Alan has been deaf since birth. For those of us who do not speak sign language he communicates through note writing and mime. Alan points at his ring finger and then makes a motion like a baseball umpire calling a runner safe at home.
I am walking back to Silva’s apartment where I am staying. I am startled by a booming sound. I think nothing of it since, from my frame of experience, such sounds are innocuous. But an older man ahead of me starts talking and gesticulating in an agitated manner. When he realizes that I don’t speak Croation he mimes a rocket soaring, then descending, then exploding. From his frame of experience, this is a familiar and distressing sound. And it is true; the city is being shelled. The airport is closed. The television is filled with images of tanks and military personnel but I have no idea what is actually happening.