E01 – Luka and the Barbarian’s Daughter

Luka is from Slovenia. Not Slovakia. I made this mistake during the interview but Luka was very gracious and didn’t hang up.

Where is the capital of Slovenia?

This season actually has 2 countries that were part of the former Yugoslavia. But as many similarities as there may be, the interviews couldn’t have been more different. I suppose this is mostly since I am interviewing people and not Wikipedia articles. The beauty of this project is the kaleidoscope of life I get to peer through, even for just an hour or so at a time.

Anyways, I did know some about Yugoslavia and the regions history but next to nothing about Slovenia even though I had heard the capital Ljubljana was famous for being a beautiful city.

Transcript is at the bottom. This post was updated 30/1/21)

… a year after the episode….

timestamped notes

3:36 ~ There is literal elephant-loads of information and opinions on the 2008 financial crisis. This one from the New Yorker seemed to me a good entry-level summary of the events and touches on the subsequent Eurozone crises. The editorial also remarks on the effect these issues have had on the present world.

5:01 ~ The author is Astrid Lindgren and the book is Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter (amazon affiliate link). This story has gone around the world and even been adapted into an anime. I kept to Luka’s translation “Barbarian” because I thought it was cooler.

6:45 ~ Global warming has indeed impacted many countries, including Bangladesh as Luka mentions. This article at Science Mag also has some great interviews with people most effected and some very technical explanations of how the rising levels change life on the coast.

8:04 ~ Understanding > Love > Empathy (arrows, not greater thans) I couldn’t have asked for a nicer quote from my first interview and first episode of this project. And there’s nothing I can say to add to it.

…the common thing that should be the most important is love. I mean, there cannot be empathy without love, right?

9:01 ~ I will commonly ask about coffee. Here is a fairly similar recipe with tonnes of pretty pictures and some more background information.

10:27 ~ Castles and dragons!

Predjama Castle in Slovenia
Predjama Castle is actually in a cave!

The baby dragons are olm fish (awesome pictures); in Slovenian they are also called “human fish” but I say they are more like dragons.

10:58 ~


11:22 – štruklji  recipe and a politca recipe . The “pehtran” somehow never got translated during the interview but it is tarragon.

16:13 ~ Most people have a negative knee-jerk response when they hear of a dictator. But as is common in former communist countries, the general public usually have a good opinion of the leader and this seems true for a large part of the former Yugoslavia.

18:05 ~ I found the nicey-nice translation with a bonus cute illustration:

An idiom used in Slovenia


This was my first interview and is now the first episode of the first season of hopefully many more. The fact that a stranger from across the world would give an hour of his time and allow his voice and opinions be broadcast to a large degree outside his control is very humbling and I have tried by best to do good by Luka.

I am happy to share this slice with all, and thank you for visiting the show notes section. I am always looking for interesting guests from around the world; if you’d like to introduce yourself or a friend who would be interested please reach out on any social media or email. It helps me keep motivated to know that people like this kind of podcast, so thank you to all who have recommended it to friends and family.

Have a slice!


Luka 0:00
There cannot be empathy without love. Right? empathy right now is something that we really, really, really need so much.

Lifeslice Podcast 0:16
Hello, and welcome to Lifeslice. My name is Michael and I try to bring the best of my conversations I’ve had with people from every country, as we talk about day to day life, culture, foods and idioms. No one imagines that we can distill the experiences or culture of millions of individuals into a one hour conversation. That is why I am offering you a slice of their life. While we speak for an hour, I edit down to about 20 minutes. All of my guests approve the final version. They’re not surprised by anything they say, and they feel it accurately represents the conversation we had. That being said, sometimes, guests share points of view that could be construed as offensive. their opinions, however, are just that opinions. And the same way I rely on my guests generosity to share. I also allow my listeners generosity to take such statements with a grain of salt. I spoke with Luca back in October, and I enjoyed every minute of it. He spoke candidly about the economic and cultural challenges that Slovenia is facing right now. Luca also shared his memories growing up in Yugoslavia, and his optimistic hopes for his young daughter’s future. The Republic of Slovenia is a small mountainous country that borders Italy, Austria and Croatia. Slovenia is the northernmost part of the former Yugoslavia, and it was the first to become a sovereign state. I know you will enjoy this conversation.

