Read, Write, Run, Roam

Archive for February, 2011

Could the Ex-Yu Revive Yugo Next?


Over a decade ago, New York artist Kevin O’Callaghan decided to re-imagine the Yugo as art. It was 1995, ten years after the Yugo was introduced to America and three years after U.S. sales ended. He bought 39 Yugos for no more than $92 apiece, and commissioned students to turn them into new objects. The project was called Yugo Next.

The exhibit was a surprising success; it toured the United States and revived Yugo-mania for a second, brief period of time. The cars were remodeled to become new objects ranging from a portable toilet to a movie theater. I’ve included two favorites below:

You can see other Yugo Next cars here.

What RHOB wants to know is, whatever happened to the exhibits? Were they auctioned to collectors? Sold as scrap metal? Despite my extensive research 5 minutes of using Google I can’t find any information about them. I wonder if somewhere in America, a Yugo-phile is lovingly polishing his Yugo-confessional.

Heavenly father, it's been 3 days since my oil light came on...

I don’t know if any of the cars made it to Serbia, or whether the exhibition even made headlines here. There are still Yugos on the streets of Belgrade, though not nearly as many as in Kragujevac. Yet the days of Yugo sightings are numbered; the car hasn’t been manufactured since 2008. I imagine any old Serbian Yugos would be used for spare parts, not art.

Still, it’s fun to think of how Serbian artists might reinterpret the Yugo. Would they create a mini-Kalemagdan? A ćevapčići stand? The lighter has already been done—a shame since Belgrade is synonymous with smoking, but perhaps someone could redesign a Yugo as Belgrade’s “smoke ‘em if you got ‘em” sign:

Of course, there would have to be a Tesla Yugo, with a ball of lightning at the top. And a small tennis court in honor of Serbia’s recent Davis Cup and Australian Open victories. That would certainly top this foosball table Yugo:

What do you think, readers: any ideas for Ex-Yu artists to re-imagine Yugo Next?



Mosque on Sunday: Auwal Mosque, Cape Town

For my last post on South Africa (sob!) I’m highlighting the Auwal Mosque in Cape Town. It was established in 1794* and is the oldest mosque in South Africa.

While the Dutch history in South Africa is well-known, people may not realize that there is a strong Muslim history in Cape Town. About 200 Muslim political exiles were in the Cape Town area between 1652 and 1795, and the religion was popularized through the  63,000 slaves imported from Indonesia, India, Zanzibar, and other places between the mid-17th and early 19th centuries. (This history also explains our delight at finding good curries in South Africa.) In 1804, freedom of religion was permitted, and people could openly worship at the mosque.

Auwal Mosque is located in the Bo-Kaap area of Cape Town. Bo-Kaap was once zoned exclusively for Cape Muslims under the Group Areas Act of 1950. Today, the area is mixed and gentrifying, but remains unique for its cobblestone streets and colorful buildings.

It also led to an unexpected find: a fantastic spice store. Houses of worship are spiritual places, but a good spice store is heaven for RHOB.

*The dates are inconsistent-I’ve read 1794, 1798 (when I suspect construction began) and 1804 (when religious freedom was permitted).

City Girl, Country Cooking: Serbian Pheasant Soup

I may be a city girl, but Muz is a country boy at heart. So when he was invited to go pheasant hunting outside of Belgrade, he jumped at the chance. And me? I didn’t even know what a pheasant looked like. I stayed in the city that day and hoped he wouldn’t bring home any dead animals.

That didn’t happen.

I guess that's what pheasant looks like. Dead.

He brought home some pheasant that evening. Fortunately they were plucked and relatively blood-free, but I didn’t know what to do with them. The other hunters recommended pheasant soup. Of course, none of them had actually made the soup themselves; Serbia is quite traditional when it comes to domestic duties. I improvised a recipe based on chicken soup.

First, I trimmed the fat off the bird, cut it into halves, and removed the legs and wings at the joint. Remember, I said the bird was relatively blood-free. When I was finished, I felt like a serial killer.

He would have handled it better.

It was disgusting. I spared you photos. You’re welcome.

I washed off the parts and put them into a stock pot with about 3 quarts of water covering the parts. I boiled them for about 2 hours. I had to skim the water. I’m not sure what I was skimming, but I knew I didn’t want to eat it. As the bird boiled, I cut up vegetables and lightly sautéed them. Soup is a popular dish in Belgrade, and markets carry a “soup veggie” package that contains parsnip, carrot, and parsley. I decided to do as the Beogradjani do and use that.


Photo from food blogger Jelena

I would’ve added celery, but I haven’t seen any since I arrived here. Celery root is everywhere, but no celery. Can someone explain that? Anyway, after two hours, I took the parts out and stripped the meat. I poured the broth into a new pot, straining it through a colander with cheesecloth.

Some people like the broth by itself, but I beefed it up with the meat, veggies, oregano, salt, pepper, cloves and a small amount of nutmeg. After it simmered for about 45 minutes, I added some diced cabbage for a celery-like crunch to the soup for 10 minutes. Next time, I’d add some white beans.


The result.

It took longer than I anticipated, but it was delicious. I’m still a city girl, and I still prefer to see my poultry wrapped in plastic. But if you have to do something with a bird corpse pheasant, I’d recommend this. Muz was pretty impressed, too. But now he’s talking about going boar hunting in the spring. Any suggestions?

Of Puppies and Promises

When he heard we were getting a smaller dog, my father-in-law had one request: that we not buy the dog clothes.

Promise broken.

