Issue 41-42 http://vagabond.bg/ en SOFIA'S TEMPLES, PART 1 http://vagabond.bg/sofias-temples-part-1-2162 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">SOFIA&#039;S TEMPLES, PART 1</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Gergana Manolova; photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Wed, 03/10/2010 - 14:32</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Bulgaria's capital hosts many religions, each with its own history</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-07/sofia.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-07/sofia.jpg" width="1000" height="667" alt="St Alexandr Nevskiy Cathedral.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">St Alexandr Nevskiy</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>They are all over Sofia; some with shining domes, some old and crumbling, and some housed in inconspicuous grey buildings. Through the many places of worship in Sofia you can trace back the history of the city for nearly two millennia, although many were only built during the last 150 years and bear the marks of wars and Communism.</p> <p>This diversity of religions comes from a long and complicated history, peopled by Romans, Bulgarians, Ottomans, Jews and Greeks, along with other minorities. Each group built its own place of worship, though the line between "traditional" and "non-traditional" religions blurred between 1944 and 1989, when the Communist regime persecuted all of them indiscriminately.</p> <p>A walk through Sofia's temples is an invitation to explore the city from an angle you may not have thought of before – that of faith.</p> <h3><strong>St Alexandr Nevskiy</strong></h3> <p>Landing in Sofia by plane, you can't miss the shining, gilded domes of St Aleksandr Nevskiy, right in the very centre of the city, surrounded by landmarks such as the Parliament building and St Sofia church. The iconic cathedral was planned in 1879, immediately after the end of the Russo- Turkish war (1877-1878), which brought about Bulgaria´s liberation. It was built with donations from Bulgarians, but construction didn't start until 1904 and finished in 1912.</p> <p><img alt="St Alexandr Nevskiy" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/sofia%20temples/st%20alexandr%20nevsky.jpg" /></p> <p>Russian architect Alexander Pomerantsev worked on the design, which is an eclectic mixture of Eastern and Western religious architecture. Different elements had to be custom-made all over Europe: the chandeliers were made in Munich, the mosaics are Venetian, and the wooden doors are from Vienna. The cathedral has the largest bell in an Orthodox church, weighing 12 tons. Along with the other 11 bells, it was made in Moscow. On delivery it had to be pulled by oxen to the top of the 53-metre belfry – one man was killed in the process, when the bell slipped.</p> <p><img alt="St Alexandr Nevskiy" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/sofia%20temples/st%20alexandr%20nevsky%202.jpg" /></p> <p>The seat of the Bulgarian patriarch, the cathedral can hold 5000 people, and often does so on the great Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter, when people flock to the ceremonies. It is a prime tourist attraction, with its grand scale and magnificent murals and icons, some of them painted by the most famous Bulgarian artists. The crypt contains the Museum of Period Bulgarian Art with more than 200 examples of icons and icon fragments.</p> <h3><strong>The White Brotherhood Society</strong></h3> <p>Bulgaria's original contribution to what might be called a cult is Petar Danov, or Beinsa Douno, as he is known by his followers. Danov, a Bulgarian spiritual leader and teacher, created his "esoteric Christianity" in 1897 in Bulgaria, and quickly gained popularity throughout Europe. He preached a kind of pantheism, mixed with various mystic influences from the end of the 19th century, and was a prolific speaker. Nowadays, we have more than 4000 published lectures. His White Brotherhood, a gathering of people who shared his beliefs, was officially established in 1922. In 1927 they founded a small village called Izgrev, or Sunrise, which soon grew to 150 people, on a site to the south of the Borisova Garden. At that time it was still outside the city limits; today it is an urban district of the same name.</p> <img alt="White Brotherhood" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/sofia%20temples/white%20brotherhood%20sofia.jpg" class="align-center" /> <p>Danov died at the end of 1944 and was buried where he had spent his final years. Allegedly, the new Communist authorities initially forbade the burial, since it was outside a graveyard. Danov's closest friends send a telegram to Georgi Dimitrov, head of the Comintern at the time. Danov and Dimitrov had lived in the same house for a few years and had talked on a number of occasions. Dimitrov gave his personal permission for the burial.</p> <p>The grave is called "The Master's Place" by the members of the White Brotherhood, who believe their teacher has not died, but merely left this earth. In 1958 the village of Izgrev was seized from the Brotherhood by the authorities and allocated for the construction of foreign embassies. After 1989, however, the Brotherhood was reinstated and included in the list of religions officially recognised by the state. Danov's grave is a cultural monument of national significance, and he came second in the "Great Bulgarians" campaign.</p> <h3><strong>The First Evangelical Church</strong></h3> <img alt="First Evangelical Church" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/sofia%20temples/first%20evangelical%20church%20sofia.jpg" class="align-center" /> <p>The First Evangelical Church has been at 49 Solunska St for more than 120 years. Its institution is older than that, though – it dates back to the first evangelists in Bulgaria, Charles Morse and Dr Henry Haskel, who arrived in 1862- 63, and two Bulgarian brothers, sons of an Eastern Orthodox priest. The first sermons were preached in a tailor's workshop or in the homes of the church members. At the end of the 1880s the church bought a plot and the building was finished in 11 months. The one standing today is identical in appearance but is not the original, which was destroyed by bombs in 1944. Before the Second World War the church housed an orphanage, which was closed down by the Communists. The five priests who served there were also repressed during the regime.</p> <p>Ever since 1888 the First Evangelical church has led the Union of Evangelical churches in Bulgaria – it hosts meetings and discussions not only within the Evangelical organisations, but also with the wider public.</p> <h3><strong>The Greek Church of St George</strong></h3> <p><img alt="Greek Church" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/sofia%20temples/greek%20church%20sofia.jpg" /></p> <p>This church at 11 Makedoniya Blvd belongs to the Greek Orthodox rite. It was donated to the Еmbassy of Greece in 1920 by Yoan Kosmoglu. The three-nave basilica is named after St George, one of the most venerated saints in Eastern Orthodox tradition. Newly restored, the chapel holds regular services for the Greek minority in Sofia and the staff of the embassy.</p> <h3><strong>The Russian Church</strong></h3> <p>Colourful and with spire-like gilded domes, the church St Nikolay Chudotvorets, better known as the Russian Church, contrasts sharply with the other buildings on Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd. It looks as though it has been imported straight from Moscow.</p> <p><img alt="Russian Church" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/sofia%20temples/russian%20church%20sofia.jpg" /></p> <p>At the beginning of the 1900s, the Russian diplomatic representative in Bulgaria, D. K. Sementovski-Kurilo, was reluctant to attend a Bulgarian church, because the Bulgarian Exarchate was then in schism with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, leader of the Eastern Orthodox religion. To appease his conscience, Bulgaria granted a plot for a "legation" chapel, on the site of a mosque that had been demolished in 1882. The idea for a chapel quickly grew into something bigger. Construction, based on a design by the architect Mihail Preobrazhensky, took nine years. In 1913 the church was consecrated and became the centre of the Russian community, especially after the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 resulted in hundreds of refugees fleeing to Bulgaria.</p> <p>Nowadays visitors crowd into the crypt where bishop Seraphim is buried. He presided over the Russian Orthodox community in Bulgaria for 30 years until his death in 1950. The visitors light candles and on the grave they leave scraps of paper on which they have written their prayers. Why? Because, before his death, Seraphim promised that he would speak up for his flock in front of God, if he could.</p> <p>Read <u><a href="https://vagabond.bg/sofias-temples-part-2-2161">Part 2</a></u></p> <p>Read <u><a href="https://vagabond.bg/sofias-temples-part-3-2160">Part 3</a></u></p> <p>Read <u><a href="https://vagabond.bg/sofias-temples-part-4-2134">Part 4</a></u></p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en"><img alt="America for Bulgaria Foundation" src="/images/stories/V130/AFB_LOGO.jpg" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" title="America for Bulgaria Foundation" width="30%" /></a>High Beam is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine, with the generous support of the <a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a>, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners.</strong></p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-41-42" hreflang="en">Issue 41-42</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/273" hreflang="en">Sofia</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/230" hreflang="en">Religions in Bulgaria</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/312" hreflang="en">Minorities in Bulgaria</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/travel/high-beam" hreflang="en">HIGH BEAM</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=2162&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="6lUO2VzVoui36x88VRloslLHfwLEK8A7NjLnpIJBdFs"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 10 Mar 2010 12:32:03 +0000 DimanaT 2162 at http://vagabond.bg http://vagabond.bg/sofias-temples-part-1-2162#comments GYPSY ROSE http://vagabond.bg/gypsy-rose-2187 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">GYPSY ROSE</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Christopher Buxton; photography by Anthony Georgieff, Tihomir Penov</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 03/05/2010 - 13:36</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Whatever's left of Bulgaria's 'proverbial' tolerance has evolved into a Facebook campaign to castrate the Roma</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-07/gypsies.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-07/gypsies.jpg" width="1000" height="682" alt="gypsies.jpg " typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Most Bulgarians will proudly assert that for centuries their predecessors have peacefully lived side by side with neighbours of various nationalities such as Turks, Armenians and Greeks. "We were the ones – the <i>only</i> ones in Europe – to have saved the Jews from the Holocaust," they claim. "We are a nation of ethnic and religious tolerance!"</p> <p>In fact, ethnic "tolerance" has become one of the cornerstones of the Bulgarian national identity, alongside the past glories of this country's mediaeval kings, the suffering at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, and the Western Powers' conspiracy to dismember Bulgaria through the Berlin and Neuilly treaties.