BUGARSKA – BULGARIA – България

Bugarsko selo-A Bulgarian village

Bugarsko selo-A Bulgarian village

Ceremonija smene straze-The Ceremony of Changing the Guard

Ceremonija smene straze-The Ceremony of Changing the Guard

Crkva Sv. Djordja-Rotonda-Church of St George-Rotonda

Crkva Sv. Djordja-Rotonda-Church of St George-Rotonda

CUM danas-CUM today

CUM danas-CUM today

CUM-Central Universal Magazine

CUM-Central Universal Magazine

Istorijska prestonica Veliko Trnovo-Veliko Tarnovo, the historical capital

Istorijska prestonica Veliko Trnovo-Veliko Tarnovo, the historical capital

Izbori-The elections

Izbori-The elections

Kamena reka na Vitosi-The stone river on the mountain Vitosha

Kamena reka na Vitosi-The stone river on the mountain Vitosha

Narodna skupstina na Trgu spomenika Kralju Oslobodiocu-The National Assembly building at the Square of the Monument of Tsar Liberator

Narodna skupstina na Trgu spomenika Kralju Oslobodiocu-The National Assembly building at the Square of the Monument of Tsar Liberator

Narodno pozoriste Ivan Vazov-The National Theatre Ivan Vazov

Narodno pozoriste Ivan Vazov-The National Theatre Ivan Vazov

Rilski manastir-Rila Monastery

Rilski manastir-Rila Monastery

Ruska crkva Sv. Nikole Cudotvorca-The Russian Church of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Maker

Ruska crkva Sv. Nikole Cudotvorca-The Russian Church of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Maker

Saborna crkva Aleksandar Nevski u Sofiji-The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia

Saborna crkva Aleksandar Nevski u Sofiji-The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia

Spomenik Sv. Sofije koja drzi sovu-simbol mudrosti i slave-The Monument of St. Sofia holding an owl-a symbol of wisdom and glory

Spomenik Sv. Sofije koja drzi sovu-simbol mudrosti i slave-The Monument of St. Sofia holding an owl-a symbol of wisdom and glory

Ulicni detalj-A street detail

Ulicni detalj-A street detail

Nedavno mi je dospela u posed stara crno-bela, ali retuširana fotografija mog dede u lepoj vojničkoj uniformi, sličnoj husarskoj. Služio je vojni rok na bugarskom dvoru tako što je čuvao mladog cara Borisa i bio mu neka vrsta ađutanta. U to vreme region tadašnjeg Caribroda u kome je živeo, a danas Dimitrovgrada, pripadao je toj zemlji.
Ja sam rođen u Pirotu, koji je veoma blizu bugarske granice i kao mali sam se radovao kad bi me vodili u glavni grad, Sofiju. Bio je to tada pravi izdanak zemalja komunističkog bloka, sa širokim bulevarima po kojima se kretalo malo automobila, uglavnom sovjetskih. CUM (Centralni univerzalni magazin) bilo je glavno mesto oskudne kupovine koju pamtim po čuvenim parfemima u malim drvenim pakovanjima koje su nazivali Bugarska ruža. Bili su tako snažnog mirisa kojeg se danima nisam mogao osloboditi ako bih se usudio da otvorim mali poklopac bočice, u vidu kupole ili minareta. Nikada mi nije bilo jasno zašto su ga žene volele, ali sada mislim da je imao nešto afrodizijačno u sebi. Voleo sam da se penjem po velikim glatkim i oblim stenama u Kamenoj reci, koja je jedinstvena u svetu i nalazi se na planini Vitoša, nadomak Sofije. Taj najstariji nacionalni park na Balkanu pružao je lep provod deci, a sećam se i posete nekim dalekim rođacima koji su živeli u blizini. Kako su nam se samo radovali, jer smo dolazili sa puno poklona iz jedne njima bliske, a ipak teško dostupne zemlje, Jugoslavije.
Saborna crkva Sveti Aleksandar Nevski, građena u neovizantijskom stilu kao simbol zahvalnosti Bugarske Rusiji, za oslobađanje od turskog ropstva, bila je uvek predmet mog divljenja, pa bih nekoliko puta kružio oko nje, pre nego što bih ušao. Brojne kupole na nekoliko nivoa i njihov raspored budili su moju radoznalost, kao i njen muzej sa najvećom zbirkom pravoslavnih ikona na Balkanu. Najstarija je, međutim, obližnja crkva Svete Sofije koja je u XIV veku ovom gradu darivala svoje ime.
Iako se, istorijski posmatrano, monarhija veoma retko vraćala tamo gde je izgubljena, Bugarska je bila naizgled veoma blizu tome. Sin cara Borisa, car Simeon, koji je, dolaskom komunizma, kao dete bio proteran iz zemlje, vratio se u nju posle pola veka i na slobodnim izborima postao premijer Bugarske. Taj njegov iskorak u politiku ipak nije doveo do obnavljanja monarhije; on sam više nije premijer, a još manje bugarski car.
U detinjstvu sam se pitao da li je Crno more zaista crno, a nisam imao mogućnosti da to i proverim. U poznijim godinama ukazala mi se takva prilika tokom poseta crnomorskoj obali, gde sam se zaista i uverio u istinitost tog imena. Jedan od većih gradova Bugarske i turistički centar, Varna, na obali Crnog mora, belinom svojih novogradnji još više doprinosi tom kontrastu. Stari komunistički kompleksi za odmor partijskih rukovodilaca još su u funkciji i pretvoreni su u hotelska naselja, dok novi, tranzicioni duh sada prožima taj grad koji je pun raznovrsnih zanimljivih mesta. Potapajući svoju nedavnu prošlost, Bugari su u to ime pre izvesnog vremena, nedaleko od najpoznatije plaže Zlatni pjasci, potopili jahtu i avion svog komunističkog diktatora, Todora Živkova. Ekolozi misle da će se tu vremenom stvoriti veštački greben, kao utočište morskih vrsta, a služiće i kao ronilačka atrakcija.
Ako ne možete da uspešno sperete prošlost, najbolje je da je potpuno potopite. Tako bar neće imati svoje sledbenike.

