Monday, 11 December 2017

A Nomad's Life


When you change your address very often, the word home loses its meaning. More even for the others. The other day, I was talking with my sister on the telephone. It was on speaker so my nephew took the chance to salute me. And question me.
‘Eme, where are you now?’
‘I’m at home.’
‘Where at home?’
‘In my home.’
‘Ok. But in what country is that???’
And so I realized that my nephew considers me a nomad. Could I be prouder?!


(Which reminds me of that time, almost two years ago, when before visiting me in Cluj-Napoca, my nephew asked my sister about the language spoken by the people living there. Serves me right!)

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

A Gift from Saint Nicholas

Excerpt from "The Adventures of the Four Ostrogoths"

I was watching TV. Together with the Bulgarian. My wife. The match is hot. And extremely important. “Steaua” (a Romanian football team) was playing against a famous team. Whose name I do not recall. When Hagi was preparing to score a goal worth millions, the telephone started twanging and bouncing on the table.
Wanting to witness the marking of the first point, I did not pick up the receiver. On the field – terrible squash, a real madhouse. When our boy kicked the ball, the ovations in the stadium went wild, causing the resonance to amplify. My windows, my glass of water and the TV screen were vibrating. And then I started screaming too, enthusiastically grabbing the receiver.
Gooooaaal! Goooaal!... One to zero for us! And zero to one for the wretched. Serves them right, dallying and kicking in the legs of our players... .’

But the device continued to ring, making my ears hurt. Startled, I carefully examined what was it that I grabbed. It was the reading lamp. Metallic and rather out of order. It was in its shade that I had expressed my satisfaction. When I put it back to its place, it electrocuted me just fine. Howling in pain and fretting, I disperately pulled the lace. The plug went out of the socket, releasing a beautiful blue flame. And some smoke. But in the next second, everyting was in order. I was alive. And had no electricity. Because all the fuses were burnt. I rapidly replaced them with a piece of clothes line and in a few moments electricity was back. And, in a few moments afterwards, the central lighting panel was out of order. But I fixed everything in a breath. Changing a fuse with a nail. Of five millimetres. And then the electricity was back on!

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Translated Romanian Authors


The bilingual edition of "Aventuri de excursionist" (in Romanian and English) is proudly displayed in the Translated Romanian Authors Section of The Humanitas Kretzulescu Bookshop.

Monday, 20 November 2017

My Favourite Face Cream

I was asked to write about my favourite face cream. And since I do consider this product to be wonderful, I wasn't going to keep this article away from you.

How to Recapture Your Youthful Appearance


If you’re over thirty, you’ve been dealing with this new urge of taking extra care of your looks. Sure, you’ve been paying attention to this so far, but admit it. Somehow, lately it has been different for you. You have noticed some small wrinkles on your face. The skin on your elbows is not as smooth as it used to be. And sometimes it’s rather white and scaly. Not to say that even your rosy cheeks have had something to suffer.
Whatever you do, don’t panic! I have the greatest news for you. You will receive the help you need in order to face these struggles. I will share with you one of my dear secrets. Tried and tested, so that you don’t have to go from one disappointment to another. Yes, just like you, I have tried and tested solutions to no great end, so I do understand the importance of receiving a trustful recommendation.
Yes, I am pretty sure you have heard about miracles so far, but this one is different. And the difference is in the fact that my experience will guide you into looking no further. The thing that you’ve been looking for is here.

This miracle’s name is Apidermin. The label simply describes it as a face cream, but it is far more than that. 
Apidermin is not a simple face moisturizer. Its formula contains royal jelly and vitamin A. Two ingredients that are renowned for their efficiency in the fight against wrinkled skin. Due to the mixture of active elements from natural wax, royal jelly and Retin-A, the skin recaptures its natural glow and in-depth hydration.
What is great about Apidermin is that you can use it as a day or a night cream, or even both. You’ll be the one to decide when’s the best time for you to use it. I suggest you first try it as a day cream and see how that works out for you.
Another aspect I should mention is regarding the way Apidermin should be applied on. No miracle will work unless it is correctly used. That’s another lesson I learned on the way. So, when applying Apidermin to your face, be sure to follow these steps:
1. Put a small amount of face cream on your fingers.
2. Apply the cream on your face, making white polka dots on it. You should consider as areas, to apply the face cream on, your cheeks, your forehead, the tip of your noise and your chin.
3. Massage gently the cream into your face, starting from one of the cheeks and working through to the next one. Then, go from your forehead to your chin. Massage in a circular motion.

