One of Bulgaria's top intellectuals, Georgi Lozanov, is a familiar face to Vagabond readers. A philosopher and a media expert with many years as a leading member of the National Electronic Media Council Lozanov now teaches communications at Sofia University. Among his many interests Communism – and what supersedes it – has had a special place on his rostrum. In his telltale style of combing the mundane with the philosophical, even allegorical, Lozanov begins this conversation, in his office at the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency located at Sofia's main thoroughfare that used to be called Lenin, by pondering over when exactly Bulgarian Communism ended.
If you think that 14 February is the high point of the Bulgarians' ability to squeeze culturally different feasts into a single day, think again.
If you are visiting Bulgaria in the second half of May, do not be alarmed by the excited hoards of heavily made-up, eccentrically-dressed teenagers roaming the streets and frantically screaming out something (more on this later) at the top of their voices. Despite appearances, they are not members of some mysterious sect – they are simply celebrating their graduation from high school.
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.
Even fluent Bulgarian speakers, including people who were actually born in this country, sometimes have a difficulty to understand what's really going on in the minds of their fellow citizens. Applying Western rational thought does not help since it is unable to dissect the thinking patterns of the Bulgarian society.