Bulgarian Police - How it is here

Bulgarian Police - How it is here

Bulgarian police had always seemed to me to be a bit of a perk job. Many of the children of Bulgaria when asked what they want to do when they grow up say they want to be a policeman, (boys of course.) It is the case that the police have major respect in Bulgaria from the Bulgarian public and the Bulgaria new generation. It is the case that Bulgarian Police are not strangled with the law governed and dictated by over kill morals.

A short vacation with my partner found the weather unusually cold and wet therefore beach and sea activities were restricted and the rest of the time in bed sleeping or dosing. A friend rang saying that she was seeing someone on the coast and we should meet up and party on. We agreed!

Her friend was a policeman working in Black Sea region and they duly turned up in the coastal village we were staying at some twenty minutes later and the party began as we met in a posh Hotel garden bar.

Christo the policeman was a man of typical Bulgarian build, short, stocky with a 'beer' belly, piecing blue eye, no chin and slightly graying hair neatly cut. His shorts showed thin calved legs without hair, I don't think they were shaved but his arms shown by his plain short sleeved shirt were definitely not. A pair of good quality brown leather sandals supported this man who just didn't stop talking. His GSM was in constant use and was used extensively for planning the party path for his newly acquired guests who he obviously wanted to impress.

As with most Bulgarian men Christo treated his girlfriend with a little disdain as he dominated conversations giving a one way converation most of the time - normal in Bulgaria of course. Even so you couldn't fail to like the guy who was a very confident bordering on the arrogant. Speaking a little Bulgarian myself we basically debriefing our respective resumes. We found that Christo and I both liked many of the same things, essentially all Bulgaria food, drink, football, women and life here in general. It was found that being a policeman was indeed a good life in Bulgaria and the perks are never ending. Not too dissimilar from being mafia sprung to mind but without having to look over your shoulder every moment of the day for the competition!

We had just finished a beer or two in the bar and I was asked to get provisions for the day as we were off to other coastal towns further south. Drink or not and in the company Christo told me that beer and driving can mix here but only in the villages as now high speeds are not reached - One rule, just don't' crash! So the car was brought back from the apartment and parked up and we were off on a party adventure in Christo's car - the first adventure began immediately - Bulgarian driving!

If you have driven in Bulgaria and seen cars that just flash past you regardless of oncoming traffic, well this was one of them, and was a perfect remedy for the the beers we had as it certainly sobers you up! I found that closing my eyes was the key to a less stressful journey as seeing what was happening really did feel like playing Russian roulette. There was a police check en route and a wave and a shout was given at speed to the police on duty, they knew Christo and his car as they waved him on excitedly.

We arrived at a shop in the town further south and found no parking spaces to save any walking, it had to be directly outside the shop that sold cigarettes. Christo was completely relentless in his disregard for others in his parking as it remain immobile in the middle of the road blocking all traffic behind. This didn't bother Christo in the least as the car remained there with a build up of mayhem from cars behind now queuing. A solitary man started complained outside the shop until Christo got out of the car and then he shut up recognizing him as the law. There was initially a few honks from cars held up behind but this soon stopped as Christo was recognized and the word went round. All bowed to the law here as he talked to everyone that he passed he seemed to know everyone here in this town. Swapping of conversations through people and his GSM was a continuous switch which was consistently made.

Cigarettes soley bought for the Bulgarian women as Christo and I don't smoke. Christo says it was bad for you and you die a slow and painful death from smoking. I agreed, but then though that might explain his driving, a quick and painless death preferred of course. It was now off to another place and the reopening of the road once Christo had driven off to the shouts of 'Chiao!' from shop-owners from both sides of the street.

This time the destination was a restaurant on the coast. A superb setting with blue skies, fishing boat going and cpoming in with catches from the crystal clear blue sea, then prepared and served up; I have only dreamed of locations like this before now. The preferential treatment continued as we were placed a prime positioned table and served before others who had turning up earlier due to Christo's status and respect here. A meal of the freshly cooked fish and more beer was served we were not allowed to pay. Then as Christo approached spoke with the cashier at the bar, all I saw exchanged was conversation!!

It was then off to a newly built hotel with its own bar and swimming pool. Free drinks all round as the owner nervously insisted, there seems a little fear in his voice. During this time we were then told that we have free apartments booked in another coastal town resort. As we moved off again under Formula One speed further down the coastal road Christo's GSM was in full use with further plans being made as we traveled.

