Monday, February 27, 2006

macedonian class

Finally, I will start to go to school to study Macedonian. I had been trying to find a good Macedonian class, but it wasn't easy, because Macedonian friends do not know the information since they do not need to take a class, and other foreigners, i.e. other donors, usually have their own teachers within the organization. So, I had not been able to find a good class. But one day, I got the information that a new language school for Macedonian and Slavic language, targeting mainly foreigners, will open and is looking for students.
So, I visited them to check out. It is a new school established by young people graduated from Skopje University, Philological major. Well, then, the quality of the teaching may be questioned, because they may not be so experienced in teaching yet, but I like their entrepreneurship spirits. I wonder how big the market of Macedonian language school for foreigners can be as a business. It may not be so big, and may be difficult to survive, as it seems they have not found students yet except me. But they diversify the business by doing also translation and teaching other Slavic languages. Right strategy. Either way, I want to support these young entrepreneurs to grow. Maybe I can help them marketing as a former ad executive ;-)


Friday, February 24, 2006

another japonska book

"Kitchen" by Banana Yoshimoto in Macedonian. I heard there is "Norwegian wood" of Murakami in Macedonian, too. And "Kafka on the shore" is on the way. Good that Macedonian know modern Japanese life and culture other than samurai or harakiri or geisha or some classic Japanese life from Kawabata or Oe Kenzaburo. Now they will understand what regular Japanese girl's life is like.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

sports betting

It seems there are 3 Macedonian in the winter Olympics, but I am not sure how many Macedonian are paying attention to the Olympics, because nobody in my office talks about it. Speaking of the Olympics, there is other way to enjoy it in Macedonia rather than just watching the game on TV; which is the activity that I have never seen before in my life - "sports betting". I guess in Europe it is very usual to bet on sports games, but in Japan and the US, there is no such things called "bookies", where you put money on games. As I have noticed there are many bookies around my neighborhood, I guess the sports betting is very popular here. Well, I bet there will be bunch of excited people all over in bookies during the World Cup this year. Hey, you can enjoy the games by visiting me here and betting on, instead of sitting in front of TV there.


Monday, February 20, 2006


I have to admit that there is a thing that even a Macedonia-loving Japanese girl can not justify its strange taste in Macedonia. It is a drink, "boza", which I have been keeping quiet about, although I tried it some time ago. It is a strange drink, I have to say. Cockta (another Balkan drink, taste like cherry coke) is not strange anymore compared to boza. Because I can not find the reason that I want to buy boza and drink it, whereas I can understand there are people who like the taste of Cockta. Boza is made from wheat, suger and water, and fermented with yeast. It is Turkish drink originally. It tastes sweet and sour, very thick, whitish liquid. You can buy it at a sweet shop like a bakery "Apce", where boza is served from a tap (like water) to a plastic bottle (like a used plastic coke bottle). I do not know what to say, there is nothing like compared to boza. Well, maybe it is like "amazake", a Japanese hot drink fermented from rice, which I also do not have a reason to buy for myself to drink. But amazake is not sour, just sweet, and not served from a tap. And boza is a chilled drink, not hot. Anyway, boza is a strange drink loved by many Macedonian, apparently. Oh, but, according to a Japanese website, boza is very nutritious drink, containing lots of vitamins. Well, that could make a reason.

いままで黙っていましたが、マケドニアの飲み物で、マケドニア好きの私がいまひとつ納得していない飲み物があります。その名も「ボザ」。もともとはトルコ発祥の飲み物で、小麦粉と砂糖と水を混ぜてイーストで発酵させたものらしいのですが、なんというか、変わった味なんです。すっぱ甘い、というか。色も白くドロドロとにごっていてぜんぜんおいしそうに見えないのですが、マケドニア人はボザが大好き(みたい)。ご近所のベーカリー「アプチェ」というところで買えるのですが、また売り方もなんというか、空のプラスチックボトルに蛇口からボザをつぐ、みたいな。はじめて見たときには「ええっ、そういうものなんですか」という感じでした。冷たくして飲むものらしいんですが、うーん、なんというか、ボザを飲まなきゃいけない理由が見つからない、というか。。。でもなんとなく、ちょっと「甘酒」に似ているような。甘酒も私は別に好きじゃないからなー。甘酒のおいしさが理解できない私がボザを理解できないのも当然なのかもしれないなー。ちなみに歴史と栄養のある飲み物らしいです →

Sunday, February 19, 2006

beautiful weekend

It has been sunny and warm since last Friday. Saturday and Sunday, it went up to 18 C during the day. No jacket needed, but sunglasses needed for clear blue sky. It was really beautiful weekend. And a good thing about Skopje is there are nice open-air cafe all over in the center when it is nice weather. It was very nice to stay outside at a cafe, just chatting and drinking.


