Issue 71-72 https://www.vagabond.bg/ en SEEDS LIKE TEETH https://www.vagabond.bg/seeds-teeth-1501 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">SEEDS LIKE TEETH</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Delaney Nolan (USA)</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Thu, 09/20/2012 - 14:34</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>A text by the 2012 Sozopol Fiction Seminars fellow Delaney Nolan</h3> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>He couldn't stop spilling oranges everywhere he went. When he was five, he was a hide-and-seek failure, when an orange always rolled out from under the slide or tilted open a closet door. When he went to the grocery store with his mother, he always had a wrist slapped when they left, because she reached for his hand and the sinister fruit would drop and spin serenely across the parking lot. He always apologized looking at his shoes, confused.</p> <p>It wasn't until elementary school that it became a problem. By fifth grade, his mother was suspicious, because there were no orange trees in Brooklyn, but the kitchen always smelled sweet and the fruit bowls were always overflowing. She wanted him to talk to a therapist, for his kleptomania.</p> <p>"Where are they coming from?"</p> <p>"I don't know. They just come."</p> <p>Middle school was the worst part. At the same time as the reedy boys around him began to shoot up and trip over the ladders of their own voices, he heard snickers when oranges rolled down the back of his jacket and spun out onto the floor. He stooped. It got worse. They fell out of his pockets when he walked. They fell out his sweaty hand when he met a new girl. Once in the boy's bathroom, a tenth-grader with oily skin, whose father shot at dogs, held him against a wall and shook him hard while oranges filled his tucked in shirt and fell out his cufflinks. Others stood around and gawked. They called him a freak, or obsessed, or queer. One boy would only call him a commie, but that still bothered him.</p> <p>It got a little better after that. Eighth grade was the worst, but after that he got a little keener. His family knew by then, and so did he. It stuck in his mind and sat there though, made camp, painted it on his brain-cave-walls so it was a part of him forever: he was the boy orange tree, and he would be.</p> <p>His mother never took him to the doctor and he never bothered to go. It was very clear what was wrong. It was very clear medical technology had never encountered this exact problem and would not be able to fix it. He had enough of being a freak show, sideshow, carnival, weird-o. He suffered through high school by spending lunches on the sidewalk benches, smoking cloves and wearing baggy jeans. He threw citrus at cars where they exploded meatily like a punch landing. If one stopped to yell, he would yell back nonsense and feel like a hero.</p> <p>"What's wrong with you, buddy?!"</p> <p>"Buddy! Your car hit my orange! Man! Get out! Hey! Blockhead! Thief! Commie! Gringo! Pedophile!", until they drove away.</p> <p>He ate alone. He ate mostly vegetables.</p> <p>Sometimes he tried to eat dirt. It felt good but it dried his mouth out and tasted too coppery so he spit it out in clumps.</p> <p>When he was in college it wasn't too bad. He was okay with waking up early to empty his sheets out the fifth floor window, aiming for the dumpster. His roommate only liked computers and didn't care about "his fruit thing." They had conversations. Girls in fraternity basements told him he smelled like their mother and bared their teeth. Sometimes one would kiss him: Her face would loom in like a crashing zeppelin – and then, after a beat she would jerk back with her hands on her mouth and her earrings swinging:</p> <p>"Is your mouth full of twigs? Or something?"</p> <p>He joined a lot of clubs and he sat in the back during meetings. He had friends but they were distant ones. He went to classes that weren't his and listened to professors talk. They asked him questions and he gave long, abstract answers full of "subjectively" and "liminal time-space" and "societal repercussions," while they nodded, and he didn't know what he was saying and he wasn't ever right or wrong. He took long showers and kept his desk neat and looked busy. He wrote a lot of bad poetry.</p> <p>On graduation day he got a little bit drunk on champagne at 11am and took pictures with his parents. He thought about the freshman he'd been and how embarrassing that person was. It was sweltering, and the sun made everyone squint and duck a little. He felt hot and nauseous when an orange rolled out his long robe sleeve and over the chancellor's liver-spotted hand and under the podium. Four more fell on his way off stage. Some boys in the audience thought that it was a joke. They laughed or whooped. He skipped the after-parties.</p> <p>He moved to Seattle and got a job, working the phones for the technical help department of a computer software company. He liked his job okay. He liked to picture his customers, and sometimes he imagined he could hear in their voice some camaraderie of freakishness, like a hook hand, or a peg leg, or a little tail. He always told them his real name. One day an old lady called; she sounded white, in her eighties maybe, and he imagined her grown son was paying for her but not visiting.</p> <p>"Well, I just don't think this computer business is for me." She said, with a cheery sigh after a few minutes.</p> <p>"Is there anything else I can help you with, ma'am?"</p> <p>"Oh aren't you gracious."</p> <p>When she breathed in she held the phone too close to her mouth and it sounded like a sail filling.</p> <p>"You know, I am about to make some chicken and mashed potatoes. It's been a long time but it's for a special occasion. You've been very helpful. Now I hope you go home and have a nice hot meal and a good squeeze, okay?"</p> <p>"Okay. Have a good night ma'am." And she hung up.</p> <p>He could have a hot meal at home. He had a kitchen full of baking ingredients. But they all ended up tasting to him sweet, and tangy, and too long in the sun. He started to think about his kitchen when he hung up. There were some dishes in the sink. He thought about them, and then he thought about the dishes in the sink last night, and tomorrow night, and about how he needed to buy new pillowcases, and then about the fat waddling Mormon who lived below him, and about the fat men in the cubicles around him, and all their tired faces, and so after work he went to a bar.</p> <p>He never went to bars, had never really tried to go to bars. He felt sure that they would remind him of eighth grade. Now he went to the bar and discovered he was right. He wore a leather jacket because it made him feel safe. He sat on the corner like he saw in the movies and ordered whiskey and water. He drank one, and then he ordered another, and he drank another and one more until he was drunk. He saw a woman in a dark green dress sit at the bar. The air wobbled like he was looking through an aquarium. His head felt soft and made of chicken fat. He had another whiskey and water. Then he stood up and walked to the green dress and sat on the stool next to it. The woman looked at him. He was scared sweating and it was hard to look at her eyes. She had high cheekbones and sharp eyebrows that made her seem feline. Her upper lip was line-thin and she had a cluster of freckles just above her right brow like a gorgeous mistake. He decided he was in love with her.</p> <p>"Hello." She smiled at him uncertainly.</p> <p>He opened his mouth and choked as an orange, ripe and dimpled and shining, rolled out of his mouth and onto her lap, slick with spit.</p> <p>"Oh God! What is wrong with you?" She jumped up disgusted, and fled backwards. The thick sweaty bartender was rolling his eyes at him.</p> <p>"Sorry," he grumbled drunkenly and emptied his pockets onto the bar and walked out the door.</p> <p>"Hey!" yelled the bartender. "You can't leave your goddamned fruit in here!"</p> <p>"My goddamned fruit," he mumbled, climbing to the street.</p> <p>That was when he began to get really angry. Oranges, he would think to himself. Why does it have to be those goddamned oranges. He wondered why it had to be only that one fruit, all the time. Why not strawberries, patient and cheerful under their little green caps, or pears with their tempting swells. He wanted to smell cherries in the morning, or feel the fuzz of a kiwi down his spine like a tickle. Even blueberries, bruise-purple and staining his clothes, or lemons, sharp and bright and starry. A pomegranate to hold him in hell with its glossed ruby guts, or guavas, tender and exotic, or grapes with their lucent skin, quivering on the bunch. Or apples, honestly, the most visceral and holy of them all. He began to dream of it. He dreamt of any other food. When he dreamt, the colors were muted. When he woke up, he spit out seeds like teeth.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Delaney Nolan's fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Apt, Gargoyle, Grist, Hobart, Huffington Post, Post Road and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Buffalo Prize, a Bread Loaf work-study scholarship, and the Ropewalk Press Fiction Editor's Chapbook Prize. Her chapbook, Louisiana Maps: A Diagram of the Territory of New Orleans, is forthcoming this winter from Ropewalk.</strong></p> <p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-disclaimers field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-block-content clearfix field__item"> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div class="uk-panel"><img class="uk-align-left uk-margin-remove-adjacent" alt="EK_Logo.