Category Archives: Slovenia

Doctor Typhoid Mario & Julija the Hand-less

First of all, a belated happy Brexit & Megxit to everyone. Also, I’m sorry to hear about Adele and hope she cranks out a few more generation-defining hits before going the Amy Winehouse way.

Well, Slovenia is between governments again and, different to the last time it happened, there’s barely any excitement about; the guy who got the most votes the first time around, but nobody wanted to form a coalition with him, will now have a crack at governing this thing and that’s about it. Our country is also beginning to tackle the corona scare and it’s a miracle it took this long, considering we have a border with Italy where the zombie apocalypse is already well underway. Needless to say, the media are pissing themselves with excitement and politicians are busy pretending to believe there’s anything they can do to put a damper on this mess. So, here’s a few more Snopes-type bits from the sunny side of the Alps before they shut down the internet.

Typhoid Mario, MD: Did a Slovenian doctor infect god knows how many of his patients and colleagues with corona?

Yes, that indeed happened, and you couldn’t find a more perfect illustration of our general attitude to the virus de jour, i.e. the old and the weak should watch out but it doesn’t concern the rest of us and we’ve got enough pensioners and hospital bed-blockers anyway. Unless you’re blissfully oblivious to dark undertones, you’ve probably noticed this ageism-meets-eugenics undercurrent in your country too. Anyway, a doc returned from his ski trip to Italy, went straight to work in a community health-care centre and a home for the elderly, generously sharing his viral load with the fit and the frail alike. Accounts differ on the details; some say the good doctor never even considered getting tested on his return from the European corona hotbed and others say he offered to get tested but his superior said ‘nah no worries’. It was when he started sweating and shaking while doing his rounds of dementia patients that the penny dropped. He got scooped up into quarantine and his whole health-care centre went into shutdown.

Continue reading Doctor Typhoid Mario & Julija the Hand-less

Like Snopes but for Slovenia? I don’t have a title yet

I get asked many questions about Slovenia, often of the “this must be fakenews, right?” variety. Let’s get a few of the safe-for-work ones out of the way before we move on to transgender doctors shagging man-killer dogs* and worse**.

*Yes you read that right.

**It does get worse.

Is the Prime Minister of Slovenia a former comedian and the President of Slovenia a former model?

Yes. Our Prime Minister, Mr. Marjan Šarec, used to be an actor, an impersonator and a comedian, and according to some he still is, (he’s alright, as far as politicians go). And our President, Mr. Borut Pahor used to be a model, and he’s never shy to flaunt his model credentials. Feel free to check out his Instagram @borutpahor. Look for beach selfies while you’re there because the dude keeps fit.

Did Slovenians recycle their failed Prime Minister and make him their President?

Yes. The abovementioned Borut Pahor used to be our PM and, fairly or not, he was widely perceived as a complete failure, as confirmed by a lost confidence vote that saw him through the door. Almost immediately*** after, he ran for president and won easily, which left some people fuming but most of us thought his new job was a much better fit. In all seriousness, Mr. Pahor comes across as a genuinely nice fellow who adores the spotlight and honestly tries to be the president of all Slovenians. And that’s a challenging job. No matter where you’re from, you probably think that your country is dangerously divided with no reconciliation in sight – welcome to the Slovenian experience! We’ve been living in this highly-polarised political reality for… well forever, actually, if you discount a few decades of Socialism when people hated each other more quietly. Anyway, all I can do is wish the best of luck to anyone who tries to preside over such a hot mess. As for the rest of us: relax, it’s going to be okay. Maybe.

***People winning all kinds of elections after a three-week campaign has become a regular occurrence in Slovenia.

Why doesn’t the Slovenian president look over a hundred years old?

Because he’s not. You’re thinking Boris Pahor the writer, who is a different fella altogether. Boris (not Borut) Pahor is one truly extraordinary individual. He fought the Nazis (who sent him to Dachau not once but twice), condemned the Commies and survived them both. He’s currently giving a hard time to Italian neo-fascists. If you need to be reminded of what war, Nazism and Fascism look like up close, do read his autobiographical novel Necropolis about his WWII interment. The guy has just turned 106 (that is: one-hundred-and-six years old). Sharp as a knife, he is well-informed on the current goings-ons, and maintains a keen interest in politics for reasons that don’t need to be explained (in case they do: the man has scars to prove what can happen when politics goes awry). As the result of his international recognition, undisputed courage and miraculously intact faculties, he gets to say whatever he likes, and people listen. And you thought you were special.

Is Melania Trump really Slovenian?

Apparently this gets asked. Yes, she most certainly is Slovenian, from Slovenia. She was born when Slovenia was still a part of the former Yugoslavia (that’s the Balkan country that imploded in a series of genocides, mass rapes and general butchery known as the Yugoslav Wars in the 90s, and proceeded to shatter into a number of smaller countries, among them Slovenia we know today). I remember Melania well from when she was embarking on her modelling career – I used to watch modelling contests and beauty pageants religiously as a kid – and yes, she is real, she is Slovenian, and she is from the town of Sevnica in Slovenia. She was born Melanija Knavs and later switched to a more internationally-friendly Melania Knauss, so maybe that’s where the confusion comes from. Oddly enough, her fellow Sevnica-born Tanja Pečar is the life-partner of our President Borut Pahor (the model dude from above). That’s right, at least two different countries have first ladies from the same small Slovenian town. And there may be others because the fact you were born in Sevnica is not necessarily one you care to advertise.

