each additional violation within one year after the first violation. The only exceptions to this rule are:
- Retail tobacco stores that derive more than 80 percent of its gross revenue from the sale of tobacco products and do not have a liquor, food or restaurant license.
- Private and semi-private rooms in nursing homes or long-term care facilities occupied by one or more persons, all of whom smoke and have requested to be placed in a room where smoking is permitted. The nursing home or long-term care facility must ensure designated smoking rooms comply with other laws and fire protection and life safety codes.
- Up to 25 percent of hotel or motel sleeping rooms may be designated as smoking rooms, provided they are on the same floor, contiguous and smoke from these rooms does not infiltrate into
I love Europe…….. specifically … the Balkans. One of the first things I noticed when arriving in Serbia in 2010 was the outrageous amount of smokers!! I would have to guess that more than 75% of my close friends in Serbia smoke!! No offence to this wonderful country that I have chosen to reside in, but it is hard to get away from cigarette smoke! I have heard that there are some laws about smoking in restaurants, bars, and public buildings, but I have yet to see any enforcement. Kafanas are my favorite hang out, but the amount of smoke in the air is enough to kill a bear! :) Smoking in the US isn’t as common as it used to be. I am sure that cost has played a major factor in this drop. According to a study by the Wall Street Journal…. the average cost of a pack of cigarettes in the USA is $6.36 and rising. Serbia has an average cost of $2.03! One other thing that I notice is the amount of young kids that are smoking over here! You can see high school kids standing out in front of their schools smoking cigarettes during their breaks. You would be kicked out of school for doing the same thing in Illinois!
Russia has led the planet in cigarettes consumed per capita for many years. That streak ended in 2012 when Serbia surpassed them!! Russians smoke around 2,786 cigarettes per person per year! Serbia hit 2,861 cigarettes per person per year!!!! :o :o The United States is sitting around 1.028. Russia has been pushing through some tougher laws to combat their smoking epidemic. I think it is time for Serbia to do the same!!!! Here is the entire article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443624204578058201182906048.html?mod=e2tw#articleTabs%3Dinteractive
I will probably get some death threats for posting this. :) You know one sick and twisted bit of information that I learned from my time in Nis?? N.A.T.O bombed the Yugoslavian owned cigarette company during our “peace” mission in 1999. Guess who owns it now???? Phillip Morris…. -_- I guess they were aware of the smoking epidemic!!! DISGUSTING!!
Keep smoking those cigarettes if you like. I am not a saint either! :) Volim vas!
Join our new Serbia website and share your passion for this great country and people….. http://www.sayserbia.com/ and for those that are interested in helping Mr. Cather with his Serbia documentary with a few dollars, go to https://www.wepay.com/donations/serbia-through-american-eyes I need you!!! We have completed the first episode and will be showing the premier to the Ruma community the first week of August and discussing it on “ZIKINA SARENICA” on August 3rd!!! I need you!!!! Hvala puno!!!!!!!
The best part of my job is getting to speak to hundreds of Serbian kids that have had the opportunity to visit and go to school in my country. It is very hard to find one that had negative things to say about their time in the US or about the American people. The A-SMYLE exchange program is one thing that the government does well. Apply today….http://www.ac-see.org/programs/hs-citiesdates.htm Two months ago, a dozen kids from this program wrote to PRVA TV to beg them to help me stay in Serbia longer! :) They told PRVA that they use my blog posts and videos to introduce their classes to Serbian life and culture. I was very touched when the tv station reporter told me this. <3
Exchange programs are very important and can really change the world. I feel that all high school students should be required to live in another country and experience a totally different culture. It really is the only way to destroy propaganda. There always seems to be billions of dollars available for bombs, guns, and terror…….. why don’t we try spending it on the kids who will be running this evil planet in a few years? Our governments would never do that. There is so much more money to made in military conflicts! Obama, Bush, Nikolic, Tadic…… they are all controlled by higher powers. :( Sad, but true!!!