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/images/stories/V135-136/EK_Logo.jpg" title="ELIZABETH KOS­TOVA FOUNDATION" width="50%" /> THE <a href="http://ekf.bg/" target="_blank" title="ELIZABETH KOS­TOVA FOUNDATION">ELIZABETH KOS­TOVA FOUNDATION</a> and VAGABOND, Bulgaria's English Monthly, cooperate in order to enrich the English language with translations of contemporary Bulgarian writers. Every year we give you the chance to read the work of a dozen young and sometimes not-so-young Bulgarian writers that the EKF considers original, refreshing and valuable. Some of them have been translated in English for the first time. The EKF has decided to make the selection of authors' work and to ensure they get first-class English translation, and we at VAGABOND are only too happy to get them published in a quality magazine. Enjoy our fiction pages.</div> </div> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-71-72" hreflang="en">Issue 71-72</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/107" hreflang="en">Elizabeth Kostova Foundation</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/culture/fiction" hreflang="en">FICTION</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=1501&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="t-JpAPFv9X3Ru0PtBUZbEFR8XUUAl_Gx5NYqjouPBSg"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 20 Sep 2012 11:34:00 +0000 DimanaT 1501 at https://www.vagabond.bg https://www.vagabond.bg/seeds-teeth-1501#comments CHALKIDIKI TOP 5 https://www.vagabond.bg/chalkidiki-top-5-1500 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">CHALKIDIKI TOP 5</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon, 09/10/2012 - 14:59</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Aegean is nearer to Sofia than Burgas</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-06/chalkidiki_2.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/chalkidiki_2.jpg" width="1000" height="665" alt="chalkidiki_2.jpg " title="Porto Koufo" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>There was a time when, if someone from Sofia wanted to meet up with their friends in the summer, they would head east to the Bulgarian seaside, where half of the capital was spending its vacation. For several years now, however, the tide has turned. Today, if you really miss your friends in summer deserted Sofia, head south to the Greek border, and then on to Chalkidiki.</p> <p>Jutting out into the Aegean, this peninsula with its three easily recognisable "legs" really has something for everyone. The westernmost leg, Cassandra, is low and not that picturesque. However, resorts catering for all tastes and budgets abound here. Chalkidiki's second leg, Sithonia, is a true gem with green mountains meeting the sea at picture-perfect beaches. There are exquisite resorts and some traditional villages. Athos, the last "leg," is literally divided between the spiritual and the worldly. The great part of the peninsula lies within the borders of a monastic republic where no woman is allowed to enter. The secular part of Athos, however, is all beaches and resorts plus the occasional religious souvenir shop.</p> <p>Chalkidiki's coastline is 550 km long. Bulgaria's is 354 km.</p> <p>Bulgaria's president Rosen Plevneliev is among the well-to-do Bulgarians who own a holiday home in Chalkidiki.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>1. PORTO KOUFO, SITHONIA</strong></p> <p>Hidden behind high rocks and an astonishingly narrow mouth, Porto Koufo Bay is so protected from the open sea that it earned its name, Deaf Port, as early as Antiquity. During the Second World War the Germans used it as a submarine harbour. Today Porto Koufo is definitely among the most picturesque sun tanning places on Chalkidiki. Higher prices at local tavernas are the inevitable result.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>2. ATHOS FOR MEN, ATHOS FOR WOMEN</strong></p> <p>Magnificent scenery, 20 monasteries and a medieval atmosphere which has changed little if at all since the 10th Century, when this monastic republic came into being: you can have it all on Athos, if you're male. Only the most zealous visitors, however, spend more than three days on this holy ground; there is only so much church visiting and monk greeting you can take.</p> <p><img alt="Mount Athos" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/71-72/chalkidiki/chalkidiki%202.jpg" /></p> <p>Women are not allowed to enter the monastic republic. However, they and the less curious men have another option to see the peninsula, at least from a distance. There is a regular boat trip from the town of Ouranoupoli. In three hours it covers the west coast of Athos, providing glimpses of several monumental monasteries and the awe-inspiring Mount Athos (2,030 m). When Alexander the Great died in 323 BC there was a proposal to carve the whole mountain into a huge statue of him. The idea, curiously, never took off.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>3. SAILING TO THE BEACH</strong></p> <p><img alt="Sailing to the beach" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/71-72/chalkidiki/chalkidiki%204.jpg" /></p> <p>This year, 29 of Chalkidiki's beaches were awarded the international Blue Flag ecological certificate. If you want something different, however, do your sunbathing on some of the hidden beaches accessible only by boat. Having a beach all to yourself is an experience not to be missed. If you are tempted, ask at your hotel and the staff will be happy to help.</p> <p>  </p><p><strong>4. GO INLAND</strong></p> <p>Chalkidiki is more than its coastline. The central part of the peninsula is all demanding mountains, deep forests and sensitively restored traditional villages. Mount Holomonas, a protected area, is a great place if you are into trekking, riding and biking. For picturesque architecture and village idyll opt for Arnaia.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>5. THE CANALS</strong></p> <p>For centuries, people have made it easier to sail around Greece's rugged coastline by digging canals. Chalkidiki boasts two of these.</p> <p><img alt="Chalkidiki canal" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/71-72/chalkidiki/chalkidiki%203.jpg" /></p> <p>The first – not only here, but also in the world – was dug in 480 BC through the narrowest part of Athos on the orders of the Persian King Xerxes I. Twelve years before that his father, King Darius, had lost 300 ships in the treacherous waters around the tip of Athos. Today the canal, which was more than a kilometre long and about 250 metres wide, is only a moat filled with the detritus of centuries.</p> <p>Chalkidiki's second canal was cut through Cassandra and is still there. It was built in the 2nd Century BC, probably after the Romans conquered this part of Greece, taking control of the rich trading city of Potidea. Due to lack of maintenance, the canal silted up in the Middle Ages. It was dug out again in the 19th Century.</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-71-72" hreflang="en">Issue 71-72</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/272" hreflang="en">Greece</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/travel/foreign-travel" hreflang="en">FOREIGN TRAVEL</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=1500&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="jb_12mwdGTm9FYddHhLzZiSqEdjbsn3WwTfsh3j5tyg"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 10 Sep 2012 11:59:19 +0000 DimanaT 1500 at https://www.vagabond.bg https://www.vagabond.bg/chalkidiki-top-5-1500#comments WHERE IS THE CHUDNITE MOSTOVE, OR THE WONDROUS BRIDGES, NATURAL PHENOMENON LOCATED? https://www.vagabond.bg/where-chudnite-mostove-or-wondrous-bridges-natural-phenomenon-located-1502 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">WHERE IS THE CHUDNITE MOSTOVE, OR THE WONDROUS BRIDGES, NATURAL PHENOMENON LOCATED?</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Bozhidara Georgieva</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon, 09/10/2012 - 14:21</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Think you know Bulgaria and the Bulgarians? Take our quiz to doublecheck...</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-06/wondrous%20bridges.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/wondrous%20bridges.jpg" width="1000" height="562" alt="wondrous bridges.jpg" title="Chudnite Mostove is in which Bulgarian mountain?" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">© Anthony Georgieff</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><strong>1. The school year in Bulgaria begins on... </strong></p> <p><strong>A.</strong> 1 September</p> <p><strong>B.</strong> 15 September</p> <p><strong>C.</strong> 25 September</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>2. How many medals did the Bulgarians won at the London Olympics? </strong></p> <p><strong>A.</strong> 0</p> <p><strong>B.</strong> 10</p> <p><strong>C.</strong> 2</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>3. The only cave in Bulgaria with prehistoric drawings is... </strong></p> <p><strong>A.</strong> Dyavolskoto Garlo Cave, or Devil's Throat, in the Rhodope</p> <p><strong>B.</strong> Devetashka Cave near Lovech</p> <p><strong>C.</strong> Magurata Cave near Belogradchik</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>4. Where is the Chudnite Mostove, or the Wondrous Bridges, natural phenomenon located? </strong></p> <p><strong>A. </strong>In the Rhodopes</p> <p><strong>B.</strong> In the Stara Planina</p> <p><strong>C.</strong> In the Strandzha</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>5. Which Bulgarian city has a dolphinarium?</strong></p> <p><strong>A.</strong> Plovdiv</p> <p><strong>B.</strong> Varna</p> <p><strong>C.</strong> Burgas</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>6. Where in Bulgaria is there a natural sparkling mineral water spring? </strong></p> <p><strong>A.