A lot of people forget about the area of the neck and décolletage. Starting from today, you are no longer one of those people. Namely, because you will know how important it is for the skin on your neck and décolletage to be cared for. You will make use of this great information in order to achieve wonderful results. I guarantee you’ll have a younger looking skin as soon as Apidermin has made its way into your daily use. Join me in this wonderful new era of natural freshness.
I know you might think that Apidermin cannot be for all skin types. But actually it is. Should you have oily skin, just apply a pea-sized amount of face cream. Be careful to apply only to your cheeks. 
Isn’t that great?! If you have oily skin, with Apidermin you can save money on the long run. One recipient will last longer than any other face cream you might use. Great skin and more money in your pocket. That is quite an offer you can’t refuse!
Also, Apidermin can be used as a make-up base. And it does not trigger intolerance reactions, being tolerated by even the most sensitive of skins. A miracle, indeed!
Just try it already and let me know the wonders that have appeared in your life ever since you’ve started using Apidermin!

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Ayaan Hirsi Ali – ‘Infidel’


It was a mere accident, me discovering Ayaan Hirsi Ali through this video. I liked her ideas and started afterwards searching for information regarding her on the internet. With every information, I became spellbound. I didn’t expect such people to exist anymore.

My dilemmas regarding what happens to women in different corners of the world has been tormenting me for some time. I have tried a couple of times to discuss them with other people, but somehow it seemed to always come up against a ‘democratic’ wall – every one should deal with their problems in their own way. Far is from me to consider myself a Joan of Arc fighting for the rights of women throughout this planet, but I do admit that I have often felt responsible or even ashamed to be able to enjoy liberties and rights, while other women were simply not. And I admit that I have often felt terrified with the thought of being born in another part of this world, where being a woman values just as much as a door mat. It was, thus, a mere happening that I was born here and not there. A happening that makes one appreciate a different meaning of the word luck.

As for the issue with religion, I stand by the questions raised by Ayaan Hirsi Ali in her book ‘Infidel’. How many of ‘our Orthodox beliefs’ aren’t, actually, superstitions? Why, if God loves us all as equals, do we have to stand while in church to the left, for women, and to the right, for men? Why should women cover their heads when entering a church? Why is the fact of covering one woman’s head more important than receiving the communion? Why the mentioning of women’s submission to men? Why must women multiply like Rachela? Why, if God loves us all as we are, some must hide or be ashamed regarding their sexual orientation? Why... ? And finally, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali recommends for Islam, why do we stand against an update of the religions that exist on this Earth? Why do we continue to live our lives according to ancient precepts that no longer have anything in common with the way society is now?

The novel ‘Infidel’ cannot be suspected of trying to attract followers or divide religions into good or bad. It is a confession of a woman who has gone through terrible life experiences, she has survived them, she has fought (sometimes, even against her own prejudice) and lived in order to tell the story. Ayaan Hirsi Ali does not incite to any hysteria against Islam. She only asks questions, and I would add, encourages us to ask ourselves important questions, too.


P.S. The rating on goodreads does not reflect Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book, and it was influenced by the quality of the editing. Actually, I recommend this novel with all my heart. The Romanian version of the novel ‘Infidel’ lacks around thirty pages of the English version. I contacted Rao Publishing House, but I received no information regarding this error. Should you buy the Romanian version, please pay attention to what comes next after page number 160. If it is follwed by page number 129, then you have the same version as me (from which pages 161-192 are missing).

Saturday, 4 November 2017

José Saramago - 'Raised from the Ground'


The novel 'Raised from the ground' has its own spirit. One that enthrals according to its wishes. It majestically starts with a quotation from Almeida Garrett:

If the essences of the planet Earth we inhabit had to be described, José Saramago's novel would succeed in moving the unitiated about terrestrials' truths. The novel was written with love. Actually, with a lot of love for the people working the land, who know the meaning of a sudden change in the clouds, a swish of wheat, a breeze and the implications these might have on the harvest. Also, the novel gives praise to the simple people who managed, no matter the sacrifices, to rise against Portuguese landlords, regardless of the political regimes they lived under. Bad-Weather (the name of the family presented in this novel, which is in Portuguese Mau-Tempo) is not at all a fetter, but a support.
Brimming with charm, the narrator's voice gives a different perspective to the novel, blending together with those of various characters. And even if one has never been reliant on the fruits of the land, one is bound to find themselves vibrating while reading these pages.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The Handbag Mirage


It’s odd how we come to discover things we have so long forgotten about. For example, in my case, the fascination with my mom’s handbag. Every time she came back from work, I used to greet her in the hall and ferret about for ‘something good’ in her purse. If I ever believed in magic, well that’s totally due to my mom and her purse. For it always contained something to thrill me.

