Wer zum Teufel ist Albania

Dieses Buch ist ein Muss für jeden, der auch nur das geringste Interesse an Albanien hat. EL Bono sagt zu Beginn, dass er Albanien so beschreiben könnte, dass man nie einen Schritt in das Land setzen möchte oder so, dass eure nächste Reise unbedingt nach Albanien führt. Aber wie für jedes Land auf der Welt gibt es Positives und Negatives zu berichten, aber leider konzentriert sich die westliche Presse fast nur auf das Negative und malt Albanien als mafiöses, gefährliches und schreckliches Land. Das ist aber weit von der Wahrheit entfernt.

Nachdem ich in London und Wien gelebt habe, und nun schon selbst ein langjähriger Bewohner Albaniens bin, kann ich bestätigen, dass es eines der sichersten Länder der Welt ist, das ich kenne. Besonders als Frau gibt es kaum eine andere Stadt als Tirana in der ich mich allein in einer dunklen Gasse, alleine zu später Nacht, nicht fürchten muss.

E.L Bono beschreibt Albanien als einen Rohdiamant mit einem enormen Entwicklungspotenzial. Das Buch ist kurzweilig und humorvoll unterhaltsam geschrieben. Während er sich mit Ironie über die eine oder andere uns komsich erscheinende Eigenart lustig macht, erzählt er uns genau so von den positiven Dingen in Albanien, wie z.B. der fantastischen Bio-Küche (auch wenn das Land zwischen Kroatien und Griechenland liegt, übertrifft die Kulinarik sicher ihre kühnsten Erwartungen) , der unberührten Natur, oder der grenzenloses Freundlichkeit und Hilfsbereitschaft der Albaner.

Ich erinnere mich an eine englische Zeitung, die eine ganze Seite darüber geschrieben hat, wie man den Kontakt mit Touristen vermeiden kann (man erkennt sie an den Stadtplänen und Reuiseführern in den Händen). In Albanien werden sie niemanden finden, der ihnen nicht sofort weiterhelfen wird. Selbst wenn er nicht ihre Sprache versteht, holt er sofort jemanden der Englisch, Italienisch, Deutsch, Griechisch oder sonst eine Sprache beherrscht.

Aber vielleicht ist es das Beste für Sie, wenn dieses unterhaltsame, ehrliche und unvoreingenommene Buch, das Albanien aus dem Blickwinkel eines Zentraleuropäers beschreibt, selbst lesen. Ich denke, dieses Buch wird sie direkt nach Albanien führen, schließlich ist das eigene Erlebnis immer noch der beste Eindruck..

MY DAUGHTER’S TEACHER

Some of these people simply do not like children. Others are just hostile sadistic people who prey on vulnerable kids to boost their ego. At best, some are apathetic and do not care one way or another about the welfare of our children and yet still there are others who simply forgot that they too were once kids and what being a kid felt like.

   Luckily for daughter, her teacher is not one of the above. Ms. Mather comes across as a serious but soft spoken individual with certain ease about her. Judging from the progress my daughter has made in her school work, I am convinced that Ms. Mather is not just a good teacher, she is a wonderful teacher. However what makes Ms. Mather and others like her that little bit extra special, is that she cares and not just about the books but about the general welfare of our children. And in case you are wondering, no, she is not my best friend and neither is my daughter the teacher’s pet. In fact Ms. Mather has been known admonish, reprimand or even give my kid acceptable punishment for making wrong choices.

 My daughter is one of three mixed race children in her school. One day she told me that a little girl had made her feel bad about her beautiful curly brown hair. Needless to say my daughter was upset, she wanted straight hair. As a mother, it broke my heart. My daughter is not only beautiful on the outside but she is also beautiful on the inside. She has a sunny disposition and one of very few kids that I know who wakes up with a smile on her face. I was never like that, waking up for school was a continuation of my nightmare. I spoke to my daughter and told her that her hair was beautiful. I told her that I loved her, I told she should love herself and generally we had a long and hopefully productive conversation. Having done my part, I then wrote a short note to Ms. Mather explaining the situation.

    Ms. Mather did not address my kid about this subject. Instead she found four kid’s books about different races, different skin colours, different families and most importantly different hair. Every two days or so, she read one book to her class, held a discussion about it and then sent the book home with my daughter so we could read it together and talk about it.

