Thu, 04/30/2020 - 08:59

In the Communist period, Bulgarians often used real-life traits of their national character to poke fun at themselves.

One of these traits, the Bulgarian inimitable propensity to make a hash of things because someone, somewhere did not understand what was going on, and as a result suddenly hurdled themselves in blissful yet innocent astonishment, made the rounds in the sunset days of Communism when this country was supposed to start manufacturing... personal computers. The joke went on something like that: "It has transpired that the computers we were supposed to export to Japan turned out not to be computers but compotes. And we didn't export to Japan, but Japan sent them back to us."

The stern-faced general running the country under the coronavirus state of emergency managed to replay that old-time joke, almost literally.

At the beginning, the stern-faced general announced the Boyko Borisov government had pulled a barter deal with the United Arab Emirates to get 15 tons of PPE into Bulgaria in exchange for 32 tons of Bulgarian foodstuffs. The foodstuffs had been secured by a private company.

Everyone was astonished when it transpired that Bulgaria had only received about 3 tons of PPE. The rest of the payload consisted of... dates. Said dates were put in storage at the warehouses of the Bulgarian Red Cross.

The stern-faced general appeared on TV and said the government, which had previously hailed the deal as a major breakthrough, could not be held responsible because "private donors" could supply "anything." Why, then, would privately donated dates be stored at a government-run facility remained unanswered.

Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov of the extreme nationalist Ataka party announced dates as such were "delicious and nutritious."

The government is yet to decide what to do with the dates. Reputedly, the dates will be distributed to the "socially weak." Whether anyone noticed the direct reference to the notorious bons mots dating back to 18th century France is yet to be seen.

Issue 163

Commenting on

Vagabond Media Ltd requires you to submit a valid email to comment on to secure that you are not a bot or a spammer. Learn more on how the company manages your personal information on our Privacy Policy. By filling the comment form you declare that you will not use for the purpose of violating the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. When commenting on please observe some simple rules. You must avoid sexually explicit language and racist, vulgar, religiously intolerant or obscene comments aiming to insult Vagabond Media Ltd, other companies, countries, nationalities, confessions or authors of postings and/or other comments. Do not post spam. Write in English. Unsolicited commercial messages, obscene postings and personal attacks will be removed without notice. The comments will be moderated and may take some time to appear on


Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Discover More

three generations monument
Perushtitsa, now a small and offbeat town rarely visited by tourists, is known to every Bulgarian as the sight of a massacre in the failed April 1876 Uprising against the Ottomans.

gabrovo carnival
Though Dead Souls used to be on the national school curriculum, few latterday Bulgarians, and possibly even fewer English speakers, have actually read it, so here is a short synopsis.

buzludzha night.jpg
The Flying Saucer, which in recent years has become one of the Top 10 world monuments for urbex, or dark tourism, was constructed in the early 1980s. It was designed to celebrate the Bulgarian Communist Party, in control of this country from 1944 to 1989.

lz airplane
In early June a small plane flew into Bulgarian airspace from the northwest and landed at what used to be a commercial airport near Vidin. Apparently, the aircraft refuelled.