Friday, February 17, 2006

tava oriz

Another good food that I discovered lately in my office cafe is "Tava Oriz with chicken". "Tava" is non-cute way of saying for "tavce". You know, from the tavce gravce. I could call this food "tavce oriz" too. "Tava" means something like "oven-baked" or "pot-baked". In Macedonian cuisine, there are many kinds of tava. All tava kinds are good, but, this tavce oriz is really good. It is exactly like "Hai-nan chicken rice" of Singapore. Rice is cooked with chicken so the soup or extract or whatever is absorbed to rice, so the rice becomes very tasty and chicken becomes well cooked and very soft. I should say, this is also another Asian kind of food in Macedonia.


Thursday, February 16, 2006


There is one Macedonian movie I really want to see. The name is "Balkankan"; the name itself sounds funny already. Unfortunately, there is no English subtitle available here yet, but I am sure in the future there will be, or I wish. I briefly watched it in Macedonian and it looked really funny even though I did not understand what they are saying, and I got a feeling that it is a good movie. You can tell it from how it is structured or edited. Because it is funny already by just watching how characters perform, how they speak, how they dress, and how the story goes on, without words. You can even tell it from the package design too. By briefly looking at this package, I was attracted to this movie. Something says it is funny. And I checked IMDb and found that it got great score; much better score than a trashy Hollywood movie: →
It seems the movie was in the theater in UK, so the DVD with English subtitle will be ready soon. I hope it will be available soon in Macedonia too. And I hope somebody bring this movie to NY someday to introduce funny Balkan guys for you....


Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Finally! "24" came to Macedonia. But for now, only the first season, which means only stories from 12am to 6am. Aaaaah, I can not wait. I hope it is coming soon. And of course, it is a pirated copy. But it is OK, I would not mind in this case. If you do not know "24", check out →
It is cool stuff as people say.

とうとう「24」がマケドニアにやって来た! もちろん海賊コピーですけどね。そして、たったのシーズン1だけなので、12時から6時までのストーリーしかまだ見れてませんけどね。でも徐々にやってくるようで、楽しみです。ウワサどおりです。すごいです。 24」を知らない人は→

Sunday, February 12, 2006

classic toilet

Doesn't this look familiar? Well, at least to Japanese, it does. I could not believe that I would find the toilet like the classic Japanese style in Europe. In Europe. Or maybe, I just did not know that the shape of toilet might have gone through similar history in everywhere in the world, not only in Asia. Anyway. It was quite funny when I saw this toilet. The only difference between Japanese and this is that you have to face different way, to the door way. I can not make fun out of this too much, since in Japan you can still sometimes find this type of toilet in the middle of Tokyo among other advanced technology type of toilets, you know, "washlet".


Saturday, February 11, 2006

sweet strawberries

Agriculture is one of the main industries in Macedonia. The vegetables and fruits that I can buy from a green market are almost all from Macedonia and they are different in taste; I would say they have much richer taste. Especially these strawberries! I did not expect that I could eat such sweet and juicy strawberries in the middle of winter. It is sooo different from what I know from the US's big but dried-up, unsweet, tasteless strawberries. No wonder the strawberry jam that my Macedonian friend gave me (her mother's home made!) is so good.

このまだ寒い時期にすごい大きなイチゴが売っていたので買ってみました。そしたらなんと! めっちゃおいしかったのです。甘くてジューシー。ふつう大きなイチゴって(とくにアメリカで売っているようなのは)、すかすかしてぜんぜんおいしくないイメージでしたが、これはなんと、さすがマケドニア産! 大きい粒なのに味が濃厚、水分たっぷり。すっかり気に入って次の日も買ってしまいました。おいしーのよー。マケドニア人の友人がくれた手作りイチゴジャムがすごーいおいしくて非常に気に入ってたんだけど、その理由が分かったってカンジ。マケドニアは農業国なので、そこら辺の八百屋さんで買ってくる野菜やフルーツは、どれもなんとなく味が濃厚。ニンジンとか「ニンジンくささ」があるし、トマトも甘いし。キュウリにも味がある。これはホント国が豊かになってもなくなってほしくない「マケドニアの良さ」ですね。

