Romanian Survival Book

May 2, 2009

On Romanians 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — darian @ 4:55 pm
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The Romanian Ministry of Tourism has launched a song & video in a bid to attract tourists to Romania – the land of choice.  Not surprinsingly, there were a response to that – ‘Romania, the end of choice’. I hope I’ve managed to post both of them.

Looking forward to your comments, I really enjoy this blog. I created it, then abandon it and now it has a life of its own because of you.

March 4, 2008

Romania: What the hell happened??

Filed under: Uncategorized — darian @ 11:49 am

Anthony Bourdain is a chef/traveler and he keeps a blog about his experiences across the globe. Apparently the Government of Romania, through the Tourism Ministry got involved with more than 20.000 USD (according with Cotidianul -www.cotidianul.ro). They followed Bourdain around telling him and his team what & where to shot. No surprise they took him the most boring, communist style old restaurants, so that the poor man had no chance to actually see Romania and Bucharest for what it is, with good and bad and ugly. The infamous obedience towards foreigners, which is manifested through huge dinner parties, cutting off the throat of a pork or sheep or whatever to please the guest with our ‘traditions’ of hospitality goes in the same mentality of submissively ‘offer’ things Romanian. I wonder if they didn’t arrange a girls’ party too …that’s Romanian hospitality too. While behaving so ‘nicely’, our outdated high bureaucrats then take offence when the guests don’t appreciate this type of ‘hospitality’. My advice, if I may, for people like Bourdain is to never go official, if they want a taste of the real life. Just go into a nice café and pick up a local as your guiding tour. If not happy, take another, you’ll surely find some interesting spots. Such a pity! As for the Bran castle (the so called Dracula’s land), I’m afraid it’s exactly as described by Bourdain…I have had the same experience when I took there some foreign friends….and I’m Romanian, so I should have known better.

If you want to read Bourdain’s program as made by the Tourism Ministry, go bellow:

http://mturism.ro/fileadmin/mturism/PublicitateAchizitiiPublice/vizita_sua.pd

You can read all 875 comments (the highes number of comments on his blog) http://anthony-bourdain-blog.travelchannel.com/2008/02/romania-what-the-hell-happened.html

bela-lugosi.jpg

 (photo: Bela Lugosi, the original cinematic Dracula, who is said to be Romanian).
| | Comments (875)
Predictably, a lot of people either hated–or were deeply offended by–the Romania show. Most, I gather, are either Romanian or have traveled to Romania and had a better time there than I did. Quite understandably, no one wants to see the host of a travel show having a bad time of it in their country, griping miserably about how things went wrong–and how utterly fucked up things were.
But the fact is:
Things WERE fucked up. My Russian pal, Zamir, who had helped make such good shows in Russia and Uzbekistan, was definitely NOT a good choice to show me around Romania. I think, if nothing else, we made that explicitly clear.
The “Motel Dracula” was, in fact, just as bad a time as it looked. Maybe we fucked up picking that spot as something to cover. Though it’s certainly representative of a resurgent, Dracula-based tourist industry. What we DID show you, at least, was exactly how awful it was–and how unhappy I was to be part of such a bogus scene.
The scene at Vlad The Impaler’s statue in Bucharest was not atypical of the kind of “cooperation” and last-minute shakedowns we found whenever we tried to shoot at a “typical” everyday restaurant.Even WITHOUT cameras, looking just for a relaxed meal, we’d often enter a near empty restaurant, ask if a table was available–and have the waiter tell us “No” in the surliest of terms. WITH cameras–asking if we could shoot was an invitation to either an instinctive “NO” or an invitation to gouging. As waiters and hosts it seems, work on salary–rather than tips, no one really seemed to care about more business, promoting their business or even making more money. People are still uncomfortable in general about being filmed. Understandable, given Romania’s history that many would be reluctant to have their picture taken–as this rarely led to anything good back in the bad old days.But to describe Romania as particularly friendly? Not really. I’ve been all over the world. Over 50 countries. On the friendly scale? Romania not exactly in the top 40. The food–on camera, off camera? Didn’t matter. It was mostly pretty primitive. Soups may taste good–but they don’t make interesting television. I could lie. But I ain’t gonna.
Which is really what it’s all about, isn’t it? Should I–when faced with a show that’s clearly going wrong–as far as depicting good times and good food–do my best to LIE about it? Put on my best, tightest smile and slog through an hour, yammering a lot of utter bullshit about what a great time I’m having and how good the food is and how friendly the people? You can see that on every other travel and food show. Or get it straight from the tap–at the Tourist Board. This show never pretended to have any responsibility to show the “best” of any place–or the “top ten” of anything. Or to even be diplomatic. I, me, Anthony Bourdain went to Romania. I made some bad decisions. And this is the show I came back with. At the end of the day? That’s what happened. That’s what it felt like. Period. Frankly? I think it’s a pretty funny show.

