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5 Things I Had Forgotten About Bulgaria

Drinking a cup of tea at the breakfast table today, I couldn’t help but overhear a young woman talking to her 2-year old daughter in Bulgarian, my mother tongue. The diminutive, gentle words she used caught my attention. Having been away from the Bulgarian language for some time, I had forgotten about this way of speaking to small children that feels somewhat cheesy, but also touching. This and much more had escaped my mind in all these years of absence. Here are some of the other aspects of living in Bulgaria which I have been reminded of during my visit*:

– How markedly tasty fruits and vegetables here are

This is not exaggerated. Go and taste for yourself (especially the tomatoes, melons, and cherries). And don’t forget to check out a local market, it’s an experience in its own right.

Market in Sofia - vegetables

– How important coffee drinking can be

Meeting over coffee can mean anything here. It can happen at any time of the day, usually lasts longer than expected and is often just an excuse to see someone for whatever reason (gossip, romance, catching up, even arguing or ranting).

– How elegant women can be/aspire to be

I don’t mean to make universal statements or reinforce stereotypes, but it’s obvious that Bulgarian women try their best to be as elegant as they can be… it seems to me that they try more conscientiously than female residents of some other countries. The result… many look gorgeous following this ideal of beauty, and some probably deserve the funny looks they get (at least from me).

– How unfriendly public officials and service providers can be

Admittedly, I have experienced a few exceptions in the last days which made me think that there has been a positive change in the service attitude which was almost non-existent years ago. But still… grumpy officials and unfriendly service providers of any type tend to be the norm in many cases.

– How narrow-minded and stubborn taxi drivers can be

Some say that taxi drivers are fun to talk with since they keep their fingers on the pulse of a city and always have an interesting story to tell. While the former might be true, I have rarely (if ever) come across a friendly storyteller as taxi driver. The taxi that I took after landing in Sofia was no exception. In the 20-minute ride I uttered no more than 3 short, friendly answers to simple questions, the rest was the taxi driver ranting against people living abroad and praising what he thought was the only ‘right’ way of living. I wanted to conclude by saying that everyone is entitled to make their own choices which was the worst offense he could imagine… Not such a fun experience for both of us, I guess.

These are only a few examples of how I re-discover everyday life here, very well-known and slightly forgotten at the same time. It’s funny how the place we live in can almost displace previous experiences and perceptions, some worth re-discovering, others probably not.

*Please note that I don’t mean to generalize or judge in any way. These are simple observations.


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