From the pen of Turlough Ó Maoláin ...

The Chronicles of Bulgaria

The Friday Pazar in Gorna Oryahovitsa


Coffee imbibed, strong and black.

Old men sit and talk and cough and hack

Beneath a fig tree even older.

Tobacco smoked, even stronger

To blunt the edge

Of the strong rakia

Rolled around the blackened teeth

To blunt the edge

Of the women’s tongues

In mouths bitter and dry

From years of toil and asking why.


But all around them people haggle

At tables where the raggle taggle

Gypsies sell their wares and bedraggled

Mules and dogs and kids all straggle.


Medals from some forgotten war.

Balkan meatballs fried or raw.

More choices here than in any store.

Special price sir! Good deals galore!


Old cameras lying in a heap

Where homeless cats will creep or sleep.

Fattened chickens going cheap.

Their babies going cheep, cheep, cheep!


There’s nothing that you can’t buy here.

Books and records reduced to clear.

The finest broken chandeliers.

Rich treasures from those bygone years.


Kitsch and fleeces, bits and pieces.

Frilly frocks from aunts for nieces.

My cardiovascular system ceases

As kebabs are served from where the grease is

Full bodied, sweet and well matured

Flowing freely from flesh that's skewered.

‘Very tasty’, I’m assured.

But to save my heart I find I’m lured

By a girl with juicy water melons,

A Santa hat with a little bell on,

Spare parts for an AK-47

And a plastic statue of Vladimir Lenin.


A pile of antique mobile phones.

An ashtray ‘Greetings sent from Rome’.

Hristo Botev's famous poems.

A vinyl armchair bleeding foam.

Boots once worn by an unknown Tsar.

Tourist tat brought from afar.

No suq or market’s more bizarre

Than the Gorna Oryahovitsa Friday Pazar.


Gorna Oryahovitsa railway station.

 Gorna Oryahovitsa railway station. Like a fool, I omitted to take photographs of the Friday Pazar in Gorna Oryahovitsa.

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