Luka 1:51
All right. My name is Luca, I come from Slovenia. I am 42 years old. I am a multimedia technician. But I do like, everything. So I do graphic design, web design. I do video editing VFX I do compositing, I do a lot of video stuff.

Lifeslice Podcast 2:16
So you mentioned you really like doing VFX and animation and things like this? What is it that you would like about it? What is it that speaks to your personality? Or to your interest?

Luka 2:27
Yeah, I have to figure out things, you know, because there are lots of problems in VFX that, that there are no tutorials on internet, you know, you just have to figure out for yourself. The joy and the happiness when you figure things out. And it looks really, really good.

Lifeslice Podcast 2:45
When you have a problem. There’s no tutorials online, you have to figure it out yourself. So what’s your problem solving method?

Luka 2:53

Lifeslice Podcast 2:55
Oh, really? How does that help?

Luka 2:56
Yeah. I mean, if there’s a huge problem, I usually just go I mean, not nothing, not immediately, I found out that the best decision I made, were the next day. So you just let your subconscious to do her things. And the next day, you have very, very good answers prepared. But if the time is relevant, I just go for a walk, just go away from computer and I take my dog I go out, come back and everything is fresher.

Lifeslice Podcast 3:28
Not focusing on the problem so specifically allows you to come at it from maybe a different angle.

Luka 3:32
True. True.

Lifeslice Podcast 3:34
Luca told me about the current job market situation in Slovenia. And at the time of recording, he too was looking for work. The crisis he mentions, was the worldwide financial crisis that started in the United States in 2008. With the collapse of a huge investment bank, soon after the sovereign debt crises started occurring, notably in Greece, Ireland and Spain, which pushed the whole European economy down.

Luka 4:02
About 10 years ago, the money was really, really, really good. But after the crisis, the prices just started dropping really, really hard, you know, okay. Oh, there were lots of people who just stopped working VFX industry, a lot of studios just shut down. Because even the movie industry is not respecting VFX artists, it almost died out in Slovenia VFX has totally been gone in Slovenia and you don’t have any gigs. You don’t have any jobs for VFX. That’s, that’s out. If I wanted to pursue a career in VFX. I should move out from Slovenia, but that’s not my intention. Because I have a seven year old daughter and I decided to be the father first and career second.

Lifeslice Podcast 4:57
What’s her name?

Luka 4:57
Her name is Ronia. That’s nice. From a book from Astrid Lindgren, but she wrote a book about this little girl, and the title of book is Ronia, the Daughter of Barbarian, and she’s very, you know, stubborn. And she’s very independent. And she just do things her own way. And me and her mother, we both read the book when we were kids, and it stuck with us.

Lifeslice Podcast 5:24
What future Do you see for Ronia later on? She’s seven now. So what do you see her future? Like in, say, 10 years from now?

Luka 5:32
That’s a good question. Hopefully, she will be in high school. She in 10 years, she will be 17. Yeah, but but let’s, let’s let’s bring out the best scenario. So she’s in high school, she has her first boyfriends or girlfriends, you know? I hope she will be very good in school, she will know what she wants to do in her life. Of course, I’m afraid for her future. Not in 10 years, I think 10 years will be okay. But in 20 years, you know, being parent right now is, is not very nice job, you know, because this future is so uncertain at this point, that I think a lot of parents are afraid, you know, for their kids

Lifeslice Podcast 6:21
Afraid because of the uncertainty or afraid because of something else?

Luka 6:26
Yeah, not about uncertainty. I mean, if we won’t fix something soon, really, really soon, you know, there will be consequences, a lot of things will change. geopolitically, in next 20 years, you will have, you will have hordes of immigrants, I mean, Bangladesh will be flooded. You know, how many people live in Bangladesh? You know how many people live in India? And those people will have to go somewhere, you know? And Central Europe is the perfect place in Europe, everybody’s afraid of immigrants, countries are closing their borders, you can stop hungry and thirsty people with closing borders, you know, you just can’t, I’m not afraid of them. I’m afraid of reaction of countries that wouldn’t allow them to come in. Where can those people live? That’s why I’m afraid that that people will be polarized more and more and more. So that that’s why I’m a bit afraid. But I think that she’s smart. I am afraid but I am confident in her in the future her.