February 13, 2008

Branding Romania

Filed under: Uncategorized — darian @ 11:00 pm

I have seen and read many, many articles, essays and opinions about ‘what is Romania’s brand?’ Is it ‘tzuica’? Maramures? Popular costumes? Polenta? Ceausescu? Nadia? Dracula? What it could be? Do we actually have a brand? Do we need one?

Thinking over this, especially recently, when our ‘brand’ appears to be corruption, shady politics, unwillingness to keep our promises, bad reputation abroad, I was thinking what -really! – are the good and funny parts, what defines us, Romanians.

As I have started this blog over an year ago, then I have abandoned for personal reasons, with the idea of finding what defines Romanians with the good, the bad and the ugly, maybe I should ask these questions again and let the people say their view. So, spread the word, please!

3 Questions:

1. What Romania means to you? Why?

2. What characterizes Romanians – the good, the bad and the ugly? And why?

3. How do you see the future of Romania and why? Political, social, economic, global, artistic/cultural- any perspective you fancy.

Thank you. If you also have relevant photos, don’t hesitate to send it over, I will mention the source.

Claudia

PS: I would like to thank anyone who posted on this blog and left valuable/interesting comments in a polite manner. Even though I don’t answer, I read all of them. Also, to all of the magazines/people who recommended this blog or linked to it because they find it intriguing, without me asking anything and to those who wrote me encouraging emails and valuable feedback. I guess this is how it survived over an year of total pause.

April 27, 2007

On being Romanian #3

Filed under: Uncategorized — darian @ 1:19 pm

amazon.jpg

Someone found this on Amazon…I thought was funny!

April 24, 2007

Is there a Romanian culture of betrayal?

Filed under: Infamous Romanians,Politics,Raving — darian @ 1:03 pm

poza2_5596.jpgLast week was busy, busy. People went off in the streets again after our President was suspended by a bunch of 322 dazed Parliamentarians. I would not be so irreverent of our Representatives, those who go to that huge building to work hard making laws for my immediate benefit if I wouldn’t have seen their looks and their behavior. Worse for me, I used to work in that building for them, as a civil servant in the International Relations Department and later in the policy section. So i know them well enough to know who I am dealing with: a group of wannabees, many of them, not all of them, craving power and money for their un-existing virtues, other than being aggressive and intolerant, willing to get there to any price, doing any sort of compromises. People with a little education with many degrees obtained through friends in universities because, in case you didn’t know, in Romanian universities you can buy your degree or even your grade. A pass in the Medical School in Timisoara costs 300 euros, in case you were wondering. In Bucharest a post as a Assistant Professor in the Medical University again I have been told that can reach 10.000 Euros.

So…you can see, I have no trust in the mental capacity and high powered brain abilities of those who represent me in this country. I am not here to say that Basescu, the suspended President is a saint; but for what is worth he moved things forward. He is also under the suspicion of fraud in the past but it is obvious to me that he gave up narrow interest and just broke the Romanian cat after all.

What is really annoying is the whole situation: we have yet again an un-working alliance between PD and PNL, the so -called ‘DA’ Alliance who won in 2004. Tariceanu, the prime minister and Basescu, the President, hand in hand in orange in Piata Universitatii. Two years and half later they hate their guts and one commits betrayal to the so-called alliance. Is that new?! I was thinking these days whether betrayal is not in fact a Romanian trait. In all our history were countless moments: rulers sell to the Turks, to the Greeks, to the Austro-Hungarians, Germans, you name it. Rarely do we have witness an outpour of solidarity in this country. As I have mentioned the Medical School earlier, I should say something about hospitals also: you the waiting room of a hospital in Romania you wait, because that’s why is called the waiting room. The problem is that you are forgotten there waiting…nothing happens for hours; a nurse will come by and say the doctor is very busy chatting with a friend but in a few hours she will be free or better come tomorrow. If you loose your patience you leave and come tomorrow: on the door there is a note: ‘I am off in holiday, back in 2 weeks’. This is a real life scenario and is not written by me and did not happen to me but to a woman I know who has cancer and needs certain medicines at very precise moments, so she needs to wait hours long to get her prescription. Then the medic is off. Then he or she might be one of those who bought their place, the wife or the daughter of a man with money. I am sick only thinking about it.

