90s

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KOSOVO 2.0 PEOPLE/POLITICS/SOCIETY/ARTS/CULTURE #10 SPRING/SUMMER 2016

’90s GUIDE TO THE DECADE OPPRESSION, RESISTANCE AND WAR WOMEN STAND STRONG JAILED FOR THEIR BELIEFS EXTRAORDINARY EDUCATION CULTURE OF THE UNDERGROUND MY FLASHBACK KOSOVO: € 5,- ELSEWHERE: € 15,- / $ 20,-


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KOSOVO 2.0

Editor-in-chief Besa Luci Photography Editor Atdhe Mulla Design Van Lennep, Amsterdam Xhansel Xhabiri, Prishtina Senior Editor Jack Butcher Editor Jack Robinson Copy Editor Wesley Schwengels Staff Writers Eraldin Fazliu Dafina Halili Cristina Mari

Contributors Artrit Bytyci Agron Demi Ilir Gasi Milot Hasimja Valerie Hopkins Lulzim Hoti Kaltrina Krasniqi Mikra Krasniqi Arber Kuci Agon Maliqi Arif Muharremi Veton Nurkollari Avni Rudaku Isak Vorgucic Lala Meredith-Vula Photographers Roger Le Moyne Eni Nurkollari Hazir Reka Craig J. Shell

Translators Qerim Ondozi Leke Berisha Fjolla Kallaba Sales Manager Sokol Loshi Financial Manager Hana Ahmeti Administrative Assistant Gentiana Sylejmani Publisher Kosovo Glocal Cover Hazir Reka

Webmaster Sprigs Board Chairman Joan de Boer Board Members Anna Di Lellio Agron Demi Printer Raster

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Illustrations Driton Selmani Tadi

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR BESA LUCI

— I HAVE COME TO UNDERSTAND MYSELF as part of a generation grounded in and shaped by the 1990s. At the turn of that decade, I was too young to remember the fall of the Berlin Wall, when democracy was believed to have triumphed across the rest of Europe, and many naively thought it would open a new chapter for the European political project that was “under construction.” I was also too young to remember Slobodan Milosevic’s rise to power in Serbia, and his 1989 speech at Gazimestan. There, he would confirm his nationalist political project that would not only ensure that Yugoslavia was about to collapse, but would soon enough become the premise upon which he would carry out campaigns of ethnic cleansing. But I do remember a night in the 1990s, at age 6, grabbing a pan and spoon and joining my two older sisters on the balcony of our family home, hitting the pan and shaking keys. This was one of the many ways through which protest was expressed at that time. The metallic sound reverberated throughout our neighborhood in Prishtina, and it most probably added to a cacophony of discontent throughout the city; similar snippets are just as much a part of other people’s recollections of how the decade began. In retrospect, I couldn’t have understood the meaning of that protest. But at the turn of that decade, I was also just old enough to experience ethnic segregation at school, attend cramped classes in houses — including my own — and feel a sense of uncertainty and fear as my mother and thousands of other parents lost their jobs after being fired by the Serbian authorities. In Kosovo, the ’90s began with the years of protests, and they ended with the years of war. The years in between are remembered as the time of resistance — a period when Kosovar Albanians declared their own republic and organized an entire political, economic, cultural and social parallel system, as they were deprived of civic rights. Such historical markers are important, as they provide reference points to Kosovo’s recent past. But today, the collective memory of the ’90s has overwhelmingly

