The Bulgarian Wristwatch


Майкъл Кешмън


In Bulgaria the perception and application of the concept of time is much different than in America and Western Europe. Here, in this wonderful land, the time of day and the calendar date pass almost without notice; blending into each layered moment as a whole with almost no importance given to them. This becomes more noticeable the longer you reside in this unique country; although the way people frantically drive here with death defying impatience you would think that every passing car was on the way to the hospital to deliver a baby or late for a board meeting chaired by Bill Gates with billions of leva at stake. This disturbing factor aside; it’s not so important to have a watch or clock that you would need to refer to constantly in the course of a day to deem it as a necessity like in the West. Indeed, I would have to tell you that one could get by with a wristwatch that just tells you what day of the week it is as it is easy to lose track of time in that sense here. Of course there are exceptions to this theory, but as a whole (especially for foreigners) it seems much harder to linger on what the exact time is, for it seems not so important and it’s often much easier to forget what actual day it is.

Observe people as they walk and note the almost leisurely pace at which they stroll along as if pacing themselves for the marathon of life with the malingering speed of a three-legged tortoise. Compare this to the West where everyone seems to be jogging around from place to place and still managing to be late for each and every destination in the course of their all too busy days. Here society does not seem to be so bound to specifics when it comes to time and tend to view it in more general terms. I often find myself finding Monday to be much the same as Friday and feel no need to differentiate unless an important event is scheduled. It is truly wonderful, after many years of "paying my dues", in the world of the modern working society, to be able to view almost everyday as a Saturday. In Bulgaria they work to live and not live to work. This is more in tune with the natural order of things. If you do not agree with this view, then perhaps you are already late for something "important".

August 2007