This young man was going to school in a small town in Illinois. He has enjoyed his exchange program very much. I asked him to write down a few things that he noticed about life in the USA. Here are his thoughts :
“Before I came to the US two years ago all my knowledge about it was based on things that I saw in the movies, tv and the internet. There are many stereotypes about Americans and some of them are accurate at some level, some of them are not but in general the picture that the rest of the world sees is somewhat true but it’s not complete until you actually visit and spend some significant time living here. First thing that I have noticed is how things look better here. Buildings, roads and infrastructure in general are a lot better in the US. Serbia has many beautiful old buildings and monuments but in general most of the things in Serbia are built back in the post Josip Broz Tito era. Some of Serbian buildings are very old and they are pretty much falling apart but since Serbia don’t have money to build new ones we are forced to use them. In the US everything just appears nicer and newer since there is more money to spend to take care of it. Other thing that was very different is the amount of space Americans are using to build towns and cities. I could say that just a regular US town somewhere in countryside or suburban area with a population of 20.000 probably has a bigger area then, for example, Novi Sad which has a population of 300.000 or more. Now something about people. Mentality is different than Serbian for sure. People here don’t talk or discuss politics as much as people in Serbia do. There are people who disagree with the US government of course but politics are not as common topic as it is in Serbia. I would say that main topic in the US are sports. I knew that Americans watch sports but I wasn’t really aware how much it is big until I came here. I also knew that professional sports are big deal but college sports are probably even more watched than professional sports. In Serbia the sports that are followed by people are pretty much at the same time of the year but in the US it is divided by seasons. With the beginning of August/September football is most popular I believe, both college and NFL. Then later on, somewhere around October/November NBA starts but it is not really that much watched until the playoffs. College basketball however is very popular. Hundreds of Universities with great basketball teams so there is plenty of good basketball to watch. Then in March it becomes super popular. No wonder that it’s called March Madness. I haven’t met a single American who doesn’t follow March Madness. It doesn’t matter if it is 10 year old boy or 70 year old granny, everyone have their favorite team and pretty much everyone makes a bracket and tries to predict the team who will win the National Championship. Then after that baseball season starts and it lasts throughout the summer. There are other sports like golf, hockey, track and fields and other but I don’t know much about that. There are plenty of good sports to watch all year long and people love to do it in the US. In Serbia its mostly just soccer and basketball and maybe tennis. People in Serbia watch other sports only when our national team is playing. Other than watching it youth here plays a lot more sports during the middle school and high school. Very often kids play more than one sport and all the competitions are mostly related to schools. Girls involvement in sports is also way bigger than it is in Serbia. Pretty much everyone here is playing or has been playing some sports. Social life is very different. I would say it is much more “alive” in Serbia. For youngsters there is a big legal problem which is no drinking before age of 21 and if you ask me it is a big deal. Law is very strict and for kids younger than 21 sometimes it is really hard to get booze and have fun. Young people here have to be very careful with throwing a party because there is always a risk that police will bust it and check for everyone’s age. In Serbia there is no such a problem so it’s easier to have fun and that is the reason why other people would say that Serbians live “laid back” life style. So parties and hang outs until early in the morning are not as common as they are in Serbia. Fast food in the US is very popular. Not just fast food but the custom of eating outside the house is much more popular. Plenty of restaurant chains and many different types of food so there is always a new place to eat. In general life here is easier, there are more opportunities for jobs and careers and material wise there is a lot more things and products. It is way more organized and the systems and patterns that people follow in the US are better so that makes life here simpler. On the other side I believe life in Serbia is more fun. It is harder but I would say that Serbians enjoy life better. This is just my personal observation so it’s not necessarily true. There is obviously a lot more differences and these are just some of the most interesting ones but it would take me forever to write them down.”
We all loved the movie Rocky. I remember being an avid fan of the film series. I used to out in the woods and pretend to be Rocky Balboa. :) Rocky was always the underdog who overcame all the obstacles to win whatever challenge was ahead of him.
You are probably wondering why we are talking about Rocky Balboa on my Serbian blog. :) He has ZERO connection to this country…… or he didn’t until 2007!
My buddies that picked me up at the Nikola Tesla Airport in May of 2010 were driving a tiny red Yugo. They mentioned some of the things they were going to show me on the trip back to Zrenjanin. They mentioned a statue of Rocky Balboa! I quickly asked the million dollar question ” Why the heck is there a statue of Rocky Balboa in Serbia?” They said they had no clue, but it was worth the drive!
The small village of Zitiste, Serbia is located in the region of Vojvodina in Northern Serbia. The population is around 3,000 residents. The majority of villagers work in the agricultural sector. The name is said to have derived from the word “Zito” which means wheat. The village had suffered years of war and numerous natural disasters so the villagers started discussing ways of ending this unlucky streak. A small group of friends that was led by Bojan Marceta, formed a group to push for a statue of Rocky Balboa in the town square. They had seen the famous statue in Philiadelphia and thought it would be a great thing for their little village! Rocky is a fighter just like all of the residents of this small village in Northern Serbia. They had defeated hardship after hardship just like Rocky! Rocky would be a perfect symbol for Zitiste! Their group approached the local mayor who gave his blessing. The only thing left was to find money for this project. They contacted the local chicken processing planet, Agroziv, that is located in the municipality of Zitiste.
Agroziv is one of the largest chicken processing plants in Europe. They process around 8,000 chickens an hour! The CEO was all for the idea of bringing this tourist attraction to Zitiste. They now had the political and financial backing they needed. The only thing left was to find the man to create this statue. They contacted, Thomas Schomberg , who created the original Rocky statue.
