November 14, 2019 - Steve Arrick has been Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy Podgorica since June 2019. Helen Reynolds-Brown spoke to him and his partner Meriem about their experiences learning Montenegrin, and how it has helped them since their arrival in the city.
TMN: How were you prepared in terms of the language, before you arrived?
Steve: I was quite fortunate because in the summer of 2018, I went on a short course organised by the Montenegrin Ministry of Foreign Affairs that included regional and cultural activities, as well as language.
Meriem: To be honest, I didn’t know much about Montenegro before Steve got the job, but then I found out that it had been part of Yugoslavia, and also found out a bit about the local language. I also managed to get free language lessons through the UK Foreign Office before we came here.
Steve: Generally, for us, there are ten months of training in London, and then one-month immersion. We want to do this in Montenegro, but as we don’t have many diplomats here, we tend to do it in the region instead. I spent two weeks in Banja Luka and two weeks in Mostar living with families.
TMN: Do either of you have a language background?
Meriem: I am Algerian, and speak Arabic and some French. China, where we lived for six years, was the first completely foreign country where I was forced to learn a language. After China, nothing is as scary. People here speak great English. China was very different from that, and you were basically stuck if you didn’t speak any Mandarin. We got pretty good over the six years we were there.
Steve: Before I transferred to the Foreign Office, I had school-level French. Mandarin was the first language I took to a decent level. The Foreign Office has “language slots” and “non-language slots”. Both here and China for me were language slots, but even for non-language posts, there is some optional language training provided.
TMN: So how much do you use your Montenegrin here in Podgorica both personally, and professionally?
Steve: I use my language every day, but not as much as I’d like to. I’ll often introduce myself in meetings, but I’d like to be able to make all my speeches in the local language. In a personal capacity, we use the language every day in restaurants and shops, so it’s super-useful. I’ve never found that people feel pushed to switch to English with us, but I’m not quite pushy enough myself to insist they speak their language to us either. People are always pleased to hear you’re learning their language, even when you make mistakes.
Meriem: I’m a teacher of English as a second language in an international school, which is what I did in China. I don’t use the local language at work at all, as we all speak English, however, I do use it a lot in taxis and shops. I’ve only had one or two instances when people have got frustrated with the speed of the conversation, but other than that people are really understanding. We’re also trying to keep up with the Mandarin, which we speak with some friends who are still in China.
Steve: I think the Mandarin was something that we were worried about losing. I had grand plans of signing up for weekly lessons, but I haven’t got round to that yet!
TMN: What do you find most difficult about learning the language?
Steve: It’s the grammar for me. Even in school, that was the part that I didn’t really like about languages. With Chinese, there is some grammar, but not very much. So when you start a Slavic language, well, there’s a lot of it! Cases (padeži) are the worst. Our press officer told me he frequently questions himself if he got it right, so I know it’s not just me!
Meriem: I would say the grammar as well. I try to get it right, and end up spending more time thinking than actually speaking. By the time I’ve worked out what I want to say, people are like, “Look, we’ve already figured out what you want…!”
TMN: Have you had any proud moments learning the language?
Meriem: Well, I’m taking my driving theory test in Montenegrin, which is a challenge! I do evening classes, and the teacher doesn’t speak any English. I did a sample test recently, and I did pretty well on it, so I felt very proud of myself! It’s that immersion style of learning, and you just have to get on with it.
Steve: I hadn’t had anything as impressive as that, although a couple of days ago, one of our local members of staff from Tirana took me for a local here when I spoke the language. That felt good, but my local colleagues found it hilarious! You get the odd moments like that, and it feels like the effort’s paying off.
TMN: What, in your opinion, is the general impression of the UK and the British here?
Steve: It seems very positive. People seem to have a lot of respect for British history and culture and there’s generally a very positive image of what the UK does here, which I’m sure is in part because of the work of the Ambassador and her predecessors.
TMN: And do people ask you about your background, Meriem?
Meriem: Yes, because a lot of my colleagues had never met an Algerian before. I was pleasantly surprised, people know more about Algeria than I expected. From what I know, our previous president Boumediene was very good friends with Tito and that’s one of the reasons. A lot of the small cultural things are also similar. I don’t know whether it’s a Mediterranean thing, but there are lots of everyday things that remind me of Algeria.
TMN: How much of Montenegro have you managed to visit together since you arrived here in June?
