Lame Recovery in Three Acts, Act One

Posted by in Dispatches

svetla_wedding.jpgAlas, dear vacuous mysterious void of cyberspace, I have been unfaithful to you – galavanting about with the likes of Cinema Politica, schoolwork, the Documentary Organization of Canada-Quebec, and scratching an already tired head for ideas for a PhD which looms nigh in the sky. The promised entry of “The Wedding,” shall only begin here, and end on other days whence these wretched self-made hallucinations of work and more work are abated. For now, there is the remnants of a beautiful trip to a certain Bulgaria to remember on these digital pages…(the picture at the left is what Svetla looks like when her best friend gets married, and make-up is thus applied generously)After our stay at the beautiful seaside we made our way back to Sofia, driving all night in a huge bus that entertained us with bad American movies. Funny how I hate them so, but when they are on, I can’t seem to stay loyal to my literature on my lap. So, Patricia Zimmerman’s great treatise on wars and documentary films went into the seat pocket and I sat back to be enlightened by “Over the Hedge.”

Once in Sofia we settled back in to the Turnin household, complete with 16 four course meals served in all their delicious glory by Svetla’s mom each day. We tried to repay them with a small token and replaced all their old European hinges on their kitchen cupboards (40 of them) with brand-spanking new ones. Before the upcoming wedding there were other parties to tend to: a bachelor party and a bachelorette party. Of course, taking into account the Bulgarian attitude toward hospitality, I was invited to the bachleor party. Hristo and friends picked me up downtown, we bought a bunch of booze, and headed way out into the suburbs of Sofia. As we drove through the night it did feel like we were going to another city, so far away and all…

sofia_buildings.jpgI soon discovered that a Bulgarian suburb should not be named so, implying as it does the flat, resource-sucking cultural wasteland that is the average American suburb. No this ‘burb’ had beautiful white clay houses with grapevines and fruit trees nestled in bushes demarcated by winding cobble stoned streets. Inside the house 17 of us men gathered up tables and chairs and made a space for drinking and eating outside. Another cultural difference to note between the Bulgarians and Canadians: there is NEVER just drinking, there is always eating. I’m sure it would be very strange to come to a party here in Canada and find everyone just standing around (sometimes dancing to music turned up to loud by the likes of me) drinking. I mean, the eating thing makes so much sense for so many reasons. And so I found it quite charming that despite what could have been a delibitating gender stereotype prevailing over the festivities, I found myself watching several men, chop vegetables for salads, salt trout, and do other mysterious things of the culinary kind. Ladies beware, gender bending is alive and well in Bulgaria. Aside from a party for chefs, one would be hard-pressed to stumble across such a scene in Canada: 17 men in a house, cooking, carefully arranging furniture, and what’s this, barely paying attention to the alcohol? Good god!

Once the food was ready, the tables were neatly set, candles lit, and Rakia pulled out in full force. A DJ even assembled his wares on the balcony and belted out some crazy mixes, constructed from many weird old vinyls discovered in the house. Everyone sat and drank and ate, and me being Canadian, I just drank. After many it was clear I wanted the bachelor to make a speech, which he did and it was a good one, only my memory remains clouded by a delicious little potable that goes by the handle “Rakia.”

So, at some point Hristo – longing for his wife-to-be like the mushy drunk he is, and me culturally afraid as I was to spend a night in the burbs with rakia and old vinyl, we snuck off in his car and headed back into Sofia to rendezvous with the Bacholerette party. We found four of them still partying and slipped into this sweet little club to dance, ironically enough, with a bride and groom and their entourage, until the wee hours.

The wedding was coming, and we had one day to recover, and one day to buy a gift, and me a tie and shirt…