    Another time one boy would not work with my kid in class. I cannot say one hundred percent that this was race related, but it did amount to bullying of sorts. Although my daughter did not tell me about it, the teacher took this very seriously because she has zero tolerance on bullying and believes it must be nipped in the bud. She sent the boy out of the class and called his parents for a meeting. She also sent me an e-mail to say what had happened and how she had dealt it.  A few weeks later something similar happened, this time with a different boy who pushed my girl. Again my daughter did not mention it but the teacher wrote to me and explained how she dealt with that issue also.

    In some cases, at least in my case, my daughter spends more of her waking hours in school than she does at home. It therefore gives me great comfort to know that someone has her back.  Sadly my daughter is going to 2nd grade and will leave Ms. Mather behind. I can only hope that the next teacher is inclined.

   I applaud you and others like you Ms. Mather, hopefully because of you, the leaders of tomorrow; our children, will not only be better academics but also well balanced people who choose right instead of wrong.

SHOULD WE BEAT OUR CHILDREN?

According to the bible we should not ONLY BEAT OUR CHILDREN; WE SHOULD ALSO KILL THEM FOR DISOBEDIENCE. Would you have your kid stoned to death?

Proverbs 13:24 King James Version (KJV)

24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (my translation for those who do not understand old English, beat the shit out of the kid.)

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 King James Version (KJV)

18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:

19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;

20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.

21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

So we know what the bible says, but what about common sense? If the bible says yes and grandma did it, and mama did it, does that mean it is the right thing to do?

When my kid got very naughty, I figured I could smack her, I would not hit as hard as my mama did, I would be more kind, make it less painful ……….

So, I did it, with restraint, but still, I beat her little hands. I prefer to call it a slap on the wrist to ease the nightmare of that day. She was 2 years old and I have never forgotten the expression on her face. She was frightened to death or horrified if you like. ‘My mama, my protector has suddenly turned into a vicious enemy, how can she hurt me?’ On top of that, I felt every little smack, as if it was me that was being smacked. But! It had to be done, right. The guilt that haunted me all night long, the shitty sleepless night second guessing myself chose to differ.

I asked myself “How could my parents have beaten me so much? Did they not have any sympathy? Did I not have that same face? Did they not love me as much as I love my child? How did they sleep at night?” The questions were endless, the answer simple.

The bible says do it, their parents beat them and everybody else beat their kids. Needless to say that was ages ago in Kenya where beating children could have been called adult sport…. at least in those days. You could hear parents bragging about beating their children as if it was an achievement of great magnitude. Yet, it was wrong. Am I angry with my parents? The answer is a clear no. My parents worked with the tools they had in those days. No one told them it was wrong, in fact, it was expected.

So how was I to discipline my kid without the benefit of violence? I turned to my sister for help. She said watch Supernanny on YouTube and take it from there.

MY DAUGHTER’S TEACHER

I think most have us have encountered a person who has no business working with children.

Some of these people simply do not like children. Others are just hostile sadistic bastards who prey on vulnerable kids to boost their ego. At best, some are apathetic and do not care one way or another about the welfare of our children and yet still there are others who simply forgot that they too were once kids and what being a kid felt like.

Luckily for daughter, her teacher is not one of the above. Ms. Mather comes across as a serious but soft spoken individual with certain ease about her. Judging from the progress my daughter has made in her school work, I am convinced that Ms. Mather is not just a good teacher, she is a wonderful teacher. However what makes Ms. Mather and others like her that little bit extra special, is that she cares and not just about the books but about the general welfare of our children. And in case you are wondering, no, she is not my best friend and neither is my daughter the teacher’s pet. In fact Ms. Mather has been known admonish, reprimand or even give my kid acceptable punishment for making wrong choices.

My daughter is one of three mixed race children in her school. One day she told me that a little girl had made her feel bad about her beautiful curly brown hair. Needless to say my daughter was upset, she wanted straight hair. As a mother, it broke my heart. My daughter is not only beautiful on the outside but she is also beautiful on the inside. She has a sunny disposition and one of very few kids that I know who wakes up with a smile on her face. I was never like that, waking up for school was a continuation of my nightmare. I spoke to my daughter and told her that her hair was beautiful. I told her that I loved her, I told she should love herself and generally we had a long and hopefully productive conversation. Having done my part, I then wrote a short note to Ms. Mather explaining the situation.

Ms. Mather did not address my kid about this subject. Instead she found four kid’s books about different races, different skin colours, different families and most importantly different hair. Every two days or so, she read one book to her class, held a discussion about it and then sent the book home with my daughter so we could read it together and talk about it.