Steve: We’ve done quite a bit, but there’s still a fair list of things we’d like to see. We’ve been on road trips over the summer, to the coast, and then up into the national parks, but many places we've only visited for a day. I’m keen to try the skiing here, but we’ll see how the winter goes (looks at the rain outside).
Steve and Meriem have very much enjoyed their time in Montenegro so far, and are looking forward to what more the country, and the language, have in store for them.
15 October 2019 - The following article represents the personal perspective of author Stevan Perović on cryptocurrencies and the views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Total Montenegro News. Stevan Perović was born and lives in Montenegro, and he is currently working as a Market Developer for Southeastern Europe in Kyrrex, a company that serves as a crypto exchange platform.
A cryptocurrency exchange or digital currency exchange (DCE) is an exchange where one can buy or sell cryptocurrencies. They can be traded using electronic monetary units, tokenized fiat currencies, or other digital assets. Modern technological solutions such as encryption (cryptography) make sure that the transactions are ultra-secure. Cryptography is the art of creating and deciphering code.
"Cryptocurrency has come to change things once and for all. The advent of the internet has created an entirely new dimension, and the new digital population now has children of its own. The crypto environment is quite young, but it has stirred quite a commotion during its decade-long history. It is not about the tech framework alone: we are witnessing the rapid growth of a qualitatively new community, with its own values, beliefs and socio-economic particularities. Community is the spine and support for the healthy development of any industry. But in the case of crypto, the sentiment of classical financial moguls matters a lot. It defines the pace in which the domain moves forward," pointed out Viktor Kochetov in an introductory speech for Kyrrex.
Following a series of questions and answers is an interview between TMN authors and Stevan Perović, Market Developer for Southeastern Europe in Kyrrex, a crypto exchange company.
TMN: Many crypto exchange companies do not provide professional services and products for traders. What does Kyrrex offer to the customers and what is the difference between Kyrrex and other crypto exchanges?
SP: Kyrrex offers Kyrrex ProTrader - a professional trading terminal, fully functional system for trading popular cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Stellar, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, DASH, and many others. Multifunctional and customizable order control, evaluation analysis and correlation of two or more tools on a single chart panel, more than 60 popular indicators of technical analysis, and lots of basic and professional tools of graphic constructions, are just a few features of the Kyrrex ProTrader platform. The difference between Kyrrex and other crypto exchanges is that we have formed a professional cryptocurrency exchange, taking into account all the requirements of regulators. Kyrrex has created a set of functionalities that can satisfy the demands of any level of customers. After all, professionalization leads to the attraction of significant capital to the market. This indicates the interest of the real sector of the economy both in cryptocurrencies and in blockchain technology.
TMN: How crypto exchange generate revenue?
SP: We generate revenue from trading fees, withdraw fees, MAM account management fees, payments for new tokens listing, and subscription fees for the advanced + modules of the trading platform.
TMN: What is your vision?
SP: Our vision is to become the first world level regulated and licensed сrypto exchange and wallet. Maximum openness, trust, transparency, institutional level of liquidity, high technology trading instruments, and payments are our main priorities in this market.
Read more news about business in Montenegro at TMN's dedicated page.
Natasa Pejic, a Master of Philosophy from Belgrade, has been spending summers in Tivat, where she owns an apartment. She spoke with TMN about her view of this Bokelian town:
"I have been coming to Tivat for the past three years, mostly during the summer. I enjoy it immensely and try to really relax and recharge for new challenges for the whole of next year, and it means great pleasure to me."
Natasa's first encounter with Tivat happened 30 years ago, of which she says:
"It was nice. I mostly went to Meljine at the time, and it was one of the few excursions outside of Herceg Novi that I accidentally made. I remember a wonderful experience as we, as young people, swam completely spontaneously and by chance to the settlement of Sveti Marko on the island across the town, where Club Mediteranne was at the time, and then the three of us went on foot around that club and it was really exciting for us and we returned swimming as if it was a complete joke. It's my first experience, my first encounter with Tivat. Then, about ten, or 15 years later, I came by boat to the waterfront Pine and I was completely impressed by how royal it looked, these palm trees, extraordinary! Now everything is fine in Tivat, I don't mind anything, which is quite unusual for me. I love the sea the most, sitting in a cafe and watching the bay, the sun shining on these waves, magical."
This is not something easy to compliment, as Natasha travelled around the world and lived in New York for several years, where she earned a master's degree in philosophy on "How to Define Mental Illness".
