The furs that I wear winter time in Sofia offend my friends. "You can't wear them in London, can you?" they would say, romantically fantasizing about an imaginary Green Peace or Wild Life Protection police patrolling the streets of the Albion, assaulting people in furs spilling green dye on their furry garments.
No, they don't simply picture your average teenage bicycle&knife patrols scanning Holloway Road, Camden High Street and Prince of Wales Road for relative valuables such as mobile-phones, bicycles and whatever-else-le-bon-dieu might send.
To an acquaintance's "Venus in Furs?" with a lifted eyebrow and tilted head, I answered "No, a trapper in the Wild East" because Sofia's streets are all mud, pits and puddles cold and darkness.
My son though read my furs right: "Mum, you look like an Ancient Bulgaria nobleman" he grind at first sight.
Correct my son - an Ancient Bulgarian riding a tinny Arabian horse through the Wilderness of Europe and beyond.
(I first become aware of the tiny invisible - though black, - Arabian horse I am riding while working at Ascot Rehab, Bagshot Branch. When looking at Prince Edward's dream-like sheep in his leased Bagshot Park Crown Estate I heard my voice telling me aloud: "Iva, look where your tiny Arabian horse brought you! Look where it brought you".
Something coded deep in my genes informed me that these exquisite sheep on these green meadows are the pinnacle of my Bedu tribe travellings. And Bagshot Park Crown Estate represents the Bedu's Eldorado.
None of my Bedu tribe has been as far as Bagshot Park Crown Estate - not even my writer of an uncle resident in Chicago - my genes informed me.
This epiphany found its confirmation not long after when an elderly Saudi woman told me "We dream about Jannah/ paradis, but the paradise is here. They have built it". )
The bleak truth being that I just don't bother to carry clothes in suitcases across continents. I wear what I find in my old wardrobes - so it often looks indecipherable.
Sofia Airport. Last episode for this season.
عنترة بن شداد Antarah ibn Shaddad
Three Colours Great : Victory Day, Perfectly Pink and Sisal
Three pieces of dancing performance that fluently speak the international body language of the dancing theatre while being edge sharp on the issues of the day.
This is not merely your toothless lost in space and time West-End Thriller, Tina or Motown. (Performances at Saddler's Wells are not more pertinent, since the last time Sylvie was there)
This is a fresh, intellectual, activist dancing theatre with a cause and a message.
It is the big, full of young, vibrating flesh and blood European theatre.
Victory Day, 8 February
VictoryDay, author and choreographer Willy Prager researches the physical dimensions of a revolution.
Having experienced Eastern Europe's Velvet Revolution first hand Willy Prager based this show on a thorough field research on the experience of the Arab Spring which he conducted himself in Cairo and Alexandria amongst his Egyptian colleagues: fellow actors, choreographers and directors in 2012.
Thirty years after the fall of the European Wall in Berlin and eight years after the uprisings in the Middle East this piece revises the signs, symbols and slogans of the revolution as an omnipresent event on every level of our daily lives.
Victory Day wan the audience award of Jardins du l'Europe International Theatre Festival .
Perfectly Pink, 14 February
PerfectlyPink. Author and choreographer Iva Sveshtarova explores anew the constant of the female body - hers and this of her co-dancer Violeta Vitanova - as a subject that gets manipulated and as an object that has the power to manipulate.
Asking the same old questions on desire, pleasure and eroticism, it turns upside down the cliches and stereotypes.
The show is a philosophical experience showing us the female body as a human one simultaneously strong and vulnerable in its ability to construct and destruct.
It is also an invigorating experience being altogether funny, scary and exciting.
Last but not least this is the show of two extremely beautiful women at the summit of their physical, intellectual and professional might. They are literally
A W E S O M E
Sisal, 21 February
Sisal (That'sIt). Author and choreographer Galina Borisova is not per chance called The Mother of the Contemporary Dance in Bulgaria. Author, translator, thinker and a dancer herself Galina is a world-level avant-garde creator.
Galina calls Sisal - a perform?ance during which four dancer-singers create in real time a multidimensional space by stretching sisal cords from the centre to the periphery and return - The Manifest of Perfection.
Indeed, the transformation of the space through strait bright lines and appearance of various geometrical shapes and angles by the meticulously precise movements of the performing actors has an absolute calming and invigorating mindfulness effect.
The show is an hour and a half of aesthetic dynamic meditation.
To this yet another dimension is added : the audience is immersed into the inner dialog of the author and the performers reflecting on the meaning of their movements and show, the importance of the form an others.
Hence, in addition to what is beautiful and visible, we are also made aware of what is difficult and invisible - the creator's and performers' inner world during the act of creation and performing.
Thus, with no budget and from Gallery Etude's tiny stage in Sofia, Galina Borisova mirrors the most exciting element of the hippest show of this season, staged on one of the biggest scenes of London - The Queen of Spades at the Royal Opera House.