Continue reading Like Snopes but for Slovenia? I don’t have a title yet

I’m loving it

Slovenia doesn’t have a government and it’s been an absolute delight. Our last government stepped down in a huff; the boiling point being us voters having one good laugh too many at the prime minister’s expense. This prompted early elections, the results of which created such a hot mess that there’s a strong hope that nobody will be able to come up with a viable coalition. The most votes were scooped up by the party all the other parties swore they didn’t want anything to do with because its platform is “based on division and hate” (I suspect the irony is lost on them). The election losers’ general attitude to the results is that the voters got it wrong, but they’re not entirely oblivious to the fact that the voters might get it even more wrong next time. So, if the relative winner is shunned by all the potential coalition partners who in turn patch together a motley crew of a coalition by themselves, there’s a strong hope that we won’t end up with a functioning government because there will be too many pigs fighting at the trough. Even if new elections are called it’s quite possible the same jumble will happen all over again, which is great. Because if you’re Slovenian and know what’s good for you, a functioning government is about the last thing you want. Continue reading I’m loving it

Slovenia: Why is it so difficult to leave, Part I

A funny thing you can’t help but notice if you happen to wander into the country called Slovenia is that it’s almost impossible to leave. It’s not like anyone is manning the borders; the country is in the Schengen Area which basically means everyone and their sister is roaming around freely. The traffic connections are superb and, with Slovenia being so tiny, you can step on it and find yourself somewhere else in a matter of minutes. Our neighbours the Croatians – who lay claim to a somewhat larger country which is as pretty as they come but shaped like a pair of spaying tongs – will gladly tell you that Planica (where our rather famous ski flying hill is) will never get a permit for a higher hill as then the skiers would be landing on Croatian porches, wreaking all kinds of havoc in the process.

(If it weren’t for the Croatians, we Slovenians would need to come up with our own jokes about Slovenia’s size but luckily enough our southern neighbours have been maintaining a steady supply of those for as long as I can remember.) Continue reading Slovenia: Why is it so difficult to leave, Part I

Methinks: Politicians, Part II

I never know with the Americans; do they even realise how wonderfully cynical they are? The current USA ambassador to Slovenia, His Excellency Joseph Adamo Mussomeli, who has earned quite a reputation for frequently voicing his opinion of our bickerings, recently said something like ”In the USA, politicians pretend to hate each other, but your politicians hate each other for real”.

(You gotta love this guy. He’s outspoken to the point of being brave, brilliant, with a great sense of humour. He succeeded in ticking off more people than all other ambassadors to Slovenia present and past combined. One of the few things about him that sort of fits what I’d expect from a diplomat is his undeniable charm and his skill at wooing the press – though he assures us that the media are always going for his throat.) Continue reading Methinks: Politicians, Part II

Regardless of what your mother said, you most definitely are Slovenian if

Your whole attitude to life could be summed up by ‘You can do whatever you want with me but you’d better not interfere with my driving!’ – that having been said, here are some sure giveaways as to your Slovenian roots:

– Your car is worth as much as your house or more; if you’re renting, your monthly car payment exceeds your rent.

– If you see an expensive car following the traffic rules, you consider it a waste of a fine vehicle and start fantasizing about all the rubber you’d be burning if you could afford a car like that.

– If you see an expensive car breaking the traffic rules you consider it proof that all rich people are inconsiderate thieving bastards who think they can get away with anything and could sure use a good whipping. Continue reading Regardless of what your mother said, you most definitely are Slovenian if

Tell-tale signs you might be Slovenian, Part II

– You would never consider moving in order to land a better job.

– You will, however, backpack, hitchhike, climb, crawl and paddle your way from the Arctic to Antarctica and back just for fun.

– When abroad, you can never avoid running into your fellow nationals no matter how secluded your destination may be because they’re everywhere.

– Each time you encounter your fellow countrymen anywhere outside of your national borders you pretend to be glad to see them but in reality you consider your trip a failure and swear to seek out an even remoter place next time.

– You go to the Croatian coast each summer despite knowing it has one of the highest numbers of your fellow nationals per square foot on record and then complain under your breath about everybody around you speaking your language and feel like somebody robbed you of your holiday experience.

– You don’t necessarily go out of your way to make people from other former Yugoslav republics feel particularly welcome in your country but if you happen upon them abroad you couldn’t be happier and you’ll get drunk together and reminisce about the good old Yugoslavia until you jointly pass out under the table. Continue reading Tell-tale signs you might be Slovenian, Part II

Tell-tale signs you might be Slovenian, Part I

You might be Slovenian if:

– You own a car, a house and some land and you’re always complaining about being underprivileged.

– Whenever somebody visits you apologise profusely for your house being such a mess despites the fact the whole place is next to sterile with no clutter in sight.

– No matter how broke you claim to be you seem to have little problem finding money for high-end sports equipment.

– You claim to have no money while going out for drinks every night and taking seaside vacations and ski trips several times a year.

– You believe a deep tan is a sign of health and athleticism and feel obligated to drop hints to this effect around fair-skinned individuals.

– You believe your politicians must be some sort of an experiment gone wrong and are under no circumstances to be considered a reflection of your national character. Continue reading Tell-tale signs you might be Slovenian, Part I