Oktobar 1996.
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Recently I got hold of a retouched black and white photograph showing my grandfather in a lovely military uniform, resembling a hussar. He did his military service on the Bulgarian court, guarding the young tsar Boris, as some sort of adjutant. The region of Caribrod where he lived, today’s Dimitrovgrad (in Serbia), belonged to Bulgaria at the time.
I was born in Pirot, close to the Bulgarian border, and as a child I always delighted in visits to Sofia, the Bulgarian capital. At the time, this city was a typical example of communist architecture, with vast boulevards where very few cars, mostly of Soviet make, made their way. CUM (Central Universal Magazine) was the place to shop, although the goods were scarce, and I remember it by a famous perfume, packed in small wooden boxes, called the Bulgarian Rose. The scent was so strong that, if I dared unscrew the small bottle’s top, usually in the shape of a minaret or a dome, I could not get rid of it for days. I never really understood why women liked it, but now it seems to me that there was some sort of aphrodisiac in it.
I liked to climb on the big, smooth, circular stones in Kamenna Reka (Stone River), a unique place situated close to Mt. Vitosha, just outside Sofia. This national park, the oldest in the Balkans, was heaven for children. I also remember visiting some distant relatives who lived near it. They were always so happy to see us as we brought many presents from Yugoslavia, a country so close to them and yet unreachable.
St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, built in the Neo-Byzantine style as a symbol of gratitude to Russia for liberating Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire, was always a place I admired so much that I would walk round it a few times before entering it. I was intrigued by its numerous domes and the way they were positioned on several different levels, as well as by its museum, home to the largest collection of Orthodox icons in the Balkans. However, the oldest church is the nearby St Sofia church, after which the capital itself was named in the 14th century.
Historically, once lost, monarchy would very rarely re-establish itself, however Bulgaria was very close to that. Tsar Boris’ son, tsar Simeon, who was ousted when the communists took power and was exiled as a child, returned to the country half a century later and won the democratic elections, becoming Bulgaria’s Prime Minister. However, his foray into politics did not lead to the restoration of monarchy. He is not the Prime Minister anymore, let alone the Bulgarian tsar.
As a child, I always wondered whether the Black Sea was really black, but I did not have a chance to find out. Later in life I had an opportunity to visit the coast of the Black Sea, where I confirmed that the name was appropriate. One of the bigger cities in Bulgaria, Varna, a coastal tourist resort, makes this contrast even stronger due to the whiteness of its new buildings. Old-style communist resorts, for the Party’s top men, still function, but have been turned into hotels, whereas the city itself is full of new interesting places, inspired by the spirit of ‘transition’. In order to get rid of its recent past, Bulgarians have actually sunk the yacht and the private jet belonging to the dictator Todor Zhivkov near the famous Golden Sands beach.  Environmentalists think that an artificial reef will form gathering many sea species and also that it will become a diving attraction.
If you cannot wash your past away, the best thing is to sink it to the bottom of the sea. That way it will certainly not have any followers.

October 1996

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