Another time one boy would not work with my kid in class. I cannot say one hundred percent that this was race related, but it did amount to bullying of sorts. Although my daughter did not tell me about it, the teacher took this very seriously because she has zero tolerance on bullying and believes it must be nipped in the bud. She sent the boy out of the class and called his parents for a meeting. She also sent me an e-mail to say what had happened and how she had dealt it.  A few weeks later something similar happened, this time with a different boy who pushed my girl. Again my daughter did not mention it but the teacher wrote to me and explained how she dealt with that issue also.

In some cases, at least in my case, my daughter spends more of her waking hours in school than she does at home. It therefore gives me great comfort to know that someone has her back.  Sadly my daughter is going to 2nd grade and will leave Ms. Mather behind. I can only hope that the next teacher is inclined.

I applaud you and others like you Ms. Mather, hopefully because of you, the leaders of tomorrow; our children, will not only be better academics but also well balanced people who choose right instead of wrong.

Homosexuals, are they for real?

I have lost count of the number of times I have spoken to people who really believe that homosexuality is an invention of the modern world that is normalized by press.

So is this our invention? Apart from the fact that if the bible is to be believed, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah dates back at least 2000 years, and the ancient Greek depiction of same sex relationships go back to 600BC, I had the good fortune to meet a gay man called John, so I asked him “Did you decide to become gay?”

Needless to say John was shocked by my ignorance but he kindly explained that being gay is not a choice. According to him, he was a happy little boy who played football like all the boys his age; that is until he reached puberty and started to find his male playmates attractive. He knew this was not acceptable in our world so he tried to fancy girls but it did not work. He could not talk to anyone about his feelings because his father was a preacher and the subject was taboo. So he did the right, dated girls that he was not attracted too and even made a poor attempt to have sex with a girl, and his words not mine, “It was a disaster. I made it through by fantasizing about my best friend – a guy”. John hated being homosexual, he hated having sexual feelings for men and he hated being what was considered abnormal. He hated his life. “Why can’t I love girls?” My life would be so much easier” He thought often. But John knew he had to fight those feelings in order to fit in and be accepted both by society and family. So he went all macho and tried to conform to the heterosexual norm. He did not hold back, he got tattoos, joined the gym in a bid to look manlier and even enlisted in the army. To top it all, he married a woman. He liked her but he was not sexually attracted to her or to any woman for that matter. Three years and two kids later, he had managed to ruin not just his life, but hers as well. It was not a happy home. Suicide was an option but John chose life. He divorced his wife and married his dream man……happily ever after.

Sadly John’s story is not a fairy tale, there are many Johns in our world, people whom we choose to discriminate against because of their sexual orientation. Sometimes we even result to violence against them in order to express how unacceptable they truly are. So what drives this discrimination? It cannot be the bible because the bible say’s “let him who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her.” So what makes us think that we are holier than thou, how many laws of Moses do we break every day?

Sonisays that our world is so fucked up that the sexual perversions boggle the mind. Men and women who are turned on by the weirdest things like dressing up in baby clothes (diapers included), masochists who get turned on by feeling physical pain, sadomasochists who get turned on by inflicting physical pain, even people who get turned on by being pissed on, and worst of all paedophiles. The latter prefer to fuck kids and in my opinion do not deserve human rights.  What I wonder, is why it should bother us when two consenting adults do their thing behind closed doors? Is it not time to wake up and smell the coffee? Homosexuality is not going away no matter how often we shout “EVIL” from the room tops. If we are looking for evil, let us look at paedophiles. Even with all my sins, I would be the first to cast the first of many stones.

We don’t have to like homosexuals, we don’t have to agree personally with homosexuality, and we certainly don’t have to have sex with them. Having said that, I do believe that it is the right of all consenting adults to have sex in whatever form they choose. And we must respect their wish to run their lives as they see fit and treat them with the same respect that we all deserve.

And ladies, gay men make the best girlfriends and unless your guy is an undercover gay, he is safe with your new best friend.

Who the hell is Albania?

Book review: Who the hell is Albania?

I love to read about others experiences of Albania- exploring their words and feelings as the words meander through my mind fills me with more appreciation for the country I have found myself in.  When I came across a book called ‘Who the hell is Albania” by Austrian author E.L.Bono with the tagline “Why Mother Theresa ran away to India and Skanderberg beat up the Turks”, I quite literally jumped at the chance to read it.

