Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bulgaria feels like a country that hasn't quite dragged itself out from behind the Iron Curtain. I'm staying in the capital Sofia in a concrete block of a hotel, with surly staff and a brown-beige 1970s interior. I'm surrounded by decaying concrete apartment blocks, that stretch for miles through the city. My Bulgarian colleagues are young IT professionals, friendly and extremely hospitable, and last night they took me for a traditional Bulgarian meal in the city centre.They're the country's future, although, unlike their counterparts whom I worked with in the Czech Republic, who were full of optimism about their country, the young Bulgarians I met seemed rather less hopeful, in fact a little resigned.

Did you know that Bulgarians shake their heads to mean 'yes', and nod to mean 'no'?

Trips like this are like a suspension of everyday life for me; of housework, shopping, car problems and general family duties. I've taken the oppurtunity lately of using these trips to read books I should have read before, but which take time the aforementioned chores don't usually allow. On recent trips I've digested Don Quijote, Moby Dick and Great Expectations. This time I brought along the Library of America edition of Gertrude Stein's works, and I'm currently immersed in 'The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas'. It's a delight, and I'll be posting some quotes from it soon.


John B-R said...

Have you met any Bulgarians poets? Is it possible?

Ed Baker said...

am extremely excited that you are delving into Gert Stein

am, myself, just revisiting her
HOW WRITING IS WRITTEN (volume two of the previously uncollected writings, edited y Robert Haas)


always on my desk to "goose" me is both her HOW TO WRITE and

The Making of Americans..

a random line from The Making of Americans (p.307):

"Every one has their own being in them. Everybody is a real one to me. Each one sometimes is a whole one to me. Each one is sometimes a whole one in me. Some come very slowly to be a complete being to me."


Alistair Noon said...

I've been to Bulgaria twice in the last couple of years and it wasn't until I did so that I became vaguely aware of the economic hammering it took in the nineties. "Restructuring" hit it harder than some other former Eastern Bloc countries I think. The Czechs are closer to the big markets like Germany.

We were surprised to find some trips between small towns impossible to do by public transport, because some bus services in the countryside had been axed - not enough people had enough money to travel even short distances.

bathmate said...

Have you met any Bulgarians poets? Is it possible?great posting.. that's a really good