Letter: Broken bridge to the past

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The Independent Online
Sir: Obituary: The Mostar Bridge, built 1566 by Suleiman the Magnificent (if I remember my history properly), destroyed 9 November 1993 by Croat shelling (report, 10 November). It is only gradually, after 19 months of this bloody war in Bosnia, that I am unwillingly coming to terms with reality: that I shall never again be able to stroll along roads paved in white stones polished smooth by centuries of usage, I shall never again sit in those wonderful medieval oriental cafes, full of old copper vessels, and overlook the elegant bridge. Never again shall I sip coffee from findjans, those tiny thick china handleless cups, and pour from a tiny copper dzezva the black bitter strong coffee with a coarsely ground sediment that, if I drank too impatiently, would linger around my mouth for some time afterwards. Never again shall I nibble on the ratluk, the local Turkish delight, pinkish irregular square jelly sweets, topped with white castor sugar. I remember Zilavka, the famous local white wine, recognisable by a label with the Ottoman bridge.

The countryside around Mostar is a rugged hostile stony landscape cut in two by the gorge of the Neretva river. The medieval bridge was an imprint of civilisation. Its destruction has catapulted us back to the dark ages.

Yours faithfully,


London, WC2

11 November