Yesterday as many of you will know was International Women’s Day–those of you State side probably do not know this seeing as we celebrate Mother’s Day in May instead (oh and we also celebrate Father’s Day in June). The tradition in Bulgaria seems to be that men give the women in their lives flowers and then they make take that special someone out to dinner (so she don’t have to cook her Mr. dinner on International Women’s Day and then clean up afterwards).
At school, students wish each other: Happy Holiday! Or Happy 8th of March! Aside from purchasing flowers it doesn’t seem to be a very commercial holiday. I’ve never seen greeting cards for the holiday nor are their large displays at the grocery store set up to encourage spending on this holiday.
Yesterday one of my students came with pink carnations for all of his classmates and teachers. He elicited huge smiles from the girls in his section. He gave one to me and we exchanged some pleasantries. It was about all I could do not to tell him my favorite 2nd grade joke about carnations but I didn’t because I thought it would detract from the thoughtful act of bring flowers.
Q: What would we have if everyone in the country drove pink cars?
A: A pink car-nation!! (Insert peals and peals of laughter.)
Okay, okay. I know it’s not that funny but in 2nd grade man I thought this joke was just great. I kind of still do.
International Women’s Day at school is fine but out in Sofia it’s impossible to get a table at most restaurants and many bars and cafes have put out reserved signs on all open surfaces–tables of all types and even the bar. The bar?! I’ve always thought of the bar as a sacred space that’s un-reserve-able. Not in Bulgaria.
That gets me to the problem with reservations in Sofia. For the life of me I can’t figure out system. Okay, it’s not as if I don’t understand out how it works. I understand this just fine it’s just that it doesn’t seem to make business sense.
For those of you unfamiliar with making reservations in Sofia here it is. You call and make a reservation. You say I want the table at 8:30 for 6 people. The restaurant says okay. Then sometime between 4 an 5pm they put a reserved sign on the table and they do not seat anyone else at the table before your reservation at 8:30pm so it stands empty until you show up. I’ve definitely eaten early dinners before with friends in restaurants that are all but empty because the other tables are reserved and I’ve seen others turned away because there are no free tables. Ridiculous!
Anyhow, I know that the popular Bulgarian response to this is something along the lines of: we like to sit, to eat and to drink without being rushed. I understand and appreciate this but it seems to me that there’s got to be some middle ground. I guess the American in me is never going to fully understand this tradition of making reservations in Sofia.