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.