Monday, June 14, 2010

Happy Belated May 24th! :]

[Final Exams, then major computer issues. Now phone issues....Oh how the world treats me! haha.]

Anywhoo, Kak si?
I hope this post finds you all well! Before I continue with the last blog post, I would like to dedicate this one to wishing all Bulgarians a very happy (however late) Ден на азбуката, културата и просветата.

Ден на азбуката, културата и просветата is the Bulgarian name given to the holiday that occurs on May 24th -- Bulgarian Education and Culture, and Slavonic Literature Day. This day is meant to celebrate exactly what it's name focuses on, which is something that I of course, think is rather wonderful. According to wiki-sama,(fyi: sama being the Japanese suffix for 'God') There are multiple days of celebration for this holiday, depending on the calendar used.

This day is commonly dedicated, quite naturally to the brothers Кирил и Методий -- St.Cyril and Methodius -- the original fathers of the Glagolitic (Глаголица) and Cyrillic alphabets. The Cyrillic Alphabet, which is named after St. Cyril is still in wide use today, while 'Glagolitsa' was used primarily in Old Bulgarian.

I have not read any Bulgarian literature myself, but I would love to be able to someday. I am still trying to learn the language on my own and it seems that currently, my only resort is to take online classes. (I am considering the Mastylo school, if anyone has any comments they'd like to share on this, I'd be forever grateful) But again, my computer is not functioning well enough to be able to do this, so it may have to wait until the latter end of this summer.

My experience with Bulgarian language has been amazing thus far. I have found myself studying into the late hours of the night (circa 3:00 A.M.) memorizing the palatalization of verbs from Old Bulgarian to modern usage. I have acquired quite a bit of reading material despite the lack of resources around me, one of which includes a newspaper written entirely in Bulgarian. I am still unable to comprehend it, but as soon as I can learn specific grammar rules, I should be able to comprehend a small article, with the help of a english-bulgarian dictionary (which I do possess, however it is not the best edition) and the internet (primarily by my side.

(the previous link should be on the sidebar of this blog, along with other helpful and interesting Bulgaria-themed sites I have come across in my quest for knowledge of anything Bulgarian ^___^)

As far as culture is concerned, I would like to say that I am exposed to it somewhat more than the other New Yorkers around me, but that this does sometimes make me wonder how much of the world we are all missing out on. Every culture has something beautiful that it leaves behind, and one of the fastest and most enjoyable ways that I have been able to familiarize myself with this beautiful culture is through their music. Yes, I listen to chalga, but I am also talking about the 'non-pop' variety of chalga -- Bulgaria's folk music.

Months ago, I found myself on ebay looking for something I had been searching quite a while for. I won this bid for this item I believe for $6.00, making me a very happy 'zhena' (woman) indeed:

Words cannot fully express how much having won this meant to me. It sounds like an over-exaggeration, but were my apartment to catch fire and I could only fun out with a handful of things, this could very well be one of them. This is heightened by the fact that my version is on cassette and not CD. (anyone remember Walkmans?) Having been able to actually buy something (short of an actual plane ticket to BG) that takes me out of New York for a moment and somewhere I can only dream of seeing one day is something I'd want to hold on to. The music is beautiful, and just simply fun to listen to, particularly tracks like: Shopski Tanz [Chope Dance] -- which I cannot listen to without dancing around like I'm doing a 'horo', haha. (It's also nice to know it was released a day before I was born. Hmm. side note: that makes this cassette almost 21 years old...making it even more of a rare find... how wonderful!)

The tracklist and a preview of each can be found here, although I will have to confirm at a later time that this link actually works -- I cannot do that right now with the state my computer is in, but it should be fine. Suzhalyavam! :(

All this talk about this music sung by Philip Koutev's Ensemble of the Bulgarian Republic,makes me want to listen to it in full many times over again. I think I am going to go do that right now, as I grab a cup of coffee, sip and enjoy. If you give it a listen, and enjoy it you will definitely want to check out the amazing: The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices or more exactly: Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir: Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares. You will NOT be disappointed!

Now go off and celebrate the Education, Culture, and Literature of any place that YOU love! :)

Ciao, Priyaten Den!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

съжалявам! Again! (Sorry, Again!)