Recently, my nephew reminded me of the handbags wonderment. And even more, he taught me about the expression on the believer’s face. Being into chewing gums, especially the melon flavored one, my nephew asked me if I didn’t have any in my purse. I told him no, but started looking through my bag for something just as good as that. Thus, I found a piece of candy. His blue eyes sparkled with rapture and a large smile took over his face. I was magical!!! 
And I intend to keep it this way for I’m always going to have ‘something good’ in my handbag.

Monday, 2 October 2017

One Step Behind the Seraphim


I must admit it. I love watching movies. I do not have the flair of a movie critic, and I tend to put movies into 'I liked it or I did not like it' categories. In the past few years, Romanian cinematography has found itself on a rising trend. Personally, I started paying attention to new Romanian movies ever since the release of the extraordinary movie 'The Silent Wedding' directed by Horațiu Mălăele. Around me there are disapproving voices regarding 'the Romanian movies that only convey images and stories about communism and put us, Romanians, in an unflattering light'. I do have a different opinion about Romanian movies. Every single one of the new-wave Romanian movies brings something new with it. I reckon we should be a little bit open to the idea of the Romanian cinematography and try to see beyond our prejudice.

'One Step behind the Seraphim' caught my attention due to its title, but also due to its trailer. In spite of the central subject of the movie, that may scare away puritans or terrify religious people which might consider it a blasphemy to watch the movie, the spectators are charmed with a freshness of the script and also receive a thought to ponder upon while at home. The actors' performance is brilliant and the action of the movie lays siege to the spectators, keeping them breathless until the end of the film. Gabriel, the main character, enters an orthodox college, wanting to become a priest. He will soon discover that life within this college has many other aspects than he would have initially expected. His belief in the sanctity of this profession is highly shaken up by the people in the college board. Friendship seems to remain the only refuge for the young seminarian, and the initial purpose of his presence there fades away. Beautiful metaphors ennoble the movie. For me, the scene in the village where Gabriel is sent for practice is the most beautiful of them all. Also, just as charming is the surprise at the end of the movie.

Should you be afraid that the central subject of the movie might bore you, I'd recommend you get past this fear and dare to go and watch the movie. 'One Step Behind the Seraphim' will not let you down. I can assure you!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

A view

This is the most beautiful view in Cluj-Napoca.
Anyway, for me it is the most beautiful. It was only after a while that I found out that it was no coincidence to hear the Romanian Rhapsody No. 1 while I was walking in the city centre. When the clock in The City Hall's Tower strikes on the minute, every hour, the first tunes of the rhapsody are heard. It's absolutely wonderful!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Adelin Petrișor – The Country With Only One Fat Man


I was only 6 years old in 1989, when the Communism regime fell. I was too young to have had a rightful opinion. I only have dim memories about bottles of milk and high metallic pallets they transported the bottles with. And something else. It had a certain significance, giving the fact that I was a child. Chocolate was a rare gem, and so I remember the craving; also, the first banana I have ever eaten was unripe (even though my parents left some onto the closet to ripe). Maybe this is an explanation to the fact that even today I tend to eat the bananas while they are still green, finding them to be more tasteful than the ripe ones.
Back then, I had no idea about the word Communism. It was void of meaning. But I do remember the day the Ceausescu couple fled in a helicopter. My mom asked me to come home, fearing the terrorists. Another void word. I could not grasp what could have happened that was so serious or who were those terrorists, when I was busy playing hide-and-seek with my neighbours. Still, the will to clarify all that came back to me over the years. It’s hard to understand something you have never lived. But there are ways. One can watch documentaries, read books. And all of this for no one else but the person wanting to understand things. The book RequiemFor Fools And Beasts of the great writer Augustin Buzura helped me to better understand a time I have not lived. Just like the documentary regarding the children of the decree of 1966 did.
Adelin Petrișor’s book helped me understand other aspects of the Romanian Communism, even though the book is about the Communism in North Korea. But even more, the book raises a signal. And it has two directions. What could have happened if the revolution of 1989 had not happened. And what could happen if we, as a people, should give once more the power to a person craving for dictatorship.

Adelin Petrișor’s narrative style is simple. He says what he means by using straightforward words, being focused on only sending his clear message out there. This is what I always liked about Mr. Petrișor’s documentaries. I warmly recommend reading this book. Not for the sake of the past, nor for the sake of the present; but for a future we picture to be anything but grey. 

