Swantje and Thomas’s wedding

The challenge of blogging, at least for me, is the work of sorting out the interesting observations and details from the rest of the mass, which is meaningless to anyone besides me. Unlike a diarist, who records every thought and experience privately for later reflection – with an eye to posterity, or not – the blogger has to write for an audience with different tastes, one that is just a mouse-click away from the stock ticker or YouTube. So rather than go into the details, I’ll just say that it was a beautiful wedding, on a sunny day after two…

A Walk in the Park

Abby and I have started taking Cooper to the Parku i Madh, the big park, in town. It’s a bit overgrown, with lots of footpaths and hills and a lake – a great place for the dog to run. (Yesterday we met a few other dog owners, and once we saw them let their dogs of their leashes, we followed suit, and learned that Cooper does come when called.) The one worrying thing is that many wild dogs live in the park, and while most of them are relatively friendly, some aren’t, and one of them bit Cooper today. Fortunately,…

Back to the Gallery, and other updates

Abby and I have just come back from Hamburg, Germany, where we attended the wedding of Abby’s childhood friend Swantje. The wedding was beautiful, and it was nice to be in a city where people obey traffic signals and there isn’t dust everywhere. I’ll describe the trip in a subsequent blog entry after I sort through the photos. In the meantime, right before we left, I attended a meeting of the Special Friends of the National Gallery. The Special Friends group is a support group for the National Gallery, an institution which I described in an August 26th blog entry….

What It’s Like (Part 1)

I see that O.J. Simpson is back in the news. How nice that must be for all of you back in the States. Funnily enough, when I saw the Yahoo! headline Goldmans to Seek Simpson Memorabilia, I assumed they were collecting memorabilia from the movie. Like figurines of Homer or Spiderpig. At any rate, the papers here are filled with stories related to the arrest of the Vice-minister of Transportation and Telecommunications and eight others on charges of fraud, bribery, and misuse of power. I’m pleased to see that major cases of corruption are being reported on, but as the…

A Less-Than-Happy Start to the New Year

Wednesday night was erev Rosh Hashanah, and Abby had agreed to host a potluck for what turned out to be 11 guests. Two additional guests had cancelled, which is a good thing, since we were pressed for space around the table as it was. Apart from our friends Mindy and Melissa, the other guests were Israelis – one of them a Jewish Albanian who had moved to Israel, the rest full-on Israelis. (Apparently there are still a few Jews in Albania; I have no idea how they make a minyan.) The evening began well, but for Abby and me, the…

Cheap laughs and more expensive laughs

I saw this on the ground while I was walking Cooper today. Page 6 of today’s Shekulli (Century) carries the headline “Bilanci i qeverisë Berisha asnjë fjalë për krizë energjetike“, which basically translates out to “balance sheet of the government, Berisha with no word about the energy crisis.” Yesterday, Prime Minister Berisha of the Democratic Party delivered an address on the last two years of his government, and he said that there had been nothing but success in many areas, such as the war against organized crime, improvements in national security, reduction in corruption, and increase in investment. He cites…

Goat

When we were at Kala Petrela, we ate something called tavë dheu, which was goat meat cooked in a casserole. It was excellent, so when I saw it on the menu this afternoon at the Oda Restaurant, which serves traditional Albanian cuisine, I ordered it. With the first bite, a conversation that I’d had during the Hash suddenly clicked: that word for goat is “dhiu”, not “dheu”, and that “dheu” refers to mud (e.g., a ceramic baking dish), and that the meat in a tavë dheu can be anything. Although the dish in Petrela was goat, today I was eating…

Copyright infringement

I wanted to get something to eat before I went on the Hash on Saturday, so I stopped into the nearby Kolonat restaurant. As you can see from the photos, it is a uniquely Albanian institution. Despite the obvious similarities, the hamburgers are more reminiscent of Wimpy’s, a London-based burger chain than of McDonald’s – i.e., no taste of beef whatsoever. This happens to be the worst case of copyright infringement I’ve come across so far, but there are others that are similarly blatant – for example, there is a “Planet Hollywood” not far from the embassy, and I’ve seen…

No balls

I’ve been trying to find a small rubber or plastic ball to use as a model for my drawing class. There are lots of small toy and general merchandise kiosks throughout the shopping areas of Tirana, and although you can find plenty of soccer balls, ping pong balls, tennis balls, even plastic bowling balls (with pins) among the merchandise, you can’t find a simple rubber ball. Perhaps it’s because there is no tradition of baseball or handball here, but it’s just another one of those ways in which Tirana is different from the U.S.