Bucharest in photos

A guy with serious guts, working at the 8th floor of a block. On the outside.


Bucharest in photos

A while ago, somebody wanted to rent a floor in a residence situated a few blocks from my place.

But, it seems, he was undecided what clients to chase - Romanians or Anglophile foreigners - and, I suppose, he gave himself finally to the idea of appealing to both, while making a small economy. So, he began his "to rent" message in English, but finished it in Romanian. The picture above is the unhappy, yet funny, result; enjoy.

PS: I'd still say, based on my experience, that Romanians - and especially the Romanian youth - speak better English than many other European nations.


Bucharest in photos

February 14th, 2008. Day of a concert - in the Revolution Plaza, the very heart of Bucharest - of one of the best electro Romanian bands - Şuie Paparude. I was just passing by when I saw the lasers, a few hundreds of enthusiasts and I stopped to watch the concert.

It was exquisite and very surreal.

If you want to get an idea about the band, I invite you to listen to their best-known song so far.


Bucharest in photos

This is a image of the Parliament Palace that you just cannot see every day. It was taken on January 1st, 2009, one hour after the New Year.



Bucharest in photos

This is the tomb of Nicolae Ceauşescu, located in one of the cemeteries in Bucharest - the Ghencea cemetery, which is situated not far away from the football stadium. I do not have any photos of him alive (the only time I saw him face to face was in November 1989, one month before his fall, when he came in visit to Bistriţa. I was 9 years old at the time.), but if you are curious I guess you can find pictures of him on the internet.

Nicolae Ceauşescu was president of Romania from 1965 to 1989. He was not a democratic president, he was a dictator, and a really crazy one - very similar to Kim Ir Sen, of North Korea. He had the end of a dictator, as he was "judged" ("condemned" is the better word) and shot by his lieutenants - led by Ion Iliescu - on Christmas day, in 1989. They had him shot to secure their power.

Why do I put here a picture of his grave? Because, 21 years later - that meaning today - 61 % of the Romanians tend to believe that Communism was good, and there are more Romanians who have a good opinion of Ceauşescu than Romanians who believe he had done wrong. With a small effort, I think we could have got to the same level of nostalgia for Communism as the Hungarians some years ago, when 72 % of those Hungarians interviewed stated they believed it was better with the Iron Curtain.

The truth is that during the Communist period things were much, much worse. I remember - and I wonder how the others forgot - what an adventure was to buy bread and milk (as a child, I was the one who had to stand in lines), how it was impossible to buy any kind of meat (except, maybe, fish), the terrible view of the empty stores, and the complete and omnipresent misery. Everything was owned and controlled by the state; as an individual, you owned some clothes, a TV set and a car (if you were lucky). And if you owned a car, getting the gasoline for it was the daily adventure of your life.

But above all, the worst thing was the level of control and the complete lack of freedom. People regret that, back then, you had to have a job. It was just another mean of control of the state upon the individual. People regret stability (as compared to the anarchy of post-Communist Romania), but it was a stability of a paralyzed society. A society paralyzed by the state who controlled it.

For myself, I can tell you I was a child, but I hated what I saw back then: the absurd levels of control, the absurd levels of propaganda (two hours daily, on the national TV station - the only program available, and I had already enough of it long time before the fall of the regime) and the inner poorness of people, who were just surviving biologically, because spiritually they were dead.

Most of all, I hated Communism because one of my uncles - who tried to get to the free world (getting out of the country was strictly forbidden) - was caught one night on the Danube, on the border with Yugoslavia. They declared him mad, put him in a psychiatric hospital under appropriate "treatment", and completely destroyed his life. It was because of this that he had time to stay long hours with me when I was a small child, while my parents were working. So judge for yourself.

With love,

To blog or not to blog? My feelings about the 2010 Romanian blogosphere

Gotta tell you this, guys.

I've been spending a few weeks studying in parallel the occidental blogosphere and the Romanian one. In the first case, there were the Blogger blogs of note (January, February and March 2010); in the other, the ZeList Top 50 – a.k.a. the most prominent 50 Romanian blogs. In case you were wondering where all my recent - and ironic - references to the Romanian blogosphere came from, you have a part of the explanation.

So, this is what I discovered, and what I can tell you with the right hand juxtaposed to my heart: unfortunately, the Romanian blogosphere sucks. But I am afraid that word is not strong enough. The Romanian blogosphere, as it presents itself at this very moment throughout its most visible blogs, sucks big time. On the other hand, you can find excellent Romanian blogs - and you can find those that I like and recommend in the Romanian bloglandia chapter. Unfortunately, these are quite few.