So. I'm not even gonna talk, lets just get right into this. The first locale within Bulgaria is of course, the capital city of Sofia, pictured above. Here are some additional pictures I found, that I hope will explain in and of themselves, why I would want to visit such a wondrous city. I'll have you know, it's listed as my hometown on Facebook, haha.

The above is a picture of a market in Sofia. It looks like everyone seems to be into suit jackets/blazers, haha.

Here is a picture of a hotel in Sofia:

So now that you've seen some pictures of the more modernized Sofia, here are some pictures that show the history that is also very characteristic of this capital city.

here is one of the amazing cathedrals I am just dying to visit: St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, in Sofia, Bulgaria:

There are definitely more where these came from, and I will post them in the coming days, but sit tight! Priyaten weekend!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

съжалявам! (Sorry!)

Sorry about the big pause in posting.
Midterms rolled around and I was going through some hectic times here at home, but things seem to be better so I'll get back on the blogging roll quite soon! Look out for the next post! :)


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cvobodna li ctaya?

Awo! :)

Today I was thinking about the motherland, and I remember that at one point, last summer, after reading a Frommer's travel guide to Eastern Europe (though I think Bulgaria should have it's own edition!!) while standing up in a Barnes and Noble bookstore and covering the entirety of the chapter on Bulgaria and taking some notes I do believe I have since then lost, I made it my task to make my 'intended itinerary' of things I would like to see and do while on a visit to BG.

Mind you, the security at the store was staring at me like the whole time.. I had to be standing in that one spot for about an hour and a half, just reading, smiling, and copying things out of a book....I think the guard just wanted me to buy the book already, but I didn't want to because it was a bit of money and wasn't exclusively about BG-- though I may reconsider when I have some cash because I do want to see Greece and Romania and the like, and don't know if those countries have their own travel guides.

After reading, I had all thees names, and places, and streets in my brain, and I realized after a few moments of thinking, that I really want to do see many many things and places, which is fine with me because once I find the financial means to travel abroad, granted I don't have any outstanding obligations, I would love to stay in Bulgaria for quite some time, no shorter then 2-3 months, and even perhaps a year.

Because I have lost the sheet I wrote on -- my mother probably threw it out thinking it was trash because she can't read Cyrillic, haha-- I want to re-start my itinerary here. I would love any suggestions, reviews of places, etc.

I love to eat, so any restaurants/cafes are great
I love music, so any local musicians, music halls are definitely something I'd wanna see, regardless of genre (I'm into everything)
I love dancing, so any clubs that you know are fun
I love books, so any good stores, markets, or libraries

This is just a start, I would love an impossibly long list...
a) because I can't run out of things to do -- though surely there WILL be days where I just want to sit back, and be captivated by everything around me, and relax
b) because it would be a reason to go back (amongst many, many others)!

I'll see what I can come up with in the next post! ^___^

Leka nosht! (Good night!)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Bulgaria: The [abbreviated] Basics (Part II)

Awo! :)

So in our last extremely brief history lesson, I left off with World War One and Two.
Discouragingly enough, Bulgaria has been on the losing side in both both World Wars, leaving it at a disadvantage. As Bulgaria's history has confirmed, war isn't pretty and can ruin economies and the well-being of people by slowing cultural growth.

In World War One:

Prior to the war, both the Central Powers (Austria-Hungary, Germany) and the Entente (Russia, France, Britain) were pressuring Bulgaria to join their respective sides in the escalating conflict. Ultimately, however, Bulgaria made a 'secret treaty' with the Central Powers. 1918 saw much revolt in the land. Under Radoslavov, Bulgaria in the midst of war was doing poorly in terms of its ability to stay afloat internally. War had tired the people, and none of the territory that was supposed to be granted to Bulgaria according to the promises of Radoslavov were there. Needless to say, in time, the Radoslavov government resigned in this same year, and Entente forces moved in.

In World War Two:

In World War Two, Bulgaria managed to maintain neutral from 1939 until 1941. It was still hoping to gain territory, especially that which it had previously lost. It regained Southern Dobruja which had become part of Romania. Bulgaria, in 1941, joined the Axis Powers, though still at the outset, remained fairly passive until an invasion of Greece and Yugoslavia was underway. Germany later caused Bulgaria to move against the US and the United Kingdom. Repercussions followed in the bombing of Sofia, and other Bulgarian cities. While a member of the Axis Powers, Bulgaria managed to keep relations with Russia intact. Shortly after, by September 5th, Russia seized Varna and Bourgas. There was a political resistance movement taking place in Bulgaria, called Fatherland Front. The Fatherland Front was crucial in that it staged a coup and then (wih Russia), retaliated against Germany and the other Axis powers.

