Posts Tagged ‘Plovdiv’

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


Maxim Boyadjiev (1954 – 2012), Bulgarian artist:– a small, personal tribute



The Bulgarian artist Maxim Boyadjiev died yesterday of a stroke and lung cancer.

He was a great friend of my wife and her sister; both are, understandably, very upset.

I met him a few times over the past 5 or 6 years. A complicated person.

He was confined to a wheelchair for several years, the result of a car accident. His tiny apartment in Plovdiv was a complete mess: paints, canvases, paint-rags everywhere; domestic chaos; hardly anywhere to sit; Maxim seated on his bed, with everything he absolutely needed within reach, including glasses and bottles of assorted booze.

I remember he used to ask me to go out to the local shop to buy him – chocolate bars. A small luxury.

Despite this chaos, Maxim produced wonderful paintings.

Spiritual… restrained eroticism

To me (no art critic) they were expressions of a deep spirituality (no, I’m not defining that more specifically, ‘cos I don’t know exactly what motivated him); they embraced a restrained, at the same time frustrated, eroticism and abstinence; and his actual painting technique was hugely detailed and refined.

I remember one crazy night a couple of years ago, in the art gallery of the Sofia Opera complex. Maxim and a colleague (also gone) were holding a joint exhibition, due to open the next morning. We said we’d help (along with other volunteers) to hang his paintings.

What an unorganised shambles! The gallery curator (suitably ‘artistic’ – long fingernails, extravagant hair-do, hands waving everywhere) had made a complete mess of things, but kept interfering with everyone who was trying to do their best. Outbursts of violent arguments, while others kept their heads down, pretending not to hear. Comical, now – but not at the time.

However, the official opening, thank goodness, seemed to work.

Poor Maxim, who seems to have driven himself to some point of desperation, perhaps not even caring any more.

His legacy – the positive point of his life? A great affection for his friends (even though frequently expressed over long, rambling, drunken phone calls). His intense imagination and individual creativity. A distinctive artistic style. Many, many, beautiful, lyrical, provocative canvases. That’s what remains. Plus memories.

We’ll all miss him. RIP. Here’s the last painting he published online. Holding a candle… Meanwhile, our respects to his daughter, Denitsa, also an artist.


Related video: A short one by Iva Buzhashka and Pedro Dans

plus, YouTube (32 mins.)

and another (10 mins.)

Oho, it seems I’m back!

plovdiv bin day

Bin-day in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Hey, the guys who support, and generally take care of, WordPress have successfully cracked my problems. This is just a trial post, therefore, and I’m sure it will now work! So, here’s a photo, just for fun. If you’ve ever been to the old part of the lovely Bulgarian city of Plovdiv, you must have seen this arrangement. Or did you miss it… ?

Happy person. (Ah, to see those visual icons back again, and be able to properly publish!)

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