Issue 51-52

HOW TO EAT BULGARIAN FOOD POLITELY

Anyone spending more than a couple of days in Bulgaria will have dined out at least once. That's about enough to discover the Ultimate Bulgarian Dining Experience and its main pitfall: how to survive without offending your hosts – and actually eat something at the same time. In itself, Bulgarian food is very similar to all other Balkan food, so anyone who's been to Tottenham or Kreuzberg will not be very surprised.

Comments: 0

Read more Add new comment

MYSELF, A GYPSY

"And what's your view on France expelling Bulgarian Gypsies?" Denitsa Mihaylova asked 15 minutes after we had been introduced at a cocktail party. Immediately she added, "You see, I'm asking this because I'm Gypsy myself."

At first, you'd never guess. Denitsa wears business suits, works at the consular department of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, holds a BA in economics and is writing a master's thesis that deals with the problems of Gypsy integration. She is 25 and has a four-year-old daughter.

Comments: 0

Read more Add new comment

CRISIS IN PICTURES

In the third quarter of 2010 the average monthly income of an adult member of a family in Bulgaria decreased by 2.2 percent on a year earlier.

At the moment it is 932 leva, or 466 euros, according to the National Statistical Institute.

80.7 percent of the typical family income was generated by salaries and pensions.

Salaries accounted for 467 leva, or 233.5 euros, of the average income of an adult household member in Bulgaria in the third quarter of 2010. This is a 4.9 decrease on a year earlier.

Comments: 0

Read more Add new comment

MONUMENTAL GAMES

Bulgarians are very sensitive to all kinds of monuments. Monuments are OK if they celebrate some kind of a glorious if rather imaginary past – the more distant, the better. The past is safe as there is no one alive to get offended, but monuments can also generate considerable acrimony if they relate to not-so-distant events, especially in the case where Bulgaria's sometimes odd sense of "national honour" is concerned.

Comments: 0

Read more Add new comment

ADOPTING A BULGARIAN CHILD

There was a report in The Sunday Times a few years ago that described how easy it was to purchase a child from some Gypsy quarter in Bulgaria. A healthy child was priced at ₤16,000. The story unleashed a wave of controversy in Bulgaria, including its state institutions. Bulgaria had signed the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption in 2002 but adoptions had been so difficult that some people were tempted to overstep a few rules.

Comments: 0

Read more Add new comment

NAVIGATING THE BULGARIAN LEGAL SYSTEM

What is the level of corruption in the Bulgarian judicial system? Judging by what WikiLeaks has revealed, the US Government is as concerned with corruption in this sphere as it is with all branches of power in Bulgaria.

Living in Bulgaria, you may find yourself face to face with the Bulgarian judicial system. Maybe you may need to file a petition for divorce (provided, of course, you married under Bulgarian law) or sue someone who has swindled you in a real estate deal. Whatever the situation, the important thing to know is how the system works.

Comments: 0

Read more Add new comment

GAS WISE

Despite its protestations that it would diversify its sources of fuel to avoid an almost complete dependence on Russian gas and oil, the incumbent Bulgarian government has approved a contract to set up a Bulgarian-Russian company to construct the Southern Stream pipeline through Bulgarian territory. No lesser a person than Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin flew to Bulgaria on a whistlestop tour for the signing ceremony.

Comments: 0

Read more Add new comment

BULGARIA'S SUNKEN CHURCHES

Fishermen are reluctant to engage in conversation with strangers, as this usually scares off the fish they hope to catch. And "Where is the church?" is not a question one would usually ask near a reservoir that is several kilometres from the nearest village. However, when you're on the southwestern bank of the Koprinka Reservoir, in the Sredna Gora, the question is pertinent – despite the reluctance of the local anglers.

Comments: 0

Read more Add new comment

DIVYABH MANCHANDA

My dear Ambar and Kumkum,

Greetings from Sofia: a place you have been to, briefly and only once, 24 years ago, during your extensive travels around the world! As for me, I am here for the second time in my career on my eighth assignment abroad. The first time was as a first secretary in 1988-1990, a time of crucial political and socio-economic changes in Europe and particularly in this region. The effects of those changes are still continuing today.

Comments: 0

Read more Add new comment

KARS

The restaurant owner assigns some task to his helper, who disappears into the cold rainy night of Kars. Soon the boy is back in the warm, low-ceilinged room. A chinking sound is heard from within the opaque nylon bag he's holding and the two sneak into the kitchen. After a minute or two, the owner reappears, and with a genial gesture puts on the table the beers the boy has bought from the nearby grocery. They are wrapped in napkins.

Comments: 0

Read more Add new comment

FALLING IN LOVE WITH THE CARS OF COMMUNISM

At the time, those were either the butt of jokes, or valuable possessions: objects of envy to be lavished with care. The cars of Communism provoked wildly diverging feelings while they were still being manufactured. To start off with, the planned economy of the Soviet bloc never succeeded in hitting the right production benchmarks, which means that citizens were unable to just walk into a shop and buy a car. Provided they had saved the money, they had to put their name on a waiting list, sometimes spanning over 10 years.

Comments: 0

Read more Add new comment

A GHOST OF SOFIA'S PAST

The capital gets its steady share of visitors all year round, drawn to the cluster of attractions in the centre with the shiny domes of Alexandr Nevskiy cathedral, the ancient rotunda of St George and the surrounding shopping streets. Those of a more curious disposition venture to Boyana Church and the National History Museum, and maybe wrap up the tour with a cable car ride to Cherni vrah peak.

But if you are prepared to explore off the beaten track, you may discover hidden gems that even the locals know little about – such as the Lozenets Water Tower.

Comments: 0

Read more Add new comment

ALEPH

I was walking down the street and the sun was angrily hammering through my eyelids. I wasn't thinking about anything. Well, actually a great little story a friend of mine told me recently popped into my head. It went like this:

On a chichi street, in a posh and trendy bar, two friends met up. Businessmen, yuppies, stock-brokers. Obscenely rich. One of them was wearing the perfect jacket. The cloth, the colour, the length. An absolute gem. One-of-a-kind. His friend gazed at it admiringly and asked:

"Where did you get that jacket? It's amazing!"

Comments: 0

Read more Add new comment

NO COMPARISON?

Mr Borisov was a personal bodyguard of Zhivkov, Bulgaria's Communist boss from 1956 to 1989. "Comparing me with Todor Zhivkov does Zhivkov an injustice," Mr Borisov told the media in Pescara, Italy, where he was playing in a football match. "Every government will achieve a huge success if it manages to accomplish a hundredth of what was done for Bulgaria, in terms of the economy, during all those (33) years," Boyko Borisov commented. "The fact that everyone remembers Todor Zhivkov 20 years after he fell from power indicates that a lot had been achieved then.

Comments: 0

Read more Add new comment

NO COMPARISON?

Mr Borisov was a personal bodyguard of Zhivkov, Bulgaria's Communist boss from 1956 to 1989. "Comparing me with Todor Zhivkov does Zhivkov an injustice," Mr Borisov told the media in Pescara, Italy, where he was playing in a football match. "Every government will achieve a huge success if it manages to accomplish a hundredth of what was done for Bulgaria, in terms of the economy, during all those (33) years," Boyko Borisov commented. "The fact that everyone remembers Todor Zhivkov 20 years after he fell from power indicates that a lot had been achieved then.

Comments: 0

Read more Add new comment