Heat Follows Me Everywhere, Even to London

Mila Popova

I know now that I should have cut out and collected those newspaper headlines.

Everywhere I went this summer during my research I would always buy a newspaper to read in the shade, trying not to die of heat, and there would always be a headline about “The hottest day of the year” or saying, “Temperatures hit the ceiling”.

It was the same in Belgrade (38-39 degrees), in Sarajevo (35 degrees), in Mostar (46!!!!) and even in London (32 degrees). The irony was that I would always meet local people who would tell me I’d had amazing luck with the weather, while I was thinking I couldn’t have had worse luck. Heat is certainly not my friend.

Hopefully it will all be over now, as I head to Glasgow, and the forecast is cold temperatures, rain and thunderstorms.

The last two weeks have been amazing and so full of impressions. I was first in Bosnia and although I enjoyed the country very much, there were moments when my heart filled with sadness.

Living far away from it, I somehow expected the scars of the war to have healed over the past 15 years, but this was such a deceptive, if consoling, thought.

One can see, hear and feel the war with every step one takes in Sarajevo: it is in the bullet holes of the houses; on the white, new graves around the city; on the buildings that still need renovation.

The word “war” tends to creep into every conversation one overhears, even if people are talking about clothes or dogs or the kindergarten that their kids attend.

And then, of course, come the personal stories people have - breathtaking, incomprehensible, throat-clutching stories of suffering, pain, and heroism that are so distant to a person who only knows peace.

On my second day I began wondering what I was doing there, hearing all those terrible accounts of the past.

I began thinking that after all that those people have gone through, the least problem they have is abusing medication.

But then I talked to some psychiatrists and sociologists who persuaded me I was on the right track - that by taking tranquillizers or antidepressants, people are just numbing themselves to the wounds that they actually cannot heal themselves.

Then there was London, which was a totally different experience. I have never been in such a large city, nor in one that has all kinds of people.

The word diversity, used in the Balkans to describe states with two or three ethnic group, finally made sense in London.

Fellow Bio


Mila Popova

Mila Popova from Sofia, Bulgaria, works on the international news desk of the Dnevnik daily, writing news analysis and conducting interviews and investigations


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Heat Follows Me Everywhere, Even to London

Mila Popova