Among the 50 most prominent Romanian blogs, there was one only I could like enough in order to add to the blogroll: www.bookblog.ro. It was added already years ago. The others were all very similar, because they all spoke about politics, media and can-can. Very few were actually blogs, and not sites (considering their content and lack of personalization). And that, even if the authors themselves were clever and well-educated people.

Most Romanian blogs date from 2008 and 2009. So, ok, there was a technical delay with the West, and most of the Romanians got to have internet access in 2006 and 2007, but to see that beginning date on almost all the blogs I wondered through made me think that most of the Romanian bloggers chose this activity out of mere opportunism. It was a fashion to have a blog in 2007 and 2008 in Romania, and those who gained success kept it out of inertia. While, you know, there are, for instance, Romanian bloggers who started posting in 2003, never made the mainstream and had writing skills. One of them was linked on this blog until recently, and it was the oldest Romanian blog that I know of. Most unfortunate, she quit blogging. It is a decision I fully understand. I cannot blame her.

Another thing is that Romanian bloggers, blogging in Romanian, don't like using Romanian diacritics, so there are moments when you have to literally guess what they meant to say in the first place. And this is a matter of basic respect towards the readers. Afterward, I did not like the strong/indecent language – which seems to be a sort of standard - and the grammar problems many of the blog authors do have.

But I guess the most disturbing and unpleasant thing is that most of the Romanian blogs I wandered through are boring, boring, and… boring. You have usually the same political or media subject, presented in the very same way, and that is it. So I say it again: blogging is civic, blogging is citizen journalism, so it has to speak about civic matters, but at the same time blogging should not be a copy of the classical mass-media.

Are there any rays of hope for the Romanian blogosphere as a whole? I think so: there are some civic and humanitarian initiatives and campaigns who really add value to it, lately. But I do not know if that is quite enough.

Sad conclusion: I find myself in the funny situation of being unable – with some exceptions - to relate to the blogosphere of my own country.


Bucharest in photos

Hmm, dilemma:

I'm in a big, and I mean, BIG, hurry. But, take a look: narrow sidewalk + car parked on it, while other cars are speeding on the roadside. A pillar is blocking my way + the imbecile driver (may God teach him a lesson) did not think of the people who have to pass by. How could I get through?

I guess I need to pull down some more kilos. Or perhaps I should learn how to fly.

Sometimes, it is really not funny to walk in Bucharest. Disrespect is, unfortunately, a very frequent issue here.


Bucharest in photos

I did not post yesterday, as I had another crazy day at the job. And this is becoming a modus operandi.

The picture above is taken in the Carol The 1st park, perhaps the most elegant park of the city and definitely the most elegant park of the downtown.

I used to spend lots and lots of time in this park as a child, more than 20 years ago. I lived nearby, it was a nice place to go, and I can say the park itself did not change much since then. It is a must see if you visit Bucharest for the first time.

As most of the times, when it comes to taking pictures, I like to put an accent on natural elements. Here, it is the sky and the trees. Unlike most other parks of Bucharest, in this park you can also find hundred years old trees.

Check it out.


Bucharest in photos

Q.: Do you know what this is?
A.: This is a dog, inside the 13th postal office in Bucharest.

I could not believe my eyes when I entered the postal office situated next to my place, in a frozen morning of January 2008. What seemed even stranger was the fact that absolutely no one was paying the slightest bit of attention to the poor animal, which seemed to be lost and disoriented, but also happy because of the warmth inside. No need to say, outside was very, very cold.

You know, guys, Bucharest can offer you a good deal of surprises, sometimes. But - I still love it.


Bucharest in photos

This is where I practice jogging as often as I can (three times, this week) - this is the I.O.R., or Alexandru Ioan Cuza, park. I'm happy to announce I just broke my own record this week, and managed to make two laps (about 6 kilometers) in 36 minutes. I only run for pleasure, and I only chronometer myself for the fun of it, but I had to notice I'm able to do this on a regular base (which was definitely not the case before), and also, a lot faster than before.

If any of you will ever try to practice jogging, my few advices are: get yourself a pedometer, appropriate shoes and don't get angry at those laughing or staring at you. My biggest motivation and satisfaction when I run is to see others, many others lately, doing the very same thing.


Bucharest in photos. Parliament's Palace

 This is the ceiling of one of the hundreds of halls of the Parliament Palace.

I got the occasion to take another visit to this building a few months ago, being invited by one of my friends. We talked, among other things, about the kind of politicians who populate this palace and about their determination to fight the crisis. You know, the Parliament's Palace is the home of the two chambers of the Romanian Parliament (among other institutions). He told me something I already knew: the Romanian members of the Parliament and the Romanian political parties have absolutely no idea what to do; our anti-crisis plan is the agreement concluded with the IMF.

