Keep Your English Mouth Shut

Keep Your English Mouth ShutA Skype message from Galia today, ‘I’ve broken my tooth can you bring my toothbrush and toothpaste to work when you pick me up at 5:00?’ Oh dear, it wasn’t bad enough that she had been ill with her kidneys for the past two weeks and picked up a cold at the weekend, now with the broken tooth a trilogy of illnesses have come about. And there’s me as fit as a fiddle feeling guilty that she has all the problems.

We met at 5:00 and it was straight off to the dentist after she had gingerly brushed here teeth before the short trip to the dentist. The tooth that had broken was a molar that had taken some battering with a boiled sweet at lunchtime.

The dentist was in the town centre as we parked up and made out way to the entrance. You would never know a dentist was there as the façade was just like another other town house in Yambol. The only give away was a very small plaque (quite funny seeing as it is a dentist sign) about the imposing grey painting metal gate. As we walk through the front garden there was a classical styled tap and sink built into the wall with a moulded bust at eye level and next to that an old vine that travelled up the wall and out of site, there were still black grapes hanging just out of arms reach, which it probably why they are still there.

You would still never know this was a dentist until the double glazed front door was opened, but it wasn’t from the sight of the narrow ceramic tiled hallway, it was the unmistakable smell of a dentist. Hard to describe this clinical and distinctive air of scent, but all who attend dentist will know.

Galia, who hadn’t said much throughout all this time, understandably sudden gave instructions. ‘Stay here!’ She was telling me to wait in the hallway whilst she went into the dentist’s reception room. I was under the impression she didn’t want me to see her in pain. There were other patients and partners there but all in the reception area with Galia, I was the only person out of the social limelight. I really felt like I should have been in the chatting away with everyone else.

I could hear things going on in the busy environment as I sat on a little lonely plastic chair there feeling like an outcast whilst reading a tattered, old, Bulgarian football magazine that was left on the table.

A full 30 minutes had elapses as people walked backwards an forwards past me giving greetings as they went past, as they do here. There was a little curiosity in their mannerisms as if to ask why I am sitting there and not in the surgery with my partner like everyone else is?

Galia finally came out with the dentist; I was quite surprised to see that the dentist was quite an elderly woman. Greeted them both as they approached and it fell upon a silence. I looked at Galia and asked if she was okay. Still there was no response and a silence came about again. It was almost a rushed movement as we walked out, no eye contact was made from Galia as she quickly said goodbye to the dentist and paced outside leaving me in her wake. It was only when we both got outside I finally realised what all the strange goings on where all about.

Keep Your English Mouth ShutKeep Your English Mouth Shut
Keep Your English Mouth Shut

It was explained that I should have kept my mouth shut and not said anything at all in the dentist’s premises. Galia went on to explain that if they found out I was English they would charge her more money for the treatment. She was very worried indeed that now they may well up the price for the work they are due to do tomorrow. As is was, even at Bulgarian prices, the cost of the work needed is the equivalent of around one month of Galia's earnings (around 350 leva).

The fact that I speak Bulgarian all the time I am with Galia doesn’t come into play, it is not Bulgarian’s Bulgaria and anyone listening who know straight away that this is not a Bulgarian and therefore richer than them!

It is so true that because I am English or non-Bulgarian, they will charge you substantially more, even if you have a Bulgarian partner. If a Bulgarian has an English partner, they will think that that Bulgarian will also have come into lots of disposable income; this is how they think. This is how they see the English here and this is what we have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

No one knows that we are both living here on the poverty line like most others and if we try to explain that they think we are lying. There is no way out of their thoughts and association of English equals Rich. Perhaps Galia is right; well I know she is, if I keep my mouth shut when out and about, this would be better for us all round.