Lifeslice Podcast 7:36
That’s a good optimistic, viewpoint, cautious, but optimistic.

Luka 7:40

Lifeslice Podcast 7:40
Let’s move on now from predictions to some questions about Lucas way of looking at things and his morning routine. What makes a good person? Or what makes a good, say citizen of country?

Luka 7:55
Well, in 2019, I don’t think that countries are relevant. I mean, we are all global society right now. And I think that the common thing that should be the most important is love. I mean, there cannot be empathy without love. Right?

Lifeslice Podcast 8:17
I agree. Yep.

Luka 8:19
Empathy right now, is something that we really, really, really need so much.

Lifeslice Podcast 8:24
We think of ourselves as members of a global community, what can help us to show that empathy to cultivate that love

Luka 8:34
Understanding! The easiest thing right now is just to say, I don’t understand I am afraid. And because I am afraid, I will start to develop hate.

Lifeslice Podcast 8:47
So hey, I I want to know how it is for just like the day to day life of someone in Slovenia. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Luka 8:56
I make myself coffee.

Lifeslice Podcast 8:59
How do you make coffee?

Luka 9:00
Turk-stylestyle, always my friend, Turk style.

Lifeslice Podcast 9:04
What exactly makes it Turk style coffee?

Luka 9:06
First, you boil some water, then you put about two or three spoons of grounded coffee. In the special pot, you put about two or three spoons of grounded coffee, you mix it, you wait a couple of seconds to let it fall down. And then you bring it back on the fire and then it rises, you put it off, you wait until it falls down. And then you put it on again. So you do that about three times. So you bake this coffee or in the water. And then the next thing is I take my dog and we go out for a walk. So it’s it’s cools down a bit because I don’t like the molten, you know, lava, hot coffee,

Lifeslice Podcast 9:57
With a strong Turk-stylel coffee in us. We now talk about beauty and Slovenian cuisine. Where do you think is the most beautiful place in Slovenia?

Luka 10:07
All in all Slovenia man, there are so many beautiful places. So many have so many mountains. We have so many lakes we have seaside we are one of the rare countries that you can ski in (the) Alpsand swim in the Adriatic in the same day. We have castles in caves, and we have baby dragons. Dragons are kick ass. The symbol of Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, is (a) dragon. We have also the best bruschetta in the world. The one from Slovenia from karst region is the best thing in the world.

Lifeslice Podcast 10:49
What makes it so good?

Luka 10:52
The wind!

Lifeslice Podcast 10:54
The wind?

Luka 10:55
Yes, the wind. We have this special wind called Bora It’s very special. It has the moisture from the sea, but it’s not too moist. And it has the temperature. Everything is right. You know, they (the bruschetta ingredients) are drying on that wind. And that what makes them the best in the world.

Lifeslice Podcast 11:21
Which is better štruklji or politca?

Luka 11:24
Struklji or politca? Ah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. So both of them are sweets.

Lifeslice Podcast 11:32

Luka 11:33
Yeah. Usually, usually politca is offered when you already had your meal. Food, but you know, they’ll just say not not enough. You have haven’t been fed enough. You have to eat this sweet thing, you know.

Lifeslice Podcast 11:52
Okay. So what is what is politca then?

Luka 11:55
It’s a pastry actually. It’s a pastry, but it’s so intensive. It’s so what’s the word? You don’t have to eat a lot too be full.

Lifeslice Podcast 12:08

Luka 12:09
Yeah, štruklji is something. It’s also can be sweet, but can be.. štruklji is kind of a dumplings.

Lifeslice Podcast 12:18
Is it similar to the Polish pierogi?

Luka 12:21
Yeah, but usually it’s with nuts. Usually it’s with I don’t know the word. But it’s called pehtran (tarragon). And you also have pehtran potica. So yeah, you can mix everything. Those are, those are Slovenian ingredients. And we stick it everywhere. We put it everywhere. And I hate the pehtran. And you know, it’s I just don’t like it. But that just means people adore it. It’s national food. It’s and people are crazy about it. I let them be you know, I do my own stuff.

Lifeslice Podcast 13:01
I wanted to know a little bit more about Luka’s history. Since he grew up in a very different era. Obviously, you would have grown up in Slovenia that’s different than it is now for your daughter. So how was it growing up when you were maybe seven years old when you were the (same) age as Ronia?

