A Country of Networkers

Community lead Pavel Naydenov introduces Vienna's Bulgarian community, the focus of this month's 'Home Is Where the Herz Is' issue.

It doesn’t matter where we live, we – the Bulgarians – like to talk. Sometimes we are lost in our own sentences, sometimes we leave them incomplete. Passionately taking part in conversations, often we talk on top of each other. As an eavesdropper, you could be misled and think we are not being polite to each other, because we’re all talking at the same time. But this is part of our heritage, or at least it’s a good excuse!

Maybe this behavior is rooted geography – our country is a bridge between east and west. Perhaps it has to do with the political transition from communism, which has already taken more than 30 years. Maybe it is due to the cliché of the “Balkans,” where everyone is constantly searching for their identity. Or maybe it’s just curiosity and a passion for gossiping.

We just like to talk about stuff and this makes our life complete and meaningful. We also like to throw parties or dinners at home, and we try to include everyone in our summer holidays. No matter the season, you can find us on the benches in the parks or squares, leading a passionate conversation. It’s funny though, in Vienna, we sometimes complain about the design of the benches. We are used to the benches in Bulgaria, most of which are portable (well, we unscrew them from the ground) and move them around so we can face each other, creating a much nicer atmosphere to talk.

Living in Bulgaria or abroad, it’s existential for us to be part of a community. You could say it’s tribal behavior, but we disagree. We are strong individuals who have the need to be part of an exchange. If you asked what our characteristic innate ability is, we would answer – networking. We like to connect people, to introduce friends to friends and exchange professional contacts. In short, to be matchmakers.

We also love to hear different points of view, even if we disagree with some of them. We are open-minded and like innovation. On the other hand, we can also be conservative, traditional and old-fashioned. Trying to find gaps in the system could be read either as another superpower we have – to improve and optimize processes – or as our intention to, sometimes, go against the rules, questioning their value.

We are curious about the world and what it has to tell us. We like to travel, and sometimes, we like to settle. That is how some of us ended up here in Vienna. If you’ve ever met one of us here, you probably already know – of all our characteristics, this is one that you will never forget – we are loyal friends! We have learned that the most important thing in our life is to have friends. We know how to fight to keep friendships strong. We know we are not perfect, but our flaws are like a patina, our rough edges signs of character. You might be confused by our complexity, at least at first, but in matters of friendship and love, you will experience a whole other level.

Pavel Naydenov

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Pavel Naydenov
Pavel is a social designer, artist and choir conductor. He considers the city a playground and he never gets bored from it. He likes to have a close look at marginalized groups and different subcultures. You can see him riding his bike toward third wave coffee houses in Vienna, art galleries, Yppenplatz or Donauinsel.

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