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‘The Balkanista’!

December 2008. The centre of Tirana during a whistle stop 2 day visit from Pristina.

The journey publicising my first book, ‘Under A Feathered Sky’, took an interesting turn today. After making contact with Alice Taylor, a British journalist who has made Albania her home, I was invited to join her podcast ‘The Balkanista’, where we talked about Albanian hospitality, raki, the complexities of Kosovo’s struggle for independence and recognition, and the influence of foreign entities.

The link is here; https://open.spotify.com/episode/47dWzvrySYlGqYZBNkd0QN?si=F1j5pgobSdGR6pdMc3CJrg

It was a really enjoyable discussion. Alice has lived in Tirana for 3 years. Her growing knowledge of the people, politics, culture and way of life in every day Albania is evident. Alice asked me not only about my experience of what happened in Kosovo over the Winter in 2008/09, when I was deployed as an Army Officer to Pristina, she was interested in my thoughts about the current situation in Kosovo. It was good to have an opportunity to talk about some of these sensitive and often divisive issues. We discussed my impression of Albanian culture and the interactions I had in my role as a NATO liaison officer, with the stories inevitably leading to my experience of drinking Raki! The conversation even covered a white-knuckle drive I made from Pristina to Tirana, via Prizren, through the mountains near Kukës in northern Albania.

Alice asked me whether I will be heading back to Kosovo any time soon. The answer is a clear yes, pandemic permitting of course. I have not yet had the opportunity to celebrate the publication of my book with my friends in Kosovo. Perhaps next time I travel to Kosovo I will instead choose to fly into Tirana and make the 2 hour drive up to Pristina on the motorway, rather than the 9 hour journey on mountain roads!

The mountains of Kukës in northern Albania, the old road snaking its way south.

I am also planning to translate ‘Under A Feathered Sky’ into Albanian, which will then finally give the people of Kosovo – for whom the book is dedicated – a chance to read what happened in the immediate period following Kosovo’s self declared independence.

So a big thanks to Alice for the opportunity to talk about ‘Under A Feathered Sky’.

Do listen if you get a chance.

By Ade Clewlow MBE

Instagram - adeclewlow.photography

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