One of the things that I love about living in different countries and immersing yourself in their culture, is picking up on the idiosyncrasies and sometimes amusing nuances of their way of doing things. Albania is absolutely no exception and regardless of whether you are here for a week or a decade, you are bound to see and experience things that will make you say “Only in Albania!”.

This book was written by someone, who like me, stumbled across Albania by chance. Brought to the country for an interesting work-related project, he and his wife were somewhat hesitant at first, but within a few years they had become deeply in love with and committed to Albania and its people. The back of the book touches on some of the incorrect preconceptions that many have about the country as well as some of its finer points such as the hospitality, and the enchanting and unspoilt landscape of beaches, mountains, rivers, and lakes.

The book opens with an introduction that provides a reader, unfamiliar with Albania, with a bit of background knowledge. One line that stood out to me is one that I cannot help but agree with;

“It’s possible for me to describe Albania in such a way that your next journey definitely leads there, or in such a way that you never, ever want to set foot in this country.”

To me this reflects the great paradox that this country is- the good and the bad, the rich and the poor, the unspoilt and the overdeveloped, the friendliness and the simmering anger- Albania is a contradiction in many ways but the following pages go on to dispell the myths that need dispelling and to explain and give context to the ones that cannot. It also provides a brief historical overview- something that is rather difficult to do in just a couple of pages, but I find the penultimate paragraph of the introduction, particularly poignant.

“Albania is certainly a rough diamond with an enormous potential for the future. What the diamond grinders, that is the politicians and the Albanians themselves, will make out of it, we will see with the passage of time.”

The book is split into 38 chapters, and at only 143 pages long, you can easily sit and digest this tome over the course of an afternoon. Each chapter tells a short story, but yet in some way, they all link together to create a journey over a passage of time. Told in the form of an anecdote, from the point of view of an L.C.Waikiki plastic bag (yes really), the concept is as refreshing as it is bizarre and once you realise the perspective, it makes for a truly unique style. I must admit that in the first chapter, I wasn’t sure what possible observations a hypothetical, non-compos mentis bit of plastic could have, but stick with it as it makes for a surprisingly fascinating read.

The narrator tells the story from its viewpoint as a plastic bag that accompanies his master (the author) on many journeys and adventures in and around Albania. From run-ins with customs officials to crossing the Montenegran border with a child’s passport, the stories are funny and entertaining, and if you have lived in Albania for any period of time, you will understand that they are completely believable. Whilst fun is poked ever-so-gently at the culture of “it is not what you know, but who you know”, and things like the blase attitude towards driving, gun ownership, and safety, it is done in such a way that it often provides context and explanations, and therefore avoids the scourge of the neocolonial trap.

You can tell that this book is written with affection, and asides from the humour and the face-palm moments, it is carefully interlaced with real human stories that touch on issues such as blood feuds, the Kanun, and the obsession with virginity and “purity”.

One thing that I particularly enjoyed about the book is the fact that it seems the things I love and find interesting about Albania are not completely original. It is nice to read that someone else discovered the same things years before. As I read each chapter, I found myself smiling, nodding, laughing, agreeing, and reading bits out to my friend to see if she agreed. She did.

But this book is not just anecdotal- you can tell that is well researched in terms of historical and cultural facts and it can offer a great starting point, an introduction if you will, to discover more about Albania’s volatile and fascinating past. It is informative and clever, funny and tongue-in-cheek, but it also offers knowledge, insight, and some opinions which are as well constructed as they are realistic.

This book is a must-read for anyone that is moving to Albania, living in Albania or has lived, loved, and left Albania. It should also be read by any Albanians that are interested to see their way of life from the perspective of an outsider. Many of the paradoxes and things that seem bizarre to us, may seem like normal to them, and as such, reading it would hopefully be entertaining rather than antagonising. Despite touching on issues such as corruption, construction, pollution, crime, and power cuts, this book is written with a lot of love and insight and serves as a truly representative account of what life is like in Albania, particulary as an expat.

Follow The Balkanista!

Why I gave fat people the evil eye

I grew up in a country where it was fashionable for women to be fat, big hips and an even bigger butt not to forget the plump legs I sometimes see in my host country Albania. In my birth country they would willingly give a kidney for those plump legs. According to Kenyan men, those thick legs were to die for. Being fat meant you were well fed, happy in your marriage, in your life, that you were content, andthe good lord was looking out for you. Being skinny was an implication that you are on the breadline and you are miserable and believe it or not, it is not something that we Kenyans wanted to advertise. Depression was not in our vocabulary, but with my skinny legs and slim figure I was not happy.