Luka 13:20
Oh, wow, I had an amazing childhood. My family was very supportive, lovable. I just started going to the school to my first grade. Right now kids are going to school when they’re six. But when I went to school, we started go at seven. So my first class, my first school, I already had knowledge, so I was pretty bored. Yeah. But anyway, I had perfect family. We went with my dad and mom and my sister. We went around, had picnics. And I had a grandmother in Cerknica, which is another little village in Slovenia in Notranjski region. Okay, and she was the best and we had this huge house with huge attic with loads of stuff inside, kind of storage. And there are so many things, and me and my sister went there and explored and went for walks, hiking at the river. We were fishing and it was crazy nice! Such a lovely childhood. It’s like from a cheesy movie, you know? Yeah. I lived in Yugoslavia, and it was a socialist communist country….

Lifeslice Podcast 14:43

Luka 14:44
So but you don’t mind when you’re a kid. It just don’t mind. You have the friends. Everybody’s happy. Everybody has the same stuff. Nobody’s above. Nobody’s rich. Nobody’s poor. And that was nice social differences were really, really not big. There weren’t actually, there were no social differences. Everybody was the same. And everybody had the same toilet paper! Right? Exactly. Yeah. I have very nice memories of my childhood and of Yugoslavia, a communist country. Yeah,

Lifeslice Podcast 15:20
right. First Slovenians nowadays, is there some who feel well, no, I am Slovenian, first. And is there some who feel maybe no, I’m Yugoslavian, first?

Luka 15:30
Oh, yeah. Yeah, of course. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there is no the country of Yugoslavia anymore. You have that sentiment, you know that how the times were different than it was so better, you know, and when the Tito was alive, he was our dictator. And when Tito was alive, he It was really cool. It really was, you know, he was kind of not your ordinary dictator, you know that. I mean, of course, people got hurt, people got locked, but that weren’t mass killings or such, you know, like you had in Iraq or Libya.

Lifeslice Podcast 16:08
Okay, I see.

Luka 16:09
Yeah, he was really really soft dictator, but he was still a dictator.

Lifeslice Podcast 16:13
When President and Prime Minister Tito was declared president for life in 1963, Yugoslavia officially had their first dictator. Fiercely independent, Tito pushed his own brand of socialism while forging diplomatic ties with powers other than the Soviet Union. He proclaimed all ethnic groups, except Germans, as having equal rights and allowed degrees of self-governance. All the same. He was unrelenting in his suppression of all opposition to his rule. Critics found themselves either expelled from the country or victims of unfortunate accidents.

Luka 16:52
So yeah, I think that there is a lot of what’s the word when you long for past

Lifeslice Podcast 17:00
Nostalgia 🙂

Luka 17:01
Yeah, nostalgia. There’s a lot of ex-Yugoslavia and music being played. A lot of people think very fondly of those times. So I think that people defined a lot of older people define themselves as Yugoslavians.

Lifeslice Podcast 17:17
This was one of my favorite parts of the conversation. Talking about Slovenian idioms. What does it mean to “whistle to the crabs” ?

Luka 17:27

Lifeslice Podcast 17:28
“To whistle to the crabs?

Luka 17:31
Whhistle to the cr— Ohhhhhhhhhh haha. Rakom žvižgat. That’s called you’re done. You are done. You’re dead. You are gone. He went rakom žvižgat = he’s dead. He’s no more.

Lifeslice Podcast 17:48
It can only mean someone has died?

Luka 17:52
Rakom žvižgat. But yeah, the thing or a person is dead. It’s more of a person than an object, but you could say also that object.

Lifeslice Podcast 18:01
I thought it was a quite an interesting idiom to whistle to the crab.

Luka 18:04
Yeah, it is. And we also have”tristo kosmatih medvedov” = 300 hairy bears.

Lifeslice Podcast 18:11
Oh, it’s like a swear (curse word)

Luka 18:13
Yeah, exactly. Our curse words, Slovenian curse words are so naive, you know. They’re so soft. There is no you can’t offend someone with saying tristo kosmatih… you can’t offend them, you know.

Lifeslice Podcast 18:32
I have so many thank yous. I want to thank LuKa very much for his kindness and chatting with me.

Luka 18:39
You are welcome my friend. Bye bye.

Transcribed by otter.ai