Monday, 4 September 2017

Emmanuel Carrère – The Adversary


Our innate need to understand, to find explanations for certain deeds of our peers cannot be denied. Murder?! Well, we are fascinated by detective stores, bizarre cases, crime motives, the psychology of the murderer and many more regarding the darkest side of our spirit. We want to understand. We are certain that any puzzle may be solved. The Adversary’ is based on a real case, and the writer masterly describes testimonies, proofs, details from the trial and his own questions regarding the case.

Contrary to other similar novels from the genre, we know from the very start the murderer’s identity. The crime is briefly described at the beginning of the book, we are then led to the past, and gradually we are brought closer and closer to the crime, to the trial, to the court’s decision, and the tranquility after it. I must admit that I looked for any crumbs of humanity related to the murderer in any of the parts mentioned above. It was impossible for me not to hope until the very last page for an explanation that could make sense, that could put an end to the rising fear and reassure me that such cases are accidents or events that could be prevented, in a way or another.

I was deeply touched by the last sentences, the writer’s reflections. There is an adversary in any common thing around us, as there is an adversary within any of us. Is it being led by us or is just fooling us by making us believe we lead it?!

Monday, 14 August 2017

Augustin Buzura - Report on the State of Solitude

Addiction. One feels it taking control over oneself every time one opens one of Augustin Buzura's novels. I read the first pages and I remembered how hard it was for me to accept that the novel Requiem for Fools and Beasts was coming to an end (yes, it was ending against my will). From time to time, I take pauses from reading, becoming aware of the fact that I want to prolong the time spent reading this novel. Fear makes way to curiosity. Then, to addiction. Pages are quickly turning, one after the other, and I find myself already at the middle of the book. The fear takes over, once more. That great fear that the novel is ending too fast. 

Those who haven't yet given up on finding answers about themselves and about the yeast they came from will absolutely adore this novel. Fear of loneliness and of death appear to be, at a first glance, the central themes of the novel. When, actually, the fear of life is the one wearing the crown. Augustin Buzura's prose is as perfect as a polished diamond, shinning brightly from whichever angle one looks at it. 

Monday, 7 August 2017

Solutions

When there's no other way, one has to patch things up. Some even go to extremes. Like in the pictures below.




Gazing at the invention, I thought that maybe it's a passage between two apartments. Since there isn't any need for servants' passage anymore, I told myself that it must be a fantastic passage. Like the one in Florence's Palazzo Vecchio, used by royalties to get to other parts of the cities, without the mortals knowing about it.
Or do you have another guess?!

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Ionesco’s legacy

The Theatre of the Absurd is often found amongst us. Sometimes, we passed it by and don’t even wonder anymore. We got accustomed to it. That’s how people are!
Today I went to the market place and then entered a shop, looking for a certain type of light bulb. I entered the shop just as two mothers and their little girls were jumping their way in too. The smallest of the two little girls, actually the secondary character in the story that follows below, must have been around the age of three. Her mother asked one of the shop assistants to show her a scale and let go of her small hand. I was waiting for my turn when another shop assistant asked me what I wanted. I showed her the out of use light bulb and told her that I needed one exactly like it, but a working one.
‘But we no longer have these spiral types.’
‘It’s ok’, I replied. ‘I just need one that has the same base.’
She ferreted about a large box containing different types of light bulbs; she pulled out a round one and showed it to me. I told her that I wanted to buy it. She turned back, searched and pulled out another one. This time, a spiral one.
‘This is more powerful’, she tells me.
‘Ok. I’ll take this one.’
The little girl was running through the shop, she stopped, pulled at something and suddenly, things were heard reaching the floor. Everybody in the shop turned at the place where the noise was coming from.
‘Oh, dear. These children never stop’ says to me the shop assistant. ‘They just leave them be around the shop.’
Her face showed a wide experience in the domain. In my mind, I felt for her, given all those times when she had to rearrange all the products that a client messed up.
‘So, did you make up your mind regarding which light bulb you’re going to buy?’ the shop assistant asked me.
‘Yeah, the spiral light bulb. The one that is more powerful.’
‘Aha.’
Another crack was heard. Another shop assistant went to inspect the place. She came with a frame and yelled at the shop assistant serving the mother.
‘Add a frame to what the lady is buying.’
‘Sure’ replied the mother and called her child to her, setting her straight for the mess.
The mother took her child into her arms and replied calmly to the shop assistant regarding the payment method. My shop assistant slowly turned to the box with light bulbs, being at all times very much interested with what was going on around the little girl, and then she said out loud:
‘So the little miss didn’t get to consume all her energy outside, did she?!’
The mother, visibly ashamed, didn't answer. All in all, she had accepted to pay for all the damages, and the situation was embarrassing enough without the shop assistant’s intervention.
‘Children should be kept outside the shops’, the shop assistant addressed me.
I was taken aback by how quickly the shop assistant considered me one of her allies. But even more, I was scared of the discovery that there are people who seemed to have forgotten what it is to be a child. When one can be patient only for a short while; like, for example the while when a crow flies over a block of flats, as my mother used to tell me.
Then, the shop assistant turned and started foraging for some more light bulbs. I realized that I must once again tell her that I have already decided to buy the spiral light bulb and there was no need for other light bulbs.
‘Oh, really?!’ she replied.
‘Yes. Only one is enough’, seeing that she was preparing to cash in for two spiral light bulbs.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

