Marko Nikolic is a popular author among Vietnamese readers. His novel Pho Nha tho (Church street), which tells stories of love and friendship set in Hanoi’s daily life, has received warm response from Vietnamese readers. Marko has been living in Hanoi since 2014.
Ngoc Diep: Thank you for joining us, Marko. If you have to pick the most typical thing to introduce about Serbia’s culture, what would you say?
Marko Nikolić: Well, the first thing I’d like to talk about is our hospitality. We take this very seriously and we love having guests, especially if they come from faraway countries. It's so easy for foreigners to make friends with locals and most of Serbs speak decent English, so communication is not a problem. Another distinct feature of Serbian culture is obsession with sports. Even though we are a tiny nation, we have lots of internationally renowned footballers such as Vidic, Matic and, of course, the world's current best tennis player Novak Djokovic. And you would be suprised if I told you that we had won three world championships in basketball.
Ngoc Diep: Wow, that’s amazing. How about Serbian food? I’m really curious about Serbia’s cuisine.
Marko Nikolić: Yes! National cuisine lies at heart of our culture. We are big meat eaters and we can't live without barbecue, bread and pastries. In Serbia there are bakeries on every corner. Another thing to try while in Serbia is rakija, a type of plum brandy. But be careful, this liquor is really strong!
Ngoc Diep: Anything else that is not widely known about Serbia’s culture?
Marko Nikolić: A lot for sure. Not many people know that we have two writing systems. Serbian is the only European language with such a case. This means that we use two writing systems – both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets. The Cyrillic alphabet is still used in schools and official documents while people usually prefer to use the Latin alphabet in everyday communication.
Ngoc Diep: And Serbians are known for having a good sense of humor, am I right?
Marko Nikolić: You’re right. Humor is greatly appreciated in Serbia. We actually really like black humor and often joke about local stereotypes and ourselves.
Ngoc Diep: What should we pay attention to while communicating with Serbian people?
Marko Nikolić: There are a few things you should keep in mind. For example we like kissing each other three times on the cheek when meeting with friends or family.
Ngoc Diep: Oh, good thing to know. So you’ve been living in Vietnam for 7 years now. You can speak fluent Vietnamese and your novel “The Church Street” written in Vietnamese is so much loved by many. Can you share a bit about your experiencing life and culture in Vietnam?
Marko Nikolić: Living here has been an incredible journey! After seven years, I can say that Vietnam is my second home now. And I feel incredibly lucky to be here at this challenging times when the entire world is grippled with the Covid pandemic. We are safe in Vietnam. Cố lên Việt Nam ơi!
Ngoc Diep: Thank you so much for joining us today and sharing some interesting facts about Serbia’s culture on VOV24/7. I’m really looking forward to future talks with you about Serbia and Vietnam as well.
Marko Nikolić: My pleasure. Thank you.