</strong> Mihalkovo</p> <p><strong>B.</strong> Gorna Banya</p> <p><strong>C.</strong> Devin</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>7. Which Bulgarian rose from swineherd to a king after a popular revolt? </strong></p> <p><strong>A.</strong> Simeon the Great</p> <p><strong>B. </strong>Ivan Asen II</p> <p><strong>C.</strong> Ivaylo</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>8. The peculiar Bulgarian word for jeans is... </strong></p> <p><strong>A.</strong> <i>Kubinki</i></p> <p><strong>B.</strong> <i>Parashutki</i></p> <p><strong>C.</strong> <i>Danki</i></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>9. What is considered the best cure for hangover in Bulgaria? </strong></p> <p><strong>A.</strong> A hot <i>skembe</i> soup and a cold beer</p> <p><strong>B.</strong> Calling your in-laws for a chat</p> <p><strong>C.</strong> Being stopped by the traffic police at 4am</p> <p> </p> <p>The correct answers: <strong>1.</strong> A;<strong> 2.</strong> C; <strong>3.</strong> C;<strong> 4.</strong> A; <strong>5. </strong>B; <strong>6.</strong> A; <strong>7.</strong> C; <strong>8.</strong> C; <strong>9.</strong> A.</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-71-72" hreflang="en">Issue 71-72</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/fun/bulgaria-s-monthly-quiz" hreflang="en">BULGARIA&#039;S MONTHLY QUIZ</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=1502&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="rheWIZfwNcivCc1Kj4CRJrwm921Ab_-tDcna9q5C3O4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 10 Sep 2012 11:21:28 +0000 DimanaT 1502 at https://www.vagabond.bg https://www.vagabond.bg/where-chudnite-mostove-or-wondrous-bridges-natural-phenomenon-located-1502#comments AND AN ICON FOR KOZMALA https://www.vagabond.bg/and-icon-kozmala-1503 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">AND AN ICON FOR KOZMALA</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item"> by Nikolay Petkov (BG); translated from the Bulgarian by Christopher Buxton</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon, 09/10/2012 - 14:09</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>A text by the 2012 Sozopol Fiction Seminars fellow Nikolay Petkov</h3> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>I have to admit that precisely for this reason I'm pleased about this interrogation in front of you. It reminds me of that one in '41. After that our relations with Esther changed. She realised that when your name is Esther and you live in Paris in '41 it's difficult for your innocence to be proven. The most difficult thing was to find someone who would believe in this proof. I don't know how it came about that they believed me in the Gestapo. And even now I can't get my head around it. Perhaps it's because nothing sounds more convincing than the actual truth. Surely it was because when I explained that we used pigeons to hide our link from everyone else, they did not doubt it. At the end of the day I was a monk in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and no one ought to have discovered that I was keeping in contact with a young and beautiful Jewess called Esther. It was as much, according to the viewpoint of our canonical laws, I explained heatedly, as if you were a Sturmbannführer in the Gestapo and your Granny was called Rebecca.</p> <p>"I understand." My interrogation officer nodded to me sympathetically.</p> <p>Perhaps they were gratified by the strong Aryan spirit of our church laws or perhaps because the Germans were still our allies and it was indeed impossible for a Sturmbannführer's Granny to be called Rebecca. By now nothing could surprise me. When they discharged Esther she thought, she'd felt, that our game of child-idiots had turned into one of life and death. She understood perfectly that to be Esther's friend meant putting a rope around your neck. Probably that was why she was shut up in herself. She said that she would travel to Suza and Masada, her lost cities. She assured me that until she had not begun to dream of them, she would not stop reading about them. She didn't go out anywhere. She even forgot about the pigeons. It was then that I returned to Bulgaria. I was scared, not because of the Germans, but because I couldn't talk with Esther. Not even that. I was scared that she was more vulnerable than her pigeons and that I was incapable of helping her with anything. When I got back to Kostel I even started to search for the lost towns of my childhood. I set out on the road of my memories. They began a kilometre from the village of my birth, present day Gramatitsi; back to that time when we would wander round for days at a time. Uncle would harness Marko. We put bread, sausage and tomatoes into the cart; tallow candles and a canvas tent which he'd inherited from the wars. He would say that with this luggage we could reach the end of the world. Later I realised where that is. I even reached it. We travelled through the forests and Uncle told me about Sheshkingrad and Turkesheni, about Konstantine and old Maryan. He took me as far as Kraya, there where the regions of Elena, Sliven "Yailukioi" and Turnovo meet and pass each other by, where between the Old River and the Great Kamchiya, under the Great Sahar mountain you can find even now remains of the villages of Tsarevetsi, Manistiritsi, Malka Cherkovna, Glashatai. Kapishe and Bogomolsko, where I'd heard from my Grandfather, who'd got it from his Grandfather, that somewhere there, at the time of the Emperor John Tzimisces there had been a royal mint. On our return journey we always passed through the Mindiuvski canton, there where the river Vesselina turns towards Zlataritsa. Uncle showed me a bridge, finer than a cobweb. Only weasels and ferrets could cross it as it was more fragile than a pie crust, but once the Tsar's guards had marched over this bridge. After that it splashed through the river dried out by the heat and spread out over the grass so I could see among the roots glimpses of old walls. This was the site of medieval Bratovangrad. You would be its last visitor because if anyone heavier than 20 kilograms tried to cross the bridge, they'd fall. You, however, can cross, so one day you'll remember how you crossed time. I'll stop you falling, even if it breaks. Don't be scared; the river is shallow, he explained enthusiastically.</p> <p>When I came back from Paris, there was not even a memory of most of these villages. I roamed for hours amongst towns that had long since disappeared and thought about Esther and Kozmala. I prayed for them to survive the war so we could meet again. Then the idea struck me – to make a present out of the lost towns. I set out on the old road from Elena towards present day Antonovo. I reached the Old River, there where Uncle said Elena's Antarctic could be found. He called it this because for him it was the end of the world – even then no-one lived there. In the Manistiritsi area I found beams and stones from an old church. If the tales I had heard turned out to be true, it had to be from the time of John Tzimisces. I noticed that the wood was somehow preserved in a resin. They'd clearly employed methods of impregnation which have been forgotten in our times. In the walls I found some kind of vases sealed with wax. When I opened them, it turned out that they contained not gold, but only old rags. I was certain they had been old even then, sacred ritual robes, most probably chasubles, prepared for incineration. And of course forgotten. I believed that the icon from the 10th Century had made up its own mind, found me and begged me to carry it to Kozmala. I think that the very scene was born of itself or from that moment when Esther invites the Persian king Ahasuerus and the satrap Haman to the feast in the palace. I even saw painted those gold and silver vessels of wine which cost 300,000 talents. I knew also how the king would promise half his kingdom to Esther. The technical work was more than easy. The boards were exactly 64 millimetres thick and had the width of classic small format icons – 14 centimetres. I cut them in two with a bandsaw for thickness. The height was of no consequence. It could be arbitrary. In honour of my first Ephesus pilgrimage and of James Joyce, his funeral I realised had been exactly on that day 15th of January, I decided to increase the width by 3.14, so as to achieve 44, the two fours or the famous eight lying on its side from Molly Bloom's monologue; or perhaps because this number reminded me of the four beat pattern of the sound "shin" in "The Song of Songs," and perhaps because of the ordering of the verbs "I affirm" and "I reject" in the four figures of the syllogism and its 64 moods; it was most probable, in fact almost certain, that the two fours were a hint of the fact, that the memory of the pair of my twin-friends had turned into the measure of things. I repeat the height is of no significance whatever. I was simply looking for something symbolic, I imagined it as a numerical icon of balance and absurdity together. I made a linen canvas out of the chasubles prepared for incineration. I now think that they had waited 1,000 years for exactly this. Obviously the guy who'd had to incinerate them had felt pity. On the one hand – in spite of it being sacred – an absolutely unused garment which, whatever way you look at it, has no use. On the other hand – in spite of being old and unused, this chasuble has been a part of Holy liturgy, maybe stained with the bloody sweat of some repentant sinner, it would be a sin to burn it. But in that way it would be a sin not to burn it. Clearly the monk who had to solve this difficult task had decided to put the chasuble in the