He loves me! He loves me not!


I saw the movie Boyhood. A pretty good movie, but not one worth winning an Oscar. I wonder if we still know what an Oscar-winning movie is?! Yes, we do. Happy funerals and The Shawshank Redemption are Oscar-winning movies. Movies that make one lose oneself in the story and wish for it never to end. The exact thing happens with great books, Requiem for Fools and Beasts or Shantaram, for example.
The last dialogue, at the end of the movie, got me thinking. If Seize the moment! isn’t actually the other way around. Namely, that the moment seizes us, in fact, and we cannot withstand it. And so I realized how much we are mesmerized with dicta. We believe in them, we make believe that we carry our lives according to them and we love to hear ourselves giving advice to others by using them. Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. Good always prevails. Nothing is above love (or law, depending on the circumstances). A lie has short legs. A leopard can’t change its spots. A handful of trade is a handful of gold. He who steals an egg will steal an ox. Yes, there is a grain of wisdom in all of them, but they are not the answer to our existence. In the end, life is impossible to be enframed within dicta. And neither within games such as He loves me! He loves me not!, even if we can choose to ignore the last remaining petal that would give us a response we would never validate as true. While writing the aforementioned dicta, the following verses rang in my mind (and they couldn’t be more appropriate):

Have no hope and be not afraid,
What is like the wave will perish like a wave;
If they urge you, if they call for you,
Remain still, no matter what.

                                                                        Mihai Eminescu - Glossa

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The Pledge by Friedrich Durrenmatt


What I am looking for in detective fiction (even though The Pledge does not entirely belong to this genre) is suspense and the possibility of actually seeing the action unfolding while I am reading.
The novel 'The Pledge' contains both. Moreover, it invites the reader to reflect upon things. Such as, for example, responsibility. Be it for a certain individual or the society. After having finished reading the novel, I kept noticing myself trying to put an end to the abovementioned dilemma. Finally, I realized that I did not properly consider the issue. No one forces us to choose, even though we might feel constrained about certain things. If it is right or wrong? Well, that's a different discussion.
'The Pledge' is something you might call required reading, according to my humble opinion.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Morning's here! The morning's here, sunshine is here.

Joey’s song kept ringing in my head when I saw that the sun was rising. And then, I listened carefully. The true song was sounding even more enchanting. 
Why ruin it by trying to describe it to you?! It’s better that I play it for you.
The measured beat of the train wagons is simply magical. In the past, people living in the countryside used to tell the hour by the passing train. I wonder if they still do it.
I, instead, was helped by the wrist watch: five o’clock in the morning.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Birthday Cake


A few days ago it was my father's birthday. My nephew, who is visiting his grandparents, must have been an even greater gift. In the evening, when my nephew was asked about how he had spent the day with his grandparents, he made the following remark: mom, grandpa doesn't have a cake! And then he discretely pulled himself away from the conversation. After a short absence from the room, my nephew came back singing Happy Birthday and carrying a slice of watermelon. And thus the birthday cake was created.
And more so, an unforgettable memory. Especially for grandpa.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Happy 1st of June, kids!

Excerpt from “Uncle Andi – “The detective” and his nephews” by Vlad Mușatescu

“Al, boy, you must write a book for the children!”
Considering that I was also impressed with the childish request of my nephews from Valea cu Urși, I pondered on it for a while. Then, I told my aunt:
“Do you think it’s such an easy thing to come up with a volume of stories for the youngster?... I don’t think I can do it. Until now, I have only written adventure novels!”
“So what? Do you imagine they haven’t read them too? You are very wrong, beyond being wrong ... . Get on track, man, and write them a book they can understand!”
“A book of fairy-tales?” I somewhat worried asked my aunt.
“Why not?!... Do you think that Prince Charming wasn’t also a detective himself? Didn’t he fight against the evils in the world? Write them some modern fairy tales, with dragons from our age, ‘cause they still exist, you can be sure of that!”
I grinned and then I told my aunt:
“Fine! Fine, aunt Ralitza! But don’t you regret it … . I’ll put you in the book too!”
“Eh! Why? Do I look like a dragon to you?” my aunt got a little scared.

