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BELGRADE–In the spring of 2000, Simcha Applebaum, a retired Israeli colonel, was in the southern Serbian city of Kraljevo, working on a business deal with Maja Terzic’s father.

Ms. Terzic, now 35, was then a university student in Belgrade, acting as interpreter for the two men at dinner. When Mr. Applebaum reached for a glass, his sleeve went up and Ms. Terzic saw his tattoo from Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi death camp in occupied Poland. Read more

BELGRADE, SERBIA–We first met Sayid* under the blazing hot sun in the park near Belgrade’s main railway station last Thursday. My friend Maja and I had decided to go down to the park to hand out milk, fruit, crackers and juice to refugee mothers, children and families who were in transit from southern Serbia to the Hungarian/Serbian border in the north. While talking with a fleeing family from Damascus—who had been on the road for the last month hoping to get to Germany— Sayid sauntered up and began helping translate. His English was pretty close to perfect, with a light accent, and so I asked him if he and I could speak when I finished the interview. He agreed. Read more

Kajmak on wooden plate

LONDON–DURING A RECENT stint living in central Serbia, I became obsessed with kajmak, which, if you can imagine, is like a lovechild between cream cheese and salty French butter. Made from the skimmed fat of cows’ milk and then mixed with salt, its consistency can vary from rather runny and milky (new) to more like clotted cream (old).

My mother-in-law and her sisters run some sort of kajmak mafia in their hometown of Kraljevo: There are frenzied meetings to discuss which of the sisters—or their one friend they also allow in on their operation—will make the kajmak pick-up, how much they will pay and how they will transport it (each sister seems to have a specific kajmak plastic container they use).

By the way, there is a huge debate in Serbia about whether the kajmak from Kraljevo or Čačak is the best.

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Two girls kissing on cheek

BELGRADE–FOR ME, IT’S one of the biggest expat conundrums: to kiss or not to kiss. I grew up in the Midwest of America, where we were all about giving big bear hugs to friends, family and colleagues. But then I moved to London and I was thrown into the deep end of European kissing culture, which still remains awkward for me as it feels rather false and I have never worked out the unspoken understanding there seems to be between two people of whether the greeting should be a kiss or a handshake.

I once had a very cringeworthy exchange with a British army colonel at an exhibition opening. We had met a few times for interviews and also exchanged friendly emails, but in my mind our relationship was still on the handshake level. So when we saw each other, I went for the handshake and he went in for a kiss. It ended up being a very cloddish and uncomfortable greeting. Read more

Marina Abramovic with whi 006

LONDON- Marina Abramovic tells really funny dirty jokes. Maybe it’s because the self-proclaimed grandmother of performance art has made a career out of timing, but she tells her jokes—too racy to print—with great delivery and panache. This summer at London’s Serpentine Gallery, audiences will get a chance to interact—and just maybe share a joke—with the 67-year-old Belgrade-born, New York-based artist during her new performance “512 Hours.” The award-winning artist also recently worked with Jay Z for his ” Picasso Baby” video and taught Lady Gaga the Abramović Method, a series of exercises to heighten mental and physical awareness. Read more