He threw them a discounted price of a whooping $1.5 million dollars! :o They couldn’t afford anything in that range, but they refused to give up! They contacted local artists and finally found the perfect fit! Croatian Boris Staparac, was given the job for 5000E. The world press got wind of this strange idea and flocked to Zitiste during Chicken Fest 2007 , sponsored by Agroziv, to see them unveil the statue!
They had a crowd of around 20,000 people on hand for this occasion! They loved it!!! The statue brought a bit of fame and notoriety to this small little village along with a deep sense of pride! It is still attracting tourists to this day! The days of defeat and lack of confidence are over for Zitiste!! They will prevail!!! If you are interested in watching a 30 minute documentary on this statue click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dq7ELHGVRT8
Please join our new Serbia website SAY SERBIA….. http://sayserbia.com/
and if you are in a generous mood…. please dontate a few dollars to my Serbian film series… We are going to show the premiere episode of Yankee Doodle Went to Serbia Ruma, to the city of Ruma in a week or so!! You guys and gals will love it!!! I have some other plans that are in the works for Republika Srpska!!! Please help or spread the word…. Living on your savings for three years is a big drain on the pocketbook!!! :) HVALA!!!! https://www.wepay.com/donations/serbia-through-american-eyes. I really need to buy a new video camera to continue my videos on Youtube. :) Volim vas!!!!
I mention this a lot, but it seems that every single town and village I visit in Serbia has a massive monument with thousands of dead Serbs on it! It is horrible!!! This is something you won’t hear much about outside the borders of Serbia! The monument in Nis is something that must be seen to believe.
The Germans occupied this area during WWII. They brought truck loads of Serbians, Gypsies, and Jews to Bubanj for mass executions. They killed between 10,000- 12,000 people during 1942-1944. The entire area is intersected with trenches that the bodies where thrown into after they had been shot. Before the withdrawal of the Germans as the Red Army advanced into Yugoslavia in 1944, captured Italians were ordered to dig up the trenches and burn the corpses of the victims in order to destroy all traces of the atrocities committed there.
I first heard about this monument in 2011. My buddies were going to take me up there one day, but it rained. I woke up early one morning in my $50 a month apartment. The family that owned it were an elderly couple in their late 70′s. They spoke ZERO English, but had hearts of gold! They were always coming over knocking on my door to offer coffee, pita, cherries, etc. The room was great for $50! The bathroom always cracked me up!!! It was tiny!! You had to sit on the toilet to take a shower! The water would just run down the drain pipe that was in the center of the floor! I had never seen anything like it! You can see it here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obqwjY9JBPo
My apartment, come to find out, was only 1km down the hill from Bubanj! I thought I would just check it out alone! I prefer doing a lot of my sightseeing on my own. You can go our own speed, stop when you like, and only check out what interests you. I started on a very hot morning. The monument is up on top of a hill that is surrounded by forests.It only took me about 15 minutes to get up to the top of the hill.
There is a large sign and a wooden gate at the entrance of the park. You walk about 10 minutes up a rocky path that is surrounded by beautiful pine trees.
Once you get close to the clearing you can see the three massive monuments rising from the Earth!
The Bubanj monument is made in 4 parts. The first one being the 23.5 X 2.5 meter white marble monument. It symoblizes the five parts of “the killing machine”: execution and firing squads, civil revolts, surrender of the German invaders and final victory over the oppressors. I show the monument in this short video, but at the time wasn’t sure what it stood for http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkZZ88QI-m8&feature=youtu.be
The most amazing part of the park is the “Three Fists”that tower over the entire area. They are three concrete monuments that symbolize raised hands with clenched fists. Each of the three fists are different sizes, depicting men’s, women’s and children’s hands that defy the enemy, symbolic of the fact entire families were killed at Bubanj. I am not sure of the size , but you can see from the video that they are massive!
This is one of the many beautiful monuments and historic places you can see on your trip to Nis, Serbia.
Join us at our new Serbian website , Say Serbia! http://sayserbia.com/
My encounters with interesting people continues to grow. It seems that I meet a very unique person everyday.
Pink Tv called me for an interview last Monday. He wanted to meet me in Pirot at 10AM. My stomach failed me after eating boat loads of food at this little village slava so I left Pirot on Tuesday and returned to Nis. The gentleman said he could pick me up in Nis and I could ride with him to Pirot on Wed if I was feeling better.
I woke up that morning feeling a lot better! I met the gentleman at the entrance to the hospital. He was very kind and driving an American car! :) He wanted to take me to Pirot on a back road to see the beauty!!! OMG, WAS HE RIGHT!!!! We headed south of Niska Banja on a small two lane road. The view was FANTASTIC!!! There are some massive mountains, lots of trees, a beautiful river that runs down in the canyon and lots and lots of lavender fields! The smell was intoxicating!! You could see some of these strange contraptions that were harvesting them!!
