At the end of the First World War, exactly one hundred years ago today, Romania was able unite in its national state almost all the territories inhabited around it by Romanians. The original state crafted after the middle of the 19th century by the European powers with a German king on the throne was completed in 1918 with Transylvania – yes a real region and supercool, not a land of legend – and parts of Moldova. During the Second World War the new political jockeying changed its territory a little bit losing parts to the Soviets who took territories equally from everybody if they could. However the dispute about these territories continues even today a way more common problem in Europe than, let’s say, in New Jersey… As a result December 1 became the National Day of Romania after the fall of the Commies and was celebrated ever since. Happy 100, Romania!
Category Archives: Romania
With all the apps available it’s always a new way to connect while abroad. For prepaid mobile plan in the US the moment you leave their network the phone stops seeing any network. It display “No Service”. A way to get around it is to forward your mobile number to another American number. I installed in my office a number on MagicJack that for $35/year you can call unlimited US and Canada. MagicJack has a free app that would be associated with any US number you would like, so if you associated it with your mobile number all received calls from the office can be taken on your mobile phone as well. The app works both on 4G and WiFi. If you forward your mobile number to the app you receive all calls, including all your mobile calls, abroad at no extra cost. All what you need is WiFi if you did not buy a local SIM. More than that the phone would ring both in the US and abroad wherever you are on your mobile, so who picks up first gets the call. And if you buy a local SIM abroad the phone would ring with two different tones, one for the local SIM and one for the mobile calls from the US so you would know right away who is calling.
Because I did not plan to buy a SIM in Israel and another in Jordan I had to find a way to navigate with GPS. I never used downloaded maps but I just found out how great they work. I used Maps.Me and Google Maps. On Maps.me the moment you open the app in a country it asks you if you want to download the map. After that you use it in the same way as if you had reception. I was able to navigate the roads of Israel all written in Hebrew and the convoluted unmarked alleys of the medieval towns with no problem. Of course you have to save on battery if you don’t have an option to charge it…
The Eastern Orthodox church was able to preserve through its diminutive architecture a sense of intimacy that I feel that was lost in the large cathedrals of the Catholicism. Even the rituals that are performed in these churches are way more close to the person that the large mass that used to fill the western churches. This may be a reason why the churches of East are fuller with believers than the ones of the West preserving a set of traditions and various rituals.
For two exciting days Mihail Palace, that is the Art Museum of the city of Craiova in Romania, held its the yearly gathering of members of the Romanian Academy, professors, writers, poets, artists and intellectuals debating fascinating topics about different social issues that are a concern for the entire world. Organized by the almost centennial magazine “Scrisul Romanesc” founded in 1927 and resurrected in 2003 by the visionary professor Florea Firan, the gathering has each year hot topics of the day, like the power of technology or the social diversity that happened to be the gathering topic of this year.
It happened that I was in touch for quite a while with this magazine having a monthly column in it for a number of years that I was able spottily to fill it with stories stemmed from my roaming around the world. Also, the printing branch of the magazine published my first book “Cartea povestilor uitate” (“The book of forgotten stories”) in 2016, a collection of travel stories and articles I kept writing in the magazine over the years.
Professor Firan graciously invited me repeatedly to visit Craiova and attend the yearly colloquy event but somehow the road from New York to all forgotten corners of the world never crossed through Craiova. Till this year when I boarded a train from Bucharest, crossing the yellow Baragan plains of despondent peasants and rich politicians and found myself in the middle of a remarkable literary event surrounded by extremely interesting and exciting people that gave me a stimulating intellectual buzz for two unforgettable days.
Oltenia, the region of Romania that counts Craiova as its largest city, gave numerous Romanian literary and artistic personalities. Probably the best known is Constantin Brancusi whose recent exhibit at the MOMA in NYC tells the story of the chunk of metal, “Maiastra”, who the sculptor wanted to import in the US in 1923 to the chagrin of the custom officials who could not understand what they have in their hand and its revolutionary role. Eugen Ionesco, the father of the Theater of the Absurd, the author of the “Chairs” and “Rhinoceros” among many others, was born also close by, as well as Marin Sorescu, a remarkable poet.
But beside the fascinating and stimulating discussions at the literary colloquy under the shadow of these great personalities a big surprise for me was the city itself, cleaned up and beautified with a pleasant old town inviting you for a much deserved evening stroll.
Many of the streets and alleys of the old town were places that used to have oily garages and dirty manufacturing places, all relocated and recently converted in restaurants and cafes all having terraces flooded in lights in the evening, all full of people drinking their lattes or having a beer in a relaxing sunset.
Somehow I never rode a train in the Southern part of Romania. The flatland is for sure not very appealing, a landscape of wheat fields with occasional sheep heard and scattered cows tended by shepherds that seem to come from a different time. But what is striking when you ride the train is to witness the economical stagnation of this part of the country. Nothing new, except one or two churches, look to be built in this land, a land that gives through numerous scheming the most corrupt, inept and incapable government Romania gave in the last 30 years. Chances are that you may not see new hospitals, schools or kindergartens but for sure you’ll encounter fleet of Mercedes and BMWs owned by the corrupt politicians who have their origins in these plains.
The first private museum of art, MARe, was opened in Bucharest with a huge crowd at its doors who wanted to visit. The museum is curated by Ervin Kesler, who is a well-known in the Romanian art scene as an art critic and philosopher.
Smartly built and organized like an modern art museum from the western world, the museum uses the space wisely creating places to present beside paintings, videos and photography.
The museum collection is formed by the works of new Romanian artists representing cutting edge trends in contemporary art