Thursday October 13, 2005

Day 6 | Dentist

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Determined to get into the library I again headed off early morning, got past the security guard and found a different woman sitting on the desk. I tried a different strategy this time and informed her that yes, I wanted to join the library. She asked me for my ID card, a photo and 7 leva. I didn't have an ID card or a photo so was stopped dead in my tracks. At least she agreed that if I brought my passport in she would accept that. For the second day running the National Library had defeated me.

I made my way back to my accommodation and asked Ivo the security guard if there was a library anywhere near. He came out of his office, walked me 10 yards down the corridor, opened one of the green doors and alas there was a library right there in the very same building where I was sleeping and studying. That was both the trouble and the charm of all these corridors with seemingly hundreds of closed doors, you just didn't know what was hiding behind each one. Luckily the entrance conditions were not as complicated as the National Library and I was allowed to just go in and sit down, at any desk I wanted.

It was a small library with 2 computers at the front and about 6 rows of desks. There was a Bulgarian woman on one of the computers and it wasn't long before I sensed her standing beside me holding an exercise book and a pen. She looked a bit nervous and in a very quiet voice said in English 'you help me English', pointed to her exercise book and sat down beside me. I was quite pleased at first as I still didn't really know anyone and was happy that another student, although she looked about 40, was interacting with me. It didn't take long for me to work out she was a bit on the strange side. She had a full page of English sentences written down and very slowly and quietly would say each one to me and then say 'you'. After 5 or 6 sentences of politely repeating sentences like 'My cousin is tall and has brown eyes' it was getting painful and I was wondering to myself why I always seem to attract strange people. I politely smiled and gestured that I will carry on with my own work, she seemed very sorry and proceeded to rip a small piece of paper out of her book, wrote down what must have been her room number and then ripped another piece of paper out, handed me the pen and again said 'you'. I really didn't want to give her my room number but couldn't think of a polite way out. I knew that wouldn't be the last I would be seeing of her and now I was even more determined to find a way into that National Library.

I don't know if it was because I hadn't been eating very well (I had lost 3kg since arriving in Bulgaria) but a cap that I had on one of my front teeth had started to come loose. Again I asked Ivo the security guard if there was a dentist nearby and again he came out of his office, walked me 50 yards down the corridor this time, a right turn, a knock on the door and much to my great suprise behind this green door there was a dentist's surgery with a dentist's chair in the middle. Lights, dentist, the lot. A dentist's surgery in the Department of Foreign Languages? I hadn't expected that. The lady dentist invited me in, spoke to me in good English and within 20 minutes had fixed my tooth. She didn't want any money and just told me not to eat anything for an hour. Brilliant I thought. If I'd had the same problem back home it would have taken me weeks to get an appointment for the dentist. I was very impressed and started to wonder what else lay behind all these green doors?

I was starving however, maybe out of the relief of getting my tooth fixed, and for the second time today went straight to the hot dog man who spent 12 hours a day selling hot dogs from his little mobile hot dog stand outside my tower block. I must admit they were very good hot dogs. He put chips in them and had got to know that I liked extra spicy sauce in mine. I was eating far too many. On my last bite the dentist lady walked past and gave me a telling off for eating when she'd told me not to. I felt quite guilty as she had been so nice and done such a good job.

As was my custom every evening I made a little salad when I got back to my room, turned the TV on and looked at some Bulgarian TV show that, even though I couldn't understand, at least provided me with some visual entertainment. I'd worked out that there was a chat show called 'Шоуто на Слави' (The Slavi Show) on at half ten every night. It was a bit glitzy, they seemed to be telling a lot of jokes and at least I could try and imagine what they were saying. But tonight just as I was making my salad there was a knock on the door. I knew it, it was the strange woman from the library with her exercise book wanting help with her English. Not able to think up an excuse quickly enough and realising that she must be able to hear that my TV is on I had no choice but to open the door. She came in and sat at my desk and started reading English nursery rhymes to me very slowly. It was a bit surreal. I wouldn't have minded so much if at least I was practicing my Bulgarian but she inisted on trying to speak English. Her English wasn't much better than my Bulgarian so the conversations were very slow moving to say the least. Аfter finally getting rid of her I fell asleep wondering how I was going to shake her off.

 

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