When it comes to this topic and in this region, Pejic says: “I think that it is not easy at all for us, it is mostly difficult for us to live, and our mental health is much worse than for many years ago, when we lived in a more serious state. Tivat reminds me of some seaside towns in Croatia where I used to spend time as a kid. I have some associations on Jelsa, at sea in the former Yugoslavia.”
Natasa Pejic worked for fifteen years as a journalist:
"I've worked for the Beta News Agency for the longest time, and I'm very proud of that. It is an independent news agency, which I have worked for since its founding in 1994. It was a pioneering venture amid a terrible regime, which imposed itself there, and Beta did a really mining part of the work in the media and contributed to the overthrow of the regime. I don't think Beta has ever been recognized enough for this, the glory went to B92 and some newspapers, and Beta was a fundamental contributor to independent journalism during Milosevic's time.
Natasa Pejic has been in the publishing business for the last few years and has her own small publishing house "Mali vrt":
"I've been in publishing for fifteen years. It is a small publishing company, which I own, and I do not have big ambitions. I publish what I would normally do, do English translations and have three editions so far. One deals with psychology, where I mainly translate the work of Carl Gustav Jung's followers. The second is an edition of poetry, there are classics of world poetry, which I enjoy, which my associate Aleksandar Šurbatović is doing and relatively recently I have an edition that deals with socio-political and economic topics. ”
In Tivat, Natasa is taking a break from Belgrade, where she has a lot of work, and if looking forward to seeing us next summer.
Nina Labus, a make-up artist from Rome, who spends summers in Boka Bay, tells us the story of her entry into this popular profession, related to the brilliance of the film industry:
“I work as a look maker. In recent years, it is a profession, which has started to advance, because the intention is to unite the knowledge of makeup - not just beauty, or fashion makeup, which is used for beautification, but also totally the other side of stage makeup, where characterization is done, where we have scars, beards, moustaches, and we also do hair, so that is where the hair goes with that character.
For the last six, seven years, one person has been doing all this, with assistants. The size of the project depends on how many people work - the more actors, the more workforce. ”
Nina has been spending summers in Tivat for 25 years: “I spend at least a month in Tivat in the summer. It has made a lot of progress in recent years, I like how everything is tidied up and how it works on landscaping parks and the city in general.
Porto Montenegro is a special part of the city, which I like… In comparison to the years when my family came here, I think in ninety-two, it is a huge difference. New town! Although, I see that my husband and my friends, who come from Italy, prefer the old part of the town."
Nina has worked on more than twenty films so far. As a girl, she chose and completed management studies in Belgrade and Paris:
"It was the nineties in our country ... I went first to Paris, where I graduated in 1995 and never returned to Belgrade. I also had a somewhat adventurous spirit and fate took me to Florence. While I was studying in Paris, I hung out with the son of the famous writer Antonio Tabucchi, who kept calling me to Florence. When I went to Florence, I liked it and stayed, and then love took me to Rome, where I have lived for twenty-two years now. ”
Thanks to one love, our make-up artist arrived to Rome and later found another love in Rome:
"Something like that. I got married to my current husband, who is Roman, ten years ago. If someone asked me when I was 18: Would you like to live in Italy, or in Rome, that was never my goal. I dreamed more of other parts of Europe - Amsterdam, London ... When I came to Rome, I fell in love with the climate, since it is warm, the sea is twenty minutes away and of course, the charm and beauty of Rome, since it has such structures, history and culture. Every day something new is discovered ... When my friends and relatives come, then I am their guide through the city. In three, four days, the main can be toured, but Rome still has so much to show. The centre is huge.”
