Saturday, May 31, 2008

Smiling Bulgarians

Prof. Grady and I went grocery shopping yesterday to a biggish store called FANTASTICO. Pretty fantastic, I know.

We were sort of arguing over what kind of pasta would go with the sauce we had in mind when I was distracted by a middle-aged couple walking by. Were they doing anything strange? you might wonder. Well, they were speaking American English. Which, in our neck of the woods counts as mighty strange behavior.

So I did what any self-respecting Southerner would do. I stuck my nose right into their business (the herbs and spices section of FANTASTICO) and asked them, Are you guys AMERICAN!? Which prompted a lengthy conversation about produce markets and rude driving in Bulgaria, among other things. They were sweet and honest and we really liked talking to them... except for I kind of hated one thing the guy said and it's sort of been bothering me for the last 24 hours or so...

He said that when they first got here he really hated Bulgaria and especially hated Bulgarians. He thought they were really unfriendly people and felt like it took 6 months to force a smile out of somebody.

Which is totally NOT my experience with Bulgarians, although, I realize I am not exactly the one to speak with the utmost authority on the subject. I got really taken aback for some reason but have been trying to hide if from my husband as at the end of the conversation he said Ah! It's so nice to finally find someone who shares some of my frustrations with Bulgaria...

I think he was mostly referring to the rude driving part of the conversation...

Like a good wife, instead of talking to him, I am blogging about it.


  1. See, if you spent more time in Massachusetts, you'd know what to do when you see something interesting. Pretend nothing happens. Don't talk to strangers. Be classy :)

    When I first arrived in California I was frustrated by the constant desire of people to smile. It was driving me insane: it might be that as a rude Bulgarian I've been thinking that smiling means more than it does in California. It's a matter of convention - in some parts of America, it seems, smiling means nothing. In Bulgaria is quite the opposite.

  2. Mmm well having been in their shoes as an American in Bulgaria...I'll have to agree. As far as the family and my husband's friends went everyone was nice and smiley. As far as the general public goes...grouchy looking and nary a smile anywhere. :( I mean, technically I'm a southerner from a small town and everyone smiles at everyone and says hello even if they don't know you...but geez. I had a good time grinning at everyone regardless. Sometimes...rarely, they'd lighten up and grin back. Score one for me. :)

    <3 Samantha Hristova