The Restaurant Sarajevo

‘Mate I wish they would put the heating on here,’ I thought, ‘I’m not a solidly built Bosnian.’

 I was soon becalmed, however, by the numbing influence of beer and the calming influence of the mournful Bosnian music. My place of refuge at the end of a long, hard, though admittedly exhilarating day was Restaurant Sarajevo, and I could easily imagine myself in the citadel of the European Jerusalem, the city surrounding the castle – or the mansion – as the name Sarajevo implies. The obscurity of the word Sara, meaning castle, mansion, or large house evokes in me pleasant connotations as they all refer to a man’s home and the importance of his sanctuary, citadel or bastion. As my wife and I have moved into our new home today, the meaning of this word and the sanctity afforded by this restaurant, a bastion against the deep, dark cold night is apparent. I have been served something like a stew, the name of which escapes me, and it is essentially a bowl of thick meat in a watery broth, no vegetables in sight. It is delicious and if I look hard enough at the pictures on the wall which one would suppose represent the rural life of Bosnia Herzegovina, and listen to the songs (pregnant with meaning I could only guess at) I can envision myself a villager eating traditional Bosnian fare in a small tavern just outside the palace gates, my German beer in hand, thick Turkish bread on the table, and, at the table adjacent to mine, some fellow travellers, whose tongue I do not comprehend and whose wary eyes view me suspiciously. Even with my own love of meat and less than perfect diet I cannot help but wish for just a few vegetables though.

We moved house today and I am reminded of this constantly by the continual pain in my flat feet. I was ‘on the move’ – as Jeff Kennett once said – from five o’clock. Five o’clock! Can you believe it, dear reader? This from a man who could quite easily sleep in until 10am everyday and who likes to take breakfast at a leisurely hour beside the tranquil rolling waters of the bay.

Earlier in the day I changed into runners believing they would be more practical for the day’s adventure but did not transfer my orthotic heels. Big mistake. As I said, I am in continual pain (or should that be continuous pain? You think about that dear reader and let me know which term is the more appropriate. I’m much too tired to bother with it now).

But, seriously, what a day! I was buffeted around by the indifference, incompetence and intransigence of the many organisations I had to deal with in moving house. If I had known all of the hassles that would be involved, I wonder whether I would ever have had the nerve go through it all.

My goodness, this gentleman at restaurant is like a beacon of light amidst a fog of customer service mediocrity. He is a prince among the rabble I have dealt with today.

For starters I had to deal with the estate agent, and as Neil Jenman said at one of his seminars – and why that man has not been made Prime Minister of this country many times over, I’ve no idea other than to say that this county rewards incompetence, and dishonesty is a virtue for our politicians – anyway, Jenman quipped, ‘go to any barbecue in Australia on any weekend and you will hear a negative story about a real estate agent’. So I went to this agent who I shouldn’t name, so as not to air their dirty linen in public, but let me just say their name starts with ‘L J’ and ends with ‘Hooker’. My word, I thought I used to get poor service and indifference at Coles, but real estate agents take the whole cake and the candles too! It’s as though they sit down in the mornings and have meetings to plan how they may make it as difficult as possible to rent or buy a property. I was on time for my appointment to sign the lease but I realised while driving to their office that real estate has not moved beyond the nineteenth century and that in order to move into the property the agent required the rent in advance – and they only took cash as a payment.

Who carries around $1500 cash with them? Why not have an EFTPOS machine? Am I mistaken, but weren’t these invented in the 80s? Oh boy I’m too tired to be typing like this – it will be off to bed for this tired boy very soon. I’ve no doubt gotten sick again because that is what I do. So anyway, I rushed across to ANZ, whose service levels obviously have declined given their recent share prices. They don’t even bother to open until 9.30 and of course I couldn’t just take the money out via ATM because of the absurd 1980s $500 daily limit.

This was after I had introduce myself at the agency and, rather than be received with smiles and open arms, and a greeting such as ‘Thank God you’re here; so glad to see you. Thank you for choosing our agency,’ No, no, instead of all this, the lady on the desk basically in not so many words told me to go away.

‘Rentals over there!’ she said, pointing me to another sour woman who didn’t bother to look up from her computer screen. When I mentioned I hadn’t had time to get to the bank, rather than apologising to me for not having a normal method of accepting payment, she gave me a grimace and a stare which intimated I had created the most intractable problem in the universe.

Anyway I came back ten minutes later, with the money bulging in my wallet, at which the surly woman who, once again, seemed to acknowledge my presence, by the manner in which her grimace deepened, without looking from her screen (must have been something fairly riveting going on there!)said ‘wait over there’ can you believe it, they were her exact words to a paying customer, who not only had rented a property from their company but who had chosen them (Through sheer laziness in not wanting to shop around) as the agent to manage his property and who potentially could lease or buy properties from them in the future. To such a client she said: ‘wait over there’ as though I were a petulant child she was telling off. I couldn’t help but laugh it was the only sane response to such a farce.

To be continued when I need to further vent my spleen. I would also like to comment on my immense happiness about our move, but that will have to wait too….


One thought on “The Restaurant Sarajevo

  1. Paul,
    I enjoyed restraunt sarajevo. I particularly loved the biting social analysis and the humourous tone this was conveyed in. A few examples will do LJ …Hooker, cake and candles, meetings of estate agents planning how to make it impossible to rent or buy a property. humour is definitely your bag.


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