Issue 131-132

IDEAS THAT WORK

At a speed that sometimes seems as if it belongs to a sci-fi movie, high technologies change and reshape the way we live, work, have fun, study, travel, take care of our health, consume news, and much more. They have changed the economy and businesses too, often beyond recognition. Outsourcing was born and became a major modus operandi, with significant development in the IT and BP services.

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LITTLE HEROES OF PIROGOV

Being laid up in hospital is never a particularly pleasant experience. Especially for children. Especially for children in Bulgaria. The doctors and nurses in paediatric units are excellent, but the underfunding of state-run hospitals has resulted in dark, damp spaces with a depressing atmosphere.

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GRAFFITI VILLAGE

Until three years ago, the chance traveller passing through the village of Staro Zhelezare, in Central Bulgaria, would hardly find anything of notice here, bar the hard-to-pronounce name and the crumbling remains of one of Bulgaria's two prehistoric rock circles. Located near Hisarya, with its mineral water springs and Roman heritage, and Starosel, with its dilapidated Thracian tombs, Staro Zhelezare looked like an ordinary village in the Thracian Plain. Its sun-bleached streets, lined with low houses and lush gardens, were mostly empty.

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UP AT SHIPKA

In the past, however, the Stara Planina was an effective natural protection against enemies. One of its major passes, by the 1,326-metre Shipka Peak, is one of the best examples.

The defence of the Shipka Pass was one of the crucial points in the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish war, the conflict which eventually led to Bulgarian independence. Here, between July and December 1877, the outnumbered Russian soldiers and Bulgarian volunteers faced up to the Ottoman forces.

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ROZHEN MONASTERY

Near the town, however, one of Bulgaria's most fascinating monasteries, a delightful example of 16th-18th century religious art and architecture, sits hidden in the hills.

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PRIME MINISTER GOES INTO RESTAURANT BUSINESS

At the peak of this summer's season a group of restaurant-goers in Sozopol, at the Black Sea coast, resorted to the currently fashionable Small Claims Court, known also as Facebook. They told the hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians whose chief source of information is Mark Zuckerberg's invention that they had booked a table at a restaurant but not all of them showed up for dinner. Four chairs were left empty.

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BYGONE NESEBAR

Zillions of stalls selling kitschy souvenirs, beach towels, jeans and conveyor-belt-produced marine landscapes cover the walls of the medieval churches and 200-year old houses.

Many tourists are actually wondering what they are doing in Nesebar.

The obvious answer is they are visiting what is probably Bulgaria's best known and most visited UNESCO World Heritage site.

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OUT OF PLACE

In Vagabond we usually don't cover theatre owing to the language barrier. For Out of Place, a one-man show by Guerassim Dichliev, however, we made an exception as this Bulgarian artist working in Paris is a mime – and does not use language.

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¿HAVANA, SI?

I had a moral dilemma whether I should be visiting Cuba at all. All my friends, who'd been there in recent years, had been urging me: "Go! Go! Go before it changes forever! Go now, because in a couple of years' time Starbucks and McDonald's will be all over the place!"

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SEEING ME OFF, A short story

Listen to me, boy. Sit down and listen to me carefully. I have something important to say to you. Do you remember that forest ranger everybody used to call the Indian? He was no Indian, had never even seen an Indian, but he used to say the only book he had ever read in his entire life was Winnetou, so everybody called him the Indian. Make sure you read the right books, my boy, because you never know what name people may decide to give you…

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SEEING ME OFF, A short story

 

Listen to me, boy. Sit down and listen to me carefully. I have something important to say to you. Do you remember that forest ranger everybody used to call the Indian? He was no Indian, had never even seen an Indian, but he used to say the only book he had ever read in his entire life was Winnetou, so everybody called him the Indian. Make sure you read the right books, my boy, because you never know what name people may decide to give you…

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