We pulled into an entrance to ask a young lady for permission to enter. She said ” I don’t speak Serbian”. I immediately jumped out of the car and asked where she was from. I could tell from her accent that she wasn’t American. She told us she was from Germany. She had a bicycle that was loaded down with supplies. She had decided to take a bike trip from Turkey to Germany by herself!!! What a trip that would be!!! I walked from Sremska Mitrovica and almost got to Ruma and it was only 17km!!! ahhaaha.. I thought that was an accomplishment. She was riding for months!!!!
The guy from Pink Tv was equally as impressed and stunned by our strange encounter with a German biker on this little road. We all took out our cameras and took numerous photos to remember this. We gossiped for a few minutes about everything imaginable. I decided to find out what she thought of Serbians. She quickly said “ I could tell a huge difference once I crossed into Serbia from Bulgaria! The Serbian people seemed to smile more and were more interested in me.” She had just entered into Serbia when it started to rain heavily. She pulled into the first home she saw and went to the door. She was going to try to use gestures to ask where the closest town or place she could camp would be. An elderly man answered the door. He instantly motioned her in. She stepped into a small, not very nice home. She felt bad for the man because of his home. He pulled up a chair for her and instantly started to make some coffee. He also got out an egg and put some milk into a pot. She was trying to say that she didn’t need to eat because she could tell he had very little food. She gave up and sat down. He brought over a cooked egg and a bowl of milk and bread.
He threw his hands in the air as if to say that was all he had to offer. She really felt bad, but didn’t want to be rude. She ate the food and thanked the man. He kept pointing at his sofa and wasn’t going to let her leave. She got all of her belongings and laid down on the couch for the night. The guy was up early and already preparing coffee for her. He also broke out more bread with butter for her to eat. She didn’t want to argue with him and ate it and drank her coffee. She was preparing to head off on her journey when he pulled out his wallet and handed her 200 Dinars. She is sure that he didn’t have much at all. She told him that she didn’t need it and for him to keep it! He kept pushing it at her and she opened her wallet to show him she had some Serbian money. He finally put his money back into his pocket. She gave him a hug and thanked him over and over. She left the house in awe of the kindness of a poor old man from a Serbian village. She told us that it seemed that the poorest of society were the ones that were most generous with her on this journey!
We departed with a short hug and I taught her to say “Srecan put” in Serbian. She said it will take her a few months to get back to Germany!! If you see a young lady on a bike pedaling through Serbia ……. give her a big “ZDRAVOOOO Melanie!”
It is very rare to find a foreigner that hasn’t had a good experience with a Serb!!
One of my first pen pals was a guy from Kuwait. He sent me a few pictures of his country and I was always in awe of the “Kuwait Towers”! I swore I would see them one day.
The Kuwait Tower, as its known, is actually three towers. They are one of the most well-known structures in the world. The main tower has two separate spheres and stands 187 meters high. The smaller, top sphere is used as a cafe, lounge and restaurant. It can hold up to 90 people and rotates every 30 minutes. The lower, larger sphere is a water tank of 4,500 cubic meters. The second tower is a water tower and stands 147 meters high.The third tower houses equipment to control the flow of electricity and illuminates the two larger towers. The towers hold 9,000 cubic metres of water altogether.
The Kuwait Towers were designed by Danish architect, Malene Bjorn as part of a water distribution project that was being done by Swedish engineering company, VBB. VBB hired Belgrade company, Energoprojekt and Ivan Milutinovic ,to do the actual construction of the towers . Other Yugoslavian companies were hired to build many of the government buildings, air bases, and ports around Kuwait City.http://www.slideshare.net/dottuta/kuwait-towers-presentation2edited
The towers are built with three levels of concrete, making sure that they will be able to withstand natural disasters and catastrophes like floods. This is also to ensure that the towers can endure wear and tear through the years. They were slightly damaged during the war with Iraq, but have been repaired. The spheres were constructed of 41,000 enamelled steel discs that come in eight shades of blue, green and gray. They could be described as Arabic architecture, carefully mixed with a touch of contemporary elegance. This modern style was relatively unheard of at the time these towers were being erected.
Serbia’s relationship with Kuwait is still going strong today! They are one of many Arab nations that do not recognize an independent Kosovo. Kuwait’s Foreign Minister was in Belgrade in April. He said his country is willing to invest in Serbia’s energy, agriculture, and infrastructure. http://www.tanjug.rs/news/83980/kuwait-willing-to-invest-in-serbia.htm
Serbian lands have had a long history of raising great scientific and creative minds. This is one great example of Serbian influence on the world. Please join our new Serbia website to find more interesting bits of info on this great nation and its people. http://www.sayserbia.com/