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Where Is Bulgaria?
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Where is Bulgaria?

Where are you from? Russia? Yes, I recognized that “rrr” sound, so we could talk over poetry while sharing a bottle of vodka… Or may be you are French and I must start “parler en français” immediately or should we kiss first? Not again? Well then, I bet you are American and that definitely means you have no idea where my country is.

It is sometimes possible to guess where people are from after just a couple of words. Or drinks. What you need for such ability is vast previous experience with different nations and some basic school memories from geography classes.

But if this could help you with the all-know nations, whose flags top each and every website and whose names always mean something to everyone, how could you recognize the musician from Cabo Verde, the clerk from Surinam, the scientist from Vanuatu or …. me?

I am from Bulgaria. It is a small country on the Balkan Peninsula in Eastern Europe. Yes, you’ve guessed right – ex communist block. My country was founded about 1300 years ago by the youngest son of the great Khan Kubrat. It started with the union of Bulgarians and local Slavonic tribes and grew to an empire spreading borders at three seas. We had a khan called Tervel who stopped the invasions of Arabs to Europe back in the 8th century. It was here that Cyrillic alphabet was first brought to life and we are still using it today. A Bulgarian descent invented the first computer – John Atanassoff, we have world famous footballers like Dimitar Berbatov, opera singers like Boris Hristov, scientists…

But having great history and great achievements does not really make it for a national character. It does not let us know who we really are.

My father often tells me of his first trip abroad. He traveled to Japan in the 80-s for a technical fair. He made some nice friends there and they asked him “Boyan, so where are you from?”, “Bulgaria”, he said but his Japanese fellows did not seem to understand. “Greece?”, he specified, hoping that our neighbors’ ancient history would make it all clear. Same no-response. “Europe…?”, he persisted. They were still frowning maybe trying to make-up some virtual map and pin this strange Europe country on it. One of them dared asking: “Well, Boyan, is this Europe somewhere near Germany?”. “Yes, just on the left of it”, my father laughed. What helped them “locate” my father in Germany? Simple – stereotypes. Engineer, technical fair – Germany!

When I last traveled to Paris, I was with my mother. We went to see Notre Dame de Paris. It was short before Christmas and the inside of the cathedral was like a living fairy-tale – silent lights in the gothic grandeur, small figurines displaying biblical scenes, people scarcely talking immersed in the unexpected warmth of this sumptuous building. We were stopped by a nice lady while admiring the biblical scenes. “Would you like me to tell you the story?”, she asked in French. “Thank you very much, we know the story, it is just so beautiful here”, I replied. “So you are Christians?”, she asked. I confirmed. “And where are your from?”, the lady continued. “Bulgaria”. “Really? How many are you there?”. I did not get her point right away. But soon got it and said smiling – “About 90%. This is our nation’s official religion”. So, the lady did not know much about Bulgaria, but something helped her locate us on the map – to the east, close to Turkey, with which we share long years of common past. This was good news, on the whole.

Stereotypes help. School memories too. But is it so important to recognize where I am from and is it so important to locate me – on the map, in the list of religions or within a set of acceptable passports. No, it is not, because if you did, you would never care hearing my story. And when you hear it you will know that here, in my country you will find beauty and you will find friends. The city I live in, Stara Zagora, meets its guests with a big sign at the entrance – “Welcome to Stara Zagora – The Center of the Universe!”. Because the center of the universe is where you are and where we can meet. And the universe has no beginning and it has no end.


Street Talk

Ljupcho  

Bulgaria is..... next to Macedonia;) Nice article. by the way every spot on the planet earth is its own center of the universe

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
  

Hey, that's exactly what I meant about the center of the universe - every spot and every person :) Cheers, neighobr :)))

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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