Archive for the ‘Bulgaria’ Category

Sorrowful tribute

Vlado Sakaliskyi – R.I.P.

Vlado Sakaliyski – R.I.P.

I’m not happy to begin writing in 2013 in this vein.

Why? I don’t like writing purely personal items on this blog as a rule, and certainly don’t like passing on this kind of news, which has significantly affected my wife and me.

One of our friends (my wife has known him and his wife for 30 years) succumbed to a heart attack this week. He was 56.


Why am I writing this, then? Two reasons: one, he was a good friend of ours; two, he was one of those almost invisible entrepreneurs and innovators that Bulgaria possesses and should cherish and applaud.

On the purely personal front: Vladimir Sakaliyski and his wife, Elena (Eli), were guests in our home just before the new year, and we had a most enjoyable evening in their company. Vlado, in my opinion, was a great, but understated character. He was serious, professional, practical, precise, well-informed about everything, and had a quiet, droll sense of humour.

A practical, helpful man

Last year, I had a problem in restoring an old but favourite, classic bike. A vital component had snapped. The local bike shop couldn’t help. Going on eBay would have cost a fortune for a replacement, with no guarantee any item would be in better condition. Vlado fixed the problem within a couple of days, machining a new part that (of course) fitted perfectly. I’m glad I recently had the opportunity to thank him in person for that service. His fee? A ‘small bottle of whisky’.

But, more

Within a larger perspective: I admired him for his achievements. He was the CEO of a successful and growing production company, specialising in precision measurement and calibration hardware (at the simplest level – temperature probes; at the more elevated – RPM controllers and interface adapters). Along with 3 partners, he built the Plovdiv-based company from nothing, starting as early as February, 1989. Revenue that year; $3,500: employees: 0. In 2012, the corresponding figures were: revenue: $1.66 mn: 57 employees.  His precision products sold across Europe and in Bulgaria.

We once visited his business premises, and were totally impressed by the organisation, the layout, the clinical cleanliness (far superior to a Sofia hospital we recently visited), the extreme efficiency that the premises and employees emanated. It was a great example of what an honest and motivated Bulgarian could achieve, by hard work, discipline, and innovative ideas and goals. His ‘factory’ stands as a superb example of what an SME can achieve in this country.

Imaginative innovator

Yet, I’ll bet, hardly anyone outside the business, whether within or outside Bulgaria, knows of this company [1]. It’s part of that ‘invisible’ imagination and innovation that hugely supports Bulgaria’s trade and specialist reputation worldwide.

So, this was the Vlado I met some years ago, and grew to know and appreciate: a quiet, realistic and determined businessman.

But, to end on a purely personal level: Vlado was a true family man, a caring person,  modest – self-deprecating, almost; not the flashy type he could have been, with a grand SUV, a mansion, and all that claptrap. No, a normal, lovely man – who cared.

We’ll miss him.

My wife and I express our heartfelt condolences to Eli, Veneta and Ivelina, and all their family members.

[1]: comeco


Season’s greetings to you all!

Bozhentsi, Bulgaria

Heritage village of Bozhentsi, Bulgaria.

Putting to one side all those daft doom-laden prophecies, idiotic political leaders, gun-toting Americans, the tragedy of the Middle East, and so much more that troubles us; philinsofia wishes to thank all you readers, wherever you are, whatever you believe in (or not), and to wish you




Thanks for registering your ‘Likes’, and for going to the effort of submitting comments on various posts published throughout the year.

I’m happy to report almost 6,000 views during 2012, despite the glitch earlier in the year.

So, philinsofia raises a small glass of rakia to you all!

Image: personal archive.

A man who’s already seen a thousand rainbows… and so much more

Ecce homo!

Ecce homo! – Behold the man! (Photo: Maya Buzhashka)


Bulgarian folk song

Click on the image to view the performance.

… while I’m having a bit of a snigger (I sincerely hope) at unconfirmed USA Cold War pretensions and showmanship, my wife (seated opposite me) has been listening to some Bulgarian folk music.

This is what she was playing: The Great Voices of Bulgaria – “Lale li si”. Relax! Decide what you are![1]

[1]: YouTube

Speak in haste, repent at leisure

Storm in Sofia city centre.

Storm in Sofia city centre.

A few days ago, I was musing about the weather here in Bulgaria. Even then, I had a slightly uneasy feeling about what I was writing…

“I wonder what sort of winter lies in store for us here in Bulgaria? Surely, it must at least rain sometime. (I’ll probably soon wish I hadn’t written that last sentence!)”

Too true!

As a couple of readers pointed out, the post had hardly been published when I got my answer: heavy rain, and two days of strong, gusting winds.Plus, one local online weather forecaster predicts snow for Monday evening. (Have a look at this moody photo, by Mark Milan).

And there I was (mug), trying to finish off some work on our exterior balcony!

Another old saying comes to mind: “Live and learn!”

Image: personal archive.

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