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Romania

How my interviews ended

I am back in Germany but before I will inform you about the latest changes in my life you have to know everything about my interviewing experiences.

Well, the hardest thing when doing interviews is to find representativ respondands, or TO FIND respondands. I had to give up on the idea of representativity a long time ago when a German Roma Rights activist told me: "Romania? You better go to Slovakia for your research because the Roma population in Romania is VERY diverse!"
This is why I decided to do qualitative instead of quantitative research because the idea here is not to be representativ but to let your research guide you into the right direction. (if you want to know more about qualitative research please go to the next library...)

Anyways, I decided to focus on Roma from the Cluj area. In the beginning I was afraid that people might not want to talk to a blonde German girl. Since I interviewed University students first I did not encounter this problem at the beginning of my research. Then I went to the Garbage dumps and found two women who were happy to be interviewed. It was harder with the men. My first respondand seemed to be drunk and his answers did not make any sense to me. After the interview he wanted to marry me and to come to Germany with me. Two other men I talked to were also more interested in me than my interviews and in the end I asked one of the women I had interviewed to find me some guys who would actually give me honest answers. Maybe not a very representativ way of finding respondands but qualitative research is also about gaining access.....

I interviewed "civilized" Roma living in apartment buildings next. It was really hard to find them. Since most of them are not organized in organizations and do not live in a community you have to know them personally. I went to ask one of my neighbours. And guess whom they reffered me to? Yes! To Vandar the known criminal!!! In the end they all seem to be friends with him.....
I spoke to his sister first. She was very helpful and I did the interview with her. I asked her, If she knew any other people living in apartments and I ended up doing two more interviews. I know that in theory the respondands should not know each other but again you have to consider whom you have access to.....
Unfortunately one of the other respondands told me all kind of stories about him having a lot of money, a house etc. I found out afterwards that he lived with his mother and does not have money either.

At some point I decided to also interview activists. This turned out to be very easy. I just called them, set the date and time, and then did the interviews. Two women, two men. Instead of arranging marriage we arranged future collaborations.....

I still had not given up on my plan to interview some Gabors. I had been told before that it would be difficult to get into contact with them. My rescue was Marita. Vandar´s, the known criminal´s, mother. She speaks Romanian, Hungarian, and Romani but taught her children only Romanian because her husband did not speak any other languges. She sells second hand clothes at the market and has a good relationship to some of the Gabor women. She told me that she could put me into contact with them If I came with her to the market. I tried my luck for four days. The result was a Gabor man who wanted to marry me and jealous women telling me to get lost. One of them even slapped me on the butt when i did not leave fast enough....

After this experiences I decided to change my strategy. I asked my friend Marian to do the remaining ten interviews for me and to stress on making good quality interviews with males. Marian is Roma himself, has access to communities and he is a MAN. Well, actually he usually has the opposite problem than me. Whenever he does community work the women try to hitch on him and last year in the summer one girl was even sent to him at night when he was sleeping in his tent........
9.7.06 10:37


My first day of practical research

This morning I decided to finally start the practical part of my diploma thesis. I will spend the next ten days doing interviews. I went to the organization Tara Minunilor which is a pre-school for Roma children which live on the city's garbage dumps. I spoke to one of their social workers, also a Roma, and he promised me to put me into contact with some of the community members. On monday I will go there to do the interviews.
Afterwards I called my friend Marian, yet another Roma, who was in town to ask him to introduce me to some more communities. We went to Iris, a quarter of town were a lot of traditional gabor Roma live. Unfortunately we did not find anyone there and decided to go to the main market where they sell things. We talked to two of them and they agreed to participate BUT only if I pay them. Marian got angry and told me that I can't expect any cooperation from them as long as we do not have a contact person from their community. He called a friend of his who works for the local government. Luckily is friend, yes also Roma, was free and ten minutes later he and his girlfriend came to meet with us. We explained the situation and he told me that he can put me in contact with every community in Cluj but not with the Gabors. They do not participate in these kind of things. He then offered to call some of the people he knows from other communities and assured me that I will not have any problems to interview them next week. I asked his girlfriend who is a student at the university and she was willing to be interviewed. Tomorrow I will to my first interview to her and another one to her room mate.
I guess I will have to work my way from interviewee to interviewee. Let's hope things will work out fine. I guess the next ten days will be very interesting and stressful ....
23.6.06 21:12


Beeing sick without a tv

Last Thursday my tonsils strated to hurt. I hoped not to get a tonsilitis and somehow the pain disappeared within a day.... On Saturday my throught started to ache, on Sunday I got hay fever, on Monday I had 38 degrees of fever and my lungs started to hurt. In the middle of the summer....... luckily I am not the only one. Everyone I meet theses days is sick too!

