Archive for Women

New ceiling…..up it goes

Annie is keeping from being bored in Bulgaria by making a mess 🙂

Here is the new ceiling going up.

Ceiling going up

Looks to me more like an upsidedown floor.  Not going to be easy to polish that Miss 4’11” and a 1/2 ?  Hope she didn’t get her Goray & Dollows mixed up.

I am sure she gives a better account of herself here


To Ski or Not to Ski?

Is there a better place in the world than your local pub? I have yet to find one
wherever I have lived, be it in Swansea, Tanzania, and now Bulgaria. There is nothing better than after you have done what you have to do
for the day than sitting back with a few beers, putting the world to right.

My local ‘kruchma’ in Samodiva, is a mine of useful and sometimes completely irrelevant information. Topics of conversation range from football, politics, and more often than not the bikini clad MTV clip playing in the back ground. Would you? Wouldn’t you?

I am probably the youngest there at 35 and considered a ‘mlad’, the rest of the locals who water themselves there are 40+ married with at least one child. The kruchma is not just a place to get tipsy, but is a refuge from day to day life in the village. Although women are allowed in my pub it is a male only zone. Where they can swear with abandon knowing that no-one will get upset. Where opinions can be voiced, and normally challenged vociferously.

Apart from the lack of pool table and dart board, this could be a working mans pub anywhere in the UK. Apart from Saturday nights where you will not find all the wives sat in the corner with a gin & tonic on their night out.

When I first went to my pub armed only with my phrasebook, conversation was a little stifled, although with many hand gestures and references to dictionaries, I managed to converse if only in a limited way. So much so that new words and phrases have been invented and now constitute a new language that can only be understood within the realms of the Samodiva kruchma.

Tahir was one evening telling me that he was working away in Pamporova, I had only been here a few weeks and was getting completely confused. So he started to mime someone skiing. This (un)fortunately I misread as having sex. Imagine, man in pub pretending he is doing the downhill slalom, after a couple of beers it is an easy mistake to make. When I got the dictionary definition and explained to him that I thought he meant having sex, he and the rest of the pub were crying with laughter.

From that day on the verb ‘to ski’ now has two meanings in Samodiva and comes in the forms;

  • ski – the normal, snow two planks and a bit chilly
  • ski bez snag (without snow) Clothes not required. Not chilly.

So if some asks you to come on a skiing holiday in Samodiva, you might want to ask if there is going to be snow or not.

Kolla e Djenna, droughta hora ne mojay!

Well I have been very busy the last week or so, my trusty old Ford Escort
has started to have a mid life crisis. So I suppose that, in conjunction with my servicing philosophy (don’t fix it until it breaks)
it has served me well.

I don’t really get attached or possessive towards my possessions, after all it is just stuff. I would also like to think that if I needed to borrow
something from one of my neighbours that the favour would be reciprocated. This does not appear to be the view shared by some of my neighbours, and
perhaps some of them think me a little naive or just an easy touch. So until recently if someone wanted to borrow my car and I didn’t need it I had no
problem letting them carry on as long as it came back with fuel in it.

That was until last week when I went to use my car and found a large pool of diesel underneath the engine, and none of the lenders knew anything about it.
I located the source of the problem being the seal on the fuel pump. After a little search on the internet, I realised that this would not be a cheap and
quick fix and a new pump could set me back £500 before it is even fitted.

As with most problems that I need help fixing I find the best way to a solution is to share these problems in the ‘kruchma’ to see what their advice is.
I was not to be disappointed. Hikmet my good friend, barmen, electrician, and all round good egg of Samodiva provided information on where to locate
a good mechanic. I was fully prepped to get my car there, but was in no rush.

The very next morning I get a knock at the door, it is Chernol, Hikmets younger brother who is back from working in Belgium for a month holiday and is
at a bit of a loose end.

‘Kolla, Ramont, Siga! Ela’

(Car, Repair, Now! Come).

My village has learnt to communicate in my version of Bulgarian to make sure I understand.

Never to look a gift horse in the mouth we set off. Chernol in the lead in his ‘Kolla’, me following behind getting 3 miles to the gallon.
We get to the mechanic, I open up the bonnet point at the fuel pump and gesture ‘ Ne roboti’ (No work). Much nodding of the head side to side, which
has a different meaning here I pass him the key and he confers with Chernol over price and timing.

The outcome of which I later learn is 250 Lev (£100), he will strip down the fuel pump replace all seals and fix whatever the problem is and phone Chernol
when it is ready to pick up. Winner, being from the UK I am used to paying this much just to get a mechanic look under the bonnet.

2 days later Hikmet is at my door, Chernol is away visiting people but has had a phone call from our mechanic to say that my car is ready to be collected.
No problem I tell him, I will phone a taxi and go and get it. He tells me that I will not be getting a taxi and his son Bekihir will be driving me to the
garage ‘Siga (Now)’

The mechanic is in the local town of Kardjali some 35 kms away, and all offers of fuel money are sternly rejected.