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become restricted to dates, events and heroes. It ignores the multifaceted narratives that could help to feed, shape and contribute to a broader understanding of identity today. The decade offers a whole other spectrum of experiences, understandings and meanings — stories that are all too often forgotten, unspoken, disregarded or merely marginalized. They are the stories of the everyday choices, struggles, activism and solidarity that equally, or even more so, speak to the fact that resistance was also personal, and that it manifested and occurred differently for different people. This is what this magazine offers, while continuously placing such stories within a context that maps out and recontextualizes the main political framework of the decade. Our cover story, “Kosovo in the ’90s: Survival and Improvisation,” (see page 34), covers the entire decade and offers insight to how the Serbian government instrumentalized and carried out its repressive regime and how Albanians in Kosovo responded. But it also does not shy away from critiquing and scrutinizing the Kosovar Albanian leadership, which is important from the perspective of today’s constellation of political structures that continuously attempt to uphold and perpetuate glorified versions of “truth” and “history.” In this regard, the Oct. 1, 1997, student protest and the decade-long activism of women should just as much be part of the modern collective references to politics of the ’90s. The first (“A Time for Action” — see page 110) speaks to a student-led protest that called for an active resistance based on a simple request to reopen university premises and return the public sphere to everyone; the second (“Fighting for the Doubly Oppressed” — see page 116) shows how today’s struggles to break down gender barriers are part of a longer tradition of activism, which can trace its foundations to the 1990s. Meanwhile, this magazine is also based on the belief that the 1990s embodied a set of values that today have largely ceased to prevail. Such values come across in our profile stories — such as Fatime Bosnjaku, a humanitarian activist from Gjakova, who through the Mother Teresa Society took immense personal risks to organize supplies for villages in her municipality (“A Witness to the War” — see page 100). Our photography collection, assembled from personal archives, of lessons in private houses speaks of the immense solidarity and volunteerism — beyond any sort of personal gain — that ensured that education continued when access to schools was being denied (“A Lesson in Solidarity” — see page 71).

KOSOVO 2.0


The few opposition voices within Serbia during the 1990s should also not be disregarded, and our story on the “Women in Black” takes a look at those who dared to dissent (“The Color of Resistance” — see page 122). Two other stories recall the impact of the NATO air campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, an intervention that signaled the beginning of the end of the war in Kosovo that cost about 13,000 lives and saw hundreds of thousands of people expelled from their homes. They are both based in the city of Ferizaj; the first is an account of a young Albanian boy leaving his home behind with his entire family in the wake of the escalating war (“Running to Live” — see page 139); and the second is an account of a young Serb child watching the expulsions in bewilderment, before later having to leave his home, too (“When War Comes to Town” — see page 142). While all these stories take place within the backdrop of a repressive regime, they meet at a common impasse: a fight and resistance for social justice, political integrity and civic equality. That is why stories in this issue issue rarely extend beyond 1999; they end in that moment. By maintaining this focus, we hope readers can place themselves within the events they read, following individuals as they recall their struggles and becoming part of the recollection that people today carry when looking back on the decade. We also hope to trigger further debate that ultimately leads to more documentation of that time. Back in the ’90s, the two-fingered victory sign came to symbolize calls for democracy and freedom. Moreover, it represented a form of solidarity, as people traveling between cities would exchange victory signs with others they passed on the road. I feel no nostalgia for the ’90s when remembering that everyday life was subject to some form of oppression. But the importance of the decade in shaping where we are today should not be underestimated. Lately, a discussion has begun to resurface on what the 1990s symbolized in terms of political organization, cultural defiance and social cohesion. I believe that such discussions, which seek to also emphasize the push for social justice, equality and individual liberties, are driven by a feeling that what the self-declared democratic republic sought during the 1990s did not materialize beyond 1999. On one hand, during the 1990s, the individual was largely restricted through political practice and narratives of participation in the larger cause of independence,

