“Depends on the partner”

World champion in women’s free style wrestling under 74 kg. Stanka Zlateva was a guest at Slavi’s Show. For my non-Bulgarian readers “Slavi’s Show” is the most popular talk show in Bulgaria led by a smart ass in vulgar language and mobster cool pose who acts funny and critical but is neither sharp nor a thinker. there is of course a band and a ballet and a group of actors who mock politicians and whoever makes it into the daily headlines. People who watch this show regularly also vote for Boyko Borisov: another example that people prefer power and primitive to reason and rhyme.

So Stanka Zlateva was a guest at Slavi’s Show after wrestling to the gold. He asks her how she prepares for a match, does she watch videos of her competitors in advance to guess their strategy, he finally asks her what is her winning move.

“It depends on the  partner” she says, “I just go there and see what is going on and do my best accordingly”.  She doesn’t watch videos because they are always of other situations with other partners. She approaches her every match concentrating in one thing only – staying calm.

Maybe adjusting your game to the game of the partner is the best strategy in many sports. Bg football players, take note! But the image of the wrestler makes it so much easier to understand. No scheme or prior plan can help you if your partner acts in an unforeseen way. The mental capacity to adjust to a fast moving reality is what gets you the gold. Once you have the technique. So have your technique and go wrestle back.

Of course Slavi did not get that and kept acting very surprised that no videos were involved in the training. Because it was so written in his script and because he just doesn’t get it. He tells his guests how special they are but he cannot recognize special when he sees it.  This lack of perception and not the vulgar language is what makes him so banal and boring. To me.


500 years missing history

I arrived in Istanbul at dawn. My friend Sule met me soon after. We went for breakfast and talked long and excited about the latest gossip, religion as it should be, politics as it appears, education as it shouldn’t be and men as they are… But before all that she explained to me what Bayram meant. To my remark that fasting all day is not healthy she smiled and said: Vera, you are not doing this for yourself, you are doing it for God. He is asking you only one thing, to be selfless for a while.

We went to the university where she teaches and had coffee on the rooftop terrace when her PhD in IR/history friends joined us, the one who reads fast and the one who reads late. The one who reads fast had been to Bulgaria and visited the Bulgarian National History Museum http://www.historymuseum.org/

What impressed him there was that there was no historical account of the time between the 14th and the 19th century. He was amazed how come nothing simply happened in those 500 years in Bulgaria.

First, you can only get such a question from a non-Bulgarian. All Bulgarians know that nothing happened while we were part of the Ottoman Empire. This is what they teach us in school. Nothing happened because the Ottoman Empire was so backward they did not add anything to our development and quite the opposite they blocked our progress. But more importantly I though about a second thing.

History in Bulgaria has always been and still is written from the point of view of the state and by the state. And when there is no state there is no history. Only movements and events which advance the establishment and the greatness of the state are worth mentioning in the mainstream history annals. I guess it is still better than inventing a history of a state which was not there. But i am sure there are better ways of coming to terms with the past than silence.

So the young turk who reads fast opened my mind to a whole new application of something I already  knew from theory. He also challenged something I never questioned from history. He changed my perspective without wanting to. with an honest question. and now i can’t stop thinking about it.

The history of today was brought to me by the turk who reads late. He told me that Bono gave Erdogan a gift – a red iPod with classical music. We speculated what that meant for a bit and then I asked what did Erdogan give Bono in return. He said: One minute.

If you give me a minute with Bono i would take him to those 500 missing years in the National History Museum just to show him that talking to some people is anyway a waste of time.