vase in sand. He'd sealed it with red wax and had left it to bang its head against the succeeding centuries. I believe, and not just simply believe, but absolutely affirm it; I managed this task magnificently, I created a really skilful mystification, I achieved a magnificent primer from the 10th Century. From then on to the present day I've always said that nothing sounds more convincing than the truth. Just the paints remained. I had read Dionysius of Furna very carefully and knew a lot about their techniques. I worked them out myself. Only that instead of egg-white, which can be easily dated with radioactive hydrocarbon, I used fragrant oils from the Orient as the fixing emulsion. Where did I find them? When I went to Cairo for the first time, the strange system of price-setting made an impression on me. The smaller the quantity, the higher the price. In fact that's how it's always been through the whole world. Just that, in a simple bill, it turns out 100 kilograms cost the same as 10. I discovered that if I filled a barrel for <i>rakiya</i> with rotting dates and oranges, which were thrown out in tons into the streets, I would be able to produce a distillation of <i>rakiya</i> every week. And in spite of the fact that distillation was precisely an Arab invention, at this time it was something old, long ago forgotten. It was easier to find pomegranate or bergamot oil than the most common or garden bottle of plum <i>rakiya</i>. And as is very well known, nature abhors a vacuum. I supplied myself with an unbelievable collection of ethereal oils – cypress, saffron, hyacinth, mustard, marigold coils from parsley, sage and wild celery. I had musk, and ambergris, even oil from opium poppies. When I visited the Natural History Museum in Cairo I was deeply impressed by the wooden masks that had been untouched by time. Some of these were older than Moses. I realised that the boards of these masks had been soaked a long time in fragrant oils. That had drawn out the damp from the wood, impregnated it and so had achieved this "resinous" effect. I did not know this recipe. I experimented. I worked very slowly and very carefully, on two icons a year – one for Kozmala and one for Esther. And that's how it was for fifty years. This icon is my hundredth. And the first for which I was arrested. I hope it has worked out.</p> <p><strong>Nikolay Petkov was born in Veliko Tarnovo. From 1989 to 1995 he studied Bulgarian Language and Literature, Philosophy and Theology at the University of Veliko Tarnovo. Between 1998 and 2000 Nikolay taught Ancient Philosophy at the Faculty of Philosophy at the same university. During that period he wrote the books <i>Arche – an anthology of Ancient and Medieval culture</i> and <i>The Divine Names in the Philosophy of Proclus Diadochus</i>. </strong></p> <p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-disclaimers field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-block-content clearfix field__item"> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div class="uk-panel"><img class="uk-align-left uk-margin-remove-adjacent" alt="EK_Logo.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/images/stories/V135-136/EK_Logo.jpg" title="ELIZABETH KOS­TOVA FOUNDATION" width="50%" /> THE <a href="http://ekf.bg/" target="_blank" title="ELIZABETH KOS­TOVA FOUNDATION">ELIZABETH KOS­TOVA FOUNDATION</a> and VAGABOND, Bulgaria's English Monthly, cooperate in order to enrich the English language with translations of contemporary Bulgarian writers. Every year we give you the chance to read the work of a dozen young and sometimes not-so-young Bulgarian writers that the EKF considers original, refreshing and valuable. Some of them have been translated in English for the first time. The EKF has decided to make the selection of authors' work and to ensure they get first-class English translation, and we at VAGABOND are only too happy to get them published in a quality magazine. Enjoy our fiction pages.</div> </div> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-71-72" hreflang="en">Issue 71-72</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/107" hreflang="en">Elizabeth Kostova Foundation</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/culture/fiction" hreflang="en">FICTION</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=1503&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="E_XWhB806CUi2E_ezxSsYJchP4Dt93BpXr9dvx1bSMQ"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 10 Sep 2012 11:09:49 +0000 DimanaT 1503 at https://www.vagabond.bg https://www.vagabond.bg/and-icon-kozmala-1503#comments DEYAN VALKOV, ARTIST https://www.vagabond.bg/deyan-valkov-artist-1504 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">DEYAN VALKOV, ARTIST</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">interview and photography by Anthony Georgieff </div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon, 09/10/2012 - 13:59</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>"A great number of Sofia's artists are of European and world status, and by that I mean people from all spheres of art"</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-06/deyan%20valkov.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/deyan%20valkov.jpg" width="1000" height="665" alt="deyan valkov.jpg" title="Deyan Valkov" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>You don't need to be born somewhere to become a part of it, as the career of artist Deyan Valkov shows. Born 42 years ago in Silistra, he graduated from the National Fine Arts School and the Arts Academy in Sofia, specialising in mural painting. Since then, Deyan has turned Bulgaria's capital into the centre of his work, which takes him to the rest of Bulgaria and abroad.</p> <p><strong>Tell us something about your work – what have you done in the past?</strong></p> <p>A lot of things. In the tumultuous 1990s, while I was trying to make it into the academy, I worked in advertising. While at the academy, I was doing art shows and selling paintings to supplement my studies. I was also commissioned to decorate a number of hotels, private residences and restaurants with murals.</p> <p>Since 1997 I have been having solo exhibitions in various galleries in Bulgaria and abroad. In 2011, I spent two months in France, based in the Cité Internationale Des Arts Paris. This period had an enormous positive impact on my artistic life, as it provided me with the precious opportunity to enrich my understanding of art and the art scene.</p> <p>Drawing is my first and greatest passion in life. I am so full of ideas and energy for organising new solo exhibitions and for participating in general in art shows and projects.</p> <p><strong>What are you doing at the moment?</strong></p> <p>I am currently in Andalusia, Spain. My head is buzzing with ideas for an exhibition with large-scale colour-filled paintings. I will do my best not to reveal any influence by Dalí and Picasso ‒ which is hard, as they both hold the copyright on colour here.</p> <p>I have already booked a gallery in Sofia for this one.</p> <p><strong>Can you give us three reasons why Sofia should be the European Capital of Culture in 2019? </strong></p> <p>My first reason is Sofia's age. It is an old European city, it is beautiful and is becoming even more beautiful. It has everything it needs to fulfil such a role, has all the right ingredients. Sadly, most of the people are so overwhelmed with the difficulties of everyday life and the economic crisis that they barely notice it.</p> <p>Second, I think, are the artists in Sofia. A great number of them are of European and world status, and by that I mean people from all spheres of art.</p> <p>My third reason is the unique chance for the Bulgarian state administration to support the arts. It has not done this for a long time. Now, with that project, it is the right time to direct some international attention to Bulgarian art, and to create a positive image of it. This will also help Bulgarian artists.</p> <p>As far as I am concerned, great art is impossible without strong support. It is just impossible! Remember all those great art objects from Antiquity? Actually, they are what brings these long-gone times back to us. They show us what their creators were like, what they were thinking about. All this is possible today, because back then there were the patrons! Being a patron is not only about the money, the sponsorship. It is about having a group of people with an interest in the arts, with the knowledge and the ability to recognise great art. Let Bulgaria become a patron of the arts.</p> <p><strong><img alt="gerb na sofia" class="imgl" src="/images/stories/V71-72/Deyan_Valkov/gerb%20na%20sofia.jpg" width="10%" />This project has been cofunded by the Culture 2012 Programme of the Sofia Municipality in support for the Sofia nomination for the European Capital of Culture for 2019 </strong></p> <p><strong><img alt="logo sofia2019 en 3c" class="imgl" src="/images/stories/V71-72/Deyan_Valkov/logo_sofia2019_en_3c.jpg" width="10%" />SOFIA – CANDIDATE FOR EUROPEAN CAPITAL OF CULTURE 2019</strong></p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-71-72" hreflang="en">Issue 71-72</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/interviews" hreflang="en">BULGARIA INTERVIEWS</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=1504&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="6AH2RCMHjVg0NoK6MNQLdr87wPYWyQgXqt6LniqLkA4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 10 Sep 2012 10:59:30 +0000 DimanaT 1504 at https://www.vagabond.bg https://www.vagabond.bg/deyan-valkov-artist-1504#comments GYPSIES AT THE GATE https://www.vagabond.bg/gypsies-gate-1506 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">GYPSIES AT THE GATE</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon, 09/10/2012 - 13:04</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Annual Roma get-together at Bachkovo Monastery plays out colourful and noisy</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-06/gypsy%20fair%20bachkovo%20monastery.