Thursday, October 26, 2006

suprises in bulgaria

The theme of this blog is; unexpected friendships, ridiculously funny stories, and the hipster factor of Sofia.

Today I took a little break at work to read the newest copy of Newsweek’s international edition. Newsweek distributes this free to all Peace Corps volunteers. We're really lucky to have some connection to the outside world, especially at the low low price of free. I sometimes don't have the greatest things to say about Peace Corps as an organization, and I generally hate corporate sponsorship or advertising...but this time PC got it right!!!! Anyway, I was reading some article about North Korea and there was a moment in the article where the author mentions how wide spread a feeling is by mentioning two far-flung cities. I read the sentence "...from Tokyo to Sofia..." and then I backtracked. I kept staring at the word "Sofia," trying desperately to understand why this word looked so foreign and familiar all at the same time. That's when I realized it was about the first time I'd read "Sofia" in English in a print article! haha. So, now that Sofia is posh enough to be mentioned without reference to its country, I've decided we're a city of hipsters. Back off (!) kids from Hendersonville, TN!!! I call Sofia for my own!! I found it first and I wanna be a hipster of Europe!

so this blog won't be serious at all, in case you haven't noticed...

A lesson I've learned on my way here in Bulgaria is that, as a young female foreigner, any time someone asks me, "Toni, do you know what x is?" the best answer is always "I don't care." Some days, I'm not always able to exercise that discretion, and I hear quite a variety of "interesting" stories. Yesterday, my coworker Sasho asked this very question.

"Toni, do you know what a 'Russian 3' is?"

Now, I knew better than to pursue this question, but I was kinda bored and went with it. Sasho began my telling me a story about life under socialism, and that during this time, pants and jeans were very scarce. To this day, wearing jeans in Bulgarian society often signifies that you are wealthier than others. Then he continued"

"A Russian 3 is when two people have sex and the third person guards your pants!"

here's the moment of seriousness in the ol blog...

Bulgaria recently had primary elections for president. The two candidates who will face each other on Sunday are from perhaps the two most polar ends of the spectrum. The incumbent, Purvanov (a pernik citizen) is a big time socialist, and in his youth he was some type of leader for the communist party in Bulgaria. The other candidate, Sederov, is something beyond a nationalist. A large part of his party's platform advocates the removal of elements of turkey and Turkish lifestyles from the Bulgarian society. We’re not really allowed to make political commentary, so I have to stop there with the description of Sederov. (If you want to know more, send me an email!)

Well, many Bulgarians are not happy with the choices, and have come to a dilemma of sorts. People don't want to vote for Sederov because they don't agree with his party's platform, but at the same time, they aren't happy with Purvanov. In America, lots of people would probably choose not to vote, or do a "lesser of the two evils" type vote (note: see election 2004. Kerry v. bush). Since democracy is so new, lots of people realize how lucky they are to have the right to vote. However, some people are so disappointed with both candidates that they are deciding between not voting, or voting for the non-incumbent just to show that they aren't happy with Purvanov. Purvanov is expected to win by quite a landslide, but you see a dissatisfaction here that isn't entirely different than our election in 2004. The difference is that we had a choice between two middle of the road candidates and here, it is between two extremists. Anyway, it’s actually really affected some of my coworkers' ability to come to work and function, and for others it’s a constant source of concern. In a country that is often full of apathy and pessimism, there is something heartening about seeing people so passionate about democracy.


At 10:02 AM, Blogger -bio-olga said...

Happy Birthday to you!!!

At 5:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Toni! You are famous--it was on KINI this morning! Hope you had fun. Pauline


Post a Comment

<< Home