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and identity was largely confined to definitions of national identity. But on the other hand, individual liberties were also sought within a constant negotiation between ideas and practices of tradition and modernity, community, family, and civic society. Such negotiations need to be recognized and not erased, as they are under reified visions of the past. Moreover, they can lead to the understanding that the “contract” between a republic and its citizens requires constant challenging in order to ensure that diversity — whether in terms of voice, experience or understanding — exists. This is precisely what we’ve sought to do through this collection of themed print issues. The debut issue on Image emphasized the fact that greater debate and critique from within is essential in the formation of the republic of the formally recognized independent Kosovo. However, it also critiqued the idea of Kosovo as a “newborn” country, which in some ways tries to erase any relation to past memories and experiences. This 10th edition marks the end of this collection; it closes with a topic that allows us to revisit recent past experiences and place them within the modern public sphere with the aim of continuing the debate on the future of the republic. As a media, Kosovo 2.0 magazine has been grounded on a social responsibility, always bearing in mind that citizens, and individual stories, are and should be at the core of any media undertaking. Our work has been based on a determination to document the story of Kosovo, but we have also strived to further a discussion that is not confined to Kosovo alone. We have explored knowledge of current and past developments in social, economic and political formations at the global and more localized levels, and their interconnections. Within this collection, the stories of, and from, Kosovo do not exist within a vacuum or serve as a definition of a post-war country or a transitioning society. They are the stories of the everyday political and social struggles that societies across the world are increasingly facing, while fighting for individual rights in a world that is more polarized than ever. The Kosovo 2.0 collection is grounded on an assertion that media are part of the public sphere, and as such, narratives are neither singular nor linear, but made of multitudes of identities and experiences. This is what this issue offers, as does the entire print collection. And this is what Kosovo 2.0 will continue to uphold as an online magazine. — K

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KOSOVOTWOPOINTZERO MAGAZINE #10 NINETIES SPRING/SUMMER 2016

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JOURNEY THROUGH THE PAST

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LIVING THROUGH CHANGE

90S

Let us lead you back to the 1990s, a time when freedom — and maybe the latest action movie — was all we wanted. By Artrit Bytyci

Remembering — or at least trying to — the 1990s, a decade of rock, acne and revolution. By Arif Muharremi

COVER STORY: 34 BORN FROM FLAMES Retracing the bloody path that Kosovo followed from persecution to nationhood. By Arber Kuci

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HOME SCHOOLED

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HELPING HER HOME

With schools closed to them, Kosovar Albanians still learned a lot, including unity. By Kosovo 2.0

Shqipe Malushi left for the U.S. in 1980, but she never lost sight of Kosovo. By Cristina Mari

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CONTENT

GUIDE TO THE ’90S

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THE MYTH OF YUGOSLAVIA

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RECONCILIATION, NOT REVENGE

Both nationalists and liberals seem to share a blind spot when it comes to romanticizing the past. By Agon Maliqi

Photographer documents the resolutions of some of nation’s deadly blood feuds. By Lala Meredith-Vula

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REAL-LIFE DRAMA

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JUST PUSH PLAY

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A PRECARIOUS POSITION

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Dodona’s theater offered shelter, education to expelled university arts students and teachers. By Dafina Halili

The VHS player revolutionized television — and kept a torn homeland in touch. By Kaltrina Krasniqi

Long marginalized, the Roma people have a champion in Assembly Deputy member Kujtim Pacaku. By Dafina Halili

THE WOMEN IN BLACK Protest group braves deadly regimes and political threats to spread awareness. By Valerie Hopkins


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90S

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TURNING POINT

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BEHIND THE WALLS

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A GENERATION REMEMBERS

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CONTENT

When university students demonstrated against the regime, the nation and world listened. By Dafina Halili

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Kosovo’s political prisoners still wear the effects of their punishment; many more never returned. By Eraldin Fazliu

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After escaping to London in the 1990s, four Kosovar men soon decided to head home and fight. By Milot Hasimja and Eraldin Fazliu

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CONTENT

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR The ’90s are painful recent history, but a closer look can help us understand our modern identity. By Besa Luci

'MITROVICA, MY CITY' How the suppression of information led to a rock and roll revolution in one town. By Lulzim Hoti

OF BIRDS AND MEN

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The names for crows symbolized the segregation that grew in Gjilan during the ’90s. By Avni Rudaku

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TURNING TO RELIGION

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BATTLES ACROSS BORDERS

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THE LOST DECADE

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With deception and violence all around, one soldier found meaning through charity at a monastery. By Isak Vorgucic