</p> <p>But is Bulgaria's "tolerance" a fact of life or just a pipe dream, similar to other beautiful but false assertions of "Bulgardom," such as rose-picking and latterday church-building?</p> <p>One of the fastest growing Bulgarian Facebook campaigns calls for the compulsory castration of Gypsies. What is unnerving is the number of fresh-faced middle-class cosseted cuties involved – you know, the kind of girls who'd give their elbow and more to study in the West and then complain of the black faces they would encounter in Brixton. Anyway, there they all are, these pretty, educated young women, telling us they're not racist, don't agree that Gypsies should be boiled down for soap but are ready to pick up a pair of scissors and help cut off the knackers of the people they compare to cockroaches. Yana Dimova, founder of the Castrate-Gypsies-First-and-Stray-Dogs-Later group, was born in 1988 and is a fan of Andy Warhol, several upmarket fashion labels and a band named Peace. However, she is no longer officially listed as the founder of the group. Castrate-Gypsies-First-and-Stray-Dogs-Later group has no official administrators either.</p> <p>Every line posted on the group wall is an example of appalling hatred. "Not all Gypsies are the same – well, some stink and steal more than the others," Radostina Novoselska believes. Stefan Danielov Gatsinski is convinced that "No castration is necessary. What they need is extermination!!!!!!" Stanislav Ivanov promotes the formation of a group advocating the reopening of Auschwitz, and adds: "Another thing I want to turn your attention to is about the Turks in BG. If they were really Turks, they'd be living in Turkey. These bastards here are standard Gypsies and nothing else. I come from a town where Gypsies predominate and, believe me, they are dodgers who don't even know why they exist." Lyubomir Mishonov offers a riddle: "A black-brown half-animal that enjoys stealing but hates reading. What is it?:)" Petar Mudev shares the following anecdote: "There was this Gypsy carrying a huge watermelon and my uncle asked him: 'Who do you need such a big watermelon for?' And do you know what he said? 'Well, bro, I have 11 children and 15 grandchildren from <i>only</i> three of them.' How could you not want to shoot them!?!?!?" Ralitsa Simeonova puts forth a different suggestion: "About the castration… that would be monstrous… having in mind their hygiene! We could dump them in an isolated room with a knife lying in the middle and make them choose… either to circumcise [sic] <i>or</i> kill themselves." Sic, sic, sic.</p> <p>The obvious question is what has happened to the oft reiterated Bulgarian reputation for tolerance. The evidence is that, especially at times of crisis, it wears pretty thin – especially as far as Gypsies and, of course, Turks are concerned. There is currently a parallel Internet campaign eager to explain why Switzerland is superior to Turkey. A set of earnest truisms celebrate the Swiss vote against mosques – as if a few minarets more or less are going to transform a sterile mountain tax haven, whose main claim to fame is the cuckoo clock.</p> <p>Underlying both campaigns is a deep paranoia, based on demographic issues. With a black-and-white view that sees the country divided between deserving Bulgarians on the one side and undeserving Turks and Gypsies on the other, comparisons of birth rates fuel fears of cultural annihilation and provoke drastic suggestions – particularly as far as the very visible Gypsy population is concerned. They now constitute 4.7 percent of the population – making them the highest pro capita Gypsy minority in Europe.</p> <p>Gypsies are an ideal target. As a stereotype, at least, they tick all the boxes that go towards a definition of "undeserving poor." They are not quiet. They know how to party. They don't have regular work but somehow survive on benefits, cash-in-hand jobs, begging and petty crime. They like cheap booze, drugs and loud music that can leave people sleepless for miles around. They have either never attended school or have failed every exam going. They live in tents, shanty towns and vandalised blocks of flats and, in their forays into town centres, begging women bludgeon passers by with drugged babies and men operate protection rackets in public parking lots. And, of course, as in any deprived community women have multiple children by a succession of different partners.</p> <p>What is more – as in the whole of Europe – Gypsies are easily seen as a race apart, with their own exclusive cultural traditions providing a seemingly insurmountable barrier to integration and progress within the dominant society. It is generally accepted that Gypsies first arrived in Bulgaria in the 13th Century. They had reached England by the 15th. Across the continent, Gypsies, with their tribal structures and specialised crafts, were to struggle to maintain their nomadic traditions. They were alternately admired for their freedom and musical ability, and feared for their supposed black magic and criminality.</p> <p><img alt="A good Gypsy" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/gypsies/gypsy%20musicians.jpg" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>A good Gypsy</em></p> <p>In Bulgaria, as in other Eastern bloc countries, Communist governments did their best to disrupt the Gypsy way of life, by smashing carts and caravans and forcing a kind of integration in factories and tower blocks. The end of Communism found Gypsies unemployed and unable to resume their pre-Communism way of life. All they had left was the burden of the old stereotype.</p> <p>However, it is not difficult to find examples that challenge the shiftless criminal model. The employment crisis before the recession meant that many Gypsies did find legitimate work. Last summer an acquaintance, who is an Ataka sympathiser, expressed his disquiet on encountering a Gypsy working in the post office, a disquiet that increased on discovering that the woman was efficient. There are now doctors and lawyers of Gypsy origin, as well as musicians of international renown. Of course, Bulgarians are comfortable with the limited success of Gypsy entertainers. I have yet to find a Bulgarian who does not smile when he hears a Gypsy band. But they prefer to see their own actors mimicking the stereotype and the stereotype just increases hatred. Few in the media or in government have the courage or sense of social responsibility to challenge this.</p> <p>The fact remains that Gypsy success within the mainstream is achieved in spite of considerable discrimination, which can only worsen with the economic downturn. What is more, the most iconic Bulgarian Gypsy success story remains the sexually ambivalent but undoubtedly talented <i>chalga</i> singer Aziz. His very presence on TV sends many Bulgarians into an apoplexy. Could it be the first sure sign of the decline of Holy Mother Bulgaria into a Gypsy dominated rubbish tip?</p> <p>This fear for the future will be reinforced by a visit to any one of the now notorious outer city estates where some of the poorest Gypsies live. This is the Third – no, the Fourth World – especially when you raise your eyes from the unofficial landfill site, past the defiant faces and see the wounded block that provides shelter for the people. Former windows are gaping black holes. Eight floors up, tiny children play on the edge of a ledge that was once a balcony and front room with walls but now looks like a rubbish-strewn high diving board. In another gaping hole, three floors below, you can see a tethered horse, apparently unaffected by the noise, dirt and lack of grass.</p> <p>This place is not an obvious war zone. Here humans live without secure water supplies or drainage. Electricity is filched from the power grid at considerable risk to life. Unemployment is 100 percent. Petty crime is rampant. The birth rate is high and crowds of children do what children do, laugh and cry, play and fight and smash what playthings they can find. The scene is a combination of feckless local vandalism and the state's wilful neglect of its responsibility to its unfortunate citizens.</p> <p><img alt="A bad Gypsy" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/gypsies/gypsies%20bulgaria.jpg" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>A bad Gypsy</em></p> <p>One might imagine that such deprivation would provoke a national outcry – leading to demands to know what the government is proposing to do. But the Gypsies fall into the category of those – a self-destructive, ethnically distinct underclass – who are emphatically never to be regarded as Bulgarian, as though the word Bulgarian described a uniquely pure homogeneous group and not a mixture based on Bulgar, Slav, Thracian, Celtic, Vlach, Cuman, Turkic and Tartar roots.</p> <p>Among the self-proclaimed "proud Bulgarians" you'll find the Deserving Poor. You know, the law abiding ones who sit peacefully in the dark blocks and shiver and eat dry bread and yoghourt, and are so very grateful for any charity that comes their way. They are outraged at the suggestion that a Gypsy performer might represent Bulgaria in the Eurovision Song Contest. They've mostly joined far right parties and yearn for the security of Communism, when they had jobs and the police could beat up criminals. Hypnotised, they watch SKAT TV, which just recycles prejudices about Gypsies and Turks. They don't generally have access to the Internet but would, I am sure, support the castration campaign.</p> <p>But Western liberals should beware of climbing onto the Bulgar-bashing high horse. The issues surrounding Gypsies in Bulgaria and the suggested solutions bear an uncomfortable resemblance to reactions to the underclass in all self-professed "socially advanced" countries. In the UK, for Gypsies read Chavs.</p> <p>The popular UK sitcom <i>Shameless</i> starts with people dancing and drinking around a burning stolen car. Like Gypsies, they are ill-educated, unemployed, thieving but, unlike Gypsies, loveable gits, living off the dole and breeding like rabbits. However, they are definitely white and claim to be English and proud of it. They return to houses in sink estates but which are usually supplied with water and electricity, because the state is at least concerned about the children.</p> <p>The UK ethnic Gypsy population is much smaller but, augmented by Irish Travellers and some New Age Travellers (British wannabe Gypsies), this group does face discrimination and difficulties in finding sites for their caravans. They get by on horse dealing, scrap metal collection and casual local labour. As in Bulgaria, there are prominent success stories from the traditional Gypsy population – mostly musicians like David Essex and The Rolling Stones's Ronnie Wood but, alongside Chavs, Gypsies fall into the category of Undeserving Poor.</p> <p>According to the rightwing media, they "have only themselves to blame." It is instructive to look at the reactions of those states considered more enlightened than Bulgaria. Sweden was sterilising members of its underclass right up to the 1970s. Following the war, the UK transported thousands of "deprived" children to Australia. The children were told their parents had died and, inevitably, they became the objects of physical and sexual abuse in their new homeland. From 1932 to 1972 in the United States poor black sharecroppers were deliberately deprived of treatment for syphilis.