My Serbian husband, our 10 year old son and I are spending 8 months in Belgrade. Our home is in England and this is the next instalment of our trip.
Life has picked up a pace and so we all had a much needed lie in today. We visited Baka Dana (Grandma Dana) for a coffee and popped some food in her fridge. I tried to practise my possessive pronouns again and said to her in Serbian, ‘is that your glass?’ and she jokingly replied ‘well of course it’s my glass, it’s in my house isn’t it?’ Lol, she quite understandably didn’t feel like practising Serbian with me.
Years ago, when Grandpa Aca* (Dragan’s Dad) was alive I thought I would try and ask Grandpa Aca if he would like a drink. My question was ‘hoćeš li da piš?’ Aca’s jaw dropped and Dragan looked as though he was going to explode with laughter. A slight mispronunciation meant that this batty 'Engleskinja' (English woman) had asked her elderly father-in-law if he would like a pee, not a drink! (I should have said ‘piješ’ not ‘piš’.)
* Aca is a nickname for Aleksandar and is pronounced 'Artsa'
At home later on, Dragan made ‘pita sa pečurkama’ (mushroom pie) with filo pastry. Fry onions & mushrooms in oil and roll the filling in layers of filo. Bake for about 25 mins. Very good. To help our Kum with his 'Slava' (Saint day celebration) next week, Dragan is in charge of the mushroom and cabbage filo pastry pies!
It was a chilly but bright Sunday morning and we all attended the liturgy at ‘Crkva Svetog Nikole’ (St Nicholas’ Church)  in ‘Novo groblje’ (New Cemetery). The interior of the church is covered in beautiful frescoes of saints and biblical scenes. The icons are Serbian in style and some parts of the church are being repainted by artists, I spied the paint brushes and scaffolding behind the iconostasis. A crown of lights hang from the central dome and to my amusement have rather ugly eco light bulbs. The congregation stand throughout the whole service, but there are a few chairs at the back. The liturgy is sung by the priests at times alone and sometimes with the choir and congregation. To my amazement it is sung in 4 part harmony and as far as I can tell the congregation choose a part to sing as they go along? A group of school children arrived with their teachers, they must have chosen religious studies, not civil studies at school. (School on Sunday - imagine this in England!) The acoustics are great and our Kum and Kuma were in good voice singing the liturgy in old Slavonic, whilst the priest swung the ‘kadionica’ (censer) with burning incense. All three of us had a good dose of incense and we smelt sweet all day!
After coffee with our Kuma, we set off for ‘Kafana kod Neša’ (Neša’s Restaurant), to celebrate our sister-in-law’s birthday. We met with Dragan’s brother & family for ‘ručak’ (lunch). It was typically Serbian, with lots of polished wooden items decorating the walls, a bit like a hunting lodge. Copious amounts of food as always.
A quick visit to Grandma followed, who was on form. When we got home Dragan and our Kum, Ljuba (pronounced Lyoo-bah) made some little chocolates for Ljuba’s 'Slava', called ‘suve šljive u čokoladi’ (dried plums stuffed with walnuts & dipped in chocolate) . Nice work if you can get it!