Nina especially wants to tell her story about how she entered the world of makeup and glamour to young people: “I never thought of that either. I was maybe too young and didn't see myself in management at the age of twenty-one. Then in Rome at twenty-four I graduated from a school of makeup, which immediately gave me a way and a profit. It went on gradually, I did not immediately enter the film world. There were also fashion shows, shoots with photographers, but when, after 4, 5 years, I got into that first film project, where I was in charge of our entire section - reparto, I felt that that part of the world belonged to me. "
Charming and in good shape, full of energy, with cute "French" r in pronunciation, the make-up artist does not hide her age: “Today, at the age of forty-five, I work in the film world, where I have progressed. In addition, I became a maestra, a teacher in my environment. I teach about make-up and hairstyles at a private Academy in Rome. ”
How much did she make friends with famous actresses, stars and film personalities in general:
"The world of actors is different, it's a mondo aparte, as the Italians would say, a world unto itself, unlike ours. I work and collaborate with stars such as Maria Grazia Cucinota, Asia Argento, however I look to maintain that professional relationship. I don't want to be a personal make-up artist. It's a figure in my business, usually it's the lead actor, and then some weird dynamics can be set up. I prefer to be in charge of the whole movie and not to go too much into the intimate world of people. "
In addition to Italian films, Nina has worked in a number of international projects, which have taken her to China, Argentina and other distant countries:
"That's the beauty of my job, which has taken me to different continents. In Buenos Aires, we made a movie about Maradona, so we went to his neighborhood where he grew up ... In China, we were a month and a half in Chengdu, which is the third largest city, at least in western China. We toured Italy all over, Paris, across European countries… Last year I did an international project with Canadian director Ken Scott. There were Indians, French, Belgians ... In these co-productions, usually part of the film happens in Italy, in Rome, and they usually shoot in the center of Rome - the Vatican Dome, Spaniard Square and I was the main and responsible for the Italian part of the filming. "
The last movie she worked on was “Piccirida con piedi nudi nella sabia” - Girl Barefoot on Sand, directed by Paolo Licata, with Lucia Sardo and Marta Castiglia.
Although it is not easy to enter and stay in the world of film makeup and the seventh art in general, where connections are paramount, Nina advises young people to be patient. As a sign of encouragement, she adds that she entered this world without anyone. Volere e potere! If we want something, it is indeed possible. It takes time, and nothing happens with the magic wand…
Danijel Cerović, one of the leading Montenegrin performers in the domain of classical music, a touring musician and pedagogue, signed a contract recently with the prestigious publishing house Les Productions D'OZ of Canada, which will soon issue two books of his transcription of music by Silvius Leopold Weiss (London the manuscript). The release will contain a CD program for Naxos Music Group which he has recently recorded. Danijel started performing his “Only Weiss” programme this spring in Tivat. It marked the Early Music Day (March 21) on the small scene of the Culture Centre Tivat and he continued playing this programme in Trebinje, Bosnia, Cetinje and Sudbury, Canada. His project is dedicated to the composer and lutenist of the late Baroque, Sylvius Leopold Weiss.
Danijel Cerović speaks for TMN about his musical voyage and career.
- Four years ago, you held a concert "Only Bach" in the Summerhouse Buća in Tivat with Goran Krivokapić, also in honour of the Early Music Day. This spring you performed in DTV Partizan, turning your attention to Weiss. How do you find this new, small scene of the Culture Centre?
"Thank you for linking these two concerts. I just remembered about that concert, which was in 2015, time passes so quickly. As a result of circumstances, I played for the same anniversary then, and the “Only Weiss” programme is the backbone of my new project, that is, I had to record music and perform this programme. It was a great pleasure for me to share it with dear people and the audience in Tivat in the new hall, which is very comfortable. I was very comfortable and I hope that the audience felt the same. I know it's difficult to gather people out of season, especially when talking about classical audience and classical guitar, so I'm glad it worked out well."
- What about the program itself? Sylvius Leopold Weiss was a great lutenist, who lived at the end of 17th century, until the mid-eighteenth. You have transcribed his music for guitar and what else would you say about your interest in his music?
"He was a contemporary of Bach and there are indications that they were socializing, and perhaps they also had some joint projects, which is very interesting. It is a rich opus, from which only a few works are played. I'm glad that I have and that I had the opportunity to deal with his opus, researching and trying to transcribe it for classical guitar. This is the music of uncovered beauty, richness and harmony for me, of counterpoint and various kinds of atmospheres. It's probably more receptive than Bach's, or Telemann's music, and at times intimate, as well as rich in different characters, all of which are features of this baroque style, ornaments and various procedures."
- You have recorded 2 CDs with 6 transcribed Bach's English Suites for Naxos before and you have also recorded Weiss's compositions for Naxos now. Your concert in Tivat was actually the first among your performances dedicated to just Waiss’s music?