</p> <p>Awareness of these facts should prevent us from feeling too superior. Bulgaria continues to struggle with so many facets of its communist legacy – including the destruction of the traditional Gypsy way of life. Bulgarians pride themselves on their patience and tolerance, yet they enjoy castration fantasies – probably because they know they will never be put into practice. A blunt lack of political correctness becomes a sign of nationalistic pride. It is as though centuries of hurt – being at the far end of Europe, colonised by successive Eastern powers, criticised and patronised by a hypocritical EU – make such campaigns inevitable, along with the pseudo respectability the Internet confers. And, of course, these fantasies are stoked by nationalist politicians, eager to provoke fears of Balkan Armageddon, while there is a deafening silence from mainstream political figures.</p> <p>There are, of course, echoes of this debate in the UK, particularly in the campaigns of the BNP, but I believe only one English cutie might entertain the idea of castration for Gypsies – Ronnie Wood's ex-wife.</p> <p>But to come back to Bulgaria. The practice of cultivating roses was imported from Turkey. Contrary to the propaganda idea that roses are collected by pretty Bulgarian girls dressed up in national costumes and saluted by President Parvanov, rose-picking is mainly done by Gypsies, toiling for a pittance.</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-41-42" hreflang="en">Issue 41-42</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/312" hreflang="en">Minorities in Bulgaria</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/forum/society" hreflang="en">BULGARIA SOCIETY</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=2187&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="sj8oawkem7uTlqF9Ev9MrRHNeHTBec_P8aU_0XDB0dU"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 05 Mar 2010 11:36:28 +0000 DimanaT 2187 at http://vagabond.bg http://vagabond.bg/gypsy-rose-2187#comments MISS UNIVERSE* http://vagabond.bg/miss-universe-1797 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">MISS UNIVERSE*</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Kodi Scheer</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon, 03/01/2010 - 14:06</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Two hours before the competition, we find a pink shoebox of scorched hair in the hotel lobby. That cunt Miss Venezuela stole somebody's blond extensions – real human hair – and lit them on fire. The hair smells like skin after you twist a cigarette in it. We check our rooms to see if anything's missing. This year, the competition is particularly fierce.</p> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>"My hair!" Miss USA shrieks.</p> <p>Miss USA and her coaches do not have enough time to get new extensions that match. Her roommate, Miss Germany, offers to cut her own locks. She's such a martyr, even though she's the perfect Aryan specimen, with a golden lion's mane and sleeping pill-blue eyes. Maybe she feels guilty. Miss Israel reminds Miss USA that it's not the end of the world.</p> <p>"How would you know?" asks Miss Palestine, who can't officially compete but hopes to tapdance in the opening number.</p> <p>"Really, is not so bad," says Miss Afghanistan. "Is only little hair."</p> <p>We stare at Miss Afghanistan. She's the odds-on favorite, only because she survived some crazy bombing. A long wormy scar the color of strawberry jam snakes down her leg. Normally, she'd have to cover it up with heavy makeup, the special kind that doesn't rub off on your clothes, but the judges claim it shows character. The scar is its own anti-violence charity. She doesn't have to say much in the interviews.</p> <p>"It's not real," says her roommate, Miss Zimbabwe, "the scar isn't real."</p> <p>"What?" we say. "That's impossible." Then we rub our fingers across the scar and get bright pink goo stuck in our nails.</p> <p>"Fake!" we scream. "Miss Afghan blanket is a stupid liar fake! What else on you is fake, princess?"</p> <p>"No-thing," Miss Afghanistan stammers in her practiced little accent. She backs away from us. We make a circle around her. As we hold her down, we take off her robe. The swimsuit peels away like wrapping paper. What's inside? Her breasts aren't real either, hard and lumpy. They hardly move. Miss Afghanistan is struggling so we pin her down with our knees. She needs to learn her fakeness is not acceptable. We'll teach her a lesson. We examine the toes on her right foot, one-two-three-four-five little piggies. Miss Japan has a sharp nail file that saws right through the skin of the big toe, we keep hacking until the toe comes off. Miss Afghanistan howls. Now she has a real disability – she won't be able to balance as she walks down the runway. We picture her tottering like an infant and falling on her made-up face. Nobody likes a gimp beauty queen, especially the judges.</p> <p>The blood seeping from the big toe matches Miss Afghanistan's pedicure polish.</p> <p>Real blood isn't that bright red. It's fake too. We pick the bone out of the toe and test it, knocking it against the wall. Hard as a rock from Tiffany's. Real bone isn't that durable. Her whole body is fake, one big artificial lump molded into breasts and hips and cheekbones.</p> <p>We peel back the skin on her foot. Too soft and stretchy to be real. And her skin is orangey bronze. It comes off easily, too easily, and reveals her blood and tendons and bone. When we get to her hips and torso, we find little pockets of yellow fat. There's lots of it around her liver, all of her organs. We've seen liposuction done on TV. The fat wasn't so yellow.</p> <p>The skin on the rest of her body, including her face, comes away in our fingernails. We put it in a pile next to her so the maid can clean it up. Her scalp is more difficult. The glossy black hair sticks to it. We forgot all about her body hair and we search the pile of skin for her eyelashes and eyebrows. Everything else was shaved or waxed clean. We pluck out the eyelashes. Too dark and curly. What's left is muscle and bone and internal organs. Her muscle looks like raw beef. It's red and sinewy. Such an elaborate fake. The bone is too hard. Her organs, squishy and warm, melt in our hands. To think we might've lost to this poser. We have to draw the line somewhere.</p> <p>It's an hour before the competition. We toss her insides on the floor so we can wash our hands clean. Miss Afghanistan has made a mess. Housekeeping, please. The blood comes out of our manicures with a little scrubbing. We hum the opening numbers we scrub, and tap our feet to the rhythm. Before we know it, it's showtime.</p> <p><em>*Originally appeared in Quarterly West, Winter 2008</em></p> <p><strong>Kodi Scheer teaches English Literature at the University of Michigan, where she received the 2008 Prize in Creative Writing for her outstanding MFA thesis. Her stories have appeared in <i>Bellevue Literary Review and Quarterly West</i>. Currently, she is completing a collection of short fiction tentatively titled Gross Anatomy.</strong></p> <p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-disclaimers field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-block-content clearfix field__item"> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div class="uk-panel"><img class="uk-align-left uk-margin-remove-adjacent" alt="EK_Logo.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/images/stories/V135-136/EK_Logo.jpg" title="ELIZABETH KOS­TOVA FOUNDATION" width="50%" /> THE <a href="http://ekf.bg/" target="_blank" title="ELIZABETH KOS­TOVA FOUNDATION">ELIZABETH KOS­TOVA FOUNDATION</a> and VAGABOND, Bulgaria's English Monthly, cooperate in order to enrich the English language with translations of contemporary Bulgarian writers. Every year we give you the chance to read the work of a dozen young and sometimes not-so-young Bulgarian writers that the EKF considers original, refreshing and valuable. Some of them have been translated in English for the first time. The EKF has decided to make the selection of authors' work and to ensure they get first-class English translation, and we at VAGABOND are only too happy to get them published in a quality magazine. Enjoy our fiction pages.</div> </div> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-41-42" hreflang="en">Issue 41-42</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/107" hreflang="en">Elizabeth Kostova Foundation</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/culture/fiction" hreflang="en">FICTION</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=1797&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="n44bChHtXcBqZWvhBxleisQRm29vVtBtA9BBu80IvkI"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 01 Mar 2010 12:06:44 +0000 DimanaT 1797 at http://vagabond.bg http://vagabond.bg/miss-universe-1797#comments WHAT CORRUPTION? WHAT FIGHT? http://vagabond.bg/what-corruption-what-fight-2188 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">WHAT CORRUPTION? WHAT FIGHT?</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon, 02/22/2010 - 14:05</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Though Boyko Borisov's government says it is determined to fight corruption, the system remains at best labyrinthine</h3> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>An extraordinary number of Bulgarians (in excess of 90 percent, according to some polls) consider corruption, next to low wages and crime, to be the most serious woe faced by their country. Yet only a tiny number of Bulgarians actually do anything to fight corruption.</p> <p>Instead of filing a complaint or taking some sort of legal action, most Bulgarians, when faced with a problem in the public service or, indeed, anywhere that the state is in control, will resort to the usual practice. The triedand-tested way is coughing up a bribe "to keep everyone happy," or finding the right connections to "put in a good word" with the corrupt official – for example, the manager of a state-owned enterprise who would do business with the highest briber, not the highest bidder. This applies to every aspect of life in Bulgaria – from giving birth in a staterun hospital, to the traffic police, to senior officials whose one thought is how to enrich themselves <em>ex officio</em>.</p> <p>Going the legal route, Bulgarians surmise, will take time, energy and resources, and will ultimately fail.</p> <p>Sadly, their fears are justified. The system designed to fight corruption is flawed right at the roots, which means that unless you manage to have someone caught red-handed with your money (for which you will have to undergo a long procedure with the police to arrange a "watched" delivery), it will be impossible to prove anything – and your "culprit" may well sue you for libel in retaliation.</p> <p>Some of the trouble with corruption in Bulgaria lies in the statutes. Theoretically, if you feel you are the victim of corruption, you can file a complaint, even via email, with the respective ministry's inspectorate. You can also copy the Council of Ministers' Commission to Prevent and Fight Corruption. But do not expect miracles. The latter, in spite of its portentous title, serves mainly as a mailbox to redirect your request to whichever ministry is in charge. Then the respective minister can order his ministry's inspectorate to start an inquiry into your allegations.</p> <p>Now comes the tricky part. Theoretically, the inspectorate's staff should be independent and objective. In practice, however, these are people who are well acquainted with the official you are complaining about because they have all been working together in the same system for years. Dog rarely eats dog.</p> <p>Significantly, the inspectorate will only establish whether there has been any legal fault committed by an administration or an official. It will not take a stance on instances of bad commercial practice. Do not expect common sense: officials will go strictly by the letter and be oblivious to the spirit.