PLACES: битака в Малашевци (Bitaka – Fleamarket)

Over the last weeks, different people told me about the flea market in Malashevtsi, called битака (Bitaka). On Sunday I decided to get up really early to experience this place myself.

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Unfortunately people there weren’t pleased to see me taking pictures, therefore I decided, of course, to stop taking pictures of their sales stands. Which is a sad thing because on this market everything, really everything, was offered: bags of marbles, gas masks, cigarettes, broken shower heads, rusty kitchen utensils and communist badges. Basically just thrown on the floor.

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It was the first time in Sofia I ever felt people looking at me, recognizing me as a stranger. Yet no one was talking to me in a strange way and as I already know “How much?”, “What’s this” and the numbers from 1-20 in Bulgarian I had no difficulty communicating.

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While buying a new tea pot (which turned out to be a milk churn, but anyway..) I met a nice guy who showed me around. He tried to explain, that the market starts this early (5 AM), because the police is changing shifts during that time and it’s easy to sell stolen goods. I don’t know whether this is true, but an interesting theory anyway.

roasting and selling meat & corn at 9 am

roasting and selling meat & corn at 9 AM

I enjoyed my time there strolling around, marvelling  and buying some items for our flat. Still there was this strange atmosphere of not belonging and being confronted with poverty and difficulties Roma have to face in Bulgaria (and Europe in general). I don’t get to perceive this in my everyday life in Sofia’s tidy, busy centre and my international environment. Which is, I have to admit, an actual parallel universe.

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