"That was the beginning. Such concerts are, of course, a holiday for me, and I'm using them to have a better look at that music outside of my exercise area, where I keep repeating some details, trying to get to some perfection. Concerts are a real challenge for me each time, as it was also in Tivat and I'm glad to get some feedback from the audience and after all from that sound, which I make out of myself, I can listen to it in some space, which is brand new and challenging, like that one. I'm glad that the theme of this project is what it is and that I continue to explore this music, which takes a special place in my art, not to say in my biography, for the sake of not being too formal, but it makes the backbone of my music, especially in the last few years. I am very glad that I have continued in a similar direction after Bach. It's like when you discover Rembrandt, and since he has an incredible opus, you begin to discover his contemporaries, who may not be so familiar and you discover new microcosmos that you enjoy equally. In this case, Weiss was a part of that great Dresden art scene. There is a pleiad of great composers - for that era, who are out of the mainstream and those historical textbooks we deal with today, they are not on the playlists of radio stations playing classical music, yet their music is really fantastic. In the bombing of Dresden in the Second World War, together with the Dresden Library, a bunch of papers and proofs of their creation, as well as the notes themselves, went unchallenged. All in all, I'm glad that we can still find this art, which is really worth it."
- You have an extraordinary international career, which has stretched over three continents - Europe, America and Asia. You perform as a solo musician, as well as Danijel Cerović and Goran Krivokapić make Montenegrin Guitar Duo, you also collaborate with the chamber and other ensembles…What would you say about your career? You are also a lecturer, jury member, even a founder of festivals?
"I had been lucky and privileged that my career has been developing in this particular direction in recent years, not only planned, but also unplanned, where this Weiss story also belongs. So with music, before any business and formal career and success, which is measurable, both with money and social networks, there should be some kind of relationship between the artist and what he is dealing with. A deeper connection should exist for something to happen necessarily and to succeed. I am pleased because I have had and I still have the opportunity to constantly keep in touch with top music, which I am trying to transfer to my instrument and to what I am skilled for. That's why I am also particularly pleased that in the last few years I have exclusively performed my own arrangements of that music, which has not been written in the original for guitar. Even the lute, which is the precursor to this instrument and which should have some touchpoints, believe me, that this is not the case. Then it takes a lot of work to make that music sound on that instrument as it should. So I get to know the possibilities of the instrument and I can look at this performance issue in a non-traditional way. For me, it is the process which I enjoy, which I look forward to day by day."
- An important part of your work is dedicated to students, young generations. You are one of the founders of Montenegro International Guitar Competition, what would you say about it?
"I am incidentally one of the organizers and founders of this event and I am glad that Tivat has recognized the value of the project and that it has given its support. I mean, above all, the people in the Culture Centre, who are unselfishly in this and in many other projects. The lucky circumstance is that Tivat has become one centre, which has the means, enough financial and sufficient conditions, spatial and organizational, and that people who live in Tivat and who are only visitors have the opportunity to see some of the best productions, especially in theatre, which, I suppose, is the main cultural offer in Tivat, because it is recognized for it. Of course, there are others, including the Guitar Festival, which is a part of EuroStrings. I am always happy when I can be in Tivat, because I have in mind that this is a wonderful place with wonderful people, where things work like anything that goes beyond the borders of Montenegro, in more developed areas. Tivat has its cover face in the form of art projects and I am happy about it!"
The Montenegro International Guitar Contest 2019 was especially successful, bringing great guitar names such as Aniello Desiderio, Juan Canizares. Was it difficult to organize all and what are the plans for next year?
"It was a great pleasure to organize this event in Tivat. We agreed with Culture Centre Tivat and Music Centre of Montenegro to participate in this great collaboration between festivals all around Europe – Eurostrings (European Guitar Festival Collaborative)... There are more than 17 festivals that are collaborating, exchanging artists and the prize winners of the competitions. Besides the great responsibility and challenge that we experienced organizing the event, it is a great pleasure to do it and it means a lot to me personally and to our organization. I am not in a position to discuss programmes for next year, but I can assure you that it is going to be yet another great event that will include classical guitar world masters, as well as the young upcoming musicians from all around the world, that are the winners of the festivals that we are collaborating with."
Danijel Cerovic is continuing his musical voyage with his one and only guitar. The next stop will be in Berlin on September 13th, 20.00hrs, where he will perform together with Goran Krivokapic (Montenegrin Guitar Duo) at Michael Batell's guitars gallery. This December in Miami, Danijel Cerović and Goran Krivokapić will record a CD with Astor Piazzcolla’s music, with the producer Norbert Kraft, marking 100 years of Piazzolla’s birth, which will be celebrated next year.
Jovana Popović Benišek, an academic painter from Sremski Karlovci, Serbia, has presented herself to the Montenegrin audience at the Modern Gallery in Budva, the Buca Gallery and other exhibition spaces in Tivat, also in Kotor, where she showed her works at the Festival of Light “Shining Palaces” last summer. She is on a brief visit to Boka Kotorska this summer.
