Issue 116

THE BULGARIANS*

Later on, unless you go on to become a member of a nationalist party, you don't feel any particular need to remind yourself of "I am a Bulgarian." Such a statement, despite its straightforwardness, could invoke a measure of uncertainty, like the invisible steps on the front cover of this book. It is not because you could be something else than a Bulgarian, but because the affirmation presupposes a previous agreement between yourself and your compatriots about what it is that makes you Bulgarian and what makes Bulgarians a community.

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ONE OF GERB'S POTEMKIN VILLAGES

Prince Potemkin, the Russian military leader, statesman, nobleman, artist and reputedly lover of Catherine the Great, once erected a series of cardboard villages to impress his patroness on her visit to Crimea, in 1787. Since that time, the expression "Potemkin Village" has gone down in all world languages to denote a pretentiously showy facade intended to mask or divert the attention of the public from the unpleasant reality. Erecting Potemkin villages has been used with great success throughout the history of the Soviet Union, now Russia.

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KRZYSZTOF KRAJEWSKI

Like so many Poles, who used to make their holidays at the Bulgarian Black Sea coast in the 1970s and 1980s, this is not Krzysztof Krajewski's first visit to this country. The current Polish ambassador spent five years in Varna, between 1998 and 2003, acting as a consul. In addition to the title of Honorary Citizen of Varna and the ability to speak almost unaccented Bulgarian that sojourn brought to him a lasting sentiment for Bulgaria which, during our chat at the Polish Embassy in Sofia, he found hard to do away with.

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ADVANCED BULGARIAN

One thing your Bulgarian instructor will probably not be telling you, possibly because many Bulgarians will be at a loss themselves, is the sometimes intricate details and innuendoes of this country's new Newspeak.

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VALLEY OF THRACIAN KINGS

By the turn of the 21st century, however, another name popped up and has stuck in the public's mind, evoking images of hidden treasures and untold mysteries – the Valley of the Thracian Kings. The term was coined by Dr Georgi Kitov, the archaeologist who worked in the area in the 1990s and 2000s and made some of the most fascinating discoveries there, obviously as a parallel with the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.

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VOODOO CHRISTIANITY

Our sin? We had not lit candles when we entered the church. He, however, did not see any contradiction in the fact that the veneration of "healing" springs is a tradition that Eastern Orthodoxy in Bulgaria has inherited from paganism.

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KADIN BRIDGE

Despite this, the stories that locals have told about the construction of the bridge over the ages have no reference to the name of the man who did this good deed.

The elegant structure in Nevestino village, near Kyustendil, is known by two names. One is Kadin Bridge, the other Nevestin Bridge and, although the root of the former is a Turkish word and the latter a Bulgarian, both words mean the same: a married woman.

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BANGKOK: EAST OF PARADISE AND BACK

The tuk-tuk taxi is cyclamen pink and the driver's name on the sticker has more than 50 letters, most of them consonants. From the rearview mirror dangle a bunch of dried flowers, plush elephants and other paraphernalia. The driver (like all his colleagues) zooms along the roads as if he was in a Formula 1 race, but I loved the tuk-tuk, as it made me feel like a witch on her broomstick – the hot Bangkok air tousles my hair and I am ready for magic and mischief.

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NOW OBLIGATORY

Under the new rules, Bulgarian pupils will have to have mastered as many as 20 different horo by the time they graduate. Learning to dance folk dances was heretofore optional in Bulgarian schools.

Unless they a member of a specialised folk dances group or attend a wedding, ordinary Bulgarians rarely dance the horo.

Daniel Defoe was dropped out of the school curriculum altogether because the clerks at the Education Ministry decided Bulgarian pupils do not need to know why he really wrote Robinson Crusoe.

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THE ALLURE OF THE EASTERN RHODOPE

Even if you think you know this part of the mountain range, you are certain to come across strange landmarks and strange stories. Some of them are natural, others are man-made, and what they have in common is their ability to inspire the imagination.


Perperikon

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

The European Court for Human Rights has all the prestige of the Eurovision song contest.

Magdalena Tasheva, an MP for Ataka

Wherever Borisov cuts a ribbon, reconstructions begin a few days later. Just look at the highways. I admit, however, that Borisov is very good at selling illusions.

Dragomir Stoynev, an MP for the BSP

In the Balkans, we are men, we love to have fun and to work less.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov

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THE ARTIFICIAL ALBATROSS, An excerpt from a short story

The year we became minimalists was the same year we gave up meat. You decided these things were for one another, and so this is what we did. Some years previous, when we had decided to be two women in love, we were incredible disasters. I had sloppily painted the walls a burnt orange and draped silk scarves atop the lamps, rather than replacing their spent bulbs.

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MOVEMENT IS EVERYTHING

Arthritis, broken bones and deep cuts, heavy traumas in a range of situations: in our lives no one is insured that he wouldn't end up at the office of a specialist in orthopaedics and traumatology. Dangers lurk everywhere: from the fact that we are getting older and this affects our musculoskeletal system, to an accident where you find yourself at the wrong time on the wrong place, to the seemingly harmless, but actually deeply consequential work in front of a computer.

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THE SHINE OF LUXURY

Light. This what luxury means when we go back to the Latin origins of the word and in this case it is amazing how well the original meaning of the word mirrors the deepest meaning of what today we understand by luxury. Because, contrary to the initial associations, luxury is not something that obligatorily goes with spending of crazy amounts of money.

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ON A SEASIDE VACATION IN BULGARIA

The Bulgarian Black Sea coast is 354 km long and this limited space is the home of an astonishing diversity that makes the summer vacation here an event full with pleasant experiences and memories. From Durankulak on the north to Rezovo on the south, you have dozens of opportunities to enjoy sun, interesting sites, nature phenomena, lively resorts, quiet beaches and hotels of discrete luxury and excellent service.

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THE SUMMER OF OUR BEAUTY

Oh, the summer! A season we cannot wait to begin because of the sun, the sea and the light clothes, and yet a season we are afraid of a bit, because of the damage it does to our skin and because of our old fear how do we look in a swimsuit.

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HAIR 2016

Regardless of whether you change your hairstyle often or you follow a style you have built for years, rejuvenation is needed, specifically during the spring/summer season when hair wants special attention.

The choice of hairstyle has never been so difficult and so easy as in 2016.

On one hand, the latest trends are diverse and non limiting: long, middle and short lengths are equally fashionable, straight and curly hairs co-exist with asymmetry, the volumes vary and the choice of colours covers from strawberry blond to bright pink. And all of these look equally attractive!

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