Displaying items by tag: Communism
In Sofia, there is a place where you can see a representative sample of modern-day Bulgarian society in just about a couple of square miles and in less than a few hours. This is the National Palace of Culture, or NDK. On its vast square, teenagers skateboard and flirt, elderly people have coffee with friends and mothers stroll with their children, while buskers and icecream sellers vie for customers. In the evening, people heading for some festival or concert at the NDK's Hall 1 flock in front of the main entrance. It has about a dozen doors, but typically just one is open. The bars around are packed, and those who can afford it head for the luxury restaurant on the top floor.
Being a flight attendant was a glamorous job during Communism. Uniformed beauties on calendars for Balkan Airlines, the state air carrier, reinforced that the job as an aspirational one, while for the more practically minded, the profession had another advantage. When local shops lacked essentials like toilet paper, working on an international fight meant having the opportunity to buy foreign luxuries (whisky, perfume, fur coats and Levi's jeans) and sell them for a good profit on the eager Bulgarian black market.
The factories worked and everyone had a job, there was no crime, the army was strong and every family had two-week holidays at the seaside: for a significant number of Bulgarians, Communism was a golden era of prosperity and security that outshone democracy, with its freedom of movement, speech and entrepreneurship. It is not only the generations who were young during Communism that feel this way. Many Bulgarians born too late to have first-hand experience of the regime share the same sentiment.