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/gypsy%20fair%20bachkovo%20monastery.jpg" width="1000" height="665" alt="gypsy fair bachkovo monastery.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Visiting Bachkovo Monastery, the second largest in Bulgaria, on its patron saint day, 15 August, is a chaotic experience.</p> <p>Travellers may be somewhat prepared for the traffic jam which extends almost from Asenovgrad to Chepelare, in the Rhodope, on a narrow and winding road. The monastery is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and inevitably attracts crowds of believers on that particular date. Their numbers are boosted further by the belief that spending the night in the meadows around the monastery on the eve of that day heals diseases and works various other miracles.</p> <p><img alt="Gypsy fair at Bachkovo Monastery" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/71-72/gypsies/gypsy%20fair%20bachkovo%20monastery%203.jpg" /></p> <p>However, what inevitably surprises visitors coming unprepared to Bachkovo Monastery on 15 August are the Gypsies.</p> <p>They gather in the monastery parking lot and the surrounding meadows, filling them with cars and creating makeshift camps.</p> <p>They are also pilgrims. Like everyone else, they scour the souvenir stalls selling icons and supposedly home-made jams on the path to the monastery. They too buy crosses and icons and skip the jams. They queue to enter the monastery, to buy candles, to enter the main church, to kiss and pray at the icon of the Holy Mother, believed to have miraculous powers. Then they go out and queue to fill empty mineral water bottles with holy water, distributed by some bored monk.</p> <p>Some of them join another queue, too. It is in the south yard of the monastery, in front of the 19th century St Nikola church, where serial baptisms – usually of girls called Maria – are taking place.</p> <p><img alt="Gypsy fair at Bachkovo Monastery" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/71-72/gypsies/gypsy%20fair%20bachkovo%20monastery%202.jpg" /></p> <p>About half of Bulgaria's Gypsy population is Eastern Orthodox Christian. Bari Bogoroditsa, or the Assumption of the Virgin, is one of their biggest feasts. Others are Bango Vasil, or St Basil's Day, on 13 January; Ederlez, or St George's Day on 6 May; and of course Easter. According to the Gypsy tradition, the feast of the Assumption should be spent visiting a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. There the family prays for the health of their children. Lamb is the communal food, if the family is wealthy enough. Whatever meat is on the table, however, there is a strong taboo on anything roasted – on the Assumption only boiled food should be eaten.</p> <p>Understandably, Bachkovo Monastery attracts the greatest crowds for Bari Bogoroditsa. Every Christian Gypsy who can afford it packs his family into a car and joins the camp around the monastery, which effectively turns the meeting into one of the biggest Gypsy events in Bulgaria. It lasts for three days.</p> <p>There is, however, another reason for the popularity of the Bachkovo Monastery gathering. It is also used as a time and place for matchmaking, or a bride fair.</p> <p>Most of the Gypsies attending the event belong to the Kalaydzhii clan. The majority of them still lead the semi-nomadic life of their forefathers who, until recently, used to roam the villages and the provincial towns repairing tin cauldrons, pots and pans. Nowadays few of them keep the old craft alive, but the more enterprising have found another niche and become itinerant cattle merchants.
Their nomadic lifestyle, however, has left them scattered throughout the country, making partner-finding from the clan difficult. The annual gatherings in Bachkovo and on the moveable feast of St Todor's Day near the village of Mogila (see <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><span style="color: #0000ff;"><a href="https://vagabond.bg/brides-sale-1436">here</a></span></span>) fill this gap in their social life. Being together is a chance for young people to meet a partner. The girls try to look their best, wearing gold jewellery, applying bright lipstick and adopting daring hairstyles, as those with long and healthy hair are considered more beautiful. The boys and their families enquire whether the bride is a virgin and what the price for her is.</p> <p><img alt="Crowd gathers at Bachkovo Monastery on 15 August" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/71-72/gypsies/bachkovo%20monastery.jpg" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Each 15 August huge crowds gather at Bachkovo Monastery</em></p> <p>The term "price" has nothing to do with slavery. Girls are completely free to say yes or no to the offer of a future husband. Sometimes, however, a price too low from that required by the girl's family can result in bitter tears and sad memories for the youngsters.</p> <p>The gathering produces the inevitable noise and litter, and not everyone is happy about it. When braving the crowds on the way to the monastery one can easily hear Bulgarians complaining that the Gypsies have ruined the sanctity of the place with their chatter and the <em>chalga</em> music booming from their cars.</p> <p>Bachkovo Monastery, however, has already gained notoriety as a once beautiful place now turned into a heaven of kitsch and commercialism.</p> <p>This has nothing to do with the Gypsies, but everything to do with the stalls selling religious trinkets on the approach to the monastery. The outdoor grills in the restaurants fill the air with a thick aroma of <em>kebapcheta</em>. <em>Chalga</em> is on the playlists almost everywhere.</p> <p>After entering the monastery the visitor is keen to forget these annoyances, and the complex is indeed charming. Nested on a picturesque bend of the Chepelarska River, it was founded in 1083 by two Georgian aristocrats in the service of the Byzantine emperor. Throughout the centuries, Bachkovo Monastery amassed many treasures. The ossuary preserves murals from the 12th Century and a true rarity – a portrait of the Bulgarian King Ivan Alexander (1331-1371). The St Archangels and St Nikola churches are adorned with frescoes of 19th century artist Zahariy Zograf.</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en"><img style="margin: 10px; float: left;" title="America for Bulgaria Foundation" src="/images/stories/V130/AFB_LOGO.jpg" alt="America for Bulgaria Foundation" width="30%" /></a>High Beam is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine, with the generous support of the <a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a>, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners.</strong></p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-71-72" hreflang="en">Issue 71-72</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/312" hreflang="en">Minorities in Bulgaria</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/travel/high-beam" hreflang="en">HIGH BEAM</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=1506&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="oFPbU2u_VW4doOoGzg2zx-NCpo8WfcDOzKqTg-BhGgY"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 10 Sep 2012 10:04:10 +0000 DimanaT 1506 at https://www.vagabond.bg https://www.vagabond.bg/gypsies-gate-1506#comments PLOVDIV TEMPLES PART 1 https://www.vagabond.bg/plovdiv-temples-part-1-1487 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">PLOVDIV TEMPLES PART 1</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon, 09/10/2012 - 12:51</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Spinoffs of world religions coexist in Bulgaria's second city</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-06/catholic%20cathedral%20plovdiv.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/catholic%20cathedral%20plovdiv.jpg" width="1000" height="665" alt="catholic cathedral plovdiv.jpg" title="St Ludwig Catholic Cathedral" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Inhabited since Neolithic times, Plovdiv claims to be one of Europe's oldest cities. As the millennia passed, people were not the only inhabitants of the seven hills by the Maritsa River and their environs. Gods also lived here, brought and nurtured by generations of worshipers. Among them are the long forgotten deities of long forgotten Neolithic peoples, the enigmatic Thracian Rider and a local deity with the name of Kendrisos, plus a host of divine immigrants, including the Greek Apollo and Asclepius, the deified emperors of Rome, and the Semitic Baal and Sabazios of Asia Minor. Jehovah and Jesus arrived at the very beginning of the common era, and the faith of Allah and his only prophet Muhammad settled in the city in the 1370s, along with the Ottomans.</p> <p>All of these – and many more – had their shrines and places of worship, some of which still exist today. The story of those lost ones is long and sad. A Neolithic sanctuary was destroyed by an enterprising businessman in the late 1990s, and the Thracian Rider shrine was overbuilt during the Middle Ages. A Christian basilica rose on the spot where the great temple of Apollo Kendrisos stood, on the highest peak of Dzhendem Tepe hill. The ruins of the both structures were destroyed for no particular reason under Socialism. That period saw also the discovery of a 3rd Century synagogue. This, however, was destroyed to make room for a block of flats. Dozens of mosques, large and small, were also demolished after 1885, when Plovdiv and the Ottoman province of Eastern Rumelia broke with the sultan and united with the independent Principality of Bulgaria.