A month ago, we had a great plan: bring the puppy home in late February and start house-training him in warmer weather. You can see how well that worked out. But I must admit, it makes Miloš quite Beogradjanko Beogradjanin.* Dogs in Belgrade suffer from two extremes: strays that suffer from health problems and occasional violence, or dogs that wear nicer coats than most people. Seriously, there’s a dog in my neighborhood that has a little leather and shearling jacket. Compared to that dog, Miloš is downright spartan. Rugged, even.

Eh, who am I kidding? He looks ridiculous. Cute, but ridiculous.


*Serbian readers, help me out. Is this a word, or did I make it up?

Meet Miloš!

Things are a little hectic around the RHOB household these days. On Saturday, we picked up a new addition: a French Bulldog we’ve named Miloš (pronounced ME-losh).

Miloš is a traditional Serbian name. It’s a bit unusual for a dog–kind of like naming your dog Richard in America–but we wanted to celebrate his Serbian beginnings, and it’s a name that’s easy for Americans to remember. Muz also wanted a “strong” name for him, and it doesn’t get much stronger than Miloš. After all, another Miloš, Miloš Obrenović, was a Prince of Serbia, part of the first uprising against the Ottomans, led the second uprising, and later negotiated autonomy within the Ottoman Empire. During his rule, he refused to share power.

Knez Milos

Hmmm. Maybe that’s not the best example for our dog. In fact, our Miloš IS a little bossy. This morning, he glared at me for not letting him up on the couch. I hope we don’t have any dog uprisings in our future.

Journeys and Destinations: a Serbian Road Trip

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that life is a journey, not a destination. But if RWE had been in Serbia, he’d say that Serbian journeys are its life, and the destination is just icing on the cake. We drove from Belgrade to Budapest and back this weekend, and between bad weather and road detours, we got glimpses of Serbian life outside of Belgrade.

First, there was the horse-drawn cart. On a major road.

As cute/interesting/funny as this is, I’ve become a bit immune to it. We’ve seen this a few times, and sometimes in major cities. (Not in Belgrade though-yet). Besides, nothing can top this guy.

Then there’s sight number two, that reminds me of the year that I was really into Archie comic books. (And no, I’m not 50.) Archie’s car was constantly called “a jalopy” and I remember thinking that jalopy was a funny word, and what on earth was a jalopy anyway? Archie just had an old car.

This is a jalopy:


I couldn’t see the duct tape, but I’m pretty sure it was there. Also, I love that the bicycle looks as big as the car. I guess it will come in handy when the hamster wheel in the engine falls out. Sigh. I secretly like this car, and the owner. He’s obviously not a quitter.

Then, we had to come to a sudden stop to let someone herd his cows. Across E-75. The major North-South highway in Serbia.

I must confess, this was a first for us, and quite a surprise. Cattle drives along back roads wouldn’t be shocking. But E-75 is practically the Jersey Turnpike. When was the last time you saw cows crossing the Jersey Turnpike? (There’s a terrible Jersey Shore joke here, but I’m too ladylike to type it.)

Obviously, these are mere highlights. Rural towns may not be fancy, but they’re not as backward as these pictures might suggest. I haven’t shown you the BMWs and Mercedes that are constantly whizzing by us. (I’m jealous like that.) But I will show you our final sight this weekend: an adorable parade of kids in costume that held up “traffic” in Lovćenac, population 3,700.

Ralph Waldo Emerson had a good idea, but I think Don Williams, Jr. stated it best: our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.

The Lion (and RHOB) Sleep Tonight: Sightseeing in Kruger National Park, South Africa

What do you do when a birthday trip to Egypt goes haywire, leaving you with less than a week to plan a short trip to Kruger National Park—on a budget?

First, we tried to do it ourselves. Then, we panicked. Finally, we called travel agency Africa Direct, who set us up with the amazing Carol Anne at Amber Africa tours for a special birthday safari trip. So on RHOB’s birthday, at 4:15 am, (Muz had a little problem with the alarm clock) we headed out for a two-day tour of Kruger.

Two days for a Kruger safari is ambitious or insane, depending on whom you talk to. The park is the size of Israel, and a week is recommended to see all of its nooks, crannies, and critters. And this time of year, the summer grasses conceal animals lying within three feet of a car. We were warned that we might not see many animals during our trip, but to keep our eyes and minds open about the park.

We could not have been given better advice. We thought we’d see a few animals that day, but within the first hour, we spotted about twelve hyenas walking down the road. Other cars stopped, took photos, and sped on to find the “Big 5.” But Carol Anne suggested we wait and watch them hunt.

The hunt soon became gruesome as they turned on a member of their own group, mortally wounding him. It’s not called “the wild” without reason. As disturbing as that was, it was an unforgettable experience.


Another unforgettable moment came when we stopped at a watering hole and were asked to simply wait and see what happened. In short order, we saw zebras and gnus go to the water, only to be pushed out by a huge herd of elephants, followed by several giraffe. We accused Carol Anne of orchestrating these animals, but she just laughed and said she wish she could.

Water for Elephants

When we weren’t seeing large mammals, Carol Anne was sharing her passion for the park and its inhabitants. Learning about the ecosystem gave us a great appreciation for how all creatures survive there, big and small.

But let’s face it: most people want to see a lion, and we were no exception. We did get our wish: there was a big buffalo kill, and lions were protecting the meat until they were ready to feast. But the lions were sleepy, full, and easily hidden in the tall grass. Even though we didn’t get a clear view, it was fascinating to watch them appear and disappear in the grass.

Most people in the park seemed to race around from site to site, hoping for a glimpse of a certain animal before moving on to the next item on their “Kruger List.” While that’s understandable, we were happy to let the park show us what it wanted to—and saw some incredible things as a result. It was an unforgettable birthday. After nineteen hours of game viewing/celebrating, I understood just how sleepy those lions were.

I was as tired as these painted dogs...