“More or less!” I answered to my sweet old aunt. “But one that will make the little ones smile … ‘cause you cause so much trouble that I am sure that you will become a character adored by the readers! ...”

Sunday, 14 May 2017

How to deal with dilemmas

Ever since I can remember, I've noticed that there are two types of people. The ones that say things cannot be done, and the others that say things can be done. Both sides cannot be convinced otherwise.
Just like the tree in the picture below.
It can be done. It cannot be done. Can it be done? 

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Vlad Musatescu - Uncle Andi - "The Detective" and his nephews

My dear Master, it's your birthday again. And we must celebrate it by enjoying your writing.

Excerpt


And, at the same time, someone hit me with a shovel. Luckily, it was made of wood. The shovel, not the head.
“Ay!” I cried in pain, strongly rubbing the crown of my head.
“Why ay?” … “Aren’t you glad to see me?” 
I immediately recognized the voice of my aunt Ralitza.
Confused about her demand, being that she actually expected I could see her while being in total opacity, and after she had hit me in the head, but also due to her unexpected apparition, I kept silence for a moment.
“What’s with you here?” I yelled after a while, as high as I could, in order to let my aunt know about my whereabouts, but also afraid that I might get hit again.
“Well, boy, how could you ask such a question?” the voice of aunt Ralitza reached me, because I couldn’t see her still. 
“Wasn’t I supposed to be worried about your situation, yours and your wife’s, when I saw how much it snowed all night last night? … That’s why I came here, to clear you of snow! …”
“All the way from the Vergului barrier?” I wondered, not believing my ears.
“Exactly and precise!” my aunt informed me. “And I brought two shovels with me…”
“Why two?”
“Because that was what I needed! One, of wood, to remove the snow, and the other one, of iron, to remove the ice… Isn't it technical?...”
Being really glad that she used the first one she mentioned, and not the other one, with which she could have broken my head, I congratulated myself for having such an aunt. More so, because this kind of people aren’t so easy to find. Especially, since the old lady already passed the age of seventy. 
This while the people living in our block of flats had plenty of years to go until their retirement, but slept just fine at the moment.

Way to go, people!

Monday, 10 April 2017

Winner


My dear nephew gave me this drawing of bunnies. Today, the bunnies met and said hello to Shugu, before he left. 
Shugu is leaving in order to meet the rightful winner of the giveaway on goodreads.
The bunnies wish you a pleasant trip, Shugu!

Saturday, 8 April 2017

The Student, 2016

I am writing under a strong impression left by the movie “Ученик” (in English, The Student).
One of the main characters in the movie says, at a certain moment, that puberty is a mental illness that is surpassed once adulthood is reached. I liked this phrase very much; even more because the adolescence period seems to always include elements impossible to be explained or anticipated. The movie centers upon an adolescent, Veniamin, who is looking for himself and finds comfort and support in the values described in the Bible. Being convinced that he must give himself entirely to the cause of the Bible, Veniamin refuses other alternatives and thus appear various conflictual situations. But Veniamin is not the only one refusing to consider other opinions or options. An entire world around him seems to live like he does, only not to the extremes.
A multitude of things appear in antithesis and I will not expose any of them, but there is an extremely touching metaphor at the end of the movie. That uneasiness dominating our society for a while now. Namely, having to choose between zealotry and the attempt to remain equidistant, taking evidence as guidance.

I also recommend this movie because you will be more surprised than you'd think.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Book launch


The “Adventures of tourists” returns with fresh forces. Now, in Romanian and in English.

The authoress and two lovely she-guests are happy to invite you to the launch of the bilingual edition of the short story collection entitled “Adventures of tourists”.

Monday, 3 April 2017

'Adventures of tourists' in bilingual edition

'Why don't you publish your books in English, too?', I was asked by non-native Romanian speakers.
And that's how the bilingual edition of the short story collection 'Adventures of tourists' appeared.
Do come Thursday, the 6th of April 2017, in the lobby of the County Library 'Octavian Goga' in Cluj-Napoca, to celebrate it being published.
I cannot wait to see you there! I, the authoress, and two very special guests.
See you at the library!

