PEACE IS THE BEAUTY OF BULGARIA
The man who introduced cricket to Bulgaria, Saif-ur Rehman, is 40 and was born in Pakistan, where he graduated electrical engineering. He arrived in Bulgaria in 1994. He is now the owner of the Punjabi Food Pakistani restaurant and from time to time acts, but is still involved in cricket as a coach for disabled children and adults.
Have you felt special treatment because you are a foreigner?
I am a positive person so if there was anything negative, I wouldn't have paid attention. Most things in Bulgaria are positive. If I have stayed here for 20 years, without relatives or a Pakistani community to fall back on, then I have experienced more good things.
Is there a typically Bulgarian trait in the national character?
I like the warmth in the Bulgarians and their relationships. When there is a problem, people sit at the table and have fun: "Well, will make it through, we have survived so many things, we will survive this one as well." But I sometimes dislike that same attitude, as people tend to procrastinate the solution of a problem: "It will solve itself, somehow."
Do you have Bulgarian friends?
Yes. Most of my friends are Bulgarians.
Do you celebrate Bulgarian holidays?
All of them, but I most like the name days. They give you a reason to sit at the table, to invite guests, to visit a friend. Very nice tradition.
Can you describe Bulgaria in three words?
I will repeat the words of the former Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto: "Bulgaria is heaven on earth." Beautiful country, good people, in the capital's centre there are a synagogue, a mosque and churches. This is the beauty of Bulgaria – the peace, that no one bothers the other. I am talking about ordinary people. The rest is the nature – God has given Bulgaria beautiful nature and I am irritated sometimes when I see how we pollute it. When I travel around the Rhodope, sometimes I stop the car, look around and say: "If I ever go to heaven, it will look like that."
Do you plan to stay in Bulgaria?
Half of my life has passed here. It will be probably the same with what remains of it.