The painter's eye is particularly fond of how Tivat has progressed in recent years, but is still more attached to the old stone houses in Boka, as the stone is a motive for her painting:
"After several years of not coming to Tivat, I noticed that it was progressing at a galloping pace, especially Porto Montenegro. The transition from the old part of the city and the entrance to Porto, as well as all these wonderful residential and commercial buildings, integrated with nature, are well done. Aesthetically pleasing and enjoyable to see! However, I love stone and this is my current preoccupation, since in the meantime, since my last stay here, I have mastered mural painting in Belgrade. At the moment I am doing mosaics and this stone is very inspiring to me. Before that, I have been doing a very interesting, and somewhat neglected, sgraffito technique, which belongs to wall painting. It is done in wet plaster - a very beautiful decorative technique, which decorates the facades, and can also create beautiful works for the interior. "
Jovana started coming to Tivat as a participant in the "Friendship Chain", a painting colony of Marija Rabrenovic, which lasted for a number of years. She has been working as a school teacher for ten years, then as a curator and PR in a gallery, and for the last ten years, she has been a freelance artist. She teaches still and runs workshops with children, especially with children with disabilities: “I also practice art through art therapies. It has been imposed on me spontaneously, because I have been working with children all my life, and psychology has interested me, that is, the person has always been in my focus, although not in my pictures.”
The versatile artist is widely known for the Match Museum in Sremski Karlovci, which she owns. Part of this collection was first presented to the public under the title “Light My Fire” on the eve of the Museum Night at the Pavle Beljanski Memorial Collection in Novi Sad several years ago, and has since attracted a great deal of attention from the media and visitors.
"It's a really beautiful and rare collection that grows every day. I inherited it from my step-mother, the famous actress Jasna Novak, who started collecting matches in her fifties when she lived in Prague. In the 10 years she spent there, she collected nearly 20,000 different specimens from around the world. Now the collection has almost 40 thousand copies from all over the world. This is something that people can really see almost only in Sremski Karlovci, because there is a private museum only in Germany and Sweden, which is unique because it is where the matches came from.
Sremski Karlovci are considered to be a treasure trove of Serbian culture and spirituality, they are also known for their wine, and several years ago for the matches, ” Jovana says.
The last box of matches, which arrived at the Museum a week ago from Croatia, belongs to the time when the Yugoslav Drava factory from Osijek produced matches for export. The matches were exported to Europe, the Middle East, and Egypt. Thanks to Mr. Branimir, visitors have the opportunity to see this beautiful specimen.
"The wonderful idea that beautiful things are not lost in the vortex of the past," is one comment on the museum's FB page.
"An unexpected, thrilling experience, highly recommended," says the other.
These thumbnails can really light our imagination and take us on different trips in no time.
Simon Des Etages is a seasoned attorney, working as Deputy General Counsel, Global Retail Banking & Wealth Management at HSBC Bank USA in New York. He has extensive international experience advising on a broad range of legal and regulatory matters, with particular expertise in wealth management and private banking. He is also proud of being a team player with a commitment to developing experienced teams of attorneys.
Apart from his profession, he is also a musician (plays and composes), a poet, who also likes to draw and paint. His father had come from his native Trinidad to England, where he had met his future wife of Serbian descent and they made their family nest in London.
His site is called "Simon's Place", where he says about himself: “Born in London, UK in 1964 and currently living in New York City. My adopted spiritual home.”
But another faraway place was responsible for building up his spirit as it is. A tiny place on the coast of Montenegro, in Boka Kotorska, just opposite of Perast - Stoliv, (meaning 100 olives), where he used to spend his summers together with his mother, brother, and relatives on his mother’s side.
He spoke about this exclusively for Total Montenegro News.
“This was another life, a parallel existence, where people lived forever and the little "chocolate boy" was loved unreservedly by his favourite uncles, mother and sisters, the colourful fish that swam in his front garden and sea squids, starfish, neighbours and strangers, where he’d walk barefoot on baked roads next to the Adriatic, growing hard blisters like tortoises emerging from soft sand, traverse high mountain passes into emerald green vistas, slip around dried snake skins hanging like old socks in the bushes and duck away from large metallic green beetles while nervously passing ancient graveyards full of bleached, weather worn headstones and bones. He was the strange beloved one that people liked to pinch, the little dark boy they’d squeeze until he’d wince, these were days of goat’s milk and honey, cream cheese (kaymak), home baked bread, muscle rice, home grown water melons, sweet grapes and deep red cherries, sparkling water (kisela voda) and jellied orange peel (slatko) for breakfast, where he lived like a prince and where his most valuable asset was his broad smile and innocent difference, days when love was not questioned but assumed, whether it be an expression of some deep trauma, the breath of god or both wrapped up in a goodnight kiss, with the night’s winged minions clinging like limpets to the ceiling, they mesmerized by the light above and he by their milling throng and diversity, she would stroke his face and say goodnight Sammy my love, sleep tight, remember you go fishing early tomorrow with Chika Juro (Djuro), I love you.”