</p> <p>To make matters worse, the decision of the inspectorate cannot be appealed in court. For most people, this precludes any attempt to seriously fight corruption in Bulgaria.</p> <p>There is still one avenue of recourse open to you: the political one. If you are unsatisfied with the official finding of an inspectorate, you can complain to the parliamentary commission for fighting corruption. It can launch an independent inquiry. How long it will take and what its findings will be is as good a guess as any.</p> <p>Theoretically, as a foreigner you have exactly the same rights as the locals, including the right to file complaints and demand inquiries. But you will find the language barrier in many cases insurmountable, and you will definitely need a lawyer (or a couple of lawyers) to deal with the system's legalese.</p> <p>One very useful piece of legislation that actually does work in Bulgaria is the Access to Public Information Act. An NGO that assists people with the process is the Access to Information Programme at www.aip-bg.org. Corruption's biggest enemy is transparency, and the best way to gain transparency is to see documents, including minutes of verbal communications. Your request will be refused if the rights of third parties (usually commercial partners) might be affected.</p> <p>You should know that under Bulgarian law, both the briber and the bribed are at fault and can be prosecuted. But the lengthy and cumbersome procedures described above make many Bulgarians resort to the age-old practice, probably invented by the Byzantines, refined by the Ottomans and perfected by the Communists: cough up a <em>baksheesh</em> or find someone who knows someone who knows someone.</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-41-42" hreflang="en">Issue 41-42</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/forum/good-to-know" hreflang="en">GOOD TO KNOW</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=2188&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="nMH8wdSXxj36Koqi05IrfDR8i4mKFmGpi3Xofv2C_aw"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 22 Feb 2010 12:05:02 +0000 DimanaT 2188 at http://vagabond.bg http://vagabond.bg/what-corruption-what-fight-2188#comments ALL QUIET IN BRASHLYAN http://vagabond.bg/all-quiet-brashlyan-2186 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">ALL QUIET IN BRASHLYAN</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography by Anthony Georgieff </div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Sun, 02/21/2010 - 13:57</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>The only important event this Strandzha village witnessed in its history was immortalised in a song</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-07/brashlyan%20village.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-07/brashlyan%20village.jpg" width="1000" height="667" alt="brashlyan village.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Trapped in a house in the village of Sarmashik, which was still part of the Ottoman Empire back in April 1903, a small group of Bulgarians were wondering what fate would bring in the next few hours. Rebel leader Pano Angelov and his men had been preparing a revolt against the Ottomans when they were betrayed. Thus they found themselves holed up in the house in Sarmashik – now famous as <em>Balyuvata kashta</em>, or Balyu's House – surrounded by Turkish soldiers.</p> <p>The unfortunate insurgents soon learned the end of the story – part of it, at least. The leader and one of his men, Nikola Rashavola, were killed. The events became known as the Sarmashik Affair and they caused the organisers to speed up their plans for the uprising, which took place later that year on the Day of the Transfiguration. Hence its name – <em>Preobrazhensko vastanie</em>, or Transfiguration Uprising. It was eventually crushed in the bloody manner typical of events in the Balkans of that time.</p> <p>What the people hiding in Balyu's House on 2 April 1903 could not imagine was that their ordeal would be immortalised in a song. It was written shortly after the events by one of their brothers-in-arms, Lozengrad's revolutionary leader Yani Popov. In fact, he only wrote the lyrics, adapting them to the tune of a popular song.</p> <img alt="brashlyan village church" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/brashlyan%20village/brashlyan%20village%203.jpg" class="align-center" /> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Entrance to Brashlyan church</em></p> <p>"Yasen mesets vech izgryava," or "A Clear Moon's Now Rising," has become Strandzha's "anthem." It is sung at the annual celebration in the Petrova Niva area, where the decision to start the uprising was made in 1903. Although most Bulgarians have heard the song, only a few know the whereabouts of Sarmashik, described as a "place of glory where valiant men fought" and the "new banner of Thrace's freedom".</p> <p>The reason is that Sarmashik was renamed Brashlyan long ago and although it is only some 10 km, or six miles, from Malko Tarnovo, it is situated in one of the most secluded parts of Strandzha.</p> <p>Isolated locations have rarely been considered an advantage by settlers. But Brashlyan is an exception. It was established in the 17th Century by the inhabitants of the hamlets of Yurtet, Selishte and Zhivak, who were tired of being plundered by local bandits. Because the forests around it were covered with ivy, or <em>sarmaŞık</em> in Turkish, they named their new village after it.</p> <p>The Ottoman administration immediately noticed the new settlement and included it in its tax registers. The bandits stopped their raids, however, and the people managed to acquire enough wealth to fill their village with two-storey timbered houses and build the St Dimitar Church in its centre.</p> <p><img alt="Brashlyan village residents" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/brashlyan%20village/brashlyan%20village%205.jpg" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Brashlyan village residents</em></p> <p>Most of the buildings are still standing, so Brashlyan was declared an architectural reserve in 1982, but by the 1980s the peace and quiet of its streets had already become rather depressing. Young people left the once bustling settlement, which together with the rest of the Strandzha was part of the heavily guarded zone along the border with NATO member Turkey. They went to look for jobs and a better future in larger towns, leaving only the elderly in the village.</p> <p>Over the last few years, however, Brashlyan has livened up a little. In the summer, it is often visited by groups of tourists on day trips from the crowded seaside resorts. Several guest houses and a mini complex for tourists have sprung up. The elderly villagers now give demonstrations of traditional Bulgarian activities, ranging from yoghurt making to donkey riding. If you dare try the latter, you may get a unique "donkey driver's license".</p> <p>Along with the tourists came the stories meant to impress them. According to the most popular tale at present, the following was written in "an old book": "Mount Olympus was the sanctuary of the Greek gods, Athens was their capital, but the residences where they could rest undisturbed were located around Sarmashik."</p> <p>When the winter cold sets in and the snowdrifts block Brashlyan's only link with the outer world, this may not seem so implausible, especially if you have already noticed that the altar stone in St Dimitar's stands on an ancient sacrificial altar to Zeus-Dionysus. You will find more traces from the ancient past around the village: there is a necropolis nearby, as well as several dolmens and the ruins of a shrine.</p> <p>Because of the snow, however, it's definitely recommended to bask in the warmth of a fireplace in a village house and to sing "A Clear Moon's Now Rising" at the top of your voice.</p> <p><img alt="Brashlyan village" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/brashlyan%20village/brashlyan%20village%202.jpg" /></p> <h3><strong>Whose song is this?</strong></h3> <p>The tune of the heroic "A Clear Moon's Now Rising" is familiar to all Balkan nations. However, the Bulgarian film-maker Adela Peeva's documentary <em>Whose Song Is This?</em> revealed that they sing it with surprisingly different lyrics. In Turkey the song tells the story of a handsome clerk whom all ladies adore, while the Greek version describes a merchant who lost all his money. The Bosnian, Macedonian and Albanian lyrics are more similar: in all three countries the song praises a femme fatale who drives all the men crazy.</p> <h3><em>A Clear Moon's Now Rising</em></h3> <p>A clear moon's now rising<br /> O'er Strandzha's forests green;<br /> Across the mountain the enslaved<br /> A new song of valour sing.<br /> Across creeks, rivers, hills<br /> Something's creeping hitherward:<br /> Is it a wood-nymph evil<br /> Or a daredevil brave?<br /> It's not a wood-nymph evil,<br /> But a band of valiant men,<br /> A terror to the Turks.<br /> They're hurrying to arrive<br /> Before first crow in Sarmashik,<br /> So that nobody would see them<br /> And wickedly betray them.<br /> Humble slaves they are no more,<br /> They are proud, valiant men…<br /> A shot is heard and then another,<br /> Precious blood in torrents flows,<br /> Pano and Ravashola are falling<br /> Dead for their struggle new.<br /> Oh Sarmashik, a place of glory<br /> Where valiant men fought,<br /> Oh Sarmashik, a banner new<br /> Of Thrace's freedom.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en"><img alt="America for Bulgaria Foundation" src="/images/stories/V130/AFB_LOGO.jpg" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" title="America for Bulgaria Foundation" width="30%" /></a>High Beam is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine, with the generous support of the <a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a>, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners.</strong></p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-41-42" hreflang="en">Issue 41-42</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/251" hreflang="en">The Strandzha</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/231" hreflang="en">Revival Period</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/274" hreflang="en">traditional villages</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/travel/high-beam" hreflang="en">HIGH BEAM</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=2186&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="FUr0pQYrJ2JAYxKjOsim00pJmlAJTHB7lNAOgiLCIJk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sun, 21 Feb 2010 11:57:40 +0000 DimanaT 2186 at http://vagabond.bg http://vagabond.bg/all-quiet-brashlyan-2186#comments BOYKO'S FAILED GIRL http://vagabond.bg/boykos-failed-girl-2180 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">BOYKO&#039;S FAILED GIRL</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Sat, 02/20/2010 - 12:41</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>The Bulgarians' penchant for self-flagellation culminates in Rumyana Jeleva's rejection as EU commisioner</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-07/Rumyana%20Jeleva.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-07/Rumyana%20Jeleva.jpg" width="1000" height="642" alt="Rumyana Jeleva" title="Rumyana Jeleva" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">© BTA</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>That Rumyana Jeleva was incompetent and unfit for the senior eurocrat position of a commissioner for international cooperation, humanitarian aid and crisis response should have been obvious to anyone with the remotest grasp of her performance as foreign minister in her own country. That her name was put forward for the post in the first place can easily be explained by this country's prime minister's insistence on promoting his own cadres, nationally and internationally, at all costs – and mainly on the basis of loyalty to himself rather than any professional excellence. That there is a severe shortage of good professional "human material," to quote the prime minister in an earlier statement referring to Bulgarian voters, is also obvious to any employer who's tried to do some recruiting recently.