</p> <p>Plovdiv, however, still retains the spirit of a cosmopolitan city, not only by nationality and culture, but also by religion. It is one of the few places in Bulgaria where three world religions and numerous other faiths still muster a lively crowd of believers.</p> <p>This is the first instalment in a series dedicated to the different temples and religions in Plovdiv. Click <a href="https://vagabond.bg/plovdiv-temples-part-2-1486">here</a> to read the second and <a href="https://vagabond.bg/plovdiv-temples-part-3-1478">here</a> to read the third one.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>ST LUDWIG'S CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL </strong></p> <p><strong>Where:</strong> 3 Maria Louisa Blvd</p> <p><strong>When:</strong> 1858-1861</p> <p>Roman Catholicism is Bulgaria's fourth most popular religion and has its roots deep in the soil of Plovdiv, stretching as far back as the Middle Ages. This faith flourished particularly in the 1860s, during the Bulgarian struggle for independence from the Greek-dominated Constantinople Patriarchy. A great number of Bulgarians adopted the Roman form of worship at that time.</p> <p>The Catholic cathedral was built on the initiative of the local Papal representative, Andrea Kanova. Constructed in the Baroque style, the first organ in Bulgaria was installed in 1861 and a belfry with Bochum manufactured bells was added in 1898. The church underwent extensive renovations after a devastating fire in 1931. It has retained, however, its most moving feature, the beautiful sarcophagus crafted by the Italian sculptor T. Gentile for Bulgarian Queen Marie Louise, who died in 1899.</p> <p>Unsurprisingly, in a place like Plovdiv, the cathedral stands on a spot thought to have been sacred to generations of Plovdiv citizens. In the 4th to 6th centuries, the greatest and most beautiful basilica in the city drew worshipers here. It fell into ruin after the arrival of the Barbarians, but was soon turned into a Christian cemetery.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>CUMA MOSQUE</strong></p> <p><strong>Where:</strong> Rimski Stadion Square (formerly Dzhumaya Square)</p> <p><strong>When:</strong> Beginning of the 15th Century</p> <p><img alt="Cuma Mosque, Plovdiv" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/71-72/plovdiv%20temples/mosque%20plovdiv.jpg" /></p> <p>The exact year when one of the oldest and grandest mosques in Bulgaria was built is not known. It happened during the rule of either Sultan Murad I or Sultan Murad II. Whatever the truth, the great Friday mosque – hence the name Cuma – is still at the centre of city life. In Ottoman times a bustling market surrounded it and today hundreds of tourist pass by on their way to the Old City. Until recently, even the square bore the name of the mosque, before being renamed after the ancient Roman stadium excavated a few metres away.</p> <p>The Cuma Mosque is as beautiful as it is old. Its prayer hall is 33 metres long and 27 metres wide and is crowned with three domes covered with lead. Visiting the mosque, particularly during the heat of summer, is highly recommended. The interior has an airy quality and its 19th Century decorations have been lovingly restored over the last few years.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>ST MARINA CHURCH</strong></p> <p><strong>Where:</strong> 7 Dr Valkovich St</p> <p><strong>When:</strong> 1851</p> <p><img alt="St Marina church, Plovdiv" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/71-72/plovdiv%20temples/plovdiv%20church.jpg" /></p> <p>St Marina Church was the main seat of the bishop of the city from at least the 16th Century and was destroyed by fire several times between then and 1851, when a stronger building on stone foundations was finally erected. Seven years later, one of the leading artists of the period covered its open-air portico with Biblical scenes, copying the Baroque masters, Michelangelo included. The iconostasis took three master craftsmen four years to carve, and is considered a masterpiece with its gorgeous carnations, roses, peonies and sunflowers, and its lively nightingales, eagles and doves mingling with dragons, winged lions and angels.</p> <p>Today, however, a visit to the church will leave you with mixed feelings, at best. At the end of 2011, St Marina fell victim to something which the local clergy called restoration works. The old marble slabs covering the floor were replaced with modern tiles, the carvings were mercilessly covered with gilt and – what is most shocking – the old murals inside the church were whitewashed and replaced by wallpaper decorated with icons. A scandal erupted between the Plovdiv Bishop Nikolay, who obviously liked the changes, and the Ministry of Culture. The original murals are still hidden under the wallpaper.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en"><img style="margin: 10px; float: left;" title="America for Bulgaria Foundation" src="/images/stories/V130/AFB_LOGO.jpg" alt="America for Bulgaria Foundation" width="30%" /></a>High Beam is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine, with the generous support of the <a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a>, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners.</strong></p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-71-72" hreflang="en">Issue 71-72</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/276" hreflang="en">Plovdiv</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/230" hreflang="en">Religions in Bulgaria</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/312" hreflang="en">Minorities in Bulgaria</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/277" hreflang="en">Ottoman heritage</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/travel/high-beam" hreflang="en">HIGH BEAM</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=1487&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="B1f6xN4yE_oadsZkLqg76Oonwl6Wp-vPZaOVfZPknzk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 10 Sep 2012 09:51:06 +0000 DimanaT 1487 at https://www.vagabond.bg https://www.vagabond.bg/plovdiv-temples-part-1-1487#comments FALLEN MESSERSCHMITT https://www.vagabond.bg/fallen-messerschmitt-1507 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">FALLEN MESSERSCHMITT</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova; photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon, 09/10/2012 - 12:41</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Monument to Bulgaria's past gets transformed for future</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-06/1300%20years%20of%20bulgaria%20monument%202.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/1300%20years%20of%20bulgaria%20monument%202.jpg" width="1000" height="688" alt="1300 years of bulgaria monument 2.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Few words remain from Vasil Levski&#039;s quite: &quot;Time is within us and we are within time&quot;</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>There is hardly a visitor to Sofia who has not crossed the vast square in front of the National Palace of Culture, or NDK, and not gasped at the sight of this strange structure that looks as if coming straight out of an urban nightmare piece of sci-fi.

Rising 35 metres from the ground, the tall thing curls somehow at an angle in the air, ending up looking somewhat like a wing. Ghostly human-like figures crawl and pose on its granite surface, where holes gape, revealing the rusting skeleton of steel. Huge metal characters form slogans, their meaning unintelligible, as most of the letters are missing. The base is off-limits, protected by a metal fence covered with colourful graffiti left over from some national street art contest. Sometimes, huge advertisements for mobile phones hang from its top.

</p> <p>This is actually a monument, and its official name is "1,300 Years of Bulgaria." It appeared on the square in 1981 as a grandiose addition to the opening of the newly-built NDK. The original idea was allegedly imposed on the sculptor Valentin Starchev by Lyudmila Zhivkova, then minister of culture and daughter of the Communist dictator Todor Zhivkov. The monument, according to Zhivkova's Socialist New Age beliefs, should represent the "eternal spiral of creativity, spirit and development." 

</p> <p>Following these instructions, the artist created an angular spiral with figures representing the crucial stages in the evolution of the Bulgarian "spirit." At the base, the image of King Simeon's Golden Age of the 9th Century symbolises the nation's great potential for creating culture. The so-called Pieta figure embodies the periods of stagnation and struggle for survival. The bright future, however, is always present in the huge worker's statue at the top of the monument. Starchev called it "The Creator."

</p> <p>The structure's symbolism was enhanced with slogans by Bulgaria's most famous 19th Century revolutionaries. There is Levski's "Time is within us and we are within time," and Botev's "He who falls fighting for freedom never dies." There is also "Walk on, revived people...", taken from a late 19th Century song dedicated to Cyril and Methodius, creators of the Bulgarian alphabet.</p> <p>The project was ambitious and so were the deadlines.</p> <p>Struggling with an impossible schedule, the sculptor and the construction workers spent 24 hours a day on the site. Despite all their efforts, the monument was still unfinished on its ribbon-cutting day, the top not yet clad in granite. The builders came up with a last-minute solution and covered it with plywood camouflaged to look like stone.

