Monday, August 10, 2009

In Praise of Bulgarians

My good friend (and one of my favorite bloggers), Petya, recently moved to Memphis with her husband, who is my new colleague at work. I have been anxiously anticipating their arrival all summer, and especially anticipating introducing them to Memphis. Now, I love this city and I love showing people around here, but after many years of doing so, I've come to (regrettably) acknowledge that, well, Memphis just isn't everyone's cup of tea. You kind of have to appreciate the beauty of the less-than-beautiful in order to appreciate this town, and you most definitely need to have an open mind about what sorts of down-and-out places might harbor within them something truly great. For the most part, I try to take my friends to those place when they visit here for the first time... but I know that it takes a special kind of person to let go of his or her predispositions and prejudgments and really enjoy the majesty of diamonds-in-the-rough.

I really had no worries about these two when it came to Memphis and, thankfully, that intuition was confirmed last week when they arrived. We went down to Ground Zero last Wednesday night to catch my old friend Ms. Nikki singing some blues, and a few nights later they accompanied me to Wild Bill's, which is my home-away-from-home. (That's the two of them dancing at Wild Bill's in the picture above.) I just want to say that it's soooooo nice to have friends like them, who are ready and willing to try just about anything. So far, they seem to have gotten on well with all of the Memphis folks (mostly musicians so far) that I've introduced them to, and the reverse has been equally, if not more, true.

Petya is from Bulgaria, a country about which I know very little apart from the accounts that I have heard from her and her husband. So, I'm really interested to see her testimonials about navigating Memphis, some of which are pretty funny and which you can read on her blog. One story which I find particularly funny (and which is not included on her blog) is her first interaction with a repairman from MLGW (our local utility company). I was over at thier house when the guy came to turn on their utilities, and at one point Petya came over to me and whispered: "I can't understand anything he's saying." (For the record, Petya is an excellent English-speaker, and even attended college at Sewannee, aka The University of the South, so this was not necessarily her fault!) But the MLGW guy had one of those slurring, rambling, chaw-in-lip accents that can sound about as far from standard English as... well... Bulgarian. So, I have to admit that I got more than a little bit of a chuckle from having to translate.

Thankfully, Petya also found a connection to her home within her first few days here (read that story here), and hopefully that will reassure her that this is not an utterly non-cosmopolitan city. The best thing about them being here so far, in my humble opinion, is that they are both lovers of Memphis music. That's a great place to start.


petya said...

You are the best Memphis guide one could wish for!

DOCTOR J said...

And you, Petya, are the best "transplanted Memphian" that I could wish for!!!