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The draft and a desire for revenge sent some Kosovar Albanians to war early. By Eraldin Fazliu In Kosovo, the 1990s were a wasteland that cancelled out decades of cultural and fiscal advances. By Mikra Krasniqi

SHELTER FROM THE STORM How one couple’s gallery-restaurant fed the bodies and souls of Kosovar Albanian resistance. By Cristina Mari

THE SHOW IS OVER The ’90s started with concerts and cinema, but ended in a much more grim fashion. By Veton Nurkollari

THE SOUNDS OF SURVIVAL In a shady Prishtina garage, kids played music in an attempt to escape a darkening reality. By Arif Muharremi

OUR EYES TO THE SKY

A TALENT, CUT SHORT Friends rave about the acting ability of Adriana Abdullahu, but a fatal attack kept the world from knowing her. By Dafina Halili

A 'MOTHER'S' WORK Fatime Boshnjaku helped the people of her city, and was repaid with its liberation. By Dafina Halili

MOMENTS IN TIME A random sample of memories from a difficult era. By Ilir Gasi

SHATTERED IMAGES OF HOME For Albanians in Kosovo, the homeland turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. By Artrit Bytyci

TWO WORLDS The brutal reality of Prishtina in the ’90s was counterbalanced by an escape into music. By Agon Maliqi

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THE WOMEN'S MOVEMENT

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ON THE RUN

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FORCED OUT

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90S..

For those who could afford one, a satellite dish opened up a whole world of news and entertainment. By Agron Demi

KOSOVO 2.0

As Kosovo fought against Serbian government oppression, its women also fought for gender equality. By Dafina Halili Escape from Serbian forces led families out of town, across borders before finally returning. By Eraldin Fazliu For so many, there was no choice but to leave when war came to town. By Isak Vrugocic

LOOKING FOR CLOSURE With 1,650 people still missing after the war, many families are left to wonder what happened. By Dafina Halili


GUIDE TO THE ’90S TEXT BY ARTRIT BYTYCI

Artrit Bytyci is from Prishtina and Prizren, Kosovo, and currently pursuing an MFA in creative writing at The New School in New York City. He has a background in biological sciences. Memory often transports him back in time to his childhood during the ’90s. He tries to record his time-travels in his ongoing nonfiction project entitled My Republic.To date, all such attempts have led to inconclusive results.

#1 TIME TRAVEL FOR

YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS

Thank you for picking KosovoTwoPointZero as your time travel method of choice. You have selected the ’90s. It is a brave choice. We commend you for it. This is your last chance to cancel before venturing into an era without texting, Facebook, YouTube or smartphones.

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HCT3R MATRIX ACTIVATED DECADE: 1990 - 1999 GPS COORDINATES: 0011000011110110101101 LOCATION: KOSOVO MODE: CRUISE NOTE: CRUISE MODE INVOLVES ABRUPT CONSCIOUSNESS JUMPS, LIKE THOSE OF ACTIVE MEMORY

By continuing to read these lines, we assume you grant consent for this time travel experiment. To comply with the law, we will briefly explain how it all works. Contrary to popular belief, by freezing yourself you can only travel forward in time. Using a Backto-the-Future-type car is impossible at this point, since the method is protected by the strong copyright laws of the movie industry. We would not want to provoke the wrath of the Motion Picture Association of America and its legion of lawyers. Plus, using a car is so 1980s. Our method, dear time traveler, is much more economical. We call it “Hypnotic Consciousness Time Travel Through Reading,” HCTTTR, or just HCT3R whenever we want to sound cool. It involves reading good old ink on paper (or pixel on screen, depending on your media consumption preferences).

