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Showing posts from November, 2012

Why Did YOU Come Back? - Part 2, Alex

A couple of years ago, when I was just visiting Cluj, Alex introduced me to Romanian nightlife. He'd already been living in Bucharest a while so his readjustment was well underway. I got in touch to ask him the same questions I asked Mihnea . It was very interesting to get his views on returning to Romania.   Your formative years were spent abroad in Toronto. Why did you come back? Two words: For Love   What do you do in Romania? I am a teacher at a private school in Bucuresti and also run my own afterschool with my wife. Check it out on Facebook, it's called International Afterschool & Club .   While you were away, did you miss Romania? Anything in particular? Lots of things. After '89, I felt more free in Romania than Canada. There are far less restrictions in Romania (or at least restrictions which are followed by the general population). No last call, no first call; less political correctness, more black humour, etc. You get the feeling, living over here

In Memoriam: Nicholas D. Dimancescu

I've never met nor had any sort of correspondence with Nicholas Dimancescu, but I still remember the moment I found out about his films, a couple of years ago. I'd been, history-trawling on Wikipedia, reading stub after stub about Romania's involvement in the Second World War. At some point, I had a bunch of tabs about the aerial campaigns open. I wanted some visuals so I checked YouTube and came up on a film he made, Knights of The Sky: Air War Over Romania . Needless to say I took a break from Wikipedia and remained captivated for about an hour, watching the documentary. Afterwards I made sure to bookmark the site of Kogainon Films , hopeful that with a young passionate director in charge, there would be lots more great material to come. Today, I found out that Nicholas died a year ago in Romania, while he was shooting a documentary about the Dacians -our ancestors. To say that reading the news was upsetting is an understatement. Here's a guy who wasn't even bor

Why Romania Is Better Than America - Part 2

Sometimes I think I'm afflicted by something more severe than Bipolar Nationality Disorder . I criticize so many things about the Romania and suggest so many North American solutions that it must seem extremely odd when I write posts like this one . But let me say something, every time I write a scathing review of the state of affairs in this country it hurts me more than it hurts the country. I guess I'm like Romania's parent. "It'll hurt me more than it'll hurt you," I say as I lift the proverbial pen. And it's true it does. The country's not about to implode from our politicians' incompetence, and the common negative attitudes will change with time anyway, because there are smart and well meaning people here who will eventually help turn the tide. The country will be fine, but analyzing the present state of things does hurt. The United States of America offers another story though. After a drawn out reality-TV type campaign, the tribal cou

How To Create A Meritocracy In Romania

A few days ago I had the best draft beer you'll find anywhere in Romania. It was crisp and delicious and freshly brewed. When we were finished, the waiter came by and asked how we liked the meal. After telling him that it was very tasty I added that at the very least we'd be back for the beer. "Most people don't notice the quality," he said, "you know how it is here, everyone drinks the same stuff." And then he listed a bunch of the local beers that suit everybody just fine.  I don't think there's anything wrong with the local big-brand beers, they suit me just fine too, but they have a way of being very drinkable without being impressive. No real depth of flavour and not much to write home about, but they're well marketed. Every corner shop sells about five of the big-brands and the larger stores add a bunch of import beers to the roster - Auchan's got the best selection around - but still, I used to wonder how it is that there's

Romania's Greatest Burden

Yesterday , I wanted pictures to do the talking, today it's going to be a video. I came across this interview and couldn't keep it to myself. Don Lothrop, an American investor in Romania who's been visiting the country since 2003, has some great insight into some of the issues facing us. I have to say, I felt very validated in hearing him talk, simply because he says so many things that I've been saying all along: Democracy is not just for the politicians, the country's potential is huge, and that returning Romanians are critical to any positive change(s). Of all the things he says though, this is the part that hit me most:  "Our greatest burden is our natural resources, and the reason we could never become a country till 1918 -and it lasted for only 20 years - was again because of natural resources. Because of our oil. And the reason that's our greatest burden is because our economic model and reflex is to be a colony: Which is to let people strip an

All Souls Day, The Romanian Way

While North Americans are busy celebrating an ancient Celtic tradition with hooker and pimp costumes, the story in this corner of Europe is a bit different. Most of the world, in fact, does Halloween a bit differently; that is to say, there is a deeper meaning. In Romania, it's customary to pay homage at the graves of deceased relatives. While the dead are 'cared for' in this manner all year round, on this particular day everybody goes. Unlike the very expansive and rather plain cemeteries of America, the local variety, though not necessarily small, are very crowded. Like a multi-patterned quilt, the layout is never exactly linear and each grave has something a bit different. I've taken many a summer stroll through the central cemetery in Cluj, admiring the  unique headstones in the flickering sunlight and trying to appreciate the amount of history that surrounded me. The atmosphere is, as the expression goes, hauntingly beautiful. Today matters though. All Souls