A Serbian pundit of the nineties once said if you want to get to know the Oriental mindset, you needn’t travel to Turkey and make the acquaintance of any exotic Mehmet or Ahmed. Rather you need look no further afield  than the Serbs themselves.  This may come as a surprise to some Westerners, for whom the Serbs are supposed to be the guardians ...

The guy that worked the hotel reception desk looked at me, as if to make sure he had heard correctly. “Tallava? You want tallava?” he said, like I wanted a dose of the clap. “Are you sure you really want to hear this shit? I know of a place on the edge of town. But I’m warning you, it’s a bit ...

From Budapest to Belgrade is eight hours. You travel along the Pannonian plain; the great plain of Hungary; Transdanubia; the westernmost steppe in Europe; all flatlands and fields, and the heat doesn’t let up in your non-air-conditioned compartment, as you pass by dusty, flyblown  villages with sweep-wells in a sea of wheat and cornfields.  At the border to Serbia a burly ...

        And so it was that -- filled with a tremor of excitement --  I embarked on another trip to Belgrade,  that wild, loud, brawling, lawless and free city in the Balkans, where the kafanas flowed with rakija and the streets were filled with beautiful girls in knock-off Versace and silicone tits.  Some called the bus line the “Gastarbeiter Express” because it hit ...