This was the first of many setbacks experienced by "1,300 Years of Bulgaria" in the 30 years of its existence. Within days more followed.</p> <p>The public was not taken with its appearance – or with the expense involved – and within a fortnight had coined a handful of imaginative nicknames. Most of them are four-lettered words – a pity, indeed, we can't publish then as at least two of them manage to combine numbers, geometry and a particular part of the male anatomy. Probably the only one that we can put on the page is "The Fallen Messerschmitt," a reference to the exceptionally ugly Second World War German warplanes. The nicknames have stuck, and most people passing by the monument know it as the "Five-Angled Seven-****," or the "Five-Angled" for short, or the Messerschmitt, rather than as "1,300 Years of Bulgaria."</p> <p><img alt="1,300 Years of Bulgaria Monument" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/71-72/1300%20years%20of%20bulgaria%20monument.jpg" /></p> <p>It was not only public opinion that was against the monument. Gravity was, too. The tight deadlines led to shortcuts in the original construction, and sloppy building practices. As a result, the "1,300 Years of Bulgaria" monument started to disintegrate less than a year after it was finished. No one bothered to patch up the structure.</p> <p>By 1989 it had already deteriorated badly. Overwhelmed with economic difficulties, people stopped paying any attention to it. Its subterranean level, once mockingly nicknamed "The Catacombs of NDK," turned into a rubbish dump, the haunt of the homeless and a meeting point for drug addicts. The granite slabs continued falling off, and many of the metal parts were stolen and sold for scrap.</p> <p>In the early 2000s the site was so dangerous that a fence was erected to stop people entering the Catacombs. This fence was soon turned into a graffiti canvas and the debate about what to do with the structure waxed and waned. Some proposed that it be torn down on the grounds that it was both ugly and dangerous. Others suggested a complete restoration or adapting the remains into a new structure, such as a water cascade or a climbing wall. Valentin Starchev defended his creation, giving rise to rumours that he still had copyright over it and that it could not be demolished without his consent.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the monument became the metaphorical playground for a variety of of eccentrics. One Feng Sui specialist, for example, blamed the bad karma of Bulgaria on the insensitively designed and located Messerschmitt. Scores of youngsters attempted to break through the fence (easy enough) and to climb up the monstrosity (difficult and dangerous). Some of these daredevils got stuck half-way up, necessitating the intervention of the fire brigade to get them down.</p> <p>Others, including the three children who climbed the Messerschmitt this summer, succeeded. Their feat was filmed and broadcast on the Internet, causing an outcry. This expedition probably sealed the fate of the monument as, days after the successful ascent, Sofia City Council decided to remove the steel structure and granite slabs of the upper part of the monument by the end of the summer.</p> <p>At the beginning of August the removal of the most dangerous parts of the monument started, resulting in about 1,000 tons of scrap metal. Architect Starchev admitted to the media that the "1,300 Years of Bulgaria" with its 1980s looks was not now "up to the times" and accepted the council's idea of re-imagining it once more. This coincided with the frantic work to finish the construction of a new underground station, just meters away from the Messerschmitt. Public discussions about the monument's future are planned to start anew.</p> <p>However, there are objections. On the very day that the first bits of the monument were removed, the Bulgarian Artists Union issued a declaration. Its members objected to the dismantling because it "would be a crude breach of all the principles of any democratic society, where all important decisions should be taken by the competent authorities." The union also objected to any public input into the future fate of the monument, noting that "the decisions for the design of monuments are taken by qualified persons and conform to the highest moral and aesthetic principles, which are brought about by people of the highest erudition and the highest understanding of the culture of the visual arts." The union is also openly against any changes to the Fallen Messerschmitt monument, stating that it was ahead of its time and still bears its erstwhile "epic aura." The missing parts revealing the construction just give it a modernist twist.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en"><img style="margin: 10px; float: left;" title="America for Bulgaria Foundation" src="/images/stories/V130/AFB_LOGO.jpg" alt="America for Bulgaria Foundation" width="30%" /></a>High Beam is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine, with the generous support of the <a href="http://www.us4bg.org/?hl=en" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a>, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners.</strong></p></div> <a href="/archive/issue-71-72" hreflang="en">Issue 71-72</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/221" hreflang="en">America for Bulgaria Foundation</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/273" hreflang="en">Sofia</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/241" hreflang="en">Monuments</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/108" hreflang="en">Communism</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/235" hreflang="en">PostCommunism</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/220" hreflang="en">Bulgarian art</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/travel/high-beam" hreflang="en">HIGH BEAM</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=1507&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="nJ9bE3V79OPxPkzBTpRhJ8PlJaCZZcUoxKMwJeAZkZo"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 10 Sep 2012 09:41:20 +0000 DimanaT 1507 at https://www.vagabond.bg https://www.vagabond.bg/fallen-messerschmitt-1507#comments MILITSIONERSHTINA https://www.vagabond.bg/militsionershtina-1508 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">MILITSIONERSHTINA</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">text and photography by Anthony Georgieff</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon, 09/10/2012 - 12:15</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>GERB reintroduces concept thought to belong to Communist era</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-06/communist%20police%20bulgaria.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/communist%20police%20bulgaria.jpg" width="667" height="1000" alt="communist police bulgaria.jpg " title="In Communist Bulgaria the police were called People&#039;s Militia " typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>The pun is unintended and probably bad, but if you can't pronounce the headline of this article you are unlikely to understand what is really going on in Bulgaria under Boyko Borisov and Tsvetan Tsvetanov.</p> <p>It is a commonplace that every nation has a concept that it holds dear to its collective heart, but which is scarcely comprehensible to the outside world, partly because the word describing it is difficult if not impossible to translate. Take <i>hygge</i> away from the Danes, or <i>vogue</i> from the French, or <i>dolce vita</i> from the Italians, or <i>kefi</i> from the Greeks and that will be like depriving the Germans of <i>Backpfeifengesich</i>, the Italians of <i>Qualunquismo</i> or the Americans of, well, chutzpah.</p> <p><i>Militsionershtina</i> is one such defining concept for Bulgarians. Probably the closest English translation of <i>militsionershtina</i> (the stress is on the fifth syllable) would be "police state" but, because we are in the Balkans, minus the efficiency.</p> <p>However, a literal translation hardly does justice to this unique Bulgarian concept. To understand it fully, one needs to consider its origins, its chief characteristics and the mentality of the people who are implementing it in Bulgarian public life.</p> <p>A <i>militsioner</i>, or militiaman (another literal but wrong translation), was a member of the <i>Narodna militsiya</i>, or People's Militia, as the law enforcement agency was called from the late 1940s up until the collapse of Communism in the early 1990s.</p> <p>Bulgarian Communist-era <i>militsioneri</i> were generally simple, working-class or village lads whose parents thought their best chance of getting on in life would be to put on that gold-buttoned uniform and round hat, and thus secure a relatively well-paid job for life, early retirement included. The <i>militsioneri</i> were sent to a special militarised school where they were supposed to acquire the knowledge and skills required of a <i>militsioner</i>. These included having a driver's licence, taking a course in Marxism and the history of the Bulgarian Communist Party, acquiring the expertise to load and unload a gun, as well as the general chores associated with a military establishment such as marching drills, cleaning the dorms and kindling fires in plywood stoves in wintertime dorms.</p> <p>Understandably, the <i>militsioneri</i>, who were fresh out of school, had limited knowledge of the arts, humanities or sciences, as none of those were especially necessary for their work. Some brighter <i>militsioneri</i> would later go on to a <i>milistionerska</i> academy where they would, upon graduation, become "officers," as opposed to the "simple" <i>militsioneri</i> on the beat, who were sergeants. The really intelligent would be handpicked and installed in the feared<i> Darzhavna sigurnost</i>, or State Security, the Bulgarian version of Romania's Securitate and East Germany's Stasi. They were probably better <i>militsioneri</i> than the ones patrolling the streets, but that did not make them more broadminded citizens.</p> <p>Because of their obvious deficiencies, the Communist-era <i>militsioneri</i> became the butt of numerous jokes, all of which focused on their perceived stupidity and inability to do anything outside the prescribed line of their superiors and the Communist Party.</p> <p>Popular humour associated with <i>militsioneri</i> was quick to transform itself with their transformation into policemen. The hundreds of jokes told about them were reworded, in the course of just a few years, to apply to <i>mutri</i> (yet another unique Bulgarian defining concept), then to blondes, and most recently to the people of Pernik.</p> <p>Make no mistake: the Bulgarian <i>militsioneri</i> were <i>not</i> benign creatures in the style of the English bobby or the French <i>agent de police</i> as depicted in the movies of Louis de Funès. They were part of one of the most comprehensive and omnipenetrating police networks in the world. Jokes about the stupidity of <i>militsioneri</i> aside, what the <i>militsioneri</i> did was create and sustain a Stalinist climate of fear where everyone spied on everyone else, where a single man, the General, ran the whole show, and where no dissent, political or otherwise, was permitted. In short, it was an environment where anyone who wanted to get along had to go along.