Archive for Bulgarian Language

Muslims & Gypsies

The annual (lunar year) of muslim festival’s is upon us. So this weekend I spent out of the garden and voluteered to drive my neighbour Hussain
around, as he is the local Imam, he is busy saying a few prayers and singing (voice like pavarotti) as each of the local mosques(djamir’s) has its
‘mulitsa’. Not quite sure what is being celebrated but as no-one but Hussain knows any Arabic I am probably not the only one.

I suppose they are somewhat the same as ‘pancake day’ is the christian calendar, lots of eating for just before the month of fasting. So I am quite lucky I
get to do all the feasting and being proudly atheist no fasting required. Today’s mulitsa was in the local village of Mladovo, which as well as being from the
Mulsim minority in Bulgaria, is also a minority in a minority in that most of the village are from Roma decent. The BNP would have loved it.

The festival starts about 9 in the morning, where a few of the men cook the traditional beef and rice, enough to feed the whole village and any passing guests, then
for those who wish, a ceremony in the mosque goes on, whilst the majority sit around, telling dirty jokes, or in my case explaining the price of everything in the UK. The UKFO
can sleep well tonight I have put off an entire village from wanting to emigrate to the UK when I told them 20 cigarettes will cost them 8 euros! I was the brunt of many
jokes, one of the comedians of the village strung me on with a story that he had just had his 15th child, and pointed out his (new) wife who was 30 years his junior!

Hikmet The Giggilo

Hikmet the Dad of 15!

It turned out that he has two daughters, did not find any truth about the age of his new wife though! One of the young lads brought out an English phrase book, so inretrun I got
Hikmet to read out the English for Knife, Fork & spoon, which had the students in the village who study English in fits of laughter at his pronouciation of ‘fork’. The whole village was very welcoming, and I was treated as
a guest, and included me in all that was going on. Hussain was coming to the end of his ‘set’, so sent for me to sit with him during the feast, some poor other old fellow
was shunted down the pecking order, so the Imam’s driver could sit at the ‘top table’. Hussain thought it was quite funny, I have never met an 87 year old with such a mischeavous
behaviour. After the feast I filled the car up with as many as I could and we headed back, two of my new passesngers live in Fotinovo, which would mean about a 2km detour which was no
problem for me, but Hussain was having none of it, and kicked them out at our turn off, telling them there would be a bus along in a minute (The rural Sunday service must be improving). As
we drove on he said they were just chancing their arm, and the walk back would do them good as they are still young (Only in their late 70’s).

I have made a few new friends and have also put a name to a few more faces that I had seen before, the day has yet to finish as Hussain has told me to meet him in the
pub this evening (like all good Imam’s should). I hope no food is involved as I am full to bursting! I’m off to the pub!

Your Bonsai Needs A Bigger Pot

One of my hobbies for the last 10 years or so has been to grow bonsai trees. I have brought a few over from the UK when we moved over. My neighbours think I am mad!

My Small Hazel Bonsai Tree

I normally recieve at least one guest everyday to my house, normally for a quick coffee and a chat, and to invariably to inspect my gardening
effots and tell me where I am going wrong. Recently whilst repotting my UK Hazel bonsia tree and giving it a quick trim I was visited by one of my
neighbours on such a coffee/inpection visit.

‘What is this?’

‘Its a nut tree’ (I don’t know the Bulgarian for Hazel)

‘It needs a bigger pot or it will never get any bigger’

It is times like these that I am glad that I am not fluent in Bulgarian/Turkish as the actual answer I would give to them would probably sound more bizarre
than the answer I fobbed him off with. Telling someone from a small rural Bulgarian village that it is my intention to keep the tree small so as to make it decorative
would probably get them telephoning the men in white jackets. They have only just got round to the idea of me planting sunflowers where the seeds are no good for eating, and now I am
growing a ‘nut tree’ that if I keep it in a pot will never produce me any nuts!

In fact now that I have written it like that perhaps they have a point!

Back From Blighty

We have all safely returned from our ‘excursion’ to south Wales. We managed to make the house in Swansea liveable, and my two Bulgarian neighbours
have been immersed in Swansea suburban culture, and now call everyone ‘byt’. I am having problems with my camera cable (think it is broken) so the pictures will have to wait
until my new cable arrives from ebay.

I will leave the story of our visit to the uk until I have the photos to back it up, but it is nice now to have two of my neighbours quizzed about
their trip to the UK, and tell everyone that it really does rain everyday. They were treated to fish & chips had a pint of speckled hen.