In true mechanic fashion on arrival I was told of other problems that have been identified whilst fixing the fuel pump, I have a new fan belt and the
air filter also needed replacing.

I ask how much this is, and am quite amazed that the quote is being honoured, he was just telling me that he had done the other work as it needed
doing. UK mechanics take note. Bekhir, did not leave my side during the transaction, I got the impression he was sent along to ensure that I was not
ripped off.

So will I be letting my car be borrowed again. Maybe. But I was told this in the pub the following night:

Bulgarian Philosophy on Wives and Cars. As told me by my next door neighbour.

‘Dominic, a car to a Bulgarian man has the same respect as his wife, you don’t let other people use it’

‘Kolla e Djenna, drougata hora ne mojay!’

Annies’ World Part Three

As mentioned previously, I am the only girl that frequents the local pub and the only reason I get away with it is because I am British and I am accompanied by a man. Never would I be accepted into the pub if I was a single white female. That is how it is, no point getting all feminist on them. This is a point to note to you ladies should you wish to live in Bulgaria on your own. You would be ok in the big cities, holiday resorts but not in a local village. This issue may make you feel somewhat isolated. Even as a welcomed regular I would never venture up the local pub for a night with the lads if Dominic was not with me.

In respect to their traditions, in the early days Dom visited the pub without me (don’t worry I had my own home supplies) in order to get among the boys. It was not until he and they felt comfortable that he asked if it was okay for me to enter the ‘Man’s Domain’. To be honest I was wee bit apprehensive but Hikmet (barman, shop keeper, electrician, tobacco maker, translator, teacher……..) took me under his wing. As you can imagine, word of a woman drinking beer in the pub spread like wild fire. However, in respect to the boys I will not take other women up there with me. Like they said, one woman ok, more than one not good. After all, as in this country, their pub is their sanctuary away from the wives. Think about it, how often do you walk into a pub on a weekday and see couples? it is normally the men propping up the bar after a hard day at work (yawn). Women are taken out on the weekends, we’ve all seen them on a Saturday night dressed up excited about being invited out by their blokes to their locals (or is that just Swansea?!)

For those of you who don’t know me, I shall tell you that I much prefer the company of lads than lasses. I just can’t get into the hair and make-up conversations. This is a girl who does not own a hairdryer and certainly no makeup. My only cosmetic exuberance is deodorant!

I therefore love my nights in the pub. They have accepted me as one of the lads. My lack of knowledge of Turkish or Bulgarian does not mean I don’t understand what they are talking about. I can confirm that men are the same all over the world; football, politics, sex, etc in no particular order and dependant on the time of night and who your company is…….

Annies’ World Part 2

Having travelled to many countries, I have experienced the extremes of beliefs and religions. Being a strong minded female, I have had some issues with the way women are treated, you know – they walk ten steps behind the man, don’t speak, accept that male strangers can fondle and ‘rub’ against you to their hearts content. I was therefore very concerned when I realised that we had moved to a predominately muslim area. For those of you who do not know me, I enjoy the odd (?!) beer and a smoke. So you can understand my concerns, I had images of being stoned to death. I need not have worried. Although they are devout during Ramadam (which I admire), they are not extreme – in fact, to the contrary.

I am ‘the only girl in the pub’. I will discuss this in greater detail later. I want to give you more details of a woman’s life in Bulgaria. The womans role it to look after the house. It is that basic. They will be the ones that get up at 5.00am to milk the cow, to meet the milk van and exchange the milk for bread. They will spend hours labouring over a hot petchka to make the meals (oh, that’s after they have spent 3 days solid chopping wood), the houses are spotless and no-one goes without woollen socks. And do you know what, they all seem as happy as larry. All they ask for is good gossip and very very sweet cakes. The best clothes (and even a bra) go on when it’s a visit to the market or when visiting relatives.

The older women always look cold. They are kitted out in their MC Hammer trousers, woollen socks, rubber shoes, house coat, woollen tanktops and head scarfs and that’s in August. They daren’t venture out in winter.

In contrast, the younger girls have all obviously subscribed to ‘Vogue’. Done up to the nines in their very tight jeans and tight tops (no imagination needed boys). Hair immaculate. I was intimidated by the pertness of their breasts until I went to the local market. They have caught on to our padded bras idea!! An ideal gift to give a girl is perfume, make-up and nail varnish.

In our village, we have been a huge source of amusement to them. Jemina was in shock when she saw Dom doing the washing up and cooking, she even tried to stop him. She was almost embarrassed. I have been threatened to be taught how to cook, whilst Dom is mocked because I do most of the DIY.

As I only visit every 3 months or so, I am always inundated with invites to go for coffee and they always have a warm smile and deep hugs for me. It is so heart warming. Secretly I would love to get them all together one night and get them tipsy. It would be hilarious!!!!! (Don’t think the men would be to impressed though)

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