Romanian Survival Book

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.

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March 13, 2007

Romanian brain

Filed under: Politics,Romanian Talent,Society/Lifestyle,Uncategorized — darian @ 5:36 am

scarlet-cat.jpgRecently, an unlikely -perhaps even eccentric considering Romania of today- group of philosophers, political scientists, public relation experts and trustworthy academics have put together their brain, time and energy to create something that is called The Scarlet Cat Club (in Romanian, Pisica Stacojie). The group is quite new and eclectic, having among its members bright and young and older and wiser alike. Also, what is quite unusual is their interdisciplinary, interactive and open-minded approach; people from psychoanalysis get together with others from philosophy, political theory, communication theory, law or arts. Despite the often heated fights over the ideas, concepts or simply the understanding and use of a certain term, nobody got injured by now walking out of the meetings near Universitate, on Edgar Quinet Street, near the Edgar pub, intersection with Academiei, the location of the Cultural Delta Foundation (Fundatia Culturala Delta).

Therefore, I have decided to advertise this initiative here for its amazing qualities and openness to new people, ideas and approaches. They meet every Friday, at 6.30 p.m., if not otherwise announced and they are one of the new and best brains around that money cannot buy. However they will sell you new ideas, concepts and extraordinary approaches to old things, you might never thought about it. They have a proven track record of doing that and strategizing on the future’s new trends and new avenues in political thinking.

More on: www.pisicastacojie.ro or write an email to office@pisicastacojie.ro or just right hand click here under the The Scarlet Cat/ Pisica Stacojie link.

Unfortunately the English version is not ready yet, but they are working on it. Until then, you can read more on them here….

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Statement

Considering the discussion about political culture …and there is none;

Considering that people overreact on concepts of which meaning they often fall to understand, while having a blind stake on other, of which meaning should be better explained;

Considering that politics and morality are running against each other for the ‘recent award’, being debated by even more recent journalists and politicians or by often improvised ‘experts’ and ‘analysts’;

Considering that honesty is indispensable more than ever in the direction of assuming ambivalences and unhindered discourse;

Considering that integrity is unavoidable on the way of creating now a reflective community on the social and the political in Romania.

‘Scarlet’ is an alternative to Manichaeism, attempting to uncover shades and to clarify concepts, ideas, doctrines and perspectives.

Furthermore ‘scarlet’ is an alternative to the colourful Romanian politics that waggles from red and indistinct, passing through blue, green, pink and orange, mixing concepts, overstating situations and ignoring the factual, attempting on revolutions but lacking the knowledge and the resolve to achieve it, blaming ideologies without understanding it.

‘Scarlet’ is, minimally, an alternative to a repetitive discourse; it brings on a flexible, rational, critical and reflexive discourse that points out, underlines, makes a fine distinction, clarifies and dissociates.

Objectives

The Post-Recent Political Thinking Club <The Scarlet Cat> promotes an open dialogue and debating of ideas and it constitutes as an independent project initiated by a few people attached to philosophy and political theory.

The Scarlet Cat Club aims at creating a community of reflection and thinking based on common values grounded on integrity in analysing ideas, trends doctrines or ideologies. It attempts at revitalizing the critical outlook and is keen in promoting both individual and group projects, encouraging and supporting similarly the development of research projects or proposals made by individuals or groups, calling a special attention on interdisciplinary projects.

The Club’s activities will focus on consolidation the approach on thematic debates; hence, weekly meetings will have priority, according with a pre-agreed calendar. The meetings are taken place at the Delta Cultural Foundation, University, on Edgar St., right near the Edgar Irish pub.

Outcome

The founder members will develop a series of programs and projects, including policy recommendations, vocational training and research papers.

Delta Cultural Foundation and the Scarlet Cat Club will organize public debates on key issues of political thinking and will bring into attention new editorial publications.

The Scarlet Cat Club is keen on an interdisciplinary approach, being opened to associations, links and partnerships with other foundations sharing the same ideas and principles.

Founder members: Izabella Ghiţă, Viorel Zaicu, Claudia Postelnicescu and Sorin Vieru -who also ‘baptized’ the club as The Scarlet Cat.

