what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Fossils and patting sticks

I spent two Xmases working in Baku, Azerbaijan – and very much appreciated the absence of the shopping fever and pressures which characterise these days in the West. Even His Holiness the Pope is apparently lamenting in his Christmas homilythat Christmas has become an increasingly commercial celebration.
But Sofia must be one of the best places to be to avoid the crassness of Xmas. True, the walking St (Vitosha) has overhead decorations – but they are modest and hardly noticed.
Otherwise (if you avoid the malls which have opened only in the past few years) things are almost normal.

And some imagination is used to offer special attractions eg a large fossil market was open last week in the Museum of Natural History which offered marvellous shapes, sizes and textures at very cheap prices - eg this very aesthetic sea hedghog fossil which doubles as a paper weight.

Saturday we wanted to buy a "sooroovachka" – a stick decorated with embroidery, dried fruit, coins etc which kids in this part of the world use for patting family, friends and visitors (in Romania its'called "sorkova") whilst saying a wish for health, wealth and happiness to the one patted.
Bulgarians and Romanians give the child money at the end of the patting which they believe is their way of buying success for the coming year. The women’s market – the collection of open air stalls between Bvds Hristo Botev and Elizabeth – was the place to find it. Most of the products are local fruit and vegetables – with the spice stalls being my favourites. Such an incredible variety of spices and medicinal teas!
I realise that I haven’t posted any video links of Bulgaria yet on the site – here’s a good one to start with.

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