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#2 TIME TRAVEL

INDUCTION PROCEDURE

Just by reading these lines, you are entering a state of hypnosis. Your breathing slows down, and your consciousness opens a space-time portal. As you read these lines, focus on your breathing. The text below will serve to prepare you for a time jump back to the ’90s. It will guide and help you adjust to the bygone decade. If you lived during this period, feel free to relive the times accessed by your memory. If you never experienced the ’90s, feel free to live them in your imagination. As long as you keep reading this text, the stability of the time tunnel will be maintained. If for any reason you stop, your consciousness will automatically be transported back to your original spacetime coordinates. As you finish reading these lines, you slip through the portal of your mind’s creation. You imagine a flash through your eyes and…

#3 THE WALL

HAS FALLEN

this era: The Berlin Wall had fallen just before the ’90s rolled in. This, it could be said, was the event that shaped this new decade. It marked the end of the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The whole world is full of hope for the start of a new era of freedom and democracy.

The Consciousness-Space-Time matrix is now established and stable. You have entered the ’90s. The first thing you have to know, time traveler, is the historical and geopolitical background of

You now find yourself in Kosovo amid a crowd of protesters. Here, aspirations mirror those of many places that are undergoing the transition toward freedom and democracy. You must master the chant. Repeat after me: “Liri! Demokraci! Liri! Demokraci!”(“Freedom! Democracy! Freedom! Democracy!”) Raise your hand in the air, and with two fingers create a victory sign. Continue chanting. Continue expressing your desire even though it might seem a farfetched ambition. The journey will not be easy and the region will be plagued by nationalism, hate, ethnic discrimination, wars, and crimes against humanity akin to those of World War II.

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KOSOVO 2.0


You wonder about the best way to counter tear gas. One urban legend prescribes squeezing the juice of onions into your eyes. Another one recommends you wash your eyes with milk. From a scientific standpoint, both methods guarantee an eye infection. You hate the sticky fingers that milk leaves you with after it dries out. You also abhor eating onions since you are obsessed with the smell of your breath, as if you could kiss someone at a second’s notice. It is a dilemma, but there’s no time to decide. As you yell “Kosova Republikë!,” you are clubbed in the head and fall down on your ass. This infuriates you. You feel like you lost your dignity. You want to fight back. But you are told you have to take it easy. Thus begins the time of passive resistance, and you become this political policy’s greatest devotee. You just revel in passivity. And what better way to be passive than by watching movies.

#4 THE CASSETTE TAPE ESCAPE

I know, dear time traveler, real life might be a bit too much for this period. How about we escape from the bleak reality and watch a movie? We want to watch something to boost our morale and make

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us believe even further in our cause and pursuit of freedom. Why, you’re in luck! Your neighborhood’s Video Club has just received the latest batch of Hollywood’s greatest action movies. You enter the tiny room. Tall shelves are filled with VHS cassette tapes that run all the way up to the ceiling. You start reading the titles. Everything from “Terminator 2” to “The Matrix.” “Home Alone,” “Leon: the Professional,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Pulp Fiction,” and much more. The proprietor reminds you that if you rent three movies, the fourth one is free. You produce your membership card. You run your fingers over it and feel the typewritten letters of your name. You decide on an action flick. It contains your now favorite F-word. You are not entirely sure on its meaning and usage, but you just keep pronouncing it aloud with an American accent. “Fuck. Fuck! Fuck?” You decide it feels like freedom.

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You enjoy the movie and want to keep watching it over and over. You go and borrow your neighbors’ VCR. Now you have two of them. You connect the VCRs together. In the first one you play the movie, in the other one you insert a blank VHS tape and press record. You watch as the numbers on the liquid crystal display slowly turn while you pirate the entire tape, including the FBI antipiracy warning. Your favorite part is making a copy of the FBI antipiracy warning, because: (a.) The FBI sounds kind of cool and comes up in every single one of the action movies, (b.) It makes the pirated copy seem more authentic (you wouldn’t want to miss out on the movie experience), and (c.) Because the FBI, the Free World’s best crime fighting institution, is talking directly to you and you somehow hope that maybe, just maybe, you’ll attract their attention to what’s going on in Kosovo.

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#5 WHAT YOU

LEARN IN SCHOOL

You remember that you are late for school. You turn off the movie and run through the streets. It is winter, and in the late afternoon the sun has already started going down. By the time you arrive at school, it is dark.