The Scarlet Cat is opened to new members. To become a Scarlet Cat you need to be voted in unanimity by the founder members (well we question democracy too – though it does not make us communists!) and by showing a constant interest in our meetings and activities.

 

 

February 22, 2007

Romanians

Filed under: Politics,Society/Lifestyle — darian @ 5:01 am

abroad and in the country – superficial notes on the move

I just got back from Berlin couple of days ago; Berlin was very interesting, but is not the subject here, but the Romanians I have met there.

Years ago, when travelling, I have always, with no exception, met unpleasant, sleazy Romanians travelling or living abroad. Now, for the first time for me, I have the chance to bump into the nicest people one could expect. It is always different, always subjective….but I’ve just noticed Crina’s comment on the right hand side of this page here and while I understand and share partly her view, I really felt the need to add this post about things changing …about Romanians abroad, implicitly about me.

Wandering around the European Film Market one day, a German guy working at the German Film section asked me something; when I answered back my Eastern European accent hit in immediately or, better, as Ioana’s put it later, my Romanian strong accentJ. Funny enough, at the information counter of the German documentaries film section in the EFM was a Romanian, a great girl, warm and talkative, who invited me into the small boxing area and offered me whatever she had around, happy to see and speak with a Romanian. Later on, couple of other Talents –as they called us all the time – rounded around and asked me surprised if I already worked there….. While getting to know Ioana, she told me of her encounter with another Romanian girl, a wannabee something, who was extremely arrogant for no good reason…..you meet plenty of these Romanians everywhere, the pubs and clubs of Bucharest are over crowded with the likes….they didn’t learn that real cool people are just plain cool because they don’t feel the need to show off with anything….while here you cannot breathe of so many insecure egotistical idiots.

Besides Ioana, herself a Talent in the Berlinale a couple of years ago, the group of Romanians in the Berlinale was really cool, all of them, though I only gotten to have a drink and talk with Ana, Adi, Alina and Tudor. For the first time, once again, I really enjoyed spending time with my fellow country people while being abroad. Then, in my last days in Berlin, on 16th I went to Postdamer Plaz to look for tickets of films on 17 and 18, particularly a documentary made by a German guy about an Indian soldier, called ‘The Halfmoon Files’ recommended strongly by M.K., so I was extremely keen to see it but all the tickets were sold out, as the ticket counter guy said to us – me and an English Talent J. When I handed over my badge for screening the tickets, he noticed my name and asked me whether I am Romanian. I said ‘yes’ and then we continued in English for a little while, until he unveiled the fact that he is from a Romanian family from Timisoara and really glad to speak some Romanian and meet one. Absolutely nice and polite and he did help us with a few tips about movies…..and we got to see ‘The Halfmoon Files’. I was happy. It suddenly seemed to me that Romanians have taken the world in a good way. And….that is not all.

After I moved out to a new location in Kreuzberg, in T.’s student house, in an area with many immigrants, riding the U-bahn to Postdamer proved inspiring more than I thought. Besides the many Turkish talking out loud, passing by the Hebbel am Uffer one day when I felt a bit sad, Saturday 17 I think, two Gypsy singers came into the train exactly at Hebbel am Ufer station. They were playing an Austrian waltz and I knew immediately that they are Romanian Gypsies, so I started to talk with them in Romanian. They were well in Germany, having gigs every night in fancy cafes and hotels. I gave them one euro because they changed my mood when I was going down a little. When I got off to the next station one asked me if I am married and I said ‘yes’.

Nonetheless, all these Romanian encounters were warm and welcomed, and I was each time feeling at ease and relaxed; also for the first time in my life I was really looking back to return to Bucharest. Each time I travel it is almost impossible for me to put myself back pack to Romania, but this time I was looking forward to it, for whatever the unknown reason. Maybe because I was sick with flu, so much work to do back in Bucharest and I don’t speak German….whatever. Now being here, I am ready to take off to the next destination. I was sick in bed with fever for two days, I am still not ok, but I turned on the news tonight and I got sicker….the never ending vendetta between the prime-minister and the president is so utterly boring and so Balkanic in its ugly sense. What is more discouraging is that I don’t see a resolution to this; I don’t see a nice smart guy coming along and make this country what is worth. Then I say to myself: I need to get out of here or never watch the news again unless something has changed….recently I truly hate wasting my time, I just feel it running and I do ponder about its better use. Following politics in Romania is no good use of time; in six month time the same on will run again and again, with small variations on the same themes: Tariceanu, Basescu, Elena Udrea, Boc, groups of interests, corruption, justice, Macovei. No consistence behind this circus, Balkanism at its worst (note: and I do not intent do discuss here the discourse of Balkanism and the changes in its perceptions etc., that I leave out for other conversations, whenever the case).