Quel avant-garde Galina, chapeau!
The hot mineral water at Korali mineral pool is 49 C° (at sours).
It has multiple beneficial effects: lungs and heart function, skin and neuromotor disease etc
The coldest armosphere temperature I swam at there was -10C°, winter 2017.
Roman Empire Spa Centre Bulgaria has hundreds of mineral hot water sources round its territory.
Most of them captured in baths and pools - indoors and outdoors.
Some decades ago capital Sofia had about ten mineral waters public baths and swimming pools, cold and warm - all closed now.
Closed but not lost - the natural wealth of fantastic waters is still there. One day a new generation of intelligent Bulgarians will emerge to undig and set free Sofia's hidden natural treasures.
The luxuries of swimming in a hot mineral pool are many : the sight of a deep blue sky on a bright frozen afternoon; the ice cold arrows of the winter rain at dusk; the pitch black and crazy white swirl of the snow storm in the evening - all of which one faces with bare chest amidst the mystical steams of the hot waters.
There is also a particular hot-waters swimming style which feels like walking on the moon on weed.
Loch Pancharevo is also where the surgeons of Pirogoff Emergency Hospital like to chill out after shifts.
No wonder. It's better than alcohol. Better than drugs. As it has no withdrawal symptoms.
I was just about to say that it it is addiction free habit when I realised that after 15 years of living abroad this is the last and only thing I still miss from Bulgaria - Outdoors swimming pool, after work, twice a week.
LAAF at Loch Pancharevo, 22 February
Вчера цял ден нямаше вода.
Днес няма ток.
Домоуправителката казва "Случва се".
Аз казвам: Да, случва се в Ирак, Иран и Съветските Републики.
Летящата чиния oт връх Бузлуджа кацна в столицата.
Just when I thought that I mastered the trick!
"Sofia is not so scary" naively thought I, "As long as you don't walk the streets" (Broken or absent - at lest 8 out of 10 Sofia neighbourhoods don't have pavement or road covering. I am telling you The Wild Wild East. Basically only the Centre has a parody of an infrastructure)
Just when I thought I mastered the trick of happily staying at home:
Today : 21st February, our neighbourhood: already 2 hours with no electricity. (Without notice)
Today, just as yesterday, I call our building manager:
"What's going on with the electricity?" I ask.
"I don't know", she says, "It happens".
"How long will it last?" I ask.
"I don't know" she says as it happens.
As I am in the Wild Wild East I am standing next to the boyler praying to the Electricity to come. Didn't have a shower yesterday. Highly improbable to have it today.
Tonight, I will sacrifice a golden fish in the sink so that tomorrow it might happen that there is running water in it.
No shelter from the Wild Wild East. No shelter even under one's own roof.
"You criticise this country all the time" my friend told me yesterday.
....I wonder why.....
It's rather fortunate that I am not meeting her today - she would've probably say "You stink all the time".
And before you come to any wrong conclusions:
There IS a healthy electricity providers' competition in Bulgaria. And more precisely there are three electricity providers, each supplying a different region of the country.
(Why should they gang in the same part of the country when the country is sooo big - plenty of space for all)
Thus Chez supplies West Bulgaria including Sofia (check your map).
Of course I can change my electricity provider! Nobody would impede me moving to a smaller town in another region ( just not the capital nor the big coastal cities).
Vivre la pauvreté!
For a happy ending I will quote from the exquisite Paolo Sorentino's Loro (I): "The only difference between Catholics and Communists is that the first preach poverty while the second create it"
Sofia's February Balcony-Sunbathing season is now open.
All you need is bikini, coat and boots.
One thing is certain : When you get killed by a natural disaster caused by global warming you will die well tanned.
The new suntanning season in Bulgaria lasts nine months.
2018 last sunbathing day was on 17 Nov.
2019 season started yesterday 17 Feb.
Awaiting the typhoon
LET'S GET BROWN!
(or orange for those less talented)
A Kelly Caleche, passing bellow, is a fine finishing to the exotic view.
Луковмарш/Lukovmarch, Saturday 16 February 2019
By pure hazard yesterday, 16th ofFebruary, the day I wrote the short impression on Sofia's looks and moods (bellow), Nationalists' Lukovmarch took place in the evening.
Incidentally - it so happened that I passed by the marchers gathering point just before the starting time and decided to accompany them through the whole event. I wanted to know how are they and what are there bothers.
To be honest, I need some time before daring to write about it (if I dare writing about it at all). What I found surprising today though was Reuters account of the march which were surprisingly inaccurate while so far I believed that Reuters was a news organisation committed to the "value-neutral approach" policy and "..to reporting the facts and in all situations avoid the use of emotive terms. The only exception is when we are quoting someone directly or in indirect speech."...
