Issue 53-54

Welcome to the Chiprovtsi Monastery

CHIPROVTSI

If the name Chiprovtsi sounds familiar to you, it is probably owing to the carpets being made there. Handwoven and adorned with intricate geometrical motifs in bright colours, they are one of the most popular remnants of the old handicrafts in Bulgaria, like the coloured ceramics from the region of Troyan. Many Bulgarians consider their design to be unique, although you can easily distinguish patterns already seen on carpets from Asia Minor and the Middle East.

Fri, 03/25/2011 - 15:33
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THE HOUSE OF CLOWNS, An excerpt from a novel

Fairly Gently appeared in 2003 and won a special award in the Razvitie literature competition. Good Guy (2006) won the Sveltostrui award in 2008. In 2009 The Photographer: Obscura Reperta was published and Loser's Summer in 2010. Galin Nikiforov has twice been nominated for the Helikon award, twice for the VIK Novel of the Year and once for the Elias Canetti literature competition.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 14:56
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WALKING ON DARVIN, KARNEGI AND VASHINGTON

When walking around Sofia you might have noticed that some of the streets, boulevards and neighbourhoods are named after foreigners. Every so often, you come across American and British names. In fact, there are 21 individuals of American, British and Irish origin commemorated in this way in Sofia. Almost all of these played a part in Bulgarian history in one way or another during the period between the April Uprising of 1876 and the end of the Second World War, supporting the country and its people.

Sun, 03/20/2011 - 16:44
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THE RED STAR REVISITED

At the end of the summer of 1990, less than a year after the collapse of Communism in Bulgaria, parliament passed an act providing for all Communist symbols in the country to be removed. The Supreme Council of the Bulgarian Socialist Party agreed to take down the big red star from the roof of the Party House.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 15:19
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HAPPY BUYERS?

"I bought a pair of winter shoes, they seemed stable. After two weeks the sole of one of them came off“ a friend of mine complained. "They were under warranty. I exchanged them for another pair at the shop. Two weeks later the sole came off again. I returned the second pair too and they offered me a third one. I didn't want it. It seemed that the whole lot was defective. I wanted a refund. But they refused."

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 12:50
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PHALLIC TYRNAVOS

In Greece, the preparations for Lent get off to a colourful start. On the last Sunday before Lent everyone takes part in their local town carnival and the next day, Clean Monday, they go out into the countryside and fly kites.

In Tyrnavos, however, Lent starts differently. The inhabitants of this small Thessalian town do not fly kites, but huge penis-shaped balloons.

The balloons are not the only provocation. On the Sunday and on Clean Monday, Tyrnavos resounds to the Phallus Festival.

Fri, 03/04/2011 - 17:26
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CIRCUS BULGARIA

In recent months Bulgaria seems to have become an almost textbook example of what every freshman in media studies in the West should know by heart: the world is not what it is but what it appears to be on TV.

In 2011, Bulgaria is not what it is but what Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and his tried-and-tested lieutenant Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov tell the major TV channels it is.

Fri, 03/04/2011 - 12:18
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THE TIME OF THE KUKERI

A mediaeval fortress known to only a handful of people and a completely unknown museum of mining – Pernik's tourist landmarks wouldn't exactly justify a detour from the main road to Thessaloniki or Skopje. What's more, this town of 80,000 is known for certain quirks more likely to put off rather than attract. The local driving culture has become a generic name for the no-holds-barred, catch-me-if-you-can manner in which Pernik drivers use their old Volkswagens as offensive weapons. The townscape of this mining community is dominated by deserted smelters and slag heaps.

Thu, 03/03/2011 - 15:02
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POLICE BRUTALITY

Citizens have absolutely no comeback in the face of Bulgarian police brutality, according to a report by the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, the human rights group. It says that the state has spent 900,000 leva on compensation to victims of police brutality, including some resulting in death.

In the period 1998-2010 the European Court of Human Rights issued 27 sentences against Bulgaria. In 23 of them the state was fined for police brutality and the inadequate investigation of it.

Thu, 03/03/2011 - 12:26
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Todorovden ritual?

ON TODOROVDEN, OR THE DAY OF ST THEODOR, WHICH THIS YEAR IS ON 12 MARCH, BULGARIAN TRADITIONALLY...

1. The Guinness Book of Records admitted Bulgarian Dimitar Kerin as...

A. The first civil servant in the world fired for playing Farmville at work

B. The tallest man in the world

C. The owner of the longest moustaches in the world

 

2. What kind of gadget was given as a present from GERB to the ministers and the MPs of the party?

A. BlackBerry 9300

B. iPad

C. Vertu mobile phones

 

Mon, 02/28/2011 - 17:12
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HIS FIRST IMPULSE

Her short story collection Bitter Sky was published in 2003, while Somebody Else appeared in 2004. Her novel God of Traitors was published in 2006 and the short story collection Miss Daniella in 2007. Vassil was a prizewinner in the BBC World Short Story Competition in 2005, while It's Your Turn was successful in the international short story competition Utopia 2005 in Nantes, France. 200,000 won the special prize in the short story competition Lege Artis in Leipzig, Germany, 2000.

Mon, 02/28/2011 - 17:01
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WHERE IN BULGARIA ARE YOU?

References to the devil, hell and the less paradisal side of life, on the other hand, abound. Here you get rivers, bridges, fields, hills and so on and so forth called either dyavolski, or devilish, "of the devil"; or adski, "of hell." Some have been named after hell's Turkish equivalent, Dzhendem.

In the next issue of Vagabond we will bring you the full story of the discrepancy between the poetics of Bulgaria's National Anthem and the "hellish" reality of its proper names, but here we have the following question for you.

Mon, 02/28/2011 - 14:55
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TRACED IN WARS AND DISASTERS

It could happen to anyone. Your brother or husband goes on what seems like an exciting trip to the Middle East or the Pacific. Then you switch on the TV and you catch some breaking news. There are riots in the place where your brother or spouse is, chaos reigns and people have been killed. Maybe a tsunami has swept in from the sea or an earthquake or a volcano has devastated whole towns and villages.

Where is your brother? His phone is silent. His Facebook status doesn't change for days and only tells you about the temperature at the beach. His Skype account is inactive.

Mon, 02/28/2011 - 12:37
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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

They turned the State Agency for National Security into a Bulgarian Gestapo. I am sure that that will come back to them and punish them.

Opposition MP Yane Yanev on the leaking of surveillance tapes

The ruling party GERB is left only with paid love.

Sociologist Zhivko Georgiev about the decline in popularity of the ruling party in Bulgaria

I am absolutely literate and perfectly capable of writing at least seven pages without any spelling mistakes.

Mon, 02/28/2011 - 12:32
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