</p> <p>She failed. But why the uproar? Why did so many Bulgarians, notorious for being unable or unwilling to unite on almost any issue of public significance, see red at the sight of Jeleva's inept stuttering at the European Commission? Why the Facebook groups demanding "Jeleva should apologise to the Bulgarian nation" and "Withdraw Jeleva's passport so she can't travel abroad to ridicule us"? Except for the docile TV stations, which usually supports whoever is in power, most other media were exceptionally unrestrained in their coverage and comment: Get rid of Jeleva!</p> <p>As has become a matter of course in the past year, the best explanation was given by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov himself. Notwithstanding his customary charge that Jeleva had fallen prey to a conspiracy by the opposition, the prime minister came up with the following (very Bulgarian) joke:</p> <p><img alt="© svobodata.org" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/43-44/kartichki_boiko_lice.jpg" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>© svobodata.org</em></p> <p>"A man went for a walk in hell. He looked around and saw that every cauldron had a small devil assigned to it to feed the fire and push back anyone who managed to put his head out of the boiling tar. Except one.</p> <p>"So the man asked the Chief Devil: 'Why isn't there anyone around that cauldron?'</p> <p>"And the Chief Devil replied: 'Ah, there is no need for one. This is the cauldron of the Bulgarians. They take care of everything themselves."</p> <p>From a psychological standpoint, the Bulgarians' penchant for self-flagellation is unparalleled in any other European culture. You can trace it back through the centuries or you can see it in operation in your 2010 Sofia office: whenever anyone stands out, someone, usually several someones, will immediately pull them back down. Bulgaria's history is full of numerous examples of that You- Should-Not-Think-You-Are-Better-Than- Us-Or-Know-More-Than-Us attitude, and Rumyana Jeleva's case is but the most recent public example.</p> <p>I am not in the least a supporter of Rumyana Jeleva, but for anyone espousing the somewhat sadistic stance towards her I would recommend listening to Cathy Ashton for five minutes. OK, her English is, of course, better.</p> <p>JELEVA'S GEMS</p> <blockquote> <p>Humanitarian aid, as you know, is based on needs.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>We should be very active where it is necessary.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>Gaza will be one of the first places I will visit, naturally, if the European Parliament confirms me. I know about many of the problems; for example about the blockade and the lack of humanitarian aid. We have to be very active – in fact, pro-active. I will do everything possible to tackle the problem, when I go directly on location in Gaza.</p> <p>I can't say that I can solve each problem and all problems.</p> </blockquote> <p>(In response to a question on how her pro-activeness will help solve the problems in Gaza.)</p> <blockquote> <p>On the very interesting topic of sexual violence against women in Congo. As a woman I can assure you that I will be very engaged with this. We cannot allow sexual violence to be used as a war weapon in the 21st Century. I am prepared to make an effort on the operational level, to be more active to defend women. </p> </blockquote> <p>(In response to a question about what exactly she intends to do in Congo, where hundreds of women are being raped every day.)</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-41-42" hreflang="en">Issue 41-42</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/forum/politics" hreflang="en">BULGARIA POLITICS</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=2180&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="bPNlb-BRyzx9IKKmFlDyBf38A3i4RtbXmUpY0eLuoGQ"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 20 Feb 2010 10:41:25 +0000 DimanaT 2180 at http://vagabond.bg http://vagabond.bg/boykos-failed-girl-2180#comments THE WORLD OF LP http://vagabond.bg/world-lp-2181 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">THE WORLD OF LP</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography by Antoan Bozhinov</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Thu, 02/18/2010 - 13:21</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Photographer Antoan Bozhinov explores the life of Bulgaria's 'Little People'</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-07/little%20people%207.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-07/little%20people%207.jpg" width="1000" height="667" alt="little people 7.jpg " typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>It is difficult to surprise anybody in Facebook, but photographer Antoan Bozhinov (a regular presence in Vagabond) has managed to do it. This tall, well-built man, who dwarfs the spacious rooms of our publishing office, put in his profile a picture where he is surrounded by a dozen "Little People."</p> <p>Remarkably, no one looks different to anyone else in the picture.</p> <p>Antoan features in his photo with the people who are the heart of his latest project, The World of L.P. Since its debut in October 2009 at the International Art Days in Plovdiv, the exhibition of black-and-white and colour photographs has been touring the country. All the photos have been blown up to 30x45 inches. "This is the average height of the Little People, so my pictures are actually nearly lifesize portraits," Antoan says.</p> <p>In Bulgaria, midgets are an invisible social group to an extent that the term Little People does not even raise eyebrows. Their number is unknown and, when they get the attention of the media, they are usually presented in a one-sided manner, with mawkishness that smacks of pity. Against this background, The World of L.P. is something different. Antoan's calm photographs do not wallow in unnecessary sentimentality. What you simply see is people: trying to withdraw money from a cash dispenser that is too high for them, at the sea, walking in Silistra or getting married.</p> <img alt="Wedding" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/antoan%20bozhinov/little%20people%208.jpg" class="align-center" /> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The wedding of Galya and Georgi Getovi</em></p> <p>"It was an old idea, but I began working on it in April 2008 after seeing an interview with Svetoslav Chernev, chairman of the Organisation of Little People in Bulgaria," Antoan says. He took several photos in February 2009, but met the main faces of his future project in April, when he attended the national assembly of that organisation in Ruse. "There were about 20 of them in all. I explained my idea about the travelling exhibition, which would attract public attention and bring the group out of anonymity, so that more people could join, and certain activities would be triggered in different places, statistical data would be compiled and changes in legislation would be not press my views on them." The third obstacle was the choice of the shots. "I sent the pictures to them to approve. I threw out anything my models disliked. One of them did not like his back and profile –and a third of my work went into the rubbish bin," Antoan says. It was extremely hard for him to overcome the "deep-rooted conviction of non-photographers that photos are taken as a 'keepsake."</p> <p>The models themselves chose the environment where they would be photographed. "Some invited me to their homes and others to their favourite srolls. For example, Svetlana from Burgas loves the jetty and Ventsi from Silistra enjoys the old Ottoman fortress. Ivan from Varna and I had a walk along the seashore and in the Pobiti Kamani area. Antoniy from Ruse is proud of the Catholic church, which has 1,000 seats and is one row of bricks taller than the one in the next neighbourhood," Antoan says.</p> <p>Antoan's unbiased look into the little people's lives revealed an unexpected picture. "The Little People are a miniature model of Bulgarian society. Some are well-educated or study at universities, while others live in the countryside or in social homes. There are people who have technical, business or artistic jobs. Some work for the municipal or state administration. There are also ones who are unemployed," Antoan says. "Some little people are married or live with a partner. Usually, their relationships are with people like themselves but occasionally their partners are people of normal height."</p> <img alt="little people project" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/antoan%20bozhinov/little%20people.jpg" class="align-center" /> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Petar Pavlov lives in a home for disabled people in Stara Zagora</em></p> <p>While working on The World of L.P., Antoan made friends with most of his models. He even attended the wedding of one of them. "Georgi Getov is the chairman of the Dignified Life Foundation and has an impressive background. He was born in 1949. He was of normal height but his fontanelle closed over too slowly. He was prescribed an overdose of an ossification medicine. As a result, he stopped growing. After going through difficulties, Georgi managed to leave behind his wheelchair for good. He graduated from the Higher Institute of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, where he studied full time, and began working at an institute where he reached the rank of a first-degree researcher. However, he failed several subsequent exams. He learned only recently from a colleague that the heads of the institute were responsible for this. People with academic degrees travelled abroad and they thought Georgi shamed Bulgaria due to his height," Antoan explains. "Georgi met Galya, who is a bachelor of theology and suffers from cerebral palsy, at a seminar of the Dignified Life Foundation. They got married last spring. They invited me. As a rule, I don't take pictures at weddings, unless the bride or the groom is a friend or a relative and I can't refuse. But this wedding was not a burden, just the opposite."</p> <p>After Plovdiv, The World of L.P. was exhibited in Montana and is on show at the Iliya Beshkov Art Gallery in Pleven from 19 February. For Antoan, the project is not over. "Some of my interviews with the models turned into confessions. I hope I can publish a book with them too," he says.