Friday, April 24, 2009

The Bulgarian head shake

I walked into a car showroom near the City Center Sofia Mall this afternoon. The showroom displayed very fancy Italian cars, but it also had a huge AVIS sign on the outer wall, and a standup AVIS poster by the window. Based on my having previously picked up an Avis pamphlet at the airport, I assumed this was an Avis office. I went inside to inquire about car rental, as if so, it would be conveniently located near our home.

The sales clerk inside didn't speak English, but he understood my question.

"Is this an Avis office?" I asked.

The sales clerk shook his up and down, the universal symbol for a positive response.

"No Avis office," he said, confusing me momentarily.

Then I remembered having read in the guidebook: Bulgarians shake their head 'yes' and nod their head 'no'.

This Bulgarian custom is a shake different from the one we know.

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