I took a walk yesterday afternoon on a side street. It was 4:30pm, and the shops were open but empty. The air was soft but smelled of acrid wood smoke, which now covers the valley. I passed a number of barber shops and hairdresser shops. All were staffed by women, who either sat reading or stood in the doorway chatting with neighboring shopkeepers. A few women passed carrying groceries. The cafes were barely occupied. In one, a man filled out his betting card while his son played around the table. In another, three older men sat around watching soccer. I passed one of the many cheap Chinese owned shops, which offer knock-off name brand sweatshirts, and cheap polyester filled winter coats. Then, a Chinese man, carrying a bag of slice bread, passed me. Three men were laying a tile floor in an empty shop. In the grocery store window, I could see wooden boxes of produce, wilted greens and small apples, and large dense green cabbages.
At the end of the street was a mosque, with its public water fountain.
The whole mood was sombre and without time. Timeless. It could have been 1960 or 1940 or 1970. There was no sense of 2013. There was no feeling of the modern impatience with time. There was a sadness, too. The damp afternoon with the soft light in this small street was grey, not soft and romantic. There was a feeling of resignation.
Then at the end of the street near the bus station, there was a line of cars, and I saw the boy who plays guitar at night by the grocery store near my house. he was carrying his guitar and laughing with his friends.
I should travel more, I guess, but then again, whenever I think I have covered Mostar, I find another place to discover.