Paul Wood – 25 Reasons why I Love Living in Romania

Lamp post in Caracal, Romania 🙂

Daniela Zeca Buzura, one of the best young writers in Romania, shared today on her Facebook wall this article. I loved it, though I might disagree with the author on a number of point, particularly on the charm of Bucharest, I city I hate – mostly because of the people living there, for many reasons, that I may or I may not explain some other time..

I will list here the 25 things, as a teaser, and let you then enjoy the text at length. Here is some light and charming Sunday reading.

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Romanians. Clearly the people are the main reason for liking any country, though the countryside and the crumbling inner city of Bucharest come close behind…

In Romania under Communism television only broadcast for two hours a day meant until the Revolution the Romanians were spared a huge amount of idiocy and had time instead for reading, conversation, drinking wine, and the national sport, seducing one another…

Romania has so far escaped the worldwide cultural revolution – not Mao’s one, but the one that happened in the capitalist world starting in the 1960s and which is showing no signs of abating. One of the great charms of Romania is that the 1960s did not happen in here. The EU will change that, but not quite yet…

Romania is not at all cool, is utterly uncool, thank God, and yet in its own un-self-conscious way the broken streets and beautiful women of Bucharest are as cool as it gets…

Romanians are genteel. A notorious American womaniser said, in the late 1990s, that dating Romanian women was like dating gorgeous 24 year old versions of your mother’s friends. Romanian women and men are still like that.

Romanians expect the worst but always contrive to be shocked that things are even worse than they imagined. People tut-tut about scandals and are easily scandalised, even though Bucharest in many ways is Babylon. Is anyone in England ever scandalised anymore?

Romania felt about 1952 here when I arrived. Now it feels about 1964.

Romanians esteem brains and learning – in England it is more admirable to be good at games or was before the Palaeolithic Age, when I lived there. Here class is about grammar and educational qualifications, rather than about accent or clothes (Romanian rich men dress appallingly, though their wives are learning) or money…

Romanian taxi drivers. They form the chorus in the Greek drama (it’s a comedy, not a tragedy) of my life here. Like in every country, the people who really know how to run things are too busy driving cabs or cutting hair…

The parties. Romanians GIVE GREAT ONES.

The lack of diversity, although things become more pluralistic. Despite the terrible damage that Communism did to this country, which it maimed, there is still a tremendous sense of cohesion and common values…

Bucharest, the European Havana, is still probably the most interesting capital city in many ways in Europe. Living in Bucharest is like living in a film noir full of gangsters, corrupt officials, femmes fatales, old men in hats. The town has so very much energy…

In Romania, everything is difficult but after a while you get used to it or you go mad…

Romanians believe in God. Also horoscopes, magic, fortune tellers. Most people tend to take the existence of God for granted, like the sun rising each morning and setting each evening…

The jokes. Romanians have a wonderful sense of humour, rather similar to the English sense of humour: very ironic, very black.

The parties. Oh, I said that before.

The second hand booksellers. Second hand booksellers are, of course, the cream of every nation.

The wartime egalitarianism – people who sleep rough sit watching open air film shows without exciting the disdain that their counterparts would do in Western Europe

So-called ‘popular music’ from before the war (still played very widely) and ‘Manele’ – a kind of gypsy pop music which everyone claims to hate but which sells very well – and indigenous Romanian pop music…

The old-fashioned terraces where one can get a bottle of wine and a Bulgarian salad for a song. These are being replaced by pretentious, more expensive places unfortunately.

Not the food particularly, although it is all right. This is the one area where Romania’s neighbours the Bulgarians and the Hungarians beat them. But tocanita with mamaliga is a very fine dish and, even though I do not much love fish, salau [pike perch] tastes very good…

The churches and monasteries, especially, but not only, the painted monasteries in the Bucovina and the fortified churches of Transylvania…

Lack of violent crime, but this is not nearly as true as it was. Crime rates are very low in Romania, except for white collar crimes, where the rates are very high.

The serendipity. I’ve told everyone to come to Romania but I am very glad that nobody follows my advice.

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You may read HERE the whole text. Scroll down for the text in English.

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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