We arrived at a luxurious hotel and was shown around by the owner. Then escorted to our complimentary room for the night. This was all an offering from the owner to his policeman friend Christo we were being treated like royalty as everyone bowed to Christo and his friends presence. Some locally caught fresh fish was brought along and offered to us but we just didn't have the facility to keep them overnight and declined. These were big healthy carp caught from local inland waters which I found strange in a place just 50 metres from the Black Sea. We were also asked if we wanted to go fishing tomorrow early in a boat that was ready for use. Again Christo declined as time was the factor but at this point I didn't know Christo's plans and that an early rise was out of the question.

It just so happened that the Bulgarian national football team was playing in the European cup qualifications this particular evening so the TV was booked exclusively for Christo and his guests. Not only that, a full compliment food and rakia was also booked to be laid on for the evening more gifts from the very generous hotel manager!

We freshened up in our assigned spacious hotel apartment and proceeded to party on spending a few hours watching live European football, downing two bottles of grape rakia and various Bulgarian traditional food alongside. Us men Bulgarian or not had everything we could ever ask for this evening at that point. Food, drink, live football and each with fantastic Bulgarian women - what a mixture of components and all free!

Non-stop talking was the main activity and was quite a distraction from me trying to watch he football. It was interesting getting feedback from Christo when the opposition scored. I had to actually tell him they had scored before he replied with 'normal' this was a typical Bulgarian reaction. The same reaction of 'normal' was made to the final score 2:0.

Christo had for many years accepted that most European sides were better than Bulgaria but I was taken back a bit by his lack of interest and emotions during the ups and downs of the match. Talking preoccupied the evening and football enthusiasm was well down the league of interest even well below rakia and food. Perhaps the taste of defeat was inbuilt in Bulgaria and they have learned not to get stressed up about it. He accepted defeat of his team with total resignation this was expected from him and other Bulgarians even before the match. This to them was inevitable anyway so what was the problem!

So football finished and well past 11:00 but that wasn't important. Even more planning had been made by Christo and next thing we know there was a shiny black Mercedes and young smartly dressed driver waiting outside to pick us up. and drop us at a discotheque at a neighbouring town.

Moments later and all feeling like Cinderellas going to a ball as we were transported and dropped outside a discotheque in a neighbouring town. What a fantastic venue it was a state of the art, all mod cons and all done on a massive scale. It was the sort of place you would expect to see public figures and show business celebrities. What was I thinking, there was a celebrity there, Christo and his privileged guests!

The entry fee was waived as was all the drink that was served to us throughout the rest of the evening. Christo was the VIP host of the venue along with the Englishman included as on his three guests as we were tagged with this status for the rest of the night.

Dancing drinking and more eating the night away we then then had the another chauffeur driven Mercedes driving us back to the hotel. This was not before having a little party with some traffic police on duty in the town, but again time doesn't matter here. You go to bed when you are tired here and we were at 4:30 am!

The next morning breakfast was taken on a beach restaurant only 100 metres away for the hotel there no lapse in VIP treatment as they were expecting us. No doubt Christo's GSM was in action again to prepare this earlier. Filled with a Bulgarian pancake breakfast and more beer (well it was almost midday) we soaked up the final moments on the other side of the Bulgarian coin.

Finally there was the trip back to out village apartment and Christo went on his own way back to work. He was still on his GSM talking an planning something else as he waved goodbye to us. We watching him drive of into the mysterious world of deciding what is right and wrong in Bulgarian daily life. Very much a case of looking through the eyes of Bulgarian community policing.

Two years ago it would have been difficult near on impossible to come to terms with situations such as this. You have to learn in Bulgaria how to accept things as they come along and not try and fight against everything. It would not have been enjoyed before and there would be a great deal of stress and guilt attached. This learning how to enjoy yourself and not feel totally indebted to people with their unbounded generosity and kindness is part of the culture here no matter how it is comes. Accepting this type of Bulgaria comes with time and you have to realise that is how it is here. Corrupt? Maybe, but what right do you have to fight it and what would that do? It wouldn't change anything.

It was a whirlwind 24 hours and a view of how the other half live in Bulgaria, from poverty stricken communities trying to make ends meet and now from the perspective of a community that find the good things in life come their way by job status and respect. All the time I was thinking what had Christo done beyond this role as a community policeman to get such treatment. The only thing I can come up with was for him to turn a blind eye on certain things that go on - I might be wrong but that's how it felt.

As for the Bulgarian police, well they are only human, perhaps too human in view of what was experienced. The respect and fear remains for law as seen here, furthermore works in Bulgaria for the main part anyway. It really is a case of hands on policing with the community as part of the policing system.

Community policing it may well be technically in Bulgaria, up and running very effectively as ever here - well before it was reinvented and failed in the UK.