Issue 30

10 REASONS TO VISIT SARAJEVO

Thirteen years after the siege, which between 1992 and 1996 made Sarajevo the symbol of the disintegration of former Yugoslavia, the city continues to fight. Today, however, its citizens are not trying to survive the bullets or missiles launched by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and the Army of Republika Srpska while lacking sufficient power, water or access to humanitarian aid.

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CORSET

I go and buy a black corset with garters, stockings and the most whorish pair of red high heels in order to erotically jumpstart our snoozing seven–year–old married life. That evening we go to another birthday party at the luxurious home of a famous poetess and critic whom the literary moguls hover around.

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WHAT A LOVELY CRISIS

The "monster munch," as Londoners call the current credit crunch, in my view is running out steam. Everyone is growing tired of the pundits.

The real crisis started in August 2007, but times have been changing since. Yes, it was a real crisis, and yes, many global banks were fatally wounded, including some of the most venerable names in modern banking.

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WE'VE GOT MAIL

I showed the magazine to a Bulgarian friend and, whilst his English is limited, he was extremely impressed, especially with the photography. He is the director and choreographer of the Sofia–based Bulgarian folklore ensemble I dance with. Both of us being dancers, and immersed in folklore in general, we loved the preview of the next issue's cover in Vagabond 28–29, with the photo of the girl in "costume." It is very clever, and I'm looking forward to the March edition which features her. The photo of her rear view is also very amusing.

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BULGARIAN SOUVENIR

Sexy girls in folklore costumes against a background of blue mountains and roses... isn't that a publicity stunt designed by one of the genius publicists of Bulgaria's National Tourism Agency and paid for with government money? Do look closer, however, and you'll catch a glimpse of some naughty lingerie and garters underneath. No, that cannot be Aneliya Krushkova's invention – and certainly the establishment, which has recently learned some lessons in modern art appreciation, won't approve.

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misLEADING ADVICE No 4

Reality Bites

Bulgaria is the land of plenty, when it comes to agricultural produce. Therefore, it is acceptable for customers at the produce markets or supermarkets to bite off pieces of fruit or vegetables, while deciding what to buy. Once you have bitten off a chunk of an apple, for example, you can either politely hand the rest back to the salesperson or just place it in the stack.

***

Easy Riders

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PRINCESS STRANDZHANKA

Lord Sandwich's sandwich, the melba dessert of Dame Nellie Melba, the Beef Stroganoff named after Russian aristocrats – history records the recipes and names of these culinary legends.

No one, however, knows how the printsesa, or princess, was born. Or the strandzhanka, or woman from Strandzha, for that matter. Both refer to the same thing – a slice of white bread grilled with minced meat. Other variations include toppings of kashkaval, or yellow cheese, or a thick mixture of cheese and eggs.

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A QUESTION OF SUMMER TIME

If in the first week of April you suddenly feel faint, sleepy, lose your appetite, your sense of coordination and get a headache, don't blame your boss, the kids or your partner. What you should attribute these symptoms to is the lack of sleep caused by the turning of the clock forward by one hour. Summer time in the EU, including Bulgaria this year falls on 29 March, and makes the day longer at the expense of getting up earlier in the morning. In the opinion of doctors and biologists, the human body takes about a week to deal with the stress caused by changing time.

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BG MARTENITSA MADE IN CHINA

The only thing that he must have known at the time would have been that he had successfully led his people across the Danube. He had defeated the Byzantine Empire on its own territory and had to deliver the news of his victory to the rest of the Bulgars waiting on the northern bank of the river. He did so by sending a carrier pigeon. But while the bird was still in flight, the Byzantines intercepted it and shot arrows into it.

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MY OWN CHOICE: MICHAEL WELLNER-POSPISIL

To better explain my relationship with food and gastronomy, I should briefly describe my life. For the first 24 years of it I lived in the country then called Czechoslovakia. For a young man the terror of Communism was unbearable. The regime definitely did not support anything so unproductive and "bourgeois" as fine dining. At the time everyone was happy to find anything at all in the shops, so it was impossible to plan meals.

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CLOCKWORK ORANGES

From Mean Girls to American Graffiti, popular culture abounds with films that show you how to survive in the blackboard jungle. But how do you stay safe in Bulgarian schools?

For the first time, research by the Open Society Institute, or OSI – a liberal think tank, and Sofia Municipality reveals what life is really like for school pupils. The responses by 3,033 children from 128 schools paint a disturbing picture.

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WHICH BULGARIAN NATURAL PHENOMENON WAS NOMINATED FOR THE GLOBAL ONLINE SURVEY TO CHOOSE THE NEW SEVEN NATURAL WONDERS OF THE WORLD?

1. Where was an earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale registered at the beginning of February?

A. Gabrovo region
B. Blagoevgrad region
C. Vidin region

2. Which Bulgarian natural phenomenon was nominated for the global online survey to choose the new Seven Natural Wonders of the World?

A. Wondrous Bridges
B. Belogradchik Rocks
C. Rayskoto Praskalo, or Paradise Waterfall

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LOST & FOUND IN TRANSLATION

As a foreigner living in Bulgaria you will start speaking Bulgarian sooner or later, so you can order a beer in the pub, buy bread and eggs, or speak to the neighbours.

Until you do, you will come to appreciate your English–speaking friends who do not mind translating the weekly shopping list or helping out when you need to go to the local council, the police station, the hairdresser's or the doctor's, or when the bathroom needs fixing. But, no matter how helpful they might be, or how well you speak Bulgarian, there are cases when you should leave translation to a professional.

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

I needed five more votes and I would have remained a member of the IOC. If I had the money, I could have gone round 20 members of the IOC and messed up the plans. Because many of them are indebted to me. It's like that – give and take.

Ivan Slavkov, former chairman of the Bulgarian Olympic Committee

It is gas that you are in short supply of, not electricity, right? Nuclear power stations do not work on gas and they do not produce gas.

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