</p> <p><img alt="little people project" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/antoan%20bozhinov/little%20people%205.jpg" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Boris Bogdanov lives in a home for disabled people in Stara Zagora</em></p> <img alt="little people project" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/antoan%20bozhinov/little%20people%209.jpg" class="align-center" /> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Geno Kolev,<strong> </strong>27 years old, works in the Zaharna Fabrika area of Sofia</em></p> <img alt="little people project" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/antoan%20bozhinov/little%20people%203.jpg" class="align-center" /> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Georgi Getov, 60 years old, a computer specialist in Sofia</em></p> <p><img alt="little people project" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/antoan%20bozhinov/little%20people%202.jpg" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Svetlana Chausheva, works as a social worker in Burgas</em></p> <p><img alt="little people project" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/antoan%20bozhinov/little%20people%204.jpg" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Venetsiyan Petrov, 20 years old, from Silistra, a student at the Technical University in Ruse</em></p> <p> </p> <img alt="little people project" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/antoan%20bozhinov/little%20people%206.jpg" class="align-center" /> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Venera Velikova, economist with a high school special education, works for Somovit City Council</em></p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-41-42" hreflang="en">Issue 41-42</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/culture/art" hreflang="en">BULGARIA ART</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=2181&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="ciLPHqn06UE6RVC0pyMoYx1owEjvfBopA--qs-JlKa0"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 18 Feb 2010 11:21:05 +0000 DimanaT 2181 at http://vagabond.bg http://vagabond.bg/world-lp-2181#comments PRIZREN http://vagabond.bg/prizren-2182 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">PRIZREN</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Wed, 02/17/2010 - 15:24</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>It was once dubbed 'Serbian Constantinople,' but is now a hotbed of Albanian ambition - right in Europe's newest state</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-07/prizren%202.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-07/prizren%202.jpg" width="1000" height="667" alt="prizren 2.jpg " typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>It was a desecration. In the dead of night, somebody had placed a freshly severed pig's head at the door of the Muderis Ali Efendi mosque, one of the oldest and most visited mosques in Prizren. The Muslim Albanians decided to take their revenge on the usual suspects, the Catholic Albanians from the nearby church. Thus, between 1905 and 1908, the city experienced the notorious Three-Year Boycott of Catholic Shops.</p> <p>It was only some time afterwards that it came to light that the Catholics had had nothing to do with this provocation. It had been planned by the rector of the Orthodox Church School, or <em>Bogoslovija</em>, a Serb named Petar Kostić, who wanted to set Albanian Muslim against Albanian Christian. For centuries, the Serbs in this city, and in Kosova as a whole, had been a minority, but these lands were of paramount importance to them. They were "Old Serbia," the place where their nation was born and had experienced its most glorious years in the 11th-14th centuries. Ironically, Prizren was the place where the Albanians' first national organisation had been founded some thirty years before the pig's head incident.</p> <p>Prizren is the most picturesque and ethnically diverse city in Kosova, Europe's youngest state. Situated on the northern slopes of the Šar Mountains, Prizren overlooks the vast Kosova Plain and has all the features of an old Balkan city on the threshold of a new era. The fortress on the hilltop, which was successively Byzantine, Bulgarian, Serbian and Ottoman, is today a popular place for walks and is floodlit at night. The old part of the city is a jigsaw puzzle of Ottoman houses, mosques, workshops and <em>hamams</em>, or Turkish baths, mediaeval Serbian churches of all sizes and dilapidated public buildings in the worst traditions of Yugoslavian architecture. When Tito's federation flourished, Kosova was deliberately kept in economic isolation. It was the poorest region of Yugoslavia and the prefabricated blocks of flats, rank after rank with their neglected landscaping, begin right outside the old city centre. Since the 1999 Kosova War they have been flanked by newer, equally unsightly, blocks of flats, petrol stations, shopping and office centres and other signs of ambitious young Kosova.</p> <p><img alt="The Bistritsa river cuts Prizren in two parts, connected with numerous bridges" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/prizren/prizren%205.jpg" /></p> <p class="text-align-center">The <em>Bistritsa river cuts Prizren in two parts, connected with numerous bridges</em></p> <p>Prizren is changing, but the day when it will merit the name "tourist destination" is still a long way off. The mediaeval churches are ghosts of what they used to be, after they were burned down and plundered during the 2004 Albanian riots. Today KFOR guards the Saint Archangels Monastery from the 14th Century and the impressive Our Lady of Ljeviš Church from the 12th Century, which is undergoing restoration. Most of the churches are still abandoned and some, in the old city centre, are hidden from the incurious gaze of the passing Albanians by hoardings that are almost invisible under election billboards and adverts for local pop stars. Others are a more alarming sight. While trying to appreciate the picturesque view of Prizren from the vantage point of the fortress, your eyes will be drawn over and over again to a disembowelled 14th Century masterpiece, the Church of the Holy Salvation – in the same way your tongue repeatedly explores the place in your mouth where a tooth has recently been extracted.</p> <p>This devastation is not the only obstacle encountered by tourists to Prizren. Hotels are few and have Amsterdam prices. Signs directing you to the landmarks are almost non-existent. The restaurants and <em>qebaptore</em>, or kebab eateries, may serve splendid Balkan dishes: drained yogurt salad called, yes, <em>tarator</em>, <em>kebapcheta</em>, grilled cheese and sausages, but you will be lucky to find any alcohol. If you do, it will usually be the local Peja beer.</p> <p>Fortunately, the majority of young people speak English, though a knowledge of Turkish is also useful. The city has a sizeable Turkish community and even those who are not part of it speak the language.</p> <p>Prizren is almost unknown outside these parts of the Balkans, but the city, whose name means "a fortress which could be seen from afar" in old Slavonic, has been the site of key events for three Balkan nations.</p> <p><img alt="The overwhelming majority in Prizren is Muslim" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/prizren/prizren%203.jpg" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>The overwhelming majority in Prizren is</em> Muslim</p> <p>The first was the Bulgarians, though most of them are now unaware of it. Prizren and the surrounding area became part of Bulgaria in the mid-9th Century and remained so until the country fell under Byzantine rule in 1018. These territories saw the second large Bulgarian uprising against the Emperor of Constantinople, in 1071. It was headed by Georgi Voiteh, a boyar from Skopje but, as he was not of royal blood, he could not be declared tsar of the liberated lands. For this reason, he made a deal with the seventh son of a Serbian prince. Bulgarian rule was officially restored in Prizren in 1072 and Prince Constantine Bodin was crowned tsar. The revolt was crushed that same year and Voiteh died of the wounds he received under torture during his transportation to Constantinople.</p> <p>The rebellion of 1071-1072 is a tiny detail in Bulgaria's mediaeval history. For the Serbs, however, Prizren was one of the capitals of the royal dynasty of Nemanjić. Under the reign of Stefan IV Dušan (1331-1346) the city gained such importance that it was known as the Serbian Constantinople.</p> <p>Even today, you will hardly come across a Serb who does not know the song "Onamo, 'namo!" ("There, over there!"). Written in Montenegro at the end of the 19th Century, it is also known as the Serbian Marseillaise. This is how its second stanza goes:</p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>There, over there... I see Prizren!</em></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>It is all mine – home I shall come! </em></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Beloved antiquity calls me there, </em></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Armed I must come there one day. </em></p> <p>The song provides half of the answer to the conflict between Serbs and Albanians over Prizren and Kosova, which has regularly made the international news over the past 100 years.</p> <p><img alt="Kosova is Europe's poorest state, with a median income of 1,700 euros per year" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/prizren/prizren.jpg" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Kosova is Europe's poorest state, with a median income of 1,700 euros per year</em></p> <p>The other half of the explanation lies in an event that happened – again – in Prizren. It was the place where the first Albanian national and political organisation was founded in 1878. It was called the League of Prizren. Today the house where the delegates met is a landmark. You can easily identify it from the statues of two of the leading figures in the establishment of the league, Sami Frash'ri and Ymer Prizreni.</p> <p>By the beginning of the 20th Century, conflict between Serbs and Albanians was ready to flare up at any time, and the pig's head incident was not even its first outbreak.</p> <p>When British traveller Mary Edith Durham arrived in Prizren in 1904, the city was still within the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire (together with Kosova, it became part of Serbia during the Balkan War of 1912- 1913). During her stay, Durham witnessed a remarkable event, which boded ill for future civic relations. The Muslim Albanians were so enraged by the decision of the central authorities to appoint a Serbian policeman in the city that they instantaneously organised themselves into an angry mob." Within 10 minutes every shop was shut and barred, and all the Muslims fully armed were rushing down the street, led by Sherrif Effendi, a very popular Hodja," Durham wrote. "The armed crowd swung down the street in a pack, like wolves on the trail. The air was full of rumours. Sherrif was said to be responsible for the expulsion of the Serb zaptieh. He was prepared to defend the Sheriat (Islamic Law) at any price, and would tolerate no privileges for the Christians. They returned shortly, satisfied that no immediate attempt would be made on it." Minutes later the crowd dispersed. The merchants reopened their shops and the craftsmen got back to work as if nothing had happened.</p> <p><img alt="Living tradition: As elsewhere in the Muslim world, barbers are a significant part of social life, and their shops stay open until late" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/prizren/prizren%204.jpg" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Living tradition: As elsewhere in the Muslim world, barbers are a significant part of social life, and their shops stay open until late</em></p> <p>Over the next decades, tension continued to grow, escalating into acts of violence on both sides, such as the Serbian attacks on Albanian civilians in 1912-1913, and the Albanian riot of 2004.</p> <p>Today, two years after Kosova declared its independence, all is quiet in Prizren. The Serbs live in enclaves protected by KFOR and the Kosovars, engaged in all sorts of business, from the production of boza, or millet ale, to hotel-keeping, pass by the devastated churches as if they do not exist. Yet they still have not lost their ability to organise themselves into a mob in seconds. You will experience this if your stay in Prizren coincides with an election rally or the visit of a pop star from Albania. In short, if you want to see the real Prizren, now is the time.