Honestly, to be a little malicious, when you spend your time in places like the most expensive hotels of Bucharest and the second largest (and one of the most luxurious) buildings in the world (and our Parliament  fellows do just that), it's rather hard to think about the problems of the country you are supposed to represent.


melum51. All you need is an angel

All you need is an angel
One is a friend to lean on to.
All you need is an angel
Telling you something
That will pull you through.
You don't have to think about,
You don't have to worry,
Love will never let you down.
All you need is an angel,
I want to be your angel.


And then again: Mark Spoon, rest in peace.


Dormi liniştit. FNI veghează pentru tine - or how to earn millions of bucks in post-communist Romania

Yesterday Sorin Ovidiu Vântu, owner of a media trust and employer of 7,000 employees, was arrested for 30 days. He had helped a convicted felon - Nicolae Popa, guilty for cheating 300,000 people - to hide in Indonesia. For ten years, now. And the men of the law gathered all the proofs necessary (just) a few days ago.

The convicted felon was legally in charge of a roguery that costed 300,000 Romanians their life-time savings. The (moral) author of the roguery was Sorin Ovidiu Vântu himself.

Who is Sorin Ovidiu Vântu? Now that is a good question. Born in Moldavia, with economic backgrounds, Sorin Ovidiu Vântu (or SOV, as his nickname was) is a convicted felon for economic fraud. During the Ancient Regime. The Communist Romania, that is. After he went out of jail, he managed somehow to buy all the boys with blue eyes (the Securitate guys) and he managed to develop his (illegal) businesses. He was ready for the political change in 1989, he managed to employ all the national security officers he had bribed before 1989, and quickly became a mogul. That was his recipe for becoming millionaire. He also became, lately, a promoter of Russian interests in Romania and Bassarabia - which qualifies him as a traitor of his nation. And I do not want to say more about this guy. Except this:

Sorin Ovidiu Vântu is not a capitalist. He is the ultimate result of Communism, in its Romanian fashion. Most of the Romanian moguls are like this; like him.

Why do I bother writing posts about this guy? I don't even hate him, I just pity him anyway. Well, a good reason would be that he ruined my mother's work and ultimately her motivation to live and to fight for a better life, for her and her family. A lot of irresponsible Romanians refer to those who placed their economies, during the late '90s, in the FNI - Fondul Naţional de Investiţii - as greedy persons who were not willing to work, just to wait for the money to fall out from the sky. Perhaps their economies have fallen as well from the sky, instead of hard work, isn't it?

My mother was working, at the time, from 12 up to 16 hours a day, she was alone, she knew the value of money, and her conviction was that a fund guaranteed and agreed upon by the state - like FNI was - could be no forgery. I guess she believed the Romanian state was a state of law, not a state of the former security guys. Her belief costed her - and us, her children - tens of thousands of dollars. With the fall of the FNI back in 2000 I got the true image, the hideous image, of the Romanian post-communist state. And the true face of most of the Romanians.

After 2000, I never bought anything produced by any of the companies belonging to SOV. Not even a newspaper. I never watched his televisions, or bought his gasoline. I've put a permanent boycott on this guy. I cannot imagine I'm the only one doing this. But I know many have chosen to close their eyes...

As a conclusion, I truly hope SOV and his siblings - he is not the only one, actually there are many of them, only they are smaller than him - shall rot in jail. There's actually a rather small chance for that, if we take a look at the Romanian justice of 2010. But, nevertheless, that is the condition for my country to get out of the Dark Ages it crosses now.

PS. The Romanian media was, again, disgusting when reflecting this case. And far too partisan, in the both ways.

PPS. You know, my friends, what bothered me most about the FNI crush in 2000? The fact that, back in May 2000, even the Romanian section of the BBC preferred to accuse the victims - 300,000 "greedy" Romanians, or 300,000 Romanian "players" (jucători la FNI - I'll never forget that expression) - instead of pointing the finger to the agent and moral author of the forgery, SOV himself. BBC permanently lost me as a client because of that.

With love,


Few words about television

I'm not an expert in media, but I hold a degree in communication and, of course, I had to study it. However, what I am about to say comes only out of my personal experience.

I gave up television in 1998. I was 18 at the time, but television could not find itself anymore a place in the life of our family.

It was a very good decision, both for my studies and for my inner life. The "losses" were minimum, if any. I was listening to the news on the radio and reading, as much as possible, decent newspapers (that is another interesting topic). If I wanted to do something, I would go to the cinema see a movie or, more likely, to the opera.

But let's go back and discuss the television. First of all, there is a difference to be made between Romanian TV stations, and foreign. Almost every person I speak to about this topic agrees that stations like Discovery or History Channel, Eurosport and VH1 are rather useful. There are also people who believe that HBO and TV 1000 are also good.

