It was just as I decided against buying some pens made from large bullet shell casings that I felt a slight tug on my shirt. It came from a gaunt woman with very long straight jet black hair and rotting front teeth. She was holding a young girl by the hand whose complexion was just a shade lighter than her own pale kidney bean brown. I pretended not to understand her first plea, and then ignored the next four.
“Please, please,” she said, “we want to have some of your money.”
Her limited command of English was too direct. Which was likely why she tried Croat, Albanian, Macedonian, Italian and German first.
“I have young daughter. She very sick and we very, very hungry.”
The girl was clean, nicely dressed, appeared healthy and aloof. She was also very quiet.
I politely told her no and continued walking. She followed for a few more steps before turning her attention to a couple who were strolling the opposite way.
I saw them again about 20 minutes later, just as I was waiting for the grounds to settle in what would be my last Turkish coffee of the day. The girl wasn’t quiet this time. Her pestering ruined the calming call to prayer that was pleasantly wailing from one of the nearby minarets.
“I want to go home,” she said in Croat, gently tugging at the women’s loose fitting blouse. The woman tugged back hard and smacked the girl on the back with a plastic bag full of fruit.
“Silence!” she yelled, her raging eyes bulging, commanding respect. “Your mother said she didn’t want you home until 10!”
The girl was quiet again when the woman stopped another couple. It was getting late. This time she muttered in English first.
This was in Sarajevo’s Baščaršija, or Turkish Quarter, last summer. You can check out some more Sarajevo-related posts here, or browse through some photos on my flickr stream here. Oh, and I really think you should invest 150 seconds of your day and check out this 17-scene timelapse I shot. Thanks!