A later post will be dedicated to current issues in Bulgaria just out of curiosity and as a point of reference.

**If there are any inconsistencies, please let me know, keep in mind, I'm no historian though I'm sure that's obvious by now, and would like to be as accurate as possible. :) Blagodariya (Thank you)! **

Priyaten Weekend!


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Chestit 3-ti Mart! :) // Ден на Освобождението

Ден на Освобождението
(Liberation Day)

Happy March 3rd! Today commemorates the Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule, thanks to the The Treaty of San Stefano, signed between the Turkish Ottomans and Russia on this day in 1878, in San Stefano -- or what is now known as present-day Yesilkoy. This treaty, established Bulgaria's autonomy as a principality, and is the last step before Bulgaria was to fully achieve independence as a state much later in September of 1908.

The above is a video of some great footage, I love the music!! :)

Happy Liberation Day to all Bulgarians everywhere!


Bulgaria: The [abbreviated] Basics -- Part One

:] Kak si?

When someone asks me where I am from, I have a 'typical answer' which goes something like, "I am Puerto Rican and Jamaican, but I was Bulgarian in a past life." If the person I'm speaking to isn't scared off by this point, it's usually a good sign that often gets me to talk more about Bulgaria to others who are interested as to why the heck 'someone like me' would be so into a country 'like that'.

The first question they usually ask is: Where is it?

Bulgaria is a small Balkan country bordering the 'Cherno More', or Black Sea. Her neighbors are Greece and Turkey (southward), Romania (in the north), Serbia and Macedonia (in the west).

Next, depending on who I am speaking to, I usually hear something about Russia or Communism.

Yes, Bulgaria has seen its share of different types of governance. It has a very long history that dates back around to the 4th century (if memory serves me right). It had established what is the First Bulgarian Empire, followed by a second, then was later subject to Turkish-Ottoman expansion/rule with the capture of Turnovo (the capital at the time). This point in history is one I find rather fascinating, yet sad -- as any 'conquest' often is. What amazes me the most about Bulgaria and it's people is that after nearly 500 years of Turkish rule, they were able to maintain many of the traditions, the language, the cuisine that they had previously called their own. I find that there is tremendous beauty in this.

1876 saw the April Uprising -- a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire that resulted in many deaths, but established two independent Bulgarian provinces. Shortly after, Russia swept in and participated in the Russo-Turkish war, lasting a year (1877-1878) until the Treaty of San Stefano was signed on March 3rd of 1878. This day is celebrated as Liberation Day in Bulgaria. This period of time is a bit confusing as the land that constituted Bulgaria was moving back and forth from Ottoman control, and changing with the various signing of treaties, and the persistent occurrence of war.

Later World War One and Two occur, but there is more on this in Part Two of this post. Look out for it soon!!

So today I received my martenitsa from Babo, it's quite beautiful! Though it makes me feel like I must work much harder on mine next year. I posted pictures of my martenitsa, Penda on Facebook -- everyone thinks she's a voodoo doll! Haha. When I get the chance later tonight, I will edit this post so you can all see it. :)

Leka Nosht,


Monday, March 1, 2010

Chestita Baba Marta! // ЧЕСТИТА БАБА МАРТА!

Dobro utro!
(Good morning, good day, etc)

Today is a special day in Bulgaria, so I thought I'd share before running off to school. In last night's post, I ended with making 'martenitsi' for the celebration today.

What's so special about today, March 1st, you ask?

March first is what is known as 'Baba Marta', or grandmother March, to take a literal translation. It is a holiday that is meant to welcome the coming of Spring, but also symbolizes wishes of good health and happiness towards family and friends. Baba Marta is traditionally seen as a volatile woman with mood swings that are evident by the weather in the month of March. The holiday aims to please her so that the coming of Spring will come faster.

So how do you celebrate Baba Marta?

