After two years in Romania, guest writer Ashley Parry looks back at the time spent here, and at the ups and downs on his Romanian road. Here are the 13 things he highlights from his Romanian venture.
Before we begin: To Romanians reading this, please don’t take what I write the wrong way. I am writing this because I can. I am not writing this because I am from a Western country and feel I have the authority to make judgements about your country. Whether you agree with my piece or not, be aware that I have chosen your country to live in and, for its downfalls (as with any other place), I still choose to stay. That should speak volumes.
My opinion on Romanian life is largely based on my experiences in Bucharest, seeing as this is where I live. I haven’t travelled extensively (that will change very soon) and, therefore, haven’t had much of chance to see how things are different in other areas.
Where do I start? The vast majority are warm, open, happy, polite - and emotional; got to love that Latin blood!
Romanians are also very pessimistic in my experience. Although they may not outwardly express this notion, they show it in their actions. And for being pessimistic, they are always surprised when bad things do happen. “Tut tut, the state of this country.”
They hold education and learning in high esteem. Being well-versed in all subjects, I’ve come to realize, is the norm. If you don’t know all the Romanian kings that went before or the state of the world economy in technical terms; you’re the weird one! And that is great. Keeps me on my toes even when I am intellectually outclassed; which is most of the time!
The Taxi Drivers
I see them as my stethoscope to the beating heart of Romania. I take a fair few of them and each one has his own views and his own opinions. I now make sure not to say that I’m from England; they will start making all the comparisons under the sun between here and there. It’s rather boring when they navigate themselves on to the politics subject as well but their thoughts regarding love, God and how Romania was back in the day is always enthralling. Like football fans, if taxi drivers were running the country, it would be a much better place….apparently.
Bloody fantastic. Although some coaxing is usually needed to get the ball rolling. But maybe that’s just me; I don’t like to hang about! Are we here to party or what?
Incidentally, I’m not a big fan of the super clubs e.g. Fratelli, Bamboo etc, they are full of people there wanting to be seen. Taking their expensive tables and expensive bottles, and just standing. For the most part. When I go to a club, I want to dance! And dance like crazy!
Most people look at me like I’m weird but I…don’t….care. To be honest, it’s the men who don’t dance. God forbid if they look uncool by busting a few moves.
I’m not a super wine buff but I can tell a bad bottle from a good one and, for the price you pay, it can’t be beaten. Especially that Feteasca Neagra! A very special grape.
Living here is strange and amazing, all at once. You have the communist back drop on which to conduct your daily activities whilst walking past the likes of H+M and Mc Donald’s. It’s as though two worlds, two periods in history, are being forced into coexistence. And, for the most part, it kinda works.
It’s very similar to living in an old movie; a ganster movie. You see the criminals, the gorgeous women with the blood red lipstick, the old men with hats and the corrupt politicians and officials.
But there is no denying the energy. Oh, yes! This place is for young people. Any type of music, setting, crowd or price you could wish for is here. And, all the while, there are some lovely quiet and serene areas, where you can relax and enjoy life.
Oh, and the Old Town is fantastic, in my opinion. Most would say not; and perhaps in a few years, my opinion will change, but for the moment, I feel it’s alive, vibrant and full of possibilities. There are so many people, from all walks of life. Who knows who you’ll bump into next!
Everything is easy but difficult
As I said a year ago, I still feel undeniably free here. Less oppressed than in England. Not so many strict rules and regulations. For normal people that is. The rules and regulations are far too lax on the people that hold the most responsibility in Romanian society but that’s a whole other story.
Anything that you need to get done officially, such as documents proving identity etc, is vastly more difficult than back home and for reasons I don’t really understand. All these stamps and signatures on multiple bits of paper. It’s crazy! Cut some tape, Romania, and watch the country soar!
Romanian women. How very crazy you are. But in your defense, I guess that’s how all women are! Controversial. After all, we’re a different species, right? I have had a couple of Romanian girlfriends and it is safe to say that the experience with the majority was positive. I am still not quite sure on my opinion regarding the dynamic of a British guy with a Romanian girl but I will say this; a lot is lost in translation. I found myself having arguments over something that I realized after was either because I had misunderstood something or she had. That was very frustrating.
Also, the women here are very used to Romanian guys; for obvious reasons. And Romanian men, for the most part, are your typical Latin type. For the most part, overly confident and arrogant. Note the “for the most part”. It’s not necessarily ‘in your face’ confidence but more, “Me man, you woman, I like you, come here.” As a result of this, the women are conditioned to think that this is how men should be, so when they meet a fine gentleman, such as yours truly, they don’t know quite how to react. Now, I am not saying that the women here don’t appreciate being treated well or being seduced romantically; they just expect it to be done in a different way.
We British play things a little differently. We will be unbelievably respectful, almost to the point of too much, and wouldn’t dream of making the first move until indisputable signals are made. It’s just how we are- and how I am.
Do I think a Romanian woman can be with a foreigner? Sure. I just haven’t met her yet.
The Horoscopes and Fortune Tellers
Never before have I known so much about the horoscopes and which birthday falls into which. I never believed in them before and still don’t really but I sometimes find myself asking people what star sign they are in order to find out something more about them! Crazy stuff.
And the Fortune Tellers! Never been to one. Probably will soon, if I live in Romania longer. It would seem that the women here, especially, go to them. They want to find out what their future holds; whether love plays a dominant part, who they will be with, how many children, when they will get married etc. And there is true, unshakeable belief in these Tellers. I’ve just always been slightly wary of them…what if they tell me when I am going to die? No, thanks.
Did I already mention them?
The Sense of Humor
Dry. Just like the Brits. Love it.
There is a type of music here called Manele. It is made by Gypsies and is meant exclusively for Gypsies; seeing as how I am told they are the only people who like it. However, for all the gesticulation projected at me regarding this, I find normal people listening to it. Usually at social gatherings; weddings etc. Please do correct me if I am wrong.
You see women screeching and wailing when this music comes on, putting both hands in the air and clicking their fingers. Yes, perhaps I am getting confused with traditional Romanian music. But it sounds so similar to my untrained ear. Sacrilege!
Nothing has changed here. I still feel fantastically safe in this city. It seems a distant memory when I used to walk on the streets of London and constantly be very aware of who was around and who was walking towards me. In London, if you see a group of youths walking towards you, to save any hassle, you would usually cross the road.
To my English pals reading this, yes, perhaps you don’t do this but after all the gun and knife crime in LDN, you would do well to do the same. So, I keep reminding myself how lucky I am to be able to go out at the weekend, have a few drinks, not see any fights, not see anyone vomiting, not see anyone relieving themselves on the street and get home safe, happy and relaxed. Keep it like this Romania. Pretty please.
Can’t get enough of it. Proper winters with snow and everything. Proper summers with temperatures over 30 Celsius. None of this grey, windy and wet weather which is dominant in the UK. I never knew a place could be as sunny as this as often! Apart from today, it has been and is forecasted to be sunny every single day this week. With temperatures hitting 30 by the weekend. Enough said.
And finally. You want to know the biggest reason why I love to live here?
Thinking about people, my friends and family, that are feeling sorry for me back in England.
How very wrong they are.
As always, please like, share and leave your comments below.
By Ashley Parry, guest writer