The Daily Ćao

In between the trolleybus stop and my house, there’s an auto-repair shop which I pass every day up to six or seven times, depending.  The guys who work there all know that I am an American girl who awkwardly understands random phrases that make no sense, like “šišmiš čovjek,” (bat man) but otherwise has a very spotty comprehension of Bosnian.  I walk past them daily, because they’ll be on the street when they work, watching the soccer match going on next to them, or they’ll be taking a coffee outside and leaning against the fence.  One of the men always thinks it’s funny how awkward I am because I used to walk past them without  talking due to my complete lack of confidence in my Bosnian.  About a month after I’d been here I finally got the courage to say, “Dobar dan,” when I walked by.  Of course he thought my accent was laughable, but thankfully he just responded with, “Dobar dan.”  Then last week, I got a wink and “Ćao.”  (Side note- a lot of people here wink!  It’s a substitute for the “more American” smile or raised eyebrows or sarcastic expression).   (Another side note- ćao is pronounced the same way Italians, all other Europeans, say it: “Ciao!” with a tone of voice that says, “Hey, I’m cool, ya know?  Laid back and stuff. So, ciao.”).

By stepping out of my comfort zone a little bit, what used to be a frequent and incredibly awkward moment is now something I look forward to- the daily “ćao” which always puts a smile on my face.  Kindness from strangers is something that really brings out the best in humanity.

Also, he noticed my haircut!  I didn’t understand what he said the first time, but for once instead of saying “ne razumijem,” I don’t understand, I said, “Šta?” What?  He touched his head somehow I understood, Did you get a haircut?.  I got really excited. “Da, da!”
Success!  Maybe by the end of the year I’ll have a legitimate conversation that lasts more than three sentences.  But for now, I’m content with just “ćao.”



  1. Ellie Battino · · Reply

    you would know how to say Batman

    1. I would also know how to say it in my batman voice.

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