Shortly, those who voted for the suspension of the President -in the end, whoever he would be, is the elected President by the voters and we need time and peace to focus on advancing things not hanging in crisis -and organized this entire hoax are keeping us in the waiting line forever. And I’ve got no time. (Note: This is an un-finished article; I’ll get back to it later).

The Infamous bellow: Vacaroiu, Taracila, Tariceanu, Olteanu, Iliescu, Hrebenciuc, Patriciu, Voiculescu.

img_71874.jpg

April 23, 2007

On being Romanian #2

Filed under: Infamous Romanians,Society/Lifestyle,Uncategorized — darian @ 4:28 pm

382523918_78e4490ed0.jpgWell…a while ago I was waiting a cab at the Universitate. Many Bukresh people know that at Universitate sit many shark cabs, naming the Independent Taxi Driver (IDT). As I was waiting for a regular, company cab, a Cobalcescu or Confort or Cristaxi or any other reliable company, I’ve noticed a few foreigners, all men, probably 5 people, three middle aged and a couple of them younger. They were obviously very cautious in picking up a cab, looking around carefully; it was evident that someone told them in advance about the possibilities of being ripped off in Romania.

We all waited for about 1o minutes, then the guys above lost their patience and decided for a taxi driver that appeared more reliable to them -I don’t really know their criteria. It was the most expensive one in the whole parking lot. I have decided on the spot to help them, but doing good deeds to strangers is always unexpected. It was a sunny day; I was in a good mood, relaxed. So I approached them and said, in a kind of a British manner: ‘Excuse me, sir, I am a local and I would like to offer you a free advice’. Suddenly the younger guy turned to the others, rushed them in the cab and turned to me bluntly: ‘No, no, thank you’.

Well…I am sure many foreigners have heard lots of horror stories about my beautiful country, including the fact that young, cheap hookers fall off the trees and approach rich old guys in broad light of the day to offer them on the spot, right there a blow…up for only 1 penny. I do understand that, but it is so clear that stereotypes work both ways and are totally un-healthy…I would rather stop asking anyone how is there and there and figure it out myself, unless I miss some good stuff. Like paying lots of money for a short drive around, a good opportunity for the ITD to take you from Universitate to Romana making a round to Rahova and Colentina….but, hey, some people really deserve their lessons!

I almost felt sorry that I didn’t go to the ITD to ask him to rip them off on my account too…only to keep the reputation, so they will have something to tell about when they go back to their own countries.

(photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ryanjunell/382523918)

April 12, 2007

On Romanians…

Filed under: Infamous Romanians — darian @ 8:58 pm

I was born in Romania and am of ethnic Hungarian, unfortunately…I never liked Romanians and I never will. Liars, thieves they got it all in their genes, they are the plague of Europe!

Comment by Another Romanian — April 10, 2007 @ 10:39 pm

Blog Stats — Romanian Survival Book

Filed under: Uncategorized — darian @ 8:53 pm

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April 5, 2007

Romanians among Europeans

Filed under: Uncategorized — darian @ 5:00 am

Recently, I have read that a German television station made a poll among Germans asking about their views on the other Europeans, who they like the most and why and who they dislike a lot. Guess what: to no surprise, firstly the Germans don’t like the Polish and secondly the Romanians. Then are the Britons ….

Well, I am really curious now what would look like a Romanian survey on the other Europeans. Who we dislike the most? And why?

Jump in with your preferences, I am running this poll and then send it to a Romanian television and newspaper….so don’t hesitate. Take your time over this Easter and think carefully.

I am also launching a challenge for our foreign friends and visitors here: what do you like the most about us and what do you dislike the most? You can only name 3 to maximum 5 things and you need to bring at least one consistent argument why….Please enjoy and participate….you never know what you may win.

hamangia.jpg,  photo: Ganditorul de la Hamangia (The Thinker from Hamangia, 800o years old artifact discovered south east of Romania, Dobrogea)

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I am puzzled by the amount of time and people interested in dating. It is the post that leads constantly. What shall I write more on the subject?!

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