Congratulations to Richard Cherry on his diagnosis kit for Bulgarianisation in that very special double Christmas 2007 issue! It certainly had our whole expat team in self-analysis mode.
More's the pity most of the acquired habits mentioned don't travel well. I was reminded of that at a Christmas reunion back home when I was nodding, apparently negatively, as in incredulously or cynically, when friends were telling stories. That and the slow, deliberate conversation style acquired from speaking to others in English as a second language makes those in New York suspect some terminal brain damage has come from the heat they feel we're getting too much of here.
Needless to say the intra-prandial smoking and the urban domination driving style are non-travellers, as is showing up either very early or very late for a date or business meeting (two years here and no one has ever showed on time). Then there's the confusion when one encounters automatic barriers without a couple of humans attached (à la Sofia Airport parking).
But there are a lot of positive re-exports also, and I'm looking forward to delving into those in due course. But for now the top three have got to be life-scale re-evaluations related to: 1) The whole culture of eating and drinking (I mean all salad ‘n' grill and no walking with the latté); 2) The attitude toward market economy public service after immersion in basheesh (sic) culture; and 3) Credit-fuelled lifestyles in this land of comfy cash.
Perhaps it's no coincidence that back home the top three issues du jour are: 1) Obesity and binge alcoholism; 2) Corruption and inefficiency at all levels of public life; and 3) The credit crunch.
So my resolution for 2008 has got to be to get some EU funding to conduct a study into the balance of quality of the Balkan lifestyle we've been sucked in to!
Nadia Sharpilo, New York-Plovdiv
Being an ardent reader and admirer of VAGABOND magazine, I take the liberty to suggest you add a pinch of poetry to your interesting articles and perfect photography. Not only do I like and read your magazine, but I often use it for my Certificate classes in the Big Ben School. My idea to popularise poetry is not new, but I find it indispensable now, when young people read less and don't stand a chance of discovering the beauty of words.
Zhivka Ivanova, Burgas
VAGABOND: We do occasionally publish poetry as part of our editorial mix, and we are now happy to run your translations of Zornitsa Petrova's poems, originally published in Following the Thread of the Cobweb, Demarazh, 2005.
And salt. Sozopol
Of my memory
Under the threshold.
It could easily
Steal the words
From the tip
Of the tongue
And turn them
Has anyone heard any details about the closing of the antique market at Aleksandr Nevskiy? A vendor there told me that they have a contract with the city to be there till the end of March, but after that the Sofia government wants all the street vendors out of that area because it doesn't fit the image they want of their city centre. As an expat, I think it's one of the great pieces of local “colour” in the centre and a place where we always take guests when they come, and it seems the city is doing itself a disservice. Any light you can shed on what's going on, or whether the market will be moved somewhere else?
Monica Farling, Delaware-Sofia
VAGABOND: We spoke to almost all the Sofia City Council departments, located metres away from the Nevskiy market, but no one seemed to know what's going on. Some of the officials we spoke with surmised that the makeshift stands were not billboards, which are the targets of the newest regulations. Furthermore, all those stands owners had contracts with the City Council and paid rent. On the other hand, however, we were told unofficially that it all depended on the vision of the “chief architect,” Bulgaria's equivalent of the head of the urban planning department, and no one knew what that would be. In any case, please, turn to p86 for an article on the Aleksandr Nevskiy antique market before it's too late to see it in person.
I am a US citizen living in Krasno Selo and I have constant problems with cars parked in front of my garage. Is there a towing service I can subscribe to? I am so tired of not being able to get my car out of my garage.
Tanja S Goldman, Sofia
VAGABOND: A check with Sofia's only towing service, the council-owned Parkingi i garazhi, or Car Parks and Garages, said you can benefit from their assistance by subscription. They will charge you 264 leva, VAT included, per month. Apply at their office on 17 Budapest St with your personal, property and address details, and expect an approval within five days.
Otherwise, the council towing service operates daily, covers primarily the city centre, and only removes vehicles parked in violation of the traffic code, or in metered parking spaces. Occasionally, the tow trucks go to other neighbourhoods – Krasno Selo included – but they are mainly concerned with the roads used by the public transport system.
The good news is that their office is just up the road from Vagabond...
I am not a part of your target group-foreigners in Bulgaria… I am living in Bg all my life;), but I have to tell you I found your magazine very, very interesting. It is the way to see Bg from different viewpoint, which is important when you are living here last 30 years. Bg is a great place, I love my country and I like the fact that a lot of foreigners are living here. It is the way to meet new cultures , to practice your English (as you can see my English is not very well). I read your articles sometimes twice – 1. because I am interested and 2. because of my bad English. And I have to ask chief editor- Do you really like Bulgaria so much? Do you think our nature is a part of Heaven? Have you seen Rila lakes, Pliska, Vitosha?:)
Elena Vasileva, Pernik