How many of us find the concept of love quite baffling? I can’t possibly be the only one hand half-way lifted up, emitting a squeal…”Me, me, me!”
I have never quite understood love in all its’ trappings, but no shame here; King Solomon touted to be the wisest man in history, claimed he was befuddled “at the way of a man with a maiden.” (There are different variants of love pedantically outlined in greek mythology though…but, I digress.)
I’m thinking love to be feelings one catches; of invisible butterflies fluttering about in the tummy, of infatuation, a heady attraction or just lust at it’s most raw form. Disclaimer: The last is debatable.
Love is more likely to be an action; the great book talks of love being “patient, being kind, keeping no record of wrongs, rejoicing with the truth, always protecting, always trusting, always persevering.” I’m rooting for that love. That’s true love if you ask me.
I think we can agree that most times, no one actually controls whom they fall in love with. So love shocks them, and can shook observers (not a typo) and end up causing tension in families. I recently read a story of a neo-nazi racist falling in love with a black; she was understandably shocked by this, she never imagined herself in that ‘predicament.’ I’ve also read of Bosnians falling in love with Serbs during the war, of Israelites falling in love with Palestinians, of a monk reading a love letter from someone beyond the bounds of the monastery… the list goes on, to show how puzzling love is when it creeps up on you. Didn’t someone sing about love knocking you down?
I know travelers who have found love on the road, and kept at it, forming strong bonds that ultimately led them to the altar. Call me a prude, but I’m quite averse to the concept of love on the road. I’m not throwing shade on travelers who find THE ONE while on their gambols…different strokes for different folks; but travel is already stressful as is, so it’s hard to imagine throwing in a whole other human into the mix. Planning and synchronizing everything takes a good portion of time, energy and attention, so that I’d rather be relaxed, and crushing on the destination rather than on the distraction (an XY-chromosome bearer for whom I’d be channeling my most prim and proper self). As well, because I often drag Little Miss Ashley along on my gambols; it would be risque to leave her holed up alone in some hotel in a foreign land, while I’m out wining and dining with some lad.
Of course, there have been those instances we’ve hung out with new friends, but it almost always has been a group thing, and never an exclusive thing. It may have been when we are having breakfast in common areas in hostels/hotels and are invited to join in for lunches, or even tours around the city. Totally cool.
While I have spurned the idea of love on the road, I have flashbacks of the times love has found me. If you flip through my Malaysia stories..well, let’s just say I had ALOT of love from the taxi-drivers in Kuala Lumpur. So much so that there were actual proposals! What if I said yes? I think I would be happily (hopefully) married in KL with a couple of racially ambiguous tots in tow. I’m imagining our weekends filled up with jaunts to Langkawi or the Genting Highlands; I imagine taking the kids to legoland, or maybe Sundays spent at the KLCC park or indulging the mischievous monkeys at Batu caves in a game of snatch-this-banana-from me. I’m not forgetting the panoramic views we would take at Petronas towers.
Why didn’t I say yes? Proposals should come with a bent knee and a dazzling ring..no? Plus a background check, certificate of good conduct from the police and pastor, recommendation letters from people he’s worked with, family approvals and so forth. Without half of these requirements, I’d consider the proposals to be a big joke and they’d be nada a response from moi.
The proposals in themselves sounded rushed; blurted out in three-point format questions while traveling from point A to point B on a broken meter. (Quite an expensive joke, I tell ya!)
Funny thing, when I wore a hijab, there was respect. So it may have been something cultural. My uncovered head in some uncanny way communicated frivolity. Let’s flirt with the bare-headed chocolate girl, shall we?
The other city I found loads of love was Sarajevo. Sarajevo of all places! The love I found in Sarajevo was quite brazen. These guys didn’t give a hoot about anything. Their city was cool and hip; and like a canvas, there was space for the old as well as new. The glossy skyscrapers stood tall and proud, and the hilly green landscapes provided a fitting backdrop.
You could say the guys carried about a vibe that screamed YOLO. One can understand why though. In the 90’s, the city came close to being annihilated. There were ethnic divisions and a horrendous war that threatened to snuff it into oblivion. Yet if you saw Sarajevo today, you’d feel it has risen like a phoenix, past the ashes and made itself new.
It was in the train in Sarajevo, a cool Bosnian millennial told me he finds black women very attractive. It was on the train a drunk man tottered towards me, pinched my cheek and grabbed my arm all while saying “my sweet chocolate”..
Then a couple of hours before our departure to Zaghreb, as we were walking to the Sarajevo bus terminus, a friendly group waved and invited us to their table. They called the waitress and had us choose a hearty meal from the menu. There was this middle-aged respectable looking guy who could not speak a drop of English, yet seemed to be the alpha-male in the group. Through his friend who took the role of translator; he kept on saying in Bosnian, “That he wanted us to stay..did we like Bosnia? We should make our home in Bosnia..did we enjoy Bosnia?”
After our meal, we made to excuse ourselves. (We usually don’t bolt right after we’ve eaten free dinners..because there’s dessert to be had, right? joke..but, we had a bus to catch.) Boarding was in thirty minutes. I told them this as I pointed to my wrist.
This is when it got really weird.
Dude removed his watch, wanted to give it to me.
Ermm..We really have to get to our bus.
He gave us the keys to his range rover, opened the doors for us.
“Ummm, we really have to leave,” I insisted.
We said our byes and skedaddled to the bus terminus. That was back in 2015.
When I returned to Sarajevo this summer, I didn’t know what experience I would have. The folks were still as friendly as can be and super hospitable, but that was it.
Let’s just say that the only love I felt was from the gelatos calling my name each time we went to Bascarsjila..oh, and we stuffed ourselves to the brim with burek and chevap-cici.
Have you been to Sarajevo? What do you feel about love on the road?
Categories: Bosnia and Herzegovina