On living through purpose and allowing a new country to steal your heart
Edited by Tamar Weisert.
I come from Mumbai, India, and moved to Bulgaria in August 2019. Life brought me to this beautiful country, as my wife is Bulgarian. We met during our Master’s program in the U.K., got married last year, and decided to start a new life here in Bulgaria.
I am a consultant in the space of energy access and social development and founded a social enterprise in India called Piconergy. I am passionate about social impact initiatives. I have recently started working on an experimental concept to improve the profitability of small-scale Bulgarian farmers by designing affordable solar food dehydrators.
Sofia was a natural choice, as my wife works here, and as a foreigner, this place gives you plenty of opportunities to network and learn. Hence, we decided to live here. Although the more I travel and see other beautiful places in Bulgaria, the more tempted I am to see what living in those places would be like.
Currently, I am advising on social impact projects, mostly in Asia. Apart from this, I spend a good amount of time meeting local people and understanding the many aspects of Bulgaria’s culture. Through one of these experiences, I got the opportunity to learn about the situation of the small-scale farmers in Bulgaria growing fruits and vegetables and struggling with low or no profitability. This issue profoundly appealed to me. I have been working on coming up with a design for an affordable solar food dehydrator, which can significantly help these farmers and maximize their returns. I am passionate about using technology to create a real and positive impact on people’s lives. I did this in India, and am now continuing it in Bulgaria.
I was, and remain surprised by the similarities between the Indian and Bulgarian cultures. It astonishes me. No doubt, my initial days were full of learning and adapting; everything was new and a bit overwhelming. But the similarities I talk about gave me a unique feeling of home away from home. I’ve never had this feeling in other places I’ve visited. I believe Bulgaria is naturally accommodating, and the people here are warm and welcoming. It has indeed made my life here comfortable.
I honestly moved here with no expectations or preconceived notions. I intentionally did very little and only essential research before moving here, as I wanted to accept the place, the people, and the culture the way they came to me.
I was, in a sense, ready to take almost everything coming my way. There will always be things you wish you’d known before moving somewhere, but that somehow takes away the element of surprise and experiences life may present to you. I did not want to miss those surprises and adventures.
Believe it or not, one of the first things I learned to say in Bulgarian was ‘Az ne govorya Bulgarski.’ I thought this could help me in some situations. I started using it so much that I got better with the pronunciation of this sentence, almost like a native speaker. It was funny because people would often ask me directions, and I replied with ‘Az Ne Govorya Bulgariki’ in a natural accent. They always responded with a perplexed look on their faces.
Trying to settle in a new country, a new culture, and learning a new language is challenging, which is great because it helps me drive myself even more. I feel if you have the right mindset, you can achieve everything you aim for. I think I am more focused and determined now, which I believe is a positive change.
For me, the location where I live has very little meaning. My biggest drive is the purpose. My purpose for living in Bulgaria is to be with my wife. But besides that, I am starting to love this place too. I am also working on new innovative ideas, so that’s another thing on the purpose list. Considering all of this, I feel I want to stay here.
I’d advise newcomers not to over-prepare or come with any pre-conceived impressions or opinions. Allow this beautiful country, and its warm people to welcome you in their unique way. Accept and appreciate the beauty hidden in all small and big experiences, respect the local culture/way of life, and I am sure you will have a great time here. Nazdrave!