</p> <p>It is a legacy that, in the case of Bulgaria, has been difficult to overturn.</p> <p>Despite attempts to reform the <i>militsioneri</i>, notably in the 1990s and the 2000s, the advent of GERB spelt their triumphant return. Why?</p> <p>The two most powerful men in the country in 2012, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and his deputy Tsvetan Tsvetanov, both have a grounding in the past as <i>militsioneri</i>. The former left his fire brigade service and set up a security company in the 1990s, a period when "protection" and "security" were largely seen as the other face of organised crime. The latter started work in the Communist-era State Security Department 7, and did various <i>militsiya</i>-related jobs until he graduated as a gym instructor from the Sports Academy in Sofia.</p> <p>In addition to their education as <i>militsioneri</i>, both Borisov and Tsvetanov make use of the skills described above as much as they can, obviously in a slightly modified form. The examples are many and varied. In his early years as prime minister, Boyko Borisov famously said that he wanted his government ministers to "hate" and spy on each other (a direct leftover from the times of Communism), and his right-hand man Tsvetanov takes full advantage of his power to order phone-taps and other methods of surveillance, allegedly to harass citizens and political opponents rather than to solve serious crime.</p> <p>In fact, few of the "feats" trumpeted by Tsvetanov and his publicists bear any resemblance to reality. Bulgaria's police have spectacularly failed to solve serious crimes, including some gruesome murders (such as the recent cases of two young women, Miroslava in Pernik and Yana in Sofia). They have also failed to arrest indicted criminals (such as the Galevi Brothers in Dupnitsa). However, in the best (or worst) tradition of <i>militsioneri</i> Tsvetanov's troops have stormed into the houses of unsuspecting citizens, sometimes in obvious error, and scared the wits out of women, children and elderly family members.</p> <p>Notwithstanding their bosses' failures, Tsvetanov's PRs are usually quick to send out press releases describing those as "accomplishments." The Interior Ministry press releases, sometimes accompanied by video footage to ram home the message, are repeated verbatim by the largely uncritical and subservient media.</p> <p><img alt="Modern Bulgaria police" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/71-72/stuffed%20foxes%20bulgaria.jpg" /></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em>Modern Bulgaria Police</em></p> <p>In addition, one of Tsvetanov's favourite ploys has been to stand up in parliament and read out accusations against citizens, sometimes based on the illegal use of special surveillance methods. One of the most flagrant recent examples was his calling a group of doctors in Gorna Oryahovitsa "assassins" for their alleged role in "killing" an unborn infant – which was later retracted in a court of law.</p> <p>Bulgaria's still inchoate and weak civil society does react to such outrages, but there is little it can do, just as there was little that could have been done in the years up to 1989, because the men who pull the strings of the system know little outside <i>militsionershtina</i>.</p> <p>The ultimate aim of <i>militsionershtina</i> is to make all segments of society and the state subordinate to it. In three years Boyko Borisov and Tsvetan Tsvetanov have done a lot to accomplish this aim. A number of observers in Bulgaria and, increasingly, abroad think that in the remaining year they have in office they will probably enhance their methods in order to win the next general election.</p> <p>Unfortunately for the majority of Bulgarians who have to toil for a pittance in a worsening economic crisis and whose civil liberties are seriously curtailed, they will probably succeed.</p> <p>History knows no authoritarian system that has lost an election. Authoritarian regimes usually implode because they are either economically unsound or because they are incapable of running whatever they have pledged to run. Therefore, the key word in the literal translation of <i>militsionershtina</i> is "efficiency." <i>Minus</i> the efficiency.</p> <p>GERB can run the show and tap whoever they want, but it cannot make the (few remaining) trains run on time. Paradoxically, the lack of efficiency in the system run by them will likely bring about their own demise.</p> <p>But at that time there may be no trains to run.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>TO BE OR NOT TO BE A <i>MILITSIONER</i></strong></p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;">The <i>militsioneri</i></span> never think.They obey orders.</p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;">The chief job</span> of the <i>militsioneri</i> is to protect their superiors and political leaders. Arresting criminals, solving and preventing crime is secondary.</p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;">A famously comprehensive</span> network for eavesdropping, phone-tapping, surveillance and using SRS, or Special Investigative Means, is used to collect material on political or business opponents, rather than for fighting organised crime.</p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;">The bosses</span> of <i>militsioneri</i> create a climate of fear, where any move or any unsanctioned manifestation of civil liberties is monitored.</p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><i>Militsioneri</i></span> hit first and ask questions later.</p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;">Use of disproportionate</span> force against obviously defenceless people such as the elderly or young women is used as a preventative measure, to scare others off and to show how powerful the <i>militsioneri</i> are.</p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><i>Militsioneri</i></span> are sticklers for petty details. Laws for them have no spirit, they just have letters. If your i's are undotted, you are in big trouble.</p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;">Collecting</span> proper evidence that can stand up in court is secondary for <i>militsioneri</i>. What matters is making an arrest and reporting it.</p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><i>Militsioneri</i></span> never admit defeat. Even obvious failures are presented as "feats" because they look good in reports and "consolidate" popular trust in the <i>militsioneri</i>.</p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><i>Militsioneri</i></span> are allowed to park their cars wherever they like and generally drive without obeying traffic laws. They are exempt from fines for traffic violations. Arguing with militsioneri is like flogging a dead horse. Militsioneri are generally above the law, in that every other facet and agency of the country – including but not limited to the economy, business, members of parliament, government ministers, the judiciary and so on and so forth – are subservient to them.</p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><i>Militsioneri</i></span> have a say in all areas of public life. They can enforce appointments in sectors seemingly unrelated to them, for example state and regional administrations, and the judiciary. They can install board members in all areas of management. When they are in the mood, they usually make offers "no one can refuse."</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-71-72" hreflang="en">Issue 71-72</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/forum/society" hreflang="en">BULGARIA SOCIETY</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=1508&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="vYdiXqi64rvfn7GtvqHTJP_rF4Tx8Dhx5AIVkEkcEeA"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 10 Sep 2012 09:15:57 +0000 DimanaT 1508 at https://www.vagabond.bg https://www.vagabond.bg/militsionershtina-1508#comments THANK YOU FOR THE FAILURE https://www.vagabond.bg/thank-you-failure-1509 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">THANK YOU FOR THE FAILURE</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Stamen Manolov; photography by BTA</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon, 09/10/2012 - 12:08</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>The personality cult for Bulgaria's Boyko Borisov has assumed increasingly grotesque proportions in the wake of the London Olympics, where Bulgarian athletes turned in their worst performance in 60 years.</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-06/Team%20Bulgaria%20Olympic%20Games%202012.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/Team%20Bulgaria%20Olympic%20Games%202012.jpg" width="1000" height="563" alt="Team Bulgaria Olympic Games 2012.jpg" title="Team Bulgaria" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>The Bulgarians left the games with just two medals, a silver and a bronze. In previous Olympic games Bulgarians usually got at least a handful of golds in various disciplines.</p> <p>Regardless of their modest performance in London, the Bulgarian athletes thanked the prime minister "personally" for his "formidable" support.</p> <p>Speaking in the name of the Bulgarian athletes in London, the chairwoman of the Bulgarian Olympic Committee Stefka Kostadinova, herself a former athlete, expressed "gratitude to the whole Bulgarian society, the Bulgarian state and personally to the prime minister for the assistance given in preparation for and participation in the games."</p> <p>The statement evoked the times of Communism, when sports were used to glorify the Warsaw Pact and athletes, artists and everyone else had to thank the Communist Party and "personally" its chairman for any kind of success scored at home or abroad.</p> <p>The August 2012 statement of the Bulgarian Olympic Committee unleashed a bout of ridicule in those media not yet controlled by the government.</p> <p>Commentators asked themselves whether Bulgaria was turning into a Belarus or a North Korea, where one man is being worshipped for any public deed seen as boosting the country's image abroad.</p> <p>Athletes, when they achieve success, usually thank their coaches, or their peers, or their parents, or perhaps God, one commentator noted. In Bulgaria they are made to thank a passing politician who spends hundreds of thousands of public money erecting sports facilities that fail to produce good athletes, and always does it in his own name, as if the money were coming out of his own pocket.</p> <p>The prime minister commented (verbatim translation): "It is simply good that we see some reinvigoration in professional sport. You see that in every discipline, even if we do not reach a medal, they play very well."</p> <p>Perhaps without the formidable personal support of the prime minister, Bulgarian athletes might not have got even two medals?</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-71-72" hreflang="en">Issue 71-72</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/fun/joke-of-the-month" hreflang="en">JOKE OF THE MONTH</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=1509&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="Jmj3xJpuNLQpKwzjI-6g86dzndmY1mz8Unqv_vN44_k"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 10 Sep 2012 09:08:29 +0000 DimanaT 1509 at https://www.vagabond.bg https://www.vagabond.bg/thank-you-failure-1509#comments