Friday, August 04, 2006


(Borrowed from diocletianvs)

An Explanation of the Philosophy of Fjaka

The story goes like this:
There was a rich American tourist staying in town. Whenever he would look through his hotel room window, there was a young man with a fish-hook sitting under a palm tree, fishing. He could see there weren't many fish in his fish pail. One day, the American decided to ask him why he wouldn't try some other place for fishing.

"Why would I go away from my house? And my palm tree?", asked the guy.

"Well," said the self-assured American," I bet you would find there are more fish outside this bay. You could catch more fish then."

The young man slowly nodded and then asked, "Why would I do that?

Well, you could catch more, not only for yourself, but...," the American pointed out, "You could also sell it on the market!

Shaking his head at the thought, the young man posed, "And why would I do that?

The American, certain he was dealing with a true lunkhead and wondering why he even tried to raise this youth's standard of living, replied "Well, one day you could buy a small boat and go to the sea where you could catch more fish."

The young man, now singing the same tune countered with another "And why would I do that?

On the edge of his last exasperated nerve, the American sighed with, "Well, you could sell it on the market. And you could get a loan. An d then buy a real fishing boat and real nets. And then, catch a lot of fish!"

Sensing the advice-giver's state of nerves, the Dalamtian flipped one more, "And why would I do that?

Oh! But this guy is thick! Must be that baking in the sun all day had fried his egg of a head. Pointing out the obvious, he said, "Well, you could finally buy a whole fleet of fishing boats. Make a huge business of it."

Once more, playing thick, the young man inquired, "And why would I do that?"

"No wonder this place is so behind the times", thought the American. "I'll have to spell it out letter by letter to this guy. "Well, you could soon become rich. So rich, you could go to a deserted place and do nothing! Just sit and rest the whole day!"

Beaming, the Dalmatian leaned back on the tree, spit itn the American's general direction and checkmated with, "Well, that’s what I’m doing right now!"

This is the concept of fjaka, which is the concept of life in Split.

The concept of fjaka tells you not to do anything that is not necessary, take a lot of rest under the palm trees or in numerous cafes. Whatever you do, make sure to stop at noon to take a real lunch. (Under no circumstance is fast food a part of a real lunch). And take a short nap after the lunch. If anyone asks you to do anything, you’re free to say, Look, "Malo sam fjakast". (I’m a little bit caught by fjaka) And this is enough reason to continue with resting.

(Note that some people you deal with in tourist offices, hotels or restaurants are not being rude to you nor especially slow as you might think at the first place. They are just living according to the concept of fjaka.)

And yes, there is a very thin line between fjaka and laziness. The trick is to dance (but not over-enthusiastically) on that line.

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Right on!

(To a point -- first of all, let's be clear that I am not writing about your native land, just one slightly to the north of it. But here I have to say I am constantly appalled by the thoroughly, pathologically, lackadaisacal mindset. Not to put too fine a point on it, I'm amazed that anything ever gets done, or that the country's economy doesn't just implode over any given weekend. The concept of downtime is admirable, not to mention necessary, but when taken to an extreme as it is here in Slovenia, I've got to say that something's gotta give, and the EU is going to chew the place up and spit it out).

But, abstractly speaking, right on!
Si, siesta es muy bueno!

Besides, Texas summers do not invite vigorous work or play.
Note that most people in tourist offices stop living according to the concept of fjaka as soon as they can charge you for all the beauty you will be/were allowed to have during your stay there...:-)
(I like Croatia. I do. I even flirted once per e-mail with a Croatian guy.)
ah. what a great way to be linked. :) the hours i spent sitting in that cafe' (viva, up on the hills in rijeka), smoking, drinking the same cup of coffee for ages, talking a lot. it's great isn't it. :)
I would like to add this definition:

Fjaka (aka Dalmatian-Zen) is a "state of mind" that we Dalmatians consider a form of meditation, especially the men. It usually occurs in the hot summer early afternoon hours after a hefty meal, when time stops, every muscle in your body goes comatose, and your mind reaches a deep state of zen-like spirituality that nothing, even an explosion of a car bomb next to you, can disrupt. It is believed to be a leading contributor to the above average life expectancy of the Dalmatian male.
I learned the word fyaka last week sitting on the mola in Sumartin Brac with my business manager whiling away the afternoon over a loonnng cup of coffee.
Now I know why I decided to retire to Dalmatia. We now call our place in Milna 'Fjaka House'.
BTW our yacht is Serenity and our business (necessary to buy property in Croatia) is Serenus d.o.o.
Dear Bill,
You are truly living the life of fjaka (No "y" in Croatian!) as you have the fjaka-requisite yacht, house, and lonnnnng kavu going. However, you have to work on your tone, as it's dangerously close to a "rubbing-it-in" nature, which is not a characteristic of fjaka.

A man imbued with fjaka needs no publicity; it is a holy state easily detected even by the least sentient beings on this earth. May you always live in fjaka, but keep the SPF 30 handy.
No intention of rubbing-it-in,just sharing the awe and gratitude.
Hope I haven't engendered jealousy in anyone.
Give me a break, I just learned the word last week, maybe the rest of my life I can spend learning the nuances of fjaka.
I was pretty tired after 60 hours of traveling home, wrote it as I hear it in my head, yeah I know the y is spelt with a j, but not much more in Croatian past dobra dan and gvli (sp?).
SPF 30 is not near enough for the sun where I was, I used 50 plus a cap, and still stayed out of the mid-day sun. Had my first dermatology visit just before going over and he froze off six pre-cancers on my old bald scalp.
May your summer never end and your coffee cup never empty. Hope you make it up to Crikvenica for the Frankopanska Torta. Fjaka and cake, the perfect combo.
Thanks for the tip. I'll definitely put in there when I get Serenity wet in the beautiful Adriatic. We have friends in Zadar so our first cruise away from the Split/Brac' area will be in that direction. Also Pag (oh the cheese) and maybe Pula and Porec.
Hey Bill,
Just suggesting....and I'm sure you or your friends in Zadar have already mentioned it, but if you're in Zadar for a bit of time and walking (a lot) is not an issue for you, there's a GREAT national park close to Zadar, Paklenica, to visit. Early or very late in the day, though, as 11:00 to 3:00 is a killer time of the day to be out there.
And I'm sure you heard of the Musical Steps in Zadar....
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