But how about the Romanian generalist TV stations? Before anything else, my own experience. I do not watch television; however, at my job there is a television set in the recreation area. Any time the television is set on a Romanian channel, the voices are on higher tones, they are more strident and sometimes even hysterical. The language used is also very strong - in the bad way. The impression you get is that of aggressiveness and nausea. And God forbid if you have the guts to watch a Romanian talk-show. It's 0 (Zero) TV at its best.

Where all this could lead to? Well, in the end, here:

I'd say that what I can occasionally see on the screen does not convince me to buy me a black box again. On the contrary. The next big change I'm planning is to buy myself a 9 inch Kindle. I have hundreds of  (electronic) books to read, but you know very well it is impossible to read hundreds of pages on the laptop screen. I want to get back to reading, and at the same time I believe future belongs to e-books and kindles.

With love,

A timeless song

It is not the first time I post this song here. I do it because it is, simply, so awesome, and because it means a lot to me - as it helps me get introspective. And, yes, I post this song because I listen to it very often.

I love this song as much as I did when I first listened to it, back in 1994.

Respect Jam and Spoon. Rest in peace, Mark Spoon.


September, four years ago

It is September 2006 and I do not recognize you. Your face, usually so expressive and open, is now closed like a pyramid basement. I do not know the person sitting next to me. I have a total failure trying to figure who this person is. This does not happen often.

A week ago I asked you, on the spot and on the impulse of the moment - and on the impulse of love and life decision making - if you want to marry me. You did not say anything like an answer, but you were so happy and your face was brilliant. And I hoped I just found the one. The one and only.

And now we sit in front of each other, but we are complete strangers. You say you don't want to marry anybody, because you don't believe in the institution of marriage. The very same fear I had to defeat, inside me, before asking you to be my beloved wife, the last week.

How can that be?

This post is not only a post, but also a homage to someone I loved more than my life. And also, a recollection of my biggest failure so far.

PS. You have here a poem, in Romanian, written quite a while ago (2002), in a moment of despair. In case you want the translation, please let me know.

- Unde eşti, suflete? spune-mi, unde eşti?
La câte milioane de mile distanţă pluteşti?
o întreb. Nu răspunde. O privesc. se ascunde,
e departe...

- Cum? Nu mă vezi? Sunt aici;
în faţa ta eu sunt.
- Da, te văd, eşti în faţa mea
şi-ţi aud vocea foarte bine...
dar inima ţi-a plecat pe Marte, sau undeva,
undeva unde nu pot da de tine.

Ciudat, mă gândesc, Nu ştiu de ce, îmi vine să cânt;
un cântec auzit ieri, pe un disc de vinyl,
un cântec foarte trist, dus aiurea de vânt,
de primul vânt din luna April.

El nu se va supăra niciodată dacă tu - cântând - îl greşeşti,
el va străbate nesfârşite bolte cereşti.
Se va întoarce în chiar această odaie, apoi;
se va întoarce foarte repede, radiind pace între noi.

Acest cântec foarte trist al iubirii ne va salva,
aceste ultime secunde se vor uita.
Atunci tu, suflete, foarte amar vei plânge
şi eu, de supărare, mâinile-mi voi frânge.

Dar va fi bine, alături vom fi
- fără a simţi, vom reîncepe a iubi.
Acest cântec trist te va fi adus înapoi,
el ne va fi făcut iarăşi împreună doi.

Suferinţa aceasta, îndurată fără minus şi plus,
suferinţa asta neaşteptată ne va uni.

PPS. You might want to read this post by listening to this song:

With love,


melum50. energize me

This is due to Rareş, my good friend from Bistriţa, Transylvania.

He gave me the opportunity to listen to the music he listened. And that is a opportunity I try to never miss - listening to music other people listen to, because I feel this is a good way to better understand them, and interact to them.

Rareş and Andreea, his beloved wife, are addicted to rock. But let me give you a clue: they don't like Muse.  And I suppose they don't like Linkin Park (while I do). It is this passion which made me spend many nights, these past two months, listening to what they were listening to. I finished half an hour ago. It is this passion, their passion that convinced me to attend the Iron Maiden concert in Bucharest, exactly two years ago.

At the end of this two month listening experience, I can say I do not feel closer to rock than before. After all, I liked less than 5 % of what I've been listening to. But I must admit my understanding of the genre has changed. I am no rocker myself - considering the music I listen to - nor I ever was, but I appreciate in this kind of music its aspiration to freedom and escape from any kind of control.

I do not know very much about the band, I just like the song.

PS. Andreea and Rareş are the proud and loving parents of a new-born son, Robert. When I think of their family, I'm filled with joy and hope.