Then I moved to Europe. My slim legs were a hit, the big hips that I had longed for but not acquired, were frowned upon. I was considered sexy, slim was in and fat was out and that’s just the fashion bit before they told me that being fat would kill you. High blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, fatty liver disease….that’s right. I was sold before they got to heart attack and cancer. My ass was African sexy but not quite European standard of sexy. Of course that was before Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian, followed by the inevitable butt plastic surgery and the jeans with an inbuilt ass…

The years that followed were easy, 20 sit ups a day and clubbing 5 times a week misled me into thinking that I could never put on weight. Even when I was pregnant, I was the sexiest mama this side of the Adriatic Sea and my husband can confirm that, at least if he wants to stay married.  And yeah, at eight months pregnant I was still clubbing every weekend possible, it is no wonder my kid can’t stop dancing.

During the time that I was “slim and sexy”  , I would see fat people eating a double Big Mac plus double fries and give them an evil eye. ‘Don’t you think, you are fat enough, Can’t you see you are killing yourself, think of the poor starving kids’. Those were a few of the thoughts the self-righteous judgmental me came up with. I mean I was disciplined, I stopped eating when I was full, regardless of how much I had paid for the food (Africans will understand that), or how good it tasted or how much pressure I got from a host.

But all good things come to an end, even the super slim sexy me. The weight creeped up on me and before I knew I had an extra 5 kilos. Now, to most people that is nothing, to me, it was the stuff Freddy Kruger spews, a nightmare the size of Everest. I could no longer fit into those super sexy skinny jeans but I am not one wane in the face of something like 5 kilos, leggings were not going to be my norm.

`Just eat less, it is no big deal’, and that was the beginning of my big deal. The minute I decided I was going to lose weight, I started to think about food all the time, all day and all night. I was just permanently hungry. In the not too distant past, I had foolishly opened a club, which meant that I was dancing every day for two or three hours and could eat mountains of food with zero weight gain. The club did not work out and when I closed it, my body demanded the same amount of food, only this time, it was minus the dancing. My self-discipline had been washed down the drain in a night club. I wanted food, loads of it so maybe I could eat less fattening food. Did you know that in our world it cost more money to lose weight than it does to gain weight? Integral or whole wheat as it is better known, tastes like shit and it leaves an even nastier taste in your wallet.  Raw carrots! Come on, I am African, that is the food we give to rabbits before we eat them. Salad is definitely unfit for human consumption as anything other than a side-dish.

My respect for over-weight people was growing by the second. Losing weight was no easy feat as I had previously imagined. I joined a gym, how do people do it, riding endlessly to nowhere?

Today I respect all over-weight people who are trying to lose weight. I understand their struggle. My respect grows with over-weight people who are content with their weight and are happily munching on McDonalds.

After all Sonisays, being slim is not a recipe for life everlasting while being content is a recipe for happy everlasting.

Did I lose weight? Yes.

How? Watch this space.

 

Great sex and a pizza or a house as clean as hospital room and a meal cooked from scratch?

Why do we women try to keep the house as clean as an Intensive Care Unit room (ICU)? Especially where kids are involved, this is a thankless, never ending task. I mean, how often do the guys or kids come home and say “Thank you so much, we love you more because the house is so clean? The guys don’t notice and frankly speaking, the kids don’t care and the mother-in-law will still complain about the speck of dust you missed. Let’s not forget that after a hard day with his butt firmly attached to a chair followed by what is considered a worthwhile dinner in a spotless house, Mister Right wants to relax on top of you for all of the five minutes, if you are lucky. For the unfortunate lady, she is the planned evening workout with a rigorous one hour sex marathon. And sadly, she is supposed to be all hot and bothered, asking for more and more and more. Oh Yes! More, that feels good baby!

The fact is, after a day spent cleaning the house to standards that would make Buckingham Palace envious, picking up toys, wiping shit from baby’s bottoms, washing dishes and ironing, the last thing on a woman’s mind is sex. She is not only physically exhausted but she is also mentally incapable of accommodating sexual thoughts i.e. after dealing with the runny noses, playing referee to the kids, potty training and having to deal with the distraught parent whose kid her kid beat up… All those things and more, tend to drain some of the energy resources required to have great sex. For the ladies, I would suggest general cleaning once a week and basic cleaning for the rest of the time.

