Interview with a Bulgarian
I have a sister-in-law. Her name is Atanaska. She is from Bulgaria. She is a Gypsy. There aren’t any Gypsies in Natural Novel, but there should be — that would be cool.
I asked Attie if I could interview her about Bulgaria and she said yes. Attie left Bulgaria when she was six; she went back to visit a few years ago. (By the way, there is a book I was going to check out about Gypsy culture called Bury Me Standing by Isabel Fonseca. It has mixed reviews by people familiar with the culture, but people tend to be more positive than not. If you have any interest in Gypsy culture, maybe you can check it out!)
Here is our interview:
Me: When you think of Bulgaria, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
Attie: I think of being an orphan. I remember standing at the fence leading to the orphanage and calling for my birth mom. And sometimes at night I was scared and so the kids in the orphanage would crawl into bed with me.
Me: What’s your favorite Bulgarian word?
Attie: Dobur Den! It is “good afternoon” — for older women to younger women. And “darasti” means hello. But my favorite is the word I made up — “Masilka” — when I first came over from Bulgaria.
(True story: Had the whole Sherman clan confused; calling translators, pouring over dictionaries. Girl had a sense of humor even back then.)
Me: If you had to name your child a Bulgarian name, what would it be?
Attie: Ivan. He was my first boyfriend in Bulgaria and he was my first kiss.
Me: What do you remember first about coming to America?
Attie: All the cars! And living on a busy street. And the food too.
Me: If I wanted you to cook me a Bulgarian dinner, what would you make me?
Attie: Lentil soup with Gorna to drink.
Me: When you tell people you’re from Bulgaria, what do they say?
Attie: “What? Really? Where is Bulgaria? I thought you were from India.”
Me: Have you heard of the book “Natural Novel”.
Attie: I haven’t heard of it, but I hope it’s good for you though.
Me: How do you say “book” in Bulgarian?
Attie: Yeah, I don’t know how to say ‘book’ because I don’t like to read.