Thursday, February 09, 2006

kuceviste 2

It is snowing today again. Maybe the village like Kuceviste is very quiet in a day like this.... Kuceviste still uses common water supply (photo left). I have seen that an old lady is washing clothes by hand in front of the village's water facility. How she can bear with the freezing cold water! I also have seen villagers come to the facility to fill tanks with water. It must be tough work in a freezing day like today. Glad that Japanese Government is constructing the water pipe system so that water can be delivered to each house of the village.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

village of kuceviste

Kuceviste village is located the outskirts of Skopje, maybe about less than 30 min drive from the center of Skopje. But, it was quite astonishing when I found out how unurbanized the village is, compared to other cities where I have been in Macedonia. I did not know anything about Macedonia, maybe. It is so close to Skopje, but you still can see donkeys and horses as substitutes for vehicles. Well, it seems actually the right answer to use donkeys and horses to move around that area, as learned from the experience that our car was stuck in the narrow, frozen road. There is no snow clearing work like Skopje. Sometimes the village is isolated when it snow heavily.


Monday, February 06, 2006

teenagers' shoe trend in macedonia

As I recall, Japanese teenagers in 20++ years ago used to wear this kind of shoes with thick soles. Well, in Macedonia, the boom comes now (or maybe in Japan too?). I guess the thick sole shoes are helpful very much for girls' feet to stay warm, especially when the roads are frozen from snow like today. So, it is practical and reasonable as well as cute. Should I try them to follow the "trendy" stuff of Macedonia? or to protect myself from feet-cold situation? But I know from the experience, it is really hard to walk properly with that shoes. In Tokyo, those girls who wore that shoes needed to walk strangely (actually uglily) and I did not think it's cool at all.

日本でもたしか20数年前に流行った気がする、こういう厚手の底の靴。歩くの大変なんすよねぇ、こんなに底が厚いと。もしかして、日本でも今またブーム復活? というか、マケドニアではいまキテます。ティーンエイジャーはみんなこれ。ポクポク歩いています。かわいいんだけどねぇ。ピンクのジャケットとかと合わせて着ているのを見ると。そして、今日みたいに残り雪で道路が凍っていて地面が冷たいときには、足冷え防止のためにもここまで底が厚いとたしかにいいんだけどねぇ。。。そうか、これはもしかして寒い国の実用的な靴なのか。あの時代とは違って色とかもちょっとかわいいから履いてみようかな、なんて。足冷え防止のためにも。

Friday, February 03, 2006

yogurt pak

Yogurt in Macedonia is so-called "drinking type". It is liquid. That is why it can be packed in a plastic bag. It was a discovery when I found the plastic packed yogurt in a greenmarket. It was the same kind of discovery like when I found out in Singapore watermelon juice is served in a thin plastic bag with straw and ice. Well, but, usually, Macedonian yogurt is packed in a plastic bottle or cup like other drinks in a supermarket or grocery. It tastes very fresh and sour. It is my favorite kind of Macedonian drink (unlike boza). Macedonian yogurt is an important partner of Brek or Gebrek or pita or every kind of bread for breakfast. The regular yogurt in our world is called "kicela mleko" (= sour milk) in Macedonia (and Balkans.)


Wednesday, February 01, 2006


I had heard good reputation many times about this restaurant, but you do not know anything until you actually eat their food. Today it was a discovery indeed. Pastis serves very good original dishes and drinks with very cute, sophisticated manner. I guess it is French based (as the name indicates) Macedonian/ Italian fusion cuisine. But the most distinctive point is its collection of fruits drinks. It was the first time for me, in Macedonia, to be impressed really by a drink. The fruit (strawberry and orange) mixed milkshake that I had today is like the one you can have at the tea room in Tokyo like Sembikiya, which targets girls who have high disposal income and do not mind to spend much money for good desserts. Well, what can I say. The selection of the fruits, how they are mixed, and the way they are not too sweet; everything is perfect. You can not have this kind of delicate drink in NY (although, Pastis in the Meatpacking District near Chelsea is a good restaurant too.) I will be a regular customer to this Pastis as a Japanese girl who has high disposal income in Skopje. Why I had not tried there until this late.