Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Forwarded in the English language

It is Friday, so it´s time to sum up the first week

(whatever  comes, it is welcome)


My parcel has arrived. It took a little bit longer than a week. Yesterday we talked about it, and today it is already here. Andrzej asked me what is inside. Mainly shoes and clothes for the summer, I replied. “No exquisite sweet little Mozart balls, no Schnaps or tiny balls filled with rum, no Milka chocolate and other beautiful things from Austria” Sorry I only thought about myself. I don’t even consider mentioning that I tried to get a packet of “Manner Schnitten”. I should have known that you can’t buy a packet of “Manner Schnitten” at a Bavarian gas station.

“Can you do Plie ?” we are asked by Radi, who we meet in front of the local culture house. Yoana’s brother studied ballet and contemporary dance just like her. After a “short and brief  introduction”, which took two hours, the girls arrive who are being taught by the siblings twice a week. We shouldn’t be surprised if they started being silly or if they were giggling a lot, Yoana had already pointed out to us. They could be quite shy, even though Yoana has tried to prepare them for our visit, and at times incredibly incomprehensible when it comes to not only doing a movement, but actually feeling the reason for motivating an action. Dance is playing with one another, is communication. The teenagers are sweet, as they one for one step out and greet us. They laugh because they have forgotten some steps, because they are insecure. When they laugh they lose their focus. “Radi is not happy”, Yoana says who is translating for us. I wasn’t any different at that age. You play with a safety net, you’ve got several lives, but you never take full risks. But if there is a passion, and you’re not prepared to step in for it, then it’s like keeping a relationship to a person as a secret. At some point this person will feel betrayed. When the girls have reached a certain stage: “When there will be this one beautiful moment” which is also important for the teachers, then they will show their performance and we will dance with them. That is if we have caught up with them. “Jesus I’m such a poor dancer!” Jakub had mentioned yesterday. Well we’ve got nothing to lose.


 Circus Bulgaria. “ A short and brief introduction”. With an old bomb of a car, it’s a Citroen, Andrej’s “contemporary car”; we are going to pull a rusty caravan. Through the whole country. Road trip it is called here. The money, so we can fill up the gas tank and our bellies we are going to earn with small shows we are going to perform on the way. It´s also called street theatre. The backpack filled with juggling balls is taken home straight away. A bit later I’ll be learning how to spit fire.

 In Café Caramel Yoni gives us our remaining money, pocket money plus the remaining travel costs, 462 lewa (about 230 Euro), a big bundle of 10 lewa notes (about five euros). “Now you are rich”, Radi says. We talk about AXA insurance, which enables you to have your teeth done a good new glasses, but doesn’t cover the loss of personal things. If we don’t go straight to gypsy town with our cameras you’ll be fine, Andrzey mentions. “Well actually”, Jakub says while turning around to me. ”My project“, I say. “I wanted to do something with gypsies” The other three look at us with big eyes. But they say yes anyway.


 We buy working clothes in a second hand shop because the future office and studio from ArtAreA is still a construction site. It´s an attic in the house of Yonis parents. The office of horror I think to myself at first sight. But I know this feeling from other construction sites. First impressions can be horrific. Looking at it for the second time I see it in a different light, I can see what has already been done, what has still to be done, and that it isn’t that bad after all. For one and a half hours we sand down old wood beams. I say that I still need a few photos of them for my bog, Yoana and Andrzej look on each other in a funny way. “Say hello from the two idiots from Bulgaria”, Yoana says.

 Andrzej shows us the house. Through the garden with its many greenhouses, flowerpots and beds. To the holy place of every Bulgarian home where Rakja is distilled. He shows us uncountable rooms filled with many bits and pieces. When the house belongs to her, all this stuff will have to go, Yoni says. In the basement we meet Yoanas grandparents, the grandma kisses me on the cheek, and the grandfather kisses my hand. Only after Yoana’s intervention they let us go. While we are standing in the garden, the grandparents come out again. The grandfather bends down to a flowerbed and picks six snowdrops, three for Yoni and three for me, and the grandmother offers us some chocolates, dark chocolate with a peach cream filling. The taste of it is the only thing that doesn’t get me. It´s tough not being able to reply with one Bulgarian word to so much warm heartedness. I want to say something I think to myself, I would like to speak the language. I have to look aside to hide my tears.

 Monday, Sunday, Saturday, Friday.

 It’s so warm that you can sit outside of the café. Our wifi reaches from our flat to the café Caramel.
Organisation. The first meeting. Tasks. Project, presentation, performance. PPPlans. A typical Bulgarian evening, Rakija in vast amounts, a sausage platter and a lot of ayran. Bulgarian  music, so loud that one can hardly hold a conversation, a DJ that plays what makes people move. What makes people get up and dance in a line through the whole restaurant. Folkdances. Dogs barking in the night. Shopping. “Do you want to go to Lidl or to Kaufland”, fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh honey and red wine in plastic bottles, eggs, olives and white cheese from the market. Kitsch and folklore” you have to like it because it’s the only thing we can show you” Andrej says and we go sightseeing. The remains of a castle, an old stonewall. For its reconstruction and “restoration” with plastic tiles the town is getting financial support from the EU. It looks hideous, but the outlook from the top is fantastic.


 I’m not as a visitor here. I’m going to live here for ten months. Have a flat, cook, go shopping, calculate with the money, have everyday hassles, solve things. Work. I’m sitting here in my bed, 70’ s flare. Next to my room Jakub, my polish flatmate. The heating is on, it’s warm. The closets with its dark brown wood veneer, the patchy white wall, the door which only closes unwillingly when you press against it with all your weight, the crazy flower pattern on my bed sheets, the small circle of fake stucco on the ceiling, the round little lamp. I feel comfortable. Or it doesn’t feel unfamiliar. Nevertheless I still haven’t quite left the nest of my new flat at home, the trip here nearly felt slightly unreal, it is actually unbelievable, that only by moving a few thousand kilometres, a few flying hours away from your comfort zone you find yourself to be in a whole new world. Cracked, torn, sore. Where a crack isn’t closed straight away, where gaps are left untouched, wounds yawn open.

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