February 5, 2007

Talented Romanians #2

Filed under: Politics,Romanian symbols,Romanian Talent — darian @ 12:46 am

porumboiu2.jpgCorneliu Porumboiu, Romanian Director, Camera d’Or, Cannes 2006, with ‘A fost sau n-a fost?’, a detached look at the Romanian Revolution…

For those who don’t know who Corneliu Porumboiu is I should mention that he is a young talented Romanian filmmaker –director and screenwriter – who won many awards lately, including the prestigious Camera d’Or last year in Cannes with his movie ‘A fost sau n-a fost?’ a comic saga about the Romanian Revolution of 1989. He wrote the script himself and if you understand Romanian you can read it for free on http://editura.liternet.ro/carte/211/Corneliu-Porumboiu/A-fost-sau-n-a-fost.html.

Porumboiu is now touring the Europe being invited with his film in many countries who are more than interested to show the film in theatres. In France, after the premiere, people were laughing in the theatre, thought the film is not entirely a comedy; the critics are over-excited with this somehow eccentric Romanian director who had a 40 minutes static scene in the film, showing a TV talk –show in a rather theatrical manner considered unusual, if not suicidal, in for a long film. Surely, it proved not suicidal but the right access ramp for Porumboiu’s amazing talent and rise to fame in the crowded film industry. His films, including short movies are witty, deep, mixing irony with melancholy, warm and non-judgemental. He has a detached but not indifferent way at looking at things that matter or interest him and you can feel that through the camera, which imprints his movies with a great deal of authenticity. If you look at his short graduation film ‘Gone with the wine’ (you will be amazed how simple everything seems in this films, only to be taken by surprise in the end by Porumboiu’s unique way of looking into an apparently trivial (for the Romanians way too obvious) subject.

The remarkable success obtained by Romanian filmmakers last year and recently –Radu Jude just won the Jury Prize in International Short Filmmaking at the Sundance Film Festival this January with his short film The Tube with a Hat and multi-awarded already Cristi Puiu won the BBC Best Foreign Language Film Award a few days ago, out beating well-known directors like Haneke or Almodovar– it is noticeably connected with the theme of our recent past and the context of Romania’s European integration, when new opportunities and a certain interest in  this country is awaken.

Beyond that, one can always bet on someone like Corneliu Porumboiu; he is definitely extremely talented and I am sure other good films are yet to come and there is no question that he is going to surprise us again with a brilliant piece of filmmaking.

Meanwhile, you can check out some of his short film on youtube, the invention that made it so easy for us to enjoy good films and music for free. You can go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1mB_Pa9iLU for Corneliu Porumboiu’s Gone with the Wine, which I find amazing.

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January 30, 2007

Looking back to 1989

Filed under: Politics — darian @ 3:32 pm

eroi pentru nimic

Eroi pentru nimicEroi pentru nimicEroi pentru nimic

 

I think it is the right time to look back to 1989, particularly now when you finally joined Europe…or just the European Union, you choose. Some people may argue that is no point of looking at the past, but I think past is what makes the present more often than not; however in the case of Romania surely does.

 

I was planning to upload this video during the Christmas time when would have been perhaps more in tune with the celebration of 16 years since the Revolution but I could not pull myself together lately with this blog, partly because I somehow lost the interest, partly because I have been confiscated by so many other things to do. But…I really don’t like to abandon things already started, I re-found today the energy and the interest to continue this project. Looking on the blog stats I have discovered that 365 people viewed this blog in one single day and that there are readers each day and people signing for feed. That is something of a responsibility, so I should be sorry for leave it hanging for so long. I shall try to be more consistent.