Years, even decades have passed since Simon has visited Stoliv and Boka kotorska. Some other kids are playing now, where he used to play with his cousins and friends. Their games have changed, but maybe some of them still exist. Chika Juro passed away a long time ago and there is nothing left of his old wooden boat, which he used for fishing with Simon and other kids. The old stone house, about three centuries old is still there, but with new owners. Maybe some of them will try to preserve the true meaning and old fragrance of Stoliv.
Meanwhile, this parallel existence is still there, in the mind of this serious grown – up with preserved child’s soul. Cheers, bro.
7. July 2019 - “Miklja is the best journalist amongst writers and the best writer amongst journalists”, some used to say, but what does it really mean? Dušan Miklja himself laughs at this, simply continuing his work.
Miklja was born in Belgrade, where he lives today, except when he spends his time in Boka. He graduated English language and literature at the Faculty of Philology, Belgrade University.
He has been Tanjug’s (ex Yugoslavia’s official news agency) correspondent from all over the world, but especially from Africa, out of which he reported on many dramatical historical events. He knew many world leaders in person, as well as guerilla leaders. He was awarded for lifetime achievement in 1995 from the Association of Journalists of Serbia and Montenegro.
Miklja is the author of many collections of stories, travel-essayist prose and novels. His passion for Boka started long ago, before he bought a part of a house in Krašići almost thirty years ago, making him Boka's summer resident. He talks about his feelings towards this special bay in the Mediterranean for TMN:
“I try to stay here as long as I can, since it is so nice. It is good for a man to change his whereabouts from time to time. I travelled a lot, but Boka is one of my favorite places. Boka is a small cosmos. It brings together all the virtues in which a man wants to enjoy. There are a few bays and places in the world that can be compared to Boka. All the beauty is condensed in such a small space. But, a lot has changed in Boka and Tivat. Maybe for the better. But I love old towns, old streets. That's why Kotor is so dear to me, especially those old places that have been preserved. We should not leave ourselves completely covered by concrete. I am not in favour of such urban policy. We should build new, but planned, with good balance. It must be a continuous string. Because tourists have become more selective. Montenegro has so much to offer. Her traditions, customs, herbs, meals cannot be found elsewhere."
One of his novels, “Summer” (“Leto”) is dedicated to Boka:
"My book Leto happens in Boka. It is a sort of a youth thriller, but with a lot of melancholy. It happens in a small place in Boka; you can guess which one. It is about a family meeting, how they spend holidays there, gathering from different parts of the world…” After that novel, Miklja started publishing in the Laguna publishing house. The last one, “Before It's Too Late”, speaks about plenty of reasons for concern in the world.
Spending his summer in Boka, Miklja is working on his new novel. He admits to us that he expects a lot of it. It's a novel about arms traders. But there is also a love story. Despite his careful synopsis writing took him in some other direction, Miklja said. We are yet to see where.
May 29, 2019 - The Music Education Society of Tivat, the oldest cultural institution in this city, marks 110 years since its founding. A central manifestation in the year of the great jubilee, a tour of at least 12 wind orchestras, is scheduled for 15 June at 7 pm. The program named"Big Noise" implies the defile of the city's street center, the joint performance of marches on the city waterfront of Pine, and individual representations of wind orchestras from Albania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.
February 21, 2019 - The Citizens' Movement "97,000 Odupri Se" (97.000 Resist) organizes the third gathering in Podgorica on Saturday, to express the civic protest because, as stated, the dysfunctionality of all segments of the political system in Montenegro. A new gathering in front of the Prosecutor's Office building is scheduled for 23 February at 6 pm. For this occasion, we spoke with a member of the organizing committee of the protest campaign, Ilija Gajevic.