Generally speaking, it is Bulgarian custom to make what is called 'martenitsa' (plural: Martenitsi) to give to ones friends and family. These are often in the shape of bracelets, or even dolls -- named Pizho and Penda. Of course many people no longer have the time to make many of these by hand, as I have figured out last night... (It took me about two hours to make one with all the care I could.) This being said, one is able to buy many of these from street-side vendors. Some are hand-made, others are made in China (which surprised me to some degree) but one common theme remains, no matter where the martenitsi is produced or who it is for: the colors; Red and White.

The color red takes on a number of meanings, some of which include: blood, femininity, passion, life. White can mean purity, masculinity, or the melting of the winter snow.

The story behind Baba Marta:

the origins of Baba Marta are explained in a few folktales, one of which is about the founding of Bulgaria by Khan Koubrat, the founding of the first Bulgarian kingdom by Khan Asparoukh, the observance of the god Mars, (the god of war and spring). Each of these stories further explains the meanings behind the red and white colors of the martenitsi. This tradition is hundreds of years old and still remains to be celebrated by Bulgarians to this day. (it is important to note that other countries like Romania, Poland, Moldova and Greece have celebrations on March 1st as well, though some may be for slightly different reasons, as far as I understand).
Now before I run off to my classes for the day, here are some pictures of the martenitsi I made.

This is a bracelet I tried to make... Not the greatest, I wish I knew how to do the traditional designs, but I at least I got the colors down! ^__^

This took me about an hour and something to make...but I don't think it's too shabby!

This is me after I thought I was done because I could find no white string around the house... I knew white was part of the tradition, but I thought since it was first time making one, it would be okay, but I was sad I wasn't able to follow the rules as tradition calls for.. Lo and Behold I later found a spool of white thread... I think Baba Marta was looking out for me :)

This was the final version after I'd searched the house for white string all day, and tried to bleach red yarn (which didn't work!!! I must figure out why!?)

Well, its 10:16 and I should have already left the house, haha OPA!

Priyaten Den!
(Have a good day!)


Sunday, February 28, 2010

My First Post!

Zdravey! Hola! Hello! Konnichiwa! Anneyonghaseo!

In case you wanted to know if you should pay any mind to this blog and decided to read the first post in order to make your decision, then you probably shouldn't. Because first posts are quite awkward indeed. It's almost like going to a new school in the middle of the year, you know?
(Actually I have no idea of what that's like, but I would hope my imagination could pull through on that one.)

I should probably introduce myself right about now, with the hope that you've even read this far.

I am a twenty-year-old [girl..?? woman?? -- wow 20 is such an awkward stage!] living in New York. As much you might like to hear that this blog is about what it's like to live here, it's not. I started this blog in order to write about a place I find much more interesting at this point in my life. Now I'm sure I've got you hooked: What the hell could be more interesting than New York?

Have you ever felt like you had a past life? Like you had some connection with something so specific that it felt a bit uncanny, and everyone thought you were crazy?
This blog is about a place that I have never traveled to, but feel like I know, even when there is much left to learn about it. This blog is about a place I long to visit, and soon. This blog is to document an amorous craze I have towards a place I call my motherland: Bulgaria.

Why Bulgaria of all places?
-- Why not?
But honestly, it wasn't really like I was born and the first word out of my mouth was "Bulgaria" -- I was friends with, then dated (and am still friends with) a Bulgarian I had classes with in school. Before meeting Georgi (surprise, surprise at the name -- if you are Bulgarian, you'll get this), I had no real idea of where this beloved country even was. But ever since then, I really can't explain why I have grown so attached to everything this country has to offer, but I wait for the day where I can finally visit it in all its amazing, and captivating beauty.

Right now, I am eagerly intent on learning the language, and have found that I need quite a bit of help in this area. Despite living in one of the most diverse places in the U.S., there are such limited resources on my treasured locale. I have managed to do what I can, but I will save the details for another post. Before I go -- really quickly:

Why "Imate li vreme za edno kafe?" (See the Cyrillic blog title up there?)
-- For those of you who are not Bulgarian, this translates to "Do you have time for a coffee?" This was one of the first full phrases I had learned in Bulgarian, and I would say this all of the time, as I am, like most people I run into in New York, an avid coffee drinker. Just being able to say that much in Bulgarian makes me optimistic about all the other things that I will get to uncover in my learning as it relates to this country.

That's enough for now... I have to go make some Martenitsi for tommorrow's celebration....(more on 'Martenitsi' tomorrow!)

Do Scoro!