Guys, get serious what is better, great sex with a willing partner or lousy nothing to write home about sex in ICU living quarters? When your expectations are above the human possibility comfort zone, the result is you fuck yourself because the truth is your partner is not taking part in your sexual activities, and please don’t fool yourself that “my wife always has an orgasm”, “She is always willing”. Let me enlighten you, that orgasm is a fake!  You hear me? It is a fake meant to hurry you along so that she can hit the pillow and get a goodnight’s rest and the only thing keeping her from telling you “get the fuck off me” is her polite upbringing combined with loyalty  to her marriage vows affection having becoming a thing of the past.

My advice is to get off your high horse, drop the housework standard, give the kids to grandma for an evening, order a pizza and have the fuck of your life.

Trust me and I am speaking from experience, changing diapers is not an aphrodisiac, and at the risk of self-repetition washing dishes is not an aphrodisiac either.

Seduction is the key, a glass of wine, candles maybe some music etc. can go a long way to get that sexy mood going. Techno and House music is not what I had in mind when I said music, unless you are on drugs of course.

As for me, I am taking my chances where I can. Grandma is in the park with my kid and I just ordered pizza for me and my husband. Guess what I prepared for dessert?

“A tree for every child”, say’s who?

Someone wrote in a Facebook mother’s Group “What should I do, my child will not stop lying?” and someone answered “You should feel proud. You are raising a politician”

 

How often do you listen to politicians and wish they could be charged extra taxes for using our oxygen on worthless speeches best suited to a night out in a sewer? Well the good news is that they are not all like that and I was fortunate enough to meet a politician who not only qualifies to use our Oxygen but works towards creating more Oxygen for the people in his city.

The Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj

Truth be told, I was pressured to attend this meeting by my husband because I do not willingly inflict the political bullshit served up by politicians on my self-righteous soul. But my husband once told me that my lack of political stand is what allowed men like Hitler to gain political momentum.  So to appease my lovely man and against my better judgement I agreed to attend a meeting in which the mayor was the main speaker.

At first sight I was not impressed. “A baby” is what I whispered to my husband. Of course if it had been a blind date 20 years earlier, I would have been all over him like a bad rash given the man’s youthful good looks and natural charm. But it was not a date, I was here to listen and then impress upon my man what a waste of time this event had been. Now being a self-proclaimed worldly person, not many people surprise and impress me but this gentleman did. I was sure what to expect. What I did not expect was a man with a futuristic thought process determined to bring forward tomorrow to today.

He spoke of what his plans had been, how he had planned to turn his plans to action, the obstacles he had faced and how he overcame them. He did not use the big vocabulary favoured by political bigwigs that have us running to our dictionaries only to discover that the words were totally irrelevant and were meant only as a diversion to the real agenda. The mayor’s speech was given in a language so simple a child in kindergarten could understand. Perhaps he is acquainted to conversing with children given the fact that he mentioned kids time and time again in his speech.

He told of his biggest obstacle, the mentality of the people peppered with a communist past and a notion of self before us. Now anyone who lives in Tirana does not need to be a genius to understand how big the mentality obstacle really is. We in Tirana tend to think that all business outside our front door is everyone’s business but ours. However Mr. Veliaj is a formidable young man, who refuses to run away, hide or give up and pushes forward in the face of adversity and whose convictions surpassed my non-existent expectations and managed to impress me.

As he told us, he wanted to build a playground in the park at the lake. Along with being told there was no money to do it, the opposition demonstrated against it but he pushed forward and reached the silent undecided and not only managed to gain favour with them but also to raise money for the playground. Result, the playground was built and the children absolutely love it. He wanted to plant more trees in order to fight pollution and to build pedestrian footpaths and cyclist paths around the lake in Tirana but again he was told “We have no money, how can we do that?” “Let’s use the children”, he said. Our mayor started an initiative to ask parents to buy trees for the children. It was not easy to convince the parents so he convinced the kids who then went home and said “I want a tree for my Birthday” and when one kid got a tree the friend’s also wanted a tree, and so it went in a pyramid kind of way and achieved the impossible while generating much needed cash for the city.

Dear Mayor, because you have not learnt the deceitful act of evading questions, I am not sure you qualify as a politician. However I applaud your very positive input in this city and you and anyway else who continues to work for the people and not for self, has my vote.

As for the rest of you readers, I do not know what you are doing today but Sonisay’s, “I am off to buy a tree for my daughter”.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