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Professions

The other day, I was watching an episode from the series The Wonder Years and I remembered the first time I found out the names of my parents’ professions. I knew, for example, that father worked with leaden letters. And that was how I had all those notebooks with my name engraved and a stamp for the family’s library. But I had no idea about the name of his profession. And one day the question was raised. By the schoolmistress, who was ready to fill in the chart at the end of the class register where the parents’ professions were noted.

Many of my colleagues replied to the question, boasting about seafarer and housewife. Afterwards, I found out that neither of these words meant some sort of medicine specialist and, respectively, someone who kept yawning. When I arrived home that afternoon, my father presented me with type setter, and mom with reeler. I was very proud to communicate those professions the following day to the schoolmistress.
And I do believe that, back then, us kids didn’t have a clue about what any of those professions meant; we were proud of our parents, proud to know they had another name beside the family name that we also carried. It’s true that sometimes it was obvious that some professions were impressive to others, but I never stopped and wondered why. I was proud of my parents, they worked and people were satisfied with their work. What else could I have wanted?!


I often think that it is the same way with my nephew. He is proud of us, knowing that we are busy working, and he even nicknamed us some years ago with the title workies

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Theory of Tips in Romania

A restaurant somewhere in Romania. A foreigner asks for the bill. The way he talks Romanian, stressing the letter r, gives him away of not being a native speaker. The waiter comes with the bill and explains in Romanian.
- You know, in Romania the tips are not included in the bill.
- Yes, I do know. This is the reason why you mention this in English on the bill. So that foreigners know.
- Oh! And the waiter remains silent.

It makes me wonder; why did the waiter believe that a foreigner that speaks the language of the country they're in would not also know its 'traditions'? Moreover, should have the waiter considered the man a tourist and oblivious to the traditions, how could he even think that a tourist learns to speak the language of the country to be visited before visiting it?!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

“The Surrogate” by Petru Popescu


Whenever I read or see videos about people managing to escape from North Korea and I find out about the way life is lived there, I cannot but fearfully think that probably it would have been our way of living too, hadn’t been for the Revolution that took place in 1989. Adelin Petrișor’s documentary makes me think that I am not so far from the truth. 
Especially, since he mentions that after his visit in 1971 to Pyongyang, Ceaușescu was so much impressed with the sumptuous receptions that he copied them in Romania, too.
“The Surrogate” centers upon the connection with Zoia Ceaușescu, the first impressions, the agitation that followed, the unexpected things she did or said. And less upon the setting; even though there are some mentions regarding the abuses, the privations, and even Romania’s fame in Germany for certain privations. The Decree 770 hovers about the entire novel like a hawk flying in circles until deciding which prey to clinch into its claws.

Usually, each reader keeps into their souls a small part from the books they had read. From “The Surrogate”, I choose to keep that passionate longing and search for freedom.

Monday, 13 March 2017

I dream, and I dream


I asked for a cappuccino. It came together with a tiny biscuit. The writing on the package gets my attention. I read “I dream, and I dream’ and, in my head, John Lennon’s famous tune echoes. Together with the memory of the first time I heard it. My parents’ kitchen, in which the radio took its role seriously by making humming noises in the background. Ignored or not. Back then, I had no idea about the meaning of those words, so beautifully combined with the melody. My father told a brief history of John Lennon’s life and the sound of his voice convinced me of how sorry he was for the singer’s tragic destiny. And so, for a long time, this song remained synonymous with the sadness of a destiny brutally suppressed. Then, as I got older, I understood the language, and somehow the song seemed even sadder. Maybe because I was not able to separate that tragic destiny from the singer’s optimistic message.

But today, the package didn’t make me think of tragic things. The optimistic message must have won the battle. I have often asked myself if it’s better to dream or not. I continue to think that it is better. And these words that I saw today on this package seem to bring this judgement justice.

Monday, 6 March 2017

About arts


When I was a child, I had this idea that arts were something that I could never understand, experience, feel or describe. Famous paintings used to be shown to us, kids, in order to open our minds towards the arts, but the complex universe of arts remained a mystery. We only knew that a certain painter was famous for a certain painting. Of course, the famous saying 'when you say Grigorescu, you say ...' would follow and torment us more. It was clear to us that we would never understand anything about arts. We did not experience that thrill that was clearly experienced by the person saying the aforementioned phrase. We were, thus, condemned to ignorance. 
It is very easy to believe the worst things about oneself (this I heard in a famous movie J), and even easier to believe that arts are not for everyone. Well, we cannot all say that we can paint portraits and pastel paintings. But we all deserve to search within arts, to not be stopped by a painting that does not talk to us. Nor about arts, nor about ourselves.