</p> <p><img alt="Tradition and modernity meet in Prizren as headscarved women are a rarity" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/prizren/prizren%208.jpg" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Tradition and modernity meet in Prizren as headscarved women are a rarity</em></p> <h3>Kosova On Fire</h3> <p>The deaths of four people in March 2004 emphasised the fragility of the peace established between Serbs and Albanians at the end of the war in the former Autonomous Province of Kosova and Metohija. On 15 March Kosovars killed an 18-year-old Kosova Serb. The next day, three Albanian boys from the village of Čabar drowned in the Ibar River. The story told by a fourth boy, who claimed that the children had been chased into the river by a group of Kosova Serbs, was not confirmed but it was enough to spark off mass Albanian demonstrations. On 17 March Serbs and Albanians confronted each other in the divided city of Kosovska Mitrovica. Despite the intervention of KFOR, there was gunfire. The unrest spread throughout Kosova and continued on the following day, taking the lives of 19 Serbs and one Kosovar. The Albanian persecution was so fierce that 10,000 Kosova Serbs left the province for good.</p> <p>The turmoil in the province affected not only the people, but destroyed hundreds of Serbian homes and dozens of mediaeval churches, most of which were monuments of culture. Prizren was among the towns that suffered the worst damage: seven churches and monasteries in the city were burned down or looted.</p> <h3>The Birth of a Nation: The League of Prizren</h3> <p><img alt="Prizren League inauguration" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/prizren/league%20of%20prizren_JPG.jpg" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Prizren League inauguration</em></p> <p>When, in the 15th Century, the Ottomans were conquering every piece of Europe they set foot on, the Albanians became a symbol of the determined resistance of the Christians against the invader. Led by the remarkable Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg (1405-1468), they protected the western shores of the Balkans for years until, finally, their resistance was overcome. Over the next few centuries most of them converted to Islam. Like everybody else in the Ottoman Empire, the Albanians were divided by the millet system. This categorised the subjects of the sultan depending on their religious affiliation, rather than on their ethnic origin. The first signs of a common consciousness among the Albanians, who realised they were the same nation no matter whether they were Christians or Muslims, appeared because of the Bulgarians. The 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War was the key event. The war ended with the restoration of Bulgaria after five centuries of Ottoman rule. The territory of the young state was dramatically curtailed, but it was clear to anyone that as soon as it got on its feet, it would try to expand to the west. It was no secret either that Greece and Serbia would compete with Bulgaria for these pieces of the sultan's domain. The Albanians, who were the majority in the Ottoman provinces of Kosovo, Monastir, Janina and Shkodër, quickly felt under threat. Eighty Albanian delegates and intellectuals, both Muslims and Christians, gathered on 10 June 1878 in Prizren to establish the first Albanian national organisation. The task of the League of Prizren was to defend the rights of the Albanians with Ottoman help. Its aims were ambitious. The four provinces were to become a single, financially independent province with its own local army. It was to have national schools where the Albanian language, written in the Roman alphabet, would be taught. The league existed only until 1881 but it achieved its main purpose: the Balkans acquired one more young and ambitious nation.</p> <p><img alt="Kosova is an young country not only historically. The average age is 25.9 years, compared to 40.2 in the UK and 41.4 in Bulgaria" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/prizren/prizren%207.jpg" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Kosova is an young country not only historically. The average age is 25.9 years, compared to 40.2 in the UK and 41.4 in Bulgaria</em></p> <p class="text-align-center"><img alt="Kosova-style fast food: Excellent qebaptore preparing lamb and veal meatballs right under your eyes" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/prizren/prizren%206.jpg" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Kosova-style fast food: Excellent qebaptore preparing lamb and veal meatballs right under your eyes</em></p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-41-42" hreflang="en">Issue 41-42</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/340" hreflang="en">Western Balkans</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/341" hreflang="en">Kosovo</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/travel/foreign-travel" hreflang="en">FOREIGN TRAVEL</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=2182&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="DLw1AXWuSx_ckagtxEf51H7tUQsLomiNYTfrbvK_Pto"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 17 Feb 2010 13:24:45 +0000 DimanaT 2182 at http://vagabond.bg http://vagabond.bg/prizren-2182#comments ANGELS OVER SOFIA http://vagabond.bg/angels-over-sofia-2183 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">ANGELS OVER SOFIA</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">interview by Gergana Manolova; photography by Antoan Bozhinov, Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Wed, 02/17/2010 - 15:04</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Bulgarian artist Magdalena Miteva talks about how she has transformed the mundane into the heavenly</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-07/magdalena%20miteva%20angel%202.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-07/magdalena%20miteva%20angel%202.jpg" width="667" height="1000" alt="magdalena miteva angel 2.jpg " typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Angels and junk: it takes an unusual mind to bridge the gap. But Magdalena Miteva certainly has that. She is involved in many projects: she puts on puppet theatre for adults, a somewhat neglected art in Bulgaria, makes lamps and decorates clubs and cafeÅLs with her ideas.</p> <p>She is one of the few Bulgarian artists trying to turn dirty, shabby Sofia into a city where art lives on the street. Her own house serves as an exhibition centre for her art – a photographer's dream, as she calls it. We are here to talk about the angels, which first appeared on the roof of her house as early as March 2009 and then came to wider notice in front of Sofia's Christmas market, or Koledariya. They introduced a breath of fresh air to Sofia, the only new monuments over the past few years having been erected in memory of long past events. Magi doesn't regard her angels as having a Christmas theme, but rather as an ecoinstallation. To her, their relationship with rubbish is what really matters and she was inspired to create them by a fluttering plastic bag caught on a tree. Sofia City Council liked her angels and wanted to have some for the Christmas market. "Initially, they were to be located in front of the National Theatre. I was thinking of something reminiscent of Christmas cookies and old Europe. But the venue changed, the angels got a bit dirty and fell apart when hung from a rope," she says. Contrary to expectations, Magi is not a professional artist. She graduated in puppet theatre from the National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts, or NATFIZ. "I simply have some talent for this. I began developing it and learning by myself," she says.</p> <img alt="Magdalena Miteva" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/angels/magdalena%20miteva.jpg" class="align-center" /> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Magdalena Miteva</em></p> <p><strong>What are your angels made of?</strong></p> <p>They are made of nylon, which decays very quickly and is shredded by the wind, just like the thinnest polythene bags.</p> <p><strong>How long does it take to make an angel?</strong></p> <p>I can't measure how long it takes me. When I am inspired, I work very quickly. I can make an angel in a day. My friends help me. They prepare the materials and keep me company and I am very grateful to them.</p> <p><strong>How did people react to the angels? </strong></p> <p>When people pass by my house and see them, they take pictures – with cameras or mobile phones. Every day I receive phone calls and emails from people who have liked them. There is a huge public reaction – everybody says how beautiful they are. I am amazed that the media are interested too. This seems to be some kind of an event.</p> <img alt="Magdalena Miteva angel" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/angels/magdalena%20miteva%20angel.jpg" class="align-center" /> <p><strong>What pleases you most?</strong></p> <p>When they say "thank you." This is my reward for what I have done: the letters I get and the people who confide that these angels have touched their hearts in one way or another.</p> <p><strong>Did you have any problems with the municipality when you decided to put the angels on your roof?</strong></p> <p>What does the municipality say about the thousands of cables festooned all over Sofia, which inspired me to make a similar installation at my home? The cables hang everywhere and this vexed me for so long that I started to like it, and now I make art out of it. This is the environment I live in. I may have been born on dirty soil but I think that a lot of beautiful things can grow from it. Since this environment is everywhere, it must be the right ingredient for art: balconies, washing, rubbish… Why not make it look beautiful?</p> <img alt="Magdalena Miteva angel" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/angels/magdalena%20miteva%20angel%203.jpg" class="align-center" /> <p><strong>What is Sofia to you?</strong></p> <p>I was born in Sofia and it is a wonderful place for me. I still refuse to concur with those who say that Bulgaria's capital is a tip. The people who come here from small towns melt away and acquire anonymity in the big city. They think that they can get away with murder and other people won't notice where they throw their rubbish. In fact, they are not my problem; this is simply the time that we live in. The thing is not to focus on the problem but to see what you can do with the ingredients to hand – not to dream of exotic products and making something wacky with them, but to express yourself with what you have.</p> <p><strong>If you could change something in Sofia, what would it be?</strong></p> <p>I would turn the neglected areas into spaces for art. This is our environment – we shouldn't sweep things under the carpet, reject them or feel ashamed of them. The best protest is when you reshape something and make it beautiful. We could make terrific installations here, something that has become quite fashionable around the world. I could reshape the environment with the materials I get from the pants hanging outside, or the rubbish, just by reorganising it.</p> <p><img alt="Magdalena Miteva angel" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/angels/magdalena%20miteva%20angel%204.jpg" /></p> <p><strong>What else do you do when you are not making angels? </strong></p> <p>I express myself. I make performances, promotional shows and lamps, I decorate interiors and shop windows. I have been surviving on art since I graduated from the Theatre Academy and, what is more, I have been doing it here, in Bulgaria. Every day over 100 people visit my site, www. lumagi.com, but buyers are few. People just enjoy what they see. Some copy things, while others find inspiration. Some plagiarise, but that doesn't bother me. If it makes them happy, let them borrow. I am glad if this inspires them to create something of their own.