The word polaco is often used by Serbs in everyday life and means “slowly, calmly” in Serbian. It can be pronounced with different intonations and used in a variety of situations. There is much more to polaco than a mere translation shows, and even the peculiar Serbian lifestyle is described using this word.
Polaco: Serbian Lifestyle
The Serbs are used to living at a steady pace without much hurry. It is very hard to unsettle them as they are not prone to panic even in the most extreme situations. The residents of Serbia are known for their calmness and poise and tend to take all the things happening in their lives with a sufficient degree of philosophy without getting carried away by emotions.
This stands in contrast to more persevering nations that are used to protecting their interests in any situation and are not prepared to put up with delays or other inconveniences. They will not take it easy if a plumber comes late or there is a long queue in the supermarket.
This is the reason why the Serbs may look like sleepy flies to the nations that are used to a more energetic attitude to life. The advertising phrase “and let the whole world wait!” is definitely about the Serbian lifestyle. They are in no hurry at work, either, and are prone to frequent coffee breaks – especially if something unexpected occurs. This is probably the reason why Serbian cafes are packed: the locals love enjoying their life rather than doing something on the run.
The immigrants that relocate to Serbia may feel ill at ease as they do not always fit the rhythm of life that is customary for the locals. The first difference from the hectic lifestyle you may be used to is the leisurely walk of Serbs and lack of haste. They are not in a hurry and they are not afraid to be late for meetings.
On the other hand, polaco is also the reason why bureaucratic processes can slow down. It may be a disadvantage of this way of life typical of Serbia as the citizens that require public services may need them quite quickly.
The working day of different services starts at 7 a.m. Officials prefer to have breakfast at 10 o’clock, and they stop receiving citizens even if there are long queues. This does not worry them in any way, and local residents entertain themselves with conversations and rumors while they are waiting near the office. This is probably the reason why people in Serbia are not offended in any way if they are made to wait.
When the Serbs communicate with foreigners, they stay true to their lifestyle rather than adopt the attitudes of the new culture: they find it important to keep their lack of haste and polaco.
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Polaco: Everyday Use
If the Serbs notice any haste or fuss, they will say polaco. For example, a careful father can say that to his child who is still shaky while walking but is going to run. This may be the answer given by the technical support operator when asked why the worker still has not arrived. Polaco pronounced with different intonations can be heard in queues or in a crowded bus. In these cases, it is used to ask you to take patience and stop worrying. And it is the intonation that helps to communicate the multiple meanings that polaco may have.
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Kafana: the Place to Live your Polaco Life
The Serbian laid-back lifestyle brought to life one more term, kafana. This word is used by the Serbs to denote public places where you can relax and have a rest: we are talking about restaurants, cafes, coffee houses, and just pubs. An average Serb who has some free time is highly likely to spend it in a kafana. And this explains why small towns with a population of about 100,000 people may have more than 200 cafes.
Kafana is used more often to spend your time in polaco style than to eat or drink something. The Serbs usually order a glass of beer or a cup of coffee and can sit for hours enjoying the atmosphere and relaxing.
The slow pace of life in Serbia is a bad match to a healthy life, and many people do not follow the recommendations related to healthy eating and keeping fit. This is probably connected with lack of motivation as polaco does not stimulate the Serbs to quickly achieve the goals and results. They prefer spending time in kafanas, drinking alcohol, and smoking to physical exercises. By the way, Serbia is a place where smoking in many catering establishments is still allowed. Dishes served in restaurants are rich in calories, and the servings are large. The Serbs prefer to order fried meat with a glass of beer or rakija, the local moonshine.
Also, people in Serbia still read a lot of printed editions. There are a lot of newsstands in large cities where you can also buy tobacco, cigarettes, and low-alcohol drinks. As you see, the surrounding infrastructure is made for the Serbs who are in no hurry and enjoy their polaco lifestyle.
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