Then, years after that, the word artist was mostly followed, either in a loud voice or not (like a boomerang), by the famous phrase - one day cheerful, one day sad. Even some of the most famous artists' pictures or potraits convey the message that artists are uncomprehended beings. Well, from this point of view, I think we are all artists.
Around the year 2007, I found myself drawing and painting and vigorously wanting to do this. Shortly after, I realized how good it made me feel. Whenever I hear people talking about the benefits of meditation, I can only resonate with my feelings when drawing or painting.
As a conclusion, the arts represent something that can be understood. Not in a general way. But picking small part after small part from the beauty of an enormous artistic universe. Moreover, the arts can be felt and let felt, experienced and even described.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Happiness for an orange is not to be an apricot


This is truly an inspiring book. There are a lot of things that moved me while reading it. The story of Catherine's illness and how she fought in order to get better, how important it is to know the history of your own family in order to understand things about yourself, what it means to belong to a tradition and to its rigors (a couple of times I clearly had the sensation of being on the set where the movie Mustang was filmed), the story of Communism and its privations within the Republic of Albania (a story I resonated with, even though I was only 6 years old when the Romanian Communism regime collapsed - people's reluctancy to change, the fear of being denounced, the eternal shame of wanting things that others have already stopped wanting, the frustration), what a community means and how it survives in a foreign country, the value but also the absurdity of traditions.
Catherine Preljocaj refuses to believe that there is not a connection between her illness and the lack of love she has been feeling all her life. Actually, this is the case of an insatiable need for love. Maybe there is an explanation within us for anything; we just have to be willing to search for it.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Breezes

This morning I was drawn from my day-dreaming by the touch of a sweet breeze. Bread freshly taken out of the oven. It reminded me of the smell in my grandparents' yard. Of that done crusty bread, which I still prefer. Grandma trying to keep us from tearing into the hot loaves of bread. Us, smiling and conniving to disrupt grandma's attention. I smile and I wish for that smile and this smile to be connected by a bridge, like an arch over time.
Ah, immortality!
Yes, actually, immortality is gained through memories.
A breeze of freshly bloomed freesia takes me back here, in the present.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Little red shoes

Next to me there is a small cup made of clay with cat. No, the cat is not alive. It is just drawn on it. Its little sharp ears seem triangles that go up and up, and up. I stare at the cat, remembering the little bunny. Yes, neither it is alive. A little bunny on the sole of little red sling shoes. I think I liked it back then, getting my feet soaking wet. Thus, the sole of my little shoes was unique. Bunny-like. Actually, there were two bunnies for I have two feet. Now, I just enjoy watching from the window when it rains. Maybe some bunny stamps could make me change my mind. 

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

A mindset game

I recently recommended Lyudmila Ulitskaya’s novel and one of the arguments was that it was easy to read, having short chapters. I did not realize the importance of this recommendation until the other day, reading ‘The Book of mirrors’ by Eugen Ovidiu Chirovici (a very-well written novel, which I kindly recommend to you, too. I admit that while reading the book I was expecting for something regarding Romania to come up – I don’t know exactly what; maybe traits of Romanian characters, sights etc. – but it never appeared. Which actually confirms the talent of the writer Eugen Ovidiu Chirovici, who succeeded in being a truly chameleon-writer.). Many of the nowadays novels have short chapters, making it easier for the readers.

Firstly, I must admit that such type of novels give us, the readers, the gift of assimilating the information. I will explain: after every chapter a pause is made; the more chapters there are, the more pauses appear. Thus, we can take a short time to reflect upon what was presented to us and to read further or to take a break. Which leads me to the second argument in favor of this technique.

Nowadays, we are in such struggle with time. Not all of us afford spending hours on reading a book. Thus, by having to read short chapters, we can easily stop from it when we must take care of something else, and mostly, our mind does not become stuck (and a little guilty) for having stopped in the middle of the reading. Actually, the mind feels that it has successfully fulfilled an action and it will come back again, maybe soon, to start another, and not having to finish the one before and thus trying to remember where everything was.
As bizarre as that seems, this really calms the brain. It is like any other activity that gives us a sense of satisfaction because we have successfully fulfilled it. The next activity (actually, a chapter) starts, thus, with new forces, with no guilt regarding the stopping in the middle of things.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Cold

It's cold. Actually, very cold. So cold that I remember M., a colleague from university. M. arrived by bike at the university in order to take an exam. There were -20 degrees, and the moist in the air coming from the sea and the Siutghiol Lake could easily slash the bones. I remember M. in the hall of the university. He was in thermoplegia, and his frozen and white eyelashes seem very real to me still.
It's not cold. Not cold at all.