February 15, 2019 - The sea captain, Tomo Katuric, is the president of the Alliance of the Philatelists of Montenegro, but also a member of the Royal Philatelic Society in London and the European Philatelic Academy in Paris. His great successes recommended him also to be a member of the jury of the World Association of Philatelists FIPA.
Tomo is one of the two people from Balkans to become a member of the Royal Philatelic Society in London, sponsored by Queen Elisabeth II. The Society was founded in 1869 under the patronage of the royal family and consists of 1609 members.
“I become a member in January 2007 with the recommendation of Mr Alan Higgins, an English Lord- one of the leading persons in the world of English philately, as well as at the recommendation of the President of the Philatelists of Italy- Alessandro Agostosi. It was an honor and a pleasure because you can be recommended there only through your success, and by that time I had already had two world gold medals- from Washington and Malaga,” explains Tomo Katuric.
“The gold from Washington is very special to me because it stands as the first gold medal engraved in the culture of Montenegro - as the first gold medal coming to Montenegro after the referendum on independence,” says Tomo. The World Philatelic Exhibition, held in 2006 in Washington under the patronage of the President of the USA, was also the first public solo performance of the Montenegrin Postal Service at a philatelic exhibition after 1897. Tomo won the Gold medal among 650 exhibitioners from 70 countries presenting his unique collection “The Postal History of Boka 1809-1875.”
He is the successor to the old Captain's family from Kamenari in Boka Bay. About 50 percent of philatelic collections that he now owns with his wife and son succeeded, while the rest managed to upgrade to world auctions, thus reaching the world's largest philately class.
“The Katuric family arrived in Boka in 1697 during the Turkey-Venice wars, also known as Moreja wars. They were mainly sailors and merchants. My great grandfather Mato was a sailing ship captain, my grandfather Tomo was a merchant, inherited by my father Djuro, also inheriting the bar in Kamenari in 1906 which has been opened ever since,” explains Tomo.
He started exhibiting in 2001, but he took on philately in 1974 when his uncle Lazar “handed” his collection to Tomo to continue the tradition which had been started by his great grandfather Mato. Katuric’s collection is unique, and its big part comes from the family correspondence letters.
From the collection "The Postal History of Boka 1809-1875", Copyright: Boka News"
"Today, Tomo owns up to 15 gold medals from world exhibitions. The greatest attention and acknowledgment is drawn to his main philately collecting collection from the days of Napoleon and the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The collection "Postal History of Boka Bay 1809-1875" contains 250 letters, or 128 pages from the Napoleon era. It includes the first postmark issued in Austro-Hungarian 1850, as well as letters from the time Napoleon ruled over these areas. Until 1850, the letters were only sealed, qualifying as pre-philately, but in the collection, there were also letters with stamps, that is, after the founding of the Post Office of the World in Bern in 1874, when Montenegro was one of the 22 founding countries.
The family of Katurić is a collection of four collections, and besides mentioned, Tomo owns a philatelist collection "The Boka and Montenegro Occupation 1941-1945." The son Djordje has a collection of "The letters of the Bokelian Sailors 1839-1880", and his wife Jelisaveta achieves remarkable successes on the world exhibits presenting her collection "The Letters of Sailors from the Austro-Hungarian Fleet 1914-1918". According to FIPA rules, one man can exhibit a maximum of two, and a family of four collections. The Katuric family is also unique in our country and can boast of over 40 of the most significant recognitions of European and world exhibitions.
It is interesting to point out that the post office in Boka Bay, or more precisely in Herceg Novi, has been open for 70 years longer.
"The post at Herceg Novi was opened in 1804, 70 years before Cetinje. This shows us the history, culture and the mail of these regions. This kind of information cannot be praised by most of the 92 member states that are gathered by the World Philatelist Organization."
All collections of the Katuric family talk about Boka Bay and its maritime history, which is not surprising given that the love for collecting and seafaring are the inseparable segments of their members' lives for more than two hundred years.
Tomo is delighted to bring the story of the culture of our region around the globe, even after the celebrated era of the Bokelian maritime affairs. “I have been to and exhibited on all the continents, except Arctic and Antarctica. Thanks to philately and sailing, I have visited more than 200 cities and have seen five out of seven world wonders, proudly representing my home place Kamenari, the town of Herceg Novi, the Boka Bay and Montenegro.”
There is no rule to the profession most commonly dealing with philately. Still, within the circle of the top world philatelist, Tomo is the only seaman. “It is interesting that I am usually not called by my real name but “Bocca di Cattaro”- after my collection,” Tomo proudly marks.