</p> <img alt="Magdalena Miteva art" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/angels/magdalena%20miteva%20art%202.jpg" class="align-center" /> <p><img alt="Margarita Miteva art" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/angels/magdalena%20miteva%20art.jpg" /></p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-41-42" hreflang="en">Issue 41-42</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/culture/art" hreflang="en">BULGARIA ART</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=2183&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="9z_9DkDwX-M9_wPKvBJsVAJYIe4gr8znby7HBOwNNEA"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 17 Feb 2010 13:04:46 +0000 DimanaT 2183 at http://vagabond.bg http://vagabond.bg/angels-over-sofia-2183#comments BULGARIAN EASTER http://vagabond.bg/bulgarian-easter-2184 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">BULGARIAN EASTER</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography by Antoan Bozhinov</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Wed, 02/17/2010 - 14:47</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Theory and practice of one of the most enjoyable holidays in Bulgaria</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-07/easter%20eggs.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-07/easter%20eggs.jpg" width="1000" height="667" alt="easter eggs.jpg " typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Easter eggs</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>"We are Christians and we have to obey our Boss's orders," Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said in his unique style at the end of last year, while doing something that had not happened in this country for decades. He made Good Friday an official bank holiday.</p> <p>The immediate effects of this change will be felt by anybody who decides to spend Easter in Bulgaria (this year it coincides with the Roman Catholic Easter, on 4 April). As early as noon on Maundy Thursday there will be long tail-backs of buses and cars full of people on their way out of the capital and the big cities to visit their relatives in the country or go on vacation. Those who have chosen to spend the holiday in a comfortable hotel away from the hustle and bustle of city life will have to book for four rather than three days.</p> <p>So much the better. One of the best places for your getaway from the stress of everyday life is Borovets, just 60 km out of Sofia. More famous as a winter destination because of the skiing facilities it offers, Bulgaria's oldest mountain resort is equally pleasant in spring. Mist wafts over the hilltops, the fir trees exude their fresh pine aroma in the still cool air and the birds are singing their hearts out. The other advantage of Borovets is that it boasts the only hotel in Bulgaria that is part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World chain. Just think of it: a 50-minute drive from Sofia will take you to the Hotel Yastrebets Wellness &amp; Spa, with its exquisite mountain restaurant, classic piano bar and state-of-the-art spa. The hotel has a long-standing reputation as a family relaxation destination, so you should hurry up if you want to book a suite with a fireplace or a chalet in the Finnish village next to it.</p> <p>Easter is an excellent time to travel around and get to know Bulgaria and the Bulgarians. Spring is at its height and everyone is in a good mood. This is also the time when you can observe something uncommon among Bulgarians, who are not otherwise the devoutest of Christians: queues in front of churches. Plovdiv is particularly suitable if you want to experience this. The old part of the city has a Bulgarian Orthodox, a Greek Orthodox, an Evangelical and an Armenian church.</p> <p>If, however, you don't feel like staying in a big, noisy city you can book a room in the Corner Hotel in the nearby town of Stamboliyski. Less than 20 km, or 12 miles, west of Plovdiv, it is easily accessible from the Trakiya Motorway. The Corner Hotel stands amid a wonderful green garden and offers room service and a mini bar. The restaurant's second level is suitable for a meeting or a bigger party and if the weather is nice, you can have your lunch or a glass of Bulgarian or French wine in the garden.</p> <p>Somewhat surprisingly, the celebration of Easter in Bulgaria has preserved a lot more of its traditions than Christmas has. While the latter was practically banned under Communism and today suffers from a rather heavy Western influence, Easter has managed to retain its identity. Even the aggressively atheistic Communist regime could not destroy it completely. It is true, though, that there were plainclothes State Security agents lurking around most churches to make sure that only pious old grannies went in, and anybody who flouted this unwritten rule risked a close encounter with the political militia.</p> <p>Nevertheless, like their predecessors, the people of Communist Bulgaria coloured eggs, baked <em>kozunak</em>, or sweet bread, and roasted lamb for Easter. This practice was not forbidden. What is more, the shops sold egg dyes and readymade kozunak, although due to their great popularity both goods were hard to find.</p> <p><img alt="Bulgarians carry Holy Fire on Easter" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/41-42/easter%20bulgaria.jpg" /></p> <p class="text-align-center">Bulgarians carry Holy Fire on Easter</p> <p>In Bulgaria, the Easter holidays begin with <em>Lazarovden</em>, or St Lazarus' Day. Since the holiday always falls on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, the best thing you can do is leave the big city and head for a village. Only the small settlements still keep alive one of the most attractive Bulgarian customs: <em>lazaruvane</em>. Once, the participation in this ritual signalled the invisible boundary separating the girl from the maid who was ready to get married. The <em>lazarki</em> girls gathered in groups and, dressed in their Sunday best, went around the houses. They danced the <em>horo</em> and sang songs for the head of every household, his wife, children, fields, sheep and so on. In return, they were given eggs. In general, this tradition is preserved to this day, although the girls do not wear their newest clothes (which they keep for the disco), but national costumes.</p> <p><em>Lazarovden</em> is celebrated in villages only, but the following day, <em>Tsvetnitsa</em> or <em>Vrabnitsa</em>, or Palm Sunday, when Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem, is practically a national holiday. You can hardly find a Bulgarian who does not have at least one friend or relative with a "flower name," such as Tsvetomir, Margarita, Liliya or Yavor. Churches are filled to overflowing with people queuing to light a candle or take away a bunch of consecrated willow twigs. The twigs are then made into a wreath, which is taken home and put by the family icon (if there is such) or by the door. It remains there until next year's <em>Tsvetnitsa</em>, when it is replaced with a new twig.</p> <p>During Holy Week, the number of Bulgarians who decide to observe Lent, even for a brief time, increases (however, most of them cite health rather than religious reasons). The pre-holiday excitement begins growing on Maundy Thursday. Tradition has it that the wife should get up early on this day and dye the eggs before dawn. The first one is always red. She rubs the children's foreheads and cheeks with it and takes it to the church for the Easter service. Like the willow twigs, it remains in the house until the following Easter.</p> <p>In recent years, working women have preferred to colour their eggs on a more convenient day: Holy Saturday.</p> <p>On Good Friday, there are again queues in front of the churches. In each of them, covered with flowers, stands a table wrapped in a shroud, which is the symbol of Christ's dead body. Don't be surprised to see young and old unselfconsciously kneel and crawl under the table on all fours three times. People believe that this purges them from the sins they have committed over the past year.</p> <p>The Saturday night service attracts the greatest interest. Even the smallest churches are overcrowded and a large part of the congregation has to stand outside the church doors for the entire celebration. The atmosphere is not particularly devout, as you will note, most people preferring to chat to their friends instead of listening to the priest. When at midnight he announces <em>Hristos voskrese</em>, or "Christ is risen," they answer <em>Voistina voskrese</em>, or "Indeed he's risen" and the bells begin ringing, everybody lines up in another long queue to kiss the church icon and the priest's hand and light their candles from his.</p> <p>Afterwards, the worshippers go home, taking care to keep their candles alight on the way. Before they enter, they draw a cross above the house door with their smoke. Only after that can they indulge in what constitutes half the appeal of Easter: they sit down with their relatives and begin feasting on <em>kozunak</em> and roast lamb, "fight" with Easter eggs and lap up more homemade <em>rakiya</em> than is sensible.</p> <p>You might easily come to the conclusion that, for Bulgarians, Easter is nothing more than another excuse to feast with friends and family. And you would be right, in a way.</p> <p>However, Easter is also the day of one of the boldest political acts in recent Bulgarian history. It happened in 1860, when the Bulgarians were still subjects of the Ottoman sultan. Being Orthodox Christians, they were under the supremacy of the patriarchate in Constantinople, which was dominated by the Greeks. For four centuries, since they fell under Ottoman rule at the end of the 14th Century, most Bulgarians had not minded this. In the mid-19th Century, however, Bulgarian intellectuals and some of the rich merchants increasingly began to realise that the domination of the Greek bishops was against their interests, not least because the services were held in Greek and few of the worshippers could understand them.</p> <p>The tension between Bulgarians and Greeks came to a head at Easter 1860, April 3rd. During the Easter service at the Bulgarian St Stephen's Church in Constantinople, the priest, Ilarion Makariopolski, did not pray for his superior, the Greek patriarch, as he was supposed to do. Instead, he blessed only the sultan.</p> <p>This small act was of key importance. It showed the Greeks that the Bulgarians wanted their independence – and the church taxes they paid. Ten years later, the sultan recognised the existence of the independent Bulgarian exarchate and, hence, of the first Bulgarian political organisation after nearly 500 years under foreign rule.</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-41-42" hreflang="en">Issue 41-42</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/230" hreflang="en">Religions in Bulgaria</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/227" hreflang="en">Bulgarian traditions</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/features" hreflang="en">VAGABOND FEATURES</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=2184&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="tGh8z3myd_eHugSYJAlFgkoMMq6iPTcTSNSn1Dq5Htc"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 17 Feb 2010 12:47:52 +0000 DimanaT 2184 at http://vagabond.bg http://vagabond.bg/bulgarian-easter-2184#comments