Now, it could be hardly qualified as "emotive" account when writing about an event one quotes only those opposing it, as in Reuters' article quoted below.
No, dear Reuters there were no swastikas nor Nazi salutes ("Participants, mostly young men in dark clothing, many bearing swastikas and making the Nazi salute", from Reuters article "Far-right activists stage torchlit march in Bulgarian capital").
As for the "messages of hatred for Jews and other minorities". The only fobic slogan that I heard was ".....the communists to court, to court, to court".
Now I have to admit that by chanting this slogan the Mostly Young Men in Dark Clothing were being silly as the "communists" they meant are long-time retired or deceased of old age or less natural causes; their children are life-long representatives of the country in Brussels, Strasburg and New York; and their grandchildren are in respectively Ecole Normal Superieur, Oxbridge or the Ivy. Of course some of the children and lovers are left behind in the country to run multy-mullion businesses without paying a stotinka worth of tax (Lukoil), run infrastructure construction companies that win EU funding 70% of which officially goes into private accounts (see below "Nine months later: Sofia's Continuous Nightmare (Series 2 - February 2019") and contemporary art galleries. In a word run the country from one hand. From other hand with the countrie's nine-months-forgotten-in-the-attic-blue-cheese- rotten prosecution system there is simply no chance to put the so called communists to court).
I guess it becomes self-evident that the "communists" in Bulgaria are far from being a minority.
Yes, dear Reuters at a time when "we"/"Progressive West" do sit with the Talibans on the negotiating table, it is rather strange to frown at quoting European rightist youth (according to your own words). Further more the Mostly Young Men in Dark Clothing have wan elections in more than one European country.
It might be time to at least quote them (know what they say) and start finding a practical solution of living together with them.
If anything the march was self-conscious to rigidness. Not only swastikas, Nazi-salutes and hatred-messages were missing, missing were also alcohol, cigarettes and all forms of spontaneity.
If anything can be said about the Mostly Young Men in Dark Clothing (accompanying the other marching people of other group ages and clothimgs) was that they were all exceptionally well behaved (or even excellently tamed?)
Is this worrying?
Amidst Bulgaria's total lack of manners and discipline (where the only difference between a thug, a MP and a policeman is that the later is lax and uncamped) this manifestation of perfect order could be very very worrying.
Very very worrying indeed.
I reckon we should undig our heads from the sand, look the Mostly Young Men in Dark Clothing in the eye and start the Listening To and Talking With practice and exercise. No more :
And "hatred messages" abstentionisms
EVERYBODY HERE NOW PRESENT FOR the Mostly Young Men in Dark Clothing.
At the march last night Mostly Young Men in Dark Clothing of eight EU countries were present: England, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Macedonia (I am missing one ).
The lessons of history should be learned: Dismissing Mostly Young Men in Dark Clothing is proven to be a bad bad strategy.
While false reporting dear Reuters, can't win any young aspirational soul.
17 February 2019
Луковмарш/Lukovmarch, Saturday 16 February 2019
Nine months later: Sofia's Continuous Nightmare (Series 2 - February 2019)
"Попът" Sofia's most emblematic meeting point turn rubbish pit.
As Sofia becomes more and more broken ("dilapidated" is a far too sophisticated a word to describe Sofia's miserable state of affairs) Bulgaria as a whole gets wilder and wilder. The Wild Balkan East. Proper.
And while the rags of poverty fail to hide the bare lack of lawfulness and normality, local Bulgarian population's main occupation is the hatred of Gypsies (in absentee) and the main bother is not to be mistaken for one.
Futile senseless fears and preoccupations as the saddened knowledgeable spectator knows that most Bulgarian Gypsies are in Western Europe (UK included) on their way to a rather successful integration.
Yes, hundreds of thousands of Bulgarian Gypsies, Bulgarian Muslims and Bulgarian Turks live in the West as a result of Bulgaria's lack of social policy and systematic war on minority groups.
Poor (as of a person deserving of pi ty and sympathy) poor (as of a person lacking sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society) lost Bulgarian souls.
Maddened souls fighting imaginary demons.
While discussing how Sofia looks today my friend Nadia, painter and scenographer (check her subpage here) says "This is the pesants' revenge on the capital city ".
And while I share Nadeto's pain at the sight of Sofia, once called the Paris of the Balkans, in ruins. Further more that the bits that are eventually "fixed" "look like nothing" as goes the Bulgarians expression.
Personally I think that the current Bulgarian Wo/men of State resident in Sofia unconsciously seek to reproduce their home places as they remember them from the time of their childhood.
Unfortunately, this is how Bulgarian province looked in the 80s - mud, ugliness, gaps and racism.
16 February 2019
"One thing is certain : When you get killed by a natural disaster caused by global warming you will die well tanned. Hello Donald!" Ace!!