Hikmet took pictures of everything (including Lidl and PC World), and on our day trip to the sights of Swansea could have been mistaken for a Japanese tourist.

Mustafa had to deal with a very confused Wickes delivery man who wanted a signature, but got nothing but ‘Ne Ingliss, Ne Ingliss’. Hikmet installed his first
set of spot lights. Mustafa used plaster for the first time (and did a good job).

Annie will be pleased that she no longer has to buy a bottle of brandy everyday from Lidl they were begining to think she had a problem. She will also
be pleased that the three ‘tractors’ have left and she can finally get some sleep.

All in all it was a very worthwhile trip for all concerned.

Oh and it is March and bloody freezing here (-5C during the day)

Crocodile Dundee IV

My better half came over to see me over New Year, unfortunately we had a burst pipe back in the UK which resulted in the police breaking in to turn the water off thankfully the the insurance coughed up, so instead of employing UK plasterers at 400 pounds a day I have two willing builders from my village who are able to come and put everything right for 40 pounds a day!

So until the 28 Feb this will be last update, as I and two of my Bulgarian neighbours head back to my two up to down in Swansea to sort out our house there.
One of my neighbours is 55 years old and has never been on a plane before in his life (like most of the village), and has been watching nothing but airplane disaster movies since he accepted to come.

If the tax man is reading this this they will be working for free, but I might give them a present at the end of it. It should be a really good laugh as neither of my
friends has been to the UK before, not sure what they will think of suburban Swansea with its Heroin addicts and beggars all around it should be an experience. I imagine something similar to Crocodile Dundee!

Up at 4 in the morning tomorrow! Everyone was shaking hands in the pub tonight as if we were on the next NASA mission!

This is Bulgaria – That is Normal!

I have been accused of having rosy tinted glasses on when I eulogize about my life in Bulgaria. So I thought for balance I should point out some
of the things that have infuriated me (albeit only mildly) in the last two years. Without exception (maybe pot holes) obsessive documentation is the all
time winner. Today I have been taxiing a neighbor who wanted to renew his ‘red’ (EU) passport.


To call Bulgaria a functioning bureaucracy would be a complete understatement, without reams of documents and official stamps the whole country would
cease to function. I have been trying to work out why this is. Even the simplest of tasks cannot be done without an official document of sorts. For
example, when I purchased my house here it was necessary to form a shell company to purchase the house. In order for the company to function you would
need an official stamp. This is where the problems start. In order to be able to purchase a stamp you need a document stating that the business has
already been created, and to create the business you need an official stamp!

Obviously there are ways around this otherwise I would have been unable to purchase my house, I am left to wonder why the situation actually exists though.
Whenever I point out how bizarre this is I am given the default answer. ‘This is Bulgaria, that is normal’.

This is the first and only ex-communist country that I have visited/lived in, so apologies if my conclusion is off the mark. The need for official
documents, and stamps as far as I can see removes any responsibility from the individual. Decisions are not made by common sense or by individuals;
workers here follow strict guidelines and can never deviate from them. For example since I have been here I have been offered employment at a foreign
language school. I can only take up this employment if I can get my degree legalized in Bulgaria. No problem there.
Only to get my degree certificate legalized here I have to submit my completion of secondary education certificate. Being from the UK there is no
such document. I explain this to the bureaucrats. It appears that this does not matter. Just because something doesn’t exist doesn’t mean that I
can’t produce it. It is on the list of documents to be submitted and therefore I cannot proceed.

There is no room for change. When you question these things with the officials you are normally given shrugging shoulders, and looks of realization
that they know the system is wrong, but they have no intention of changing it. The normal man on the street is so used to having every part of life
dictated to them that it is just normal!

When submitting some kind of documentation you will also have to provide photocopies of the said documents. Do the offices have
photocopies – definitely not. Or at least they do but they are for official use only.

So back to todays renewal of passport. Salim enters the passport office and joins the queue to collect the documents that need to completed.
Completes them then joins another queue to submit them. Gets turned away as he has not made the photocopies required, has to leave the passport
office to get his photocopies. Returns, rejoins the queue for submission of documents. Oh no, it’s lunch time the office closes all queues are
cancelled, come back in an hour and try again.

I ask why this can’t be done by post? Don’t be daft he says, they would lose all the documents.

I suppose now that I have been here a while I have become desensitized to these kind of situations that would have me screaming at bureaucrats in the
UK, as they say.

‘This is Bulgaria, it is normal’

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