First of all, I was born in Bosnia (at the time, the name of the country was Yugoslavia). A few days ago I went for a walk and I wondered what would my life be if the damn war in the 90s never happened. Well, there’s a chance that Yugoslavia will still be a country of six republics. Now, let me assure you, I am not Yugonostalgic since I believe it is a pathetic and unrealistic feeling, but the thought has crossed my mind (apparently, I am extra creative when I am walking). For all of you who are not familiar with the term Yugonostalgia, some people compare the feeling to the German term Ostalgie:
The phenomenon that people fondly remember the socialist state in which they lived before it collapsed under its internal contradictions. Such nostalgia has become part of consumer culture all over the former Communist bloc. Hungarian rubber shoes, Polish soft drinks, and LPs from all countries are examples of products that have again become popular in the countries where they originated–but today, they’re sought after not for lack of alternatives but as one of countless choices in a free market.
I know, it is unrealistic (read: utopia) even to think about it, since life (on the Balkans, at least) has so many factors and layers, but nevertheless, I will play with the thought, so here it comes – alternative history of Dino A’s life:
Let’s pretend that the wars in the Balkans never occurred and that Yugoslavia still exists. Today I would have probably been an officer in YPA – Yugoslav People’s Army, more precisely its air forces. In 1991, I joined military school, (RV & PVO – Air Forces & Anti-Air Defence) in Rajlovac, near Sarajevo. After 4 years in the school, I would certainly join the military academy. After additional 4 years of training, learning the war strategies from Hannibal to Marshall Zhukov, countless jumps from the airplanes and helicopters, snowboarding with the full military equipment, and outstanding theoretical performance during that time, I would become at least a Lieutenant (poručnik) in YPA around new millennium.
I would be transfered to some military base with air force/defence units: Zemun (the HQ of Air Forces), Sarajevo, Belgrade, Zagreb, Niš, Priština, Bihać, Mostar, Split, Pula, Zadar, Titograd, Ljubljana or Maribor. I would have most certainly been a man of discipline and authority, which is the opposite of my characteristics today. Today I champion personal freedoms and dislike authorities. Would I be married? Would she be a Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian? Macedonian? I would have lived in a military owned apartment complex, use all of my time in the military base, have mostly friends inside military…
I can only say I am actually glad that I am not a soldier today because of the way of life. As a soldier, I would have probably had a very simplistic view on life, i.e. there would be only one way of doing things – my way. Looking from today’s perspective, that would be a very sad life of mine. I would not take active interest in history, art, literature (the one that is not about battles and armies!), and I WOULD probably not be able to travel to foreign countries, exploring new cultures and people.
I have said many times that the wars in the Balkans during 90s were the worst since the World War II, hundreds of thousands died for nothing, many people lost their families, their future. But in a strange way, a war also changes one’s life, it changes it course, its path to the future.
I am not complaining, nor I ecstatically cheer my present life in Denmark, but one thing is sure – I am living a different life from the one in my home country and my mind functions in another way (which is a good thing).