Saturday, January 31, 2015

Knock It Off

There are very few copyright or trademark infringement laws here, leading to many knock-offs of well known brands (we found house slippers branded "File" instead of "Fila"). But I was rather amused the other day when I found these dolls for the girls.

It's very obvious that they are to resemble Elsa and Anna from Disney's Frozen. But instead of being made of the sturdy rubber and plastic like the "real" ones, these are made from very thin, hollow, plastic. They sing, but instead of singing a song from the movie, they sing a high-speed, Chipmunk-style blurb from the late nineties song "I'm a Barbie Girl."
The packaging seems to have been a photocopy of the original Disney with words changed.
Please note that "Beautiful" is in the traditional Disney font, and Fashion is in the Frozen font. What cracks me up the most are the comments written under that. "I have a lovely doll, His name is 'small cute'. She has a pair of big eyes, Round face, A cherry small mouth, long legs, Clever" (Verbatim, capitalization and punctuation).
The girls don't know the difference and have had lots of fun playing with them. The only problems arise when limbs fall off (they just pop back on) and when the clothing needs mending (I needed to reattach something to both dresses on the first day!). The Elsa doll did have her signature braid, but Ruth likes to comb her dolls' hair, so that came out.
For the most part, actual Disney authorized Frozen toys are not available here. At Christmas we did find licensed plush of some of the characters, and a few figurines. It doesn't really bother us though. The girls are by no means hurting for playthings. :) And if the stores don't have it, we can't be pestered into buying it :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Comparing Cultures

Most of the time, living in Montenegro is very much the same as living in America. Or the difference is minimal. But occasionally the contrasts stick are more noticeable. For instance, here yogurt is a drink and hot chocolate is thick enough you need to eat it with a spoon.

Or the French make car (Renault), you purchased in a Serbian speaking nation comes with instruction manuals in Italian.
But we recently attended a wedding here, and the differences to what we've experienced in America were quite interesting. First, religious leaders do not have the legal authority to marry people. Neither Orthodox or Catholic priests, Protestant pastors or Muslim Imams can formally join two people in the bonds of matrimony. A couple wishing to wed must go to the special government office created for that purpose.
The bride and groom get one attendant/witness each, called the kuma and kum respectively (this is also the title "godmother" and "godfather"). The official reads out the Montenegrin "laws of marriage" which include that the husband and wife are equal, and they must agree on where to live but are independent in choosing where they work. They promise to abide by these rules, "take" one another as spouse, exchange rings, kiss, and sign the marriage register.
If the couple chooses, they may then have a religious ceremony at the church or mosque of their faith. Our friends did, and the religious ceremony included the more familiar vows involving "in sickness and health", and" 'til death do us part." Then there was a reception with an amazing variety of wonderful food, singing, dancing (Balkan style line dances, not ballroom style), and blessings for the couple. With the two ceremonies and the reception, the wedding lasted about 6 hours.