For years, I grew up with the impression that my father was sloppy at repairs around the house or on the car. You always knew when he had “fixed” something because it worked, but did so in a rather funky way. For instance, the choke on our old van’s carburetor stopped working. Solution? Run a piece of fishing line up by the steering column that you pulled on until the vehicle got to operating temperature. Another one was that power outlets and light switches would be flipped upside down at irregular intervals. While living at home, you would get used to this and remember that the light for the kitchen was backwards to the the one from the living room. When you visited, it was amazing how quickly you’d forget these idiosyncrasies.
It was my first trip to Croatia in 2004, that I discovered that it was not my father’s fault he couldn’t repair things properly; it was a Croatian genetic predisposition that caused this. In the first apartment I stayed at in Croatia, there were ten light switches at the door. Only six turned anything on and of those, two were wired in upside down. I felt like I was at home and over the course of subsequent stays, I’ve noticed more and more of these. I think the most famous one is having the hot and cold faucets switched on sinks and showers. I’m sure this has caught more than one tourist off guard.
So, it’s with this, that I’d like to introduce the term, “praving”. This is taken from the Croatian (and as far as I know, Montenegrin, Bosnian, and Serbian) word for “to fix” or “to repair” which is “popraviti”. That “ing” ending is something I picked up in Spain where they take a Spanish word and toss that on the end for ease of speech. For instance the airline Vueling picks up on this as a mashup of “vuelo” for a flight or “footing” which Spaniards say for “jogging”.
I invite any and all submissions on this topic and I suspect that it is not something limited to Croats or the Balkans, but might be common amongst all Slavs (or maybe the Mediterranean?) I don’t know, but I’ll be happy to see if it does and post any pictures of truly great “fixes” that people do. I will leave you with the first in a long line of these examples below, which I feel is the most classic. Note that the faucet is full left. In standard installations, that is hot. In this case, it is cold. Hajdemo Hrvatska! Hajdemo!