Rather than confront your primary school bully in the hallway, you decide to speed up time. You jump to high school. You find yourself in the courtyard of someone’s home. You double check the coordinates in the HCT3R space-time travel system and confirm you are indeed where you should be.

The greatest reason you enjoy primary school is because your classes are in the late afternoon. You feel like you should resent this fact, because the grownups say it labels you as a second-class citizen, but you don’t mind. You were never a morning person, and so you are happy that you can at least gain something from the giant mess that’s been caused by politics. You enter the anarchy of the classroom and you notice the blackboard is full of drawings and writing, among them a curved line running through the entire surface representing a giant penis. It was your turn to be class custodian. But you realize you forgot to bring the class sponge from home with you. The teacher might enter at any moment. The consequences would be disastrous, especially since it all happened under your watch. You embark on an expedition to borrow a sponge from one of the other classrooms. But you feel scared to venture onto their turf.

#6 TV DINNERS, OR A PARABOLIC DISH FOR EVERY HOME

Albanian high schools in Kosovo were forbidden during the ’90s, and you realize you are at a “parallel system” school. Someone had donated their entire three-story house to serve as a school. But you are unphased by the nobility of such an act. As a teenager, all you care about is your romantic interests.

You go back home and you turn on the TV. You change the channel to the Latin American soap operas. But you soon get sick of them. You can’t take it anymore. Cassandra better recognize Randu’s un-

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In the courtyard you see that one person you like. But you are too shy to approach. Still, you keep walking toward them hoping that you’ll think of something on the way. If only you knew a good way to flirt. It always seems so effortless in soap operas. You make a mental note to research this well.

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KOSOVO 2.0


requited love. Lovisna better put up with Orinoko. Rosa Salvaje better stop being such a brutish and wild rose; seriously, how everyone’s in love with her is beyond your comprehension. Your face is numb. You check the (Serbian) stateowned TV. The news is on. It keeps telling the same old stories. You yell “God damn liars,” and you decide the time has come. Enough is enough; freedom starts with freedom of information. You turn your newly bought satellite dish toward the starlit sky, where freedom awaits. You keep yelling “Do we have a signal?” as you move the giant dish a little bit to the left. “And how about now?” — followed by a slight move to the right. From your roof, you look at the neighborhood. All those satellite dishes make it seem as though mushrooms have sprouted all over the roofs and balconies.

You watch the news and now think about how nice it is that you finally managed to escape the Serbian state-controlled propaganda. But the truth is tough. In order to handle it you have to spike it with doses of entertainment. You watch Cartoon Network. You polish your Turkish with Shaban and Kara Murat. You turn to Scandinavian channels showing American sitcoms. You watch “Step by Step,” Steve Urkel in “Family Matters,” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and practice your English. You get your daily dose of MTV. Under the guise of seeking independent news, satellite TV turns out to be the way you learn foreign languages. The one you master the best turns out to be German. There is a reason for this — one you’re reluctant to confess to, but that could be backed up by any teenager of the era who watched RTL, Pro7, and Vox late at night — the German erotica.

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#7 THE SCIENCE OF

PLANETARY SEX

In the grand scheme of things, you figure, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of soft-core porn. You know how teenagers are, so easy to succumb to life’s strongest impulse: the spread of genetic infor-

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mation. But it’s not all about sex. In fact, you realize that the ’90s saw the creation of life through methods other than intercourse. Dolly the sheep was created through cloning. You realize that the science of the ’90s could be explained as the quest of figuring out the very essence of living things. Pretty much the entire meaning of life comes down to various organisms’ drive to reproduce their genetic material, to transmitting those messages stored deep within our DNA. For what is life, but the search or struggle for freedom to do so? And so this period saw the start of the Human Genome Project, as an attempt to write down and document all human genes. Then you hear about NASA’s Mars Pathfinder mission and you start thinking. Is this, too, caused by life’s essential drives? Is it a quest to find our mates in this lonely universe? Does life yearn to find more life? Or perhaps it is an urge to spread

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