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!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

You are where you live

A Samuel Pepys - (or Marcel Proust -) type entry today.
Thanks to a couple of recent moves in my accommodation I’m seeing another side of Sofia. At the weekend I moved a little but further from the centre – trying to keep the rental low since I’m here only for a few months (if that) but would ideally like to keep somewhere to have as a base for my things and for the occasional visit. But I’ve been spoiled in the places I;ve had and just cannot adjust to the soullessness of these cheaper rented places. 
The young woman showing me the various flats told me the impact I had made when I said I needed bookshelves – “no one reads here” she exclaimed “but it does make people respect you!” And the lack of reading certainly shows in the absence, in any of the flats I looked at, of reading lights. I just don’t understand how people can live in places with only overhead lights! And what is advertised as “furnished” often means little more than kitchen facilities (often with dishwasher!), a bed, table and chairs. No cooking utensils, bedsheets, lamps or radio. Fortunately I travel with cooking stuff, don’t need television and had bought a couple of antique carpets for the bare floors – but unfortunately I need storage space for bikes and car parking facilities not too far away. 
So I’ve had to settle (for 300 euros a month) for a rather tawdry and shoddy new build-flat – largely on the basis that it seemed reasonably clean and had the space for my wheels! But I’m not sure how long I can put up with the place. 
I also have a hateful heating system (hot air being blown through air conditioners) simple because the central heating here in Sofia I so expensive. A monopoly supplier has forced more and more people to disconnect – driving the prices for those who remain even higher. So it is much cheaper to have electric heating which you control – particularly if you’re living there intermittently. 
I continue to enjoy walking (and cycling) around Sofia – even in the snow and ice which have graced the streets this week – the small shops and galleries (and cheap and pleasant eating and drinking) invite so (the Elephant second-hand Bookshop with English books has relocated into larger premises in the centre and opens today!) But the cosy small flats in Bucharest and Ploeisti are definitely beginning to beckon. 
Trouble is that I would have to dump the bikes (no storeage or cycling conditions up there) and also some of the paintings! Choices!

I was hoping to add to my little library on Bulgarian art by a visit to the underground second-hand bookshop at the University last week. It did indeed have quite a range of 1960s-1990s books on particular artists – but at extortionate prices for battered and nondescript things of less than 100 pages. The average price was 30 euros. What Bulgarian can afford such prices?
But, just 5 minutes (and hidden) away in a courtyard at Vassil Levski 87, there is a small second-hand bookshop which offers a not dissimilar range at a quarter of those prices. I got a couple of nice little books on the satirist -Stoyan Venev - and the shaper of Bulgarian painting - Jaroslav Vesin

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