 

Why is it the right time to look back to 1989 and why I uploaded this video? First of all, I do not share the statement in the title -Heroes for Nothing- as I wouldn’t be here writing on a blog today if the people who died were for nothing…that is at first glance, a superficial one. Beyond that, yes, we have a dysfunctional unfinished democracy; our politicians should go back to school, so many of them; we are tired and bored with the never ending war between the government and the President. There seems to be nothing new, as in Romania every single government we had it lived with the Damocles sword hanging above and with endless underground arrangements. Moreover, we never actually had an alliance that worked and no longer than yesterday the Democrats split with the Liberals….no surprise.

 

Looking back to 1989, almost the same people were actively moving politics around: the actual president Basescu, the former president Iliescu, the underground securitate people, and the underground illicit business mobs. Obviously, the stakes are higher today, so the struggle has become ruthless. Only a couple of new elements: a manipulative blonde with the affectation of a political mastermind and the background of wanabee someone someday is stirring things up every now and then and people seem to pay attention as she is the un-official spokesperson of President Basescu. So very Balkan, so very messy. Considering these, yes, the people out on the streets in 1989 died almost for nothing. Our political elite are nothing of elite. I almost lost hope that we will have one. The people with potential I know don’t mingle; those with the pose of new elite have the same characteristics: shallowness, disrespect for their own words, self centred on their own interests only, precisely business, loud and empty. I am utterly bored with them. But….maybe that is the path: this is the country; these are the people, so we deal with what we have. Who doesn’t like it is often told to leave. If you choose to stay, God help you.

November 21, 2006

The French connection

Filed under: Politics — darian @ 2:44 am


This September 63 presidents and prime-ministers will meet in Bucharest for the XI Sommet de la Francophonie; it is considered the biggest international event in years. Never mind that few ruthless dictators will walk around in the free world un-bothered by anyone; never mind that we cannot actually afford the costs of such an event, never mind that the garbage is all over in Bucharest and that Romania has many priorities at the moment. It has been decided though in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that this sommet in Bucharest is crucial for Romania’s aspirations to become a big player in global politics and, if not possible, at least in regional politics.

The institutional francophony was born in 1970 at Niamey (Niger), having the clear purpose of a ‘Commonwealth à la française’, uniting countries with a common history, former French and Belgian colonies. More countries have joined the multilateral alliance, departing from initial tutee of France and Belgium. Initially, being a francophone simple meant a language connection, as the French Ambassador to Bucharest said to the press few days ago, nothing more. The cultural dimension is also not strong enough in many of the OIF (Organisation International de la Francophonie), but obviously this organization has gathered and is reaching towards an increasingly political dimension, perhaps as an alternative voice to the English global dominance in politics, economy, culture, and trends, whatever.

As for Romania, long time we thought that we are the younger sister of France and that Bucharest is the ‘little Paris’; in the beginning of XXth century young people of wealthy families went to study in France and French was spoken in Bucharest almost as a second language. Things have changed dramatically though ever since: Bucharest is no longer a resemblance of the ‘little Paris’, young people are going everywhere, but mostly in the United States and UK where the best universities are and where people do take research seriously and on the streets of Romania almost anyone speaks excellent English.

I understand very well that the stakes for this reunion in Bucharest are very high, and that Romania wants to play a bigger role in the EU from now on, eventually securing the French support in this way; the history has taught us though that you cannot count on a French support for sure. They change their mind often and they look after their own interest, like anybody else surely. I am not also sure that there is a vision for the future here, or only some megalomaniac aspirations; the reunion is clearly designed as a counter-balance to the loud Presidential support of ‘axa London-Washington –Bucharest’ in foreign politics. In my view, this huge costly extravagance (2,521 millions RON)is proving one more time that we have no consistency in Romanian foreign policy. We should have learned by now that you cannot jump boat all the time, and for a change one should stick with the first. So, to put it bluntly, I wonder whether this reunion has more to do with Francophony or with cacophony (this connection Francophony –cacophony has been made by Craig Turp, the editor of Bucharest in your pocket; more on http://www.inyourpocket.com/romania/bucharest/en/)

All things considered, I like French because they are the only one opposing the Americans most often than not; I like the French accent in English, I love French movies, I am fond of French Romanians like Ionesco, I love Paris and I always enjoy a charming French kiss. (photo from http://www.ilosaarirock.fi/1999/rokkikuvat_la/089_french_kiss.jpg)

Polenta (Mamaliga)

Filed under: Politics,Romanian food — darian @ 2:27 am

 

Mamaliga is a national Romanian food, but you may find it with Italians, Hungarians and other nations for sure, known around as ‘polenta’. Again, with Romanians things are more complicated and tricky, because ‘mamaliga’, as many other things Romanian, is not just food; there is a whole symbolism behind the poor innocent ‘mamaliga’. The mystery dwells in, at least, few aspects: how ‘mamaliga’ is cooked; our history; how we dealt with our history across time.

