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 ...

Robert Soko: We are about to compose a book in the next year or two. Something similar to “Please Kill Me”. Robert Rigney: The Balkan version. Robert Soko: Yes, the Balkan version. Let’s say thirty years of Balkan mayhem.  Billy Gould: Cool. Robert Soko: And we are trying to get in touch with everyone who has something to say, on a bigger scale and ...

The train line from Prijepolje in the south Serbian Sandžak to Podgorica in Montenegro is perhaps the most dramatic in Europe. You go through tunnel after tunnel, skirting the precipice of one of the world’s deepest canyons. The mountains here are indescribably rugged, barely cultivable and scarcely inhabited. Here and there in the midst of this grey wilderness of barren rock you ...

The deeper I got into the Balkans the more I began to feel the magnetic pull of Istanbul. As of Novi Pazar, everything started to tilt towards the Bosphorus. The food, the music, the language, the mannerisms, all began to assume a Turkish touch. I realized that if ever I were to unwind the knotty issue of the Balkans in my ...

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 ...

    In Vladičin Han,  the South Serbian town, where Marko Marković hails from, nearly everyone plays brass . “Growing up I didn’t have a choice,” says Marko. “The trumpet chose me.” Marko Marković (30) is the son of Balkan brass legend Boban Marković, five times winner of “Best Trumpeter” award at Guča, Serbia’s annual summer-time brass music blow-out.   Almost before he ...