Could QR codes join candles and rakia at Balkan gravesides?

Rakia Grave Balkans SerbiaIt can be interesting to see how different cultures deal with death and the issues of loss and remembrance.

Losing someone close is bound to be unsettling but how we handle the aftermath and go on living is reflective of the people we are, the values we hold true and the society in which we live.

Graveside rituals and memorials can ensure that families are neither out of sight nor out of mind.

In the Balkans, death and loss never seems too far away.

Cemeteries of various denominations, black and white memorials on fence posts and photos of lost loved ones on the mantelpiece in homes across the Balkans all provide succour for those left behind.

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No price is too high for pride in one’s country

Belgrade Pride 2014 Police balloonAs rumours and half-truths spread about the claimed cost of policing the Belgrade Pride parade, it would seem  inevitable – and, no doubt, will be  embraced in some quarters – for people to be up in arms about the amount of money allegedly spent to protect the people and their city.

While no official figures have been released, some media have reported unqualified estimates of €1 million to Belgrade’s coffers.

Pride organisers have laughed off this claim as ludicrous, believing that this figure is being bandied around for political purposes, to rile up those opposed to the parade and to stoke negative feeling towards the LGBT community.

Pride organisers say that this estimated figure includes a staggeringly exaggerated €600k for loss of trade to restaurants, bars and shops.

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Bosnian horror of good tainted by evil

seven terrors coverA psychological horror story set in the dark days of the Balkan conflict of the early 1990s might not be everyone’s most appealing premise for a book, especially from a debut author.

But in the hands of Bosnian author Selvedin Avdić it becomes a haunting tale of loss, human suffering and a constant battle to hold back the tides of evil.

Selvedin’s acclaimed debut novel, Seven Terrors, has the unsettling power to conjure chilling images and disturbing characters that linger long after the lights have gone out.

This is a genuine old fashioned horror story but also unlike the teenage fear fodder or psycho killer thrillers that publishers seem to love so much (for the money they rake in, of course).

This story starts in 2005 when the unnamed narrator wakes from nine months of self-imposed sleep, seemingly brought on by his wife leaving him.

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Silk & Stone: Amira is simply breathtaking

Amira Silk & StoneSomething very moving happens when an artist can master a singing talent so keenly that their voice can reach deep inside to caress your heart and appear to slow the beat of time.

Bosnia’s Amira Medunjanin is blessed with such an astonishingly rich and emotive voice that all else can seem to slow down when she sings the hauntingly beautiful songs of her Balkan homelands.

On her fourth studio album, Silk & Stone, Amira again performs traditional songs from Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Croatia and Montenegro. This time, though, there is more going on.

While her previous work perfectly showcased Amira’s pristine voice across a range of classic sevdalinka and revealed an interest in working with jazz as well as traditional musicians, Silk & Stone presents a performer who has grown significantly in confidence and standing.

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