Romanians did not have a state organization until very late and they seem to have grown a strong resilience and patience over the numerous obstacles in their history. There were few brave rulers fighting back, but often outnumbered, and without a real army, and many times with the peasants enrolling voluntarily. Living right here, near the wilderness of nomad steppes in the beginning of Christianity, Romanians often left their houses and run into the woods, hiding of various people passing by, the Huns, the Avars, Slavs, Maghyars, Pechenegs, Cumans, but mostly the Tatars (Mongols); later, the Turks, Austro-Hungarians, the Germans, the Russians, the communists….as I consider the communists a foreign occupation given the fact that the gem of communists in Romanian resistance was very small, but the desire of Stalin to take over very big. If there are historians out there to contradict me here, please do.

The same resilience took place during the communist times. It is fairly known that in the beginning the communist system in Romania was one of the most brutal, crushing down any sign of disobedience and going much beyond that. I was born in Pitesti, where one of the most infamous communist torture prisons used to be; when I first read about that I was about 16 and I was shattered for the next few years. Around 19, I have met the greatest women in Romanian recent history, Elisabeta Rizea in her natal town of Nucsoara where, together with fellow students we were doing some sort of combined research on the application of property law and the resistance against the communists that took place in the Fagaras mountains for almost a decade and about few people know. The wives, daughters and relatives of those in the mountains were beaten up, tortured, cast out and still they did not betray. The atrocities were enormous, as the communist underground war was ferocious.

Coming back to ‘mamaliga’, that has a very special recipe: you take the corn flour, you pass it through a utensil to throw the bad grains out, and then you pour it carefully in hot water. You have to be patient, as you need to watch over it whilst boiling and smash thorough it constantly. When the boiling point is reached the ‘mamaliga’ should look quite thick and consistent. Then is ready; you turn it over on a strong wood plate and you leave aside to chill out. Here is the trick: ‘mamaliga’ is made of corn, which is the peasants’ bread, is thick but not as consistent as bread, is not baked but boiled to a certain point. You eat it fast; the leftovers are not good, as it is with bread. If is chilling out too much, then ‘mamaliga’ is not good; if is not boiled enough is flawed. So, there you go to an ad-hoc manual in defining Romanians: we need to boil to the hottest point until we take any action; even so, we might get it wrong if not boiled properly or chilled out too much. We have a peasant background, which makes us resilient and humble; contrary with some stereotypes that also makes us hardworking and generally honest. We are not of an aristocratic nature or background; the attempts to look like that are laughable. We had German kings, and few Balkan rulers with pretensions of aristocracy, but that was only a historical opportunity for installing the corrupt behaviour we perpetrate today. We had few good brave people, but very few; they were often left alone in a limbo given the problem with the boiling point I have mentioned before.

Nowadays, after boiling softly underground in the communist regime, many people seem to fake the boiling point all the time. Is not possible to fake it and not anyone notice that, because ‘mamaliga’ explodes and becomes what it is supposed to be only under real pressure, not artificially induced. The Romanian intellectuals were so quiet during communists, with very few exceptions, now they are active and loud and taking moral stands against people accused of so called ‘secret police files’. Comparing the agreement signed by anyone with the resilience of Elisabeta Rizea, anything looks pitiful for the first; then again, comparing the torturing officer, the one who betrayed his friends and family with someone who signed a piece of paper but never acted actively against someone, is a big nuance. I am tired of seeing the ‘mamaliga’ syndrome turned in such a delayed cleaning of our society, while the ones who have been always good in playing the puppets grin behind the scene. The whole idea of ‘lustration’ was addressed to them firstly and mostly and they are the ones who get away one more time.

@ 3:04 PM   11 comments

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