Tuesday morning I woke up soaking wet from my own sweat. All I wanted was to take a shower. I went into the bathroom, turned on the water, and... no water came out of the tab! I checked in the hallway if there was some anouncement but nothing. I decided to go back to bed. Two hours later I had water for ten minutes and managed to take a shower.

Being sick I spent most of my time in bed. As most of you might know lying in bed all day long tends to be quite boring. Even more so when all of your flat mates have left to Germany. I started to read all kind of books but none of them were really interesting. At one point I really wanted to watch a movie but I do not have a TV. I checked my computer and watched White Chicks for the tenth time. Not really my favorite movie but Elena and Florica love it and I had to promise not to delete it from the hard drive...
The next day I asked my neighbour if he had any dvds. He had only one containing Sin City and Oblio. Well, Sin City is a very violent comic-like movie. Fortunately the movie suddenly ended at the point were the Japanese hooker cuts five guys into pieces and puts them into the trunk of a car which the heroe of this episode wants to through into a lake....... does anyone know how the story ends?

Next I watched Oblio. A cartoon which is probably older than me. It is about a boy named Oblio who is born with a round had into a world where everyone has pointed heads. He is banished from the pointed village into the pointeless forrest where he realizes that things do not have to be pointless just because they do not have a point.....
Well, that movie looks like human rights education from the seventies to me. The music was made by Rinog Star who at some point sings a song about a decomposing wale.... If you ever wondered what happend after you die.....
The only thing that was missing in the movie was Yoko Ono and John Lennon producing a mixture of a round headed and a pointed headed baby. Please try to imagine how such a baby would look like.....

I do not have any more movies so I decided to get well, and here I am back in the internet cafe writing blog articles....
21.6.06 17:31


They finally gave their first concert in Romania

Do you guys remember that I went to the village of Zece Prajini last November? That is the village where the Fanfara Ciocarlia and 5 other Brass bands are from.

When I showed the pictures of the trip to my friend Oliver who is a journalist at a Hungarian speaking newspaper in Cluj he remarked: "Where did you go?! I would have entered that village with police protection only!!!" When I started to show him Ciocarlia's homepage his chin started to hang lower and lower. He could not really understand how this band is known all over the world, even in Japan, and he had never heard about it.
The answer is easy: It is very hard to organize concerts in Romania. Oprica a musician of the Ciocarlia told me: "There are only two countries in the world where we do not perform: Turkey and Romania. You get ripped of by the concert hall owners and they are very unreliable!"

I just realized last week that Ciocarlia had appeared in the German movie "Gegen die Wand-Against the wall" an just a few days later, namely this morning, I opened the newspaper "Quotidianul" and was really surprized to find a big article about the award ceremony of the Transylvanian Film Festival. Vanessa Redgrave had been there, Corneliu Porumboiu, a Romanian director who had already been awarded the "Camera d'Or" in Cannes also AND the Fanfara Ciocarlia had given their first concert ever in Romania!!!

I called Oliver and asked him if he had at least been there to see it and he replied that he had free tickets but he did not go because he was busy having sex....... That's his kind of humor
12.6.06 14:39


The hitchhikers guide through Romania

For all of you who have heard only frightening stories about hitchhiking: It is nothing but rumors!

I never hitchedhiked in Germany but we have something quite like it: www.mitfahrgelegenheit.de. It is a web site where everyone owning a car can leave their personal data and announce when they are going from a to b. You have to pay a small amount of money but it is much cheaper than the train. This way I was able to go home to Hamburg quite often when I was studying in Muenster.

When I came to Romania I would have never thought that I would do the "real" hitchhiking thing because of all the stories you hear about it. It took me a year to realize that hitchhiking is the only convenient way of travelling in Romania. Forget about trains and busses. They leave at horrible hours or arrive late or you have to wait a lot while changing trains. It happened to me at least five times that I was planning to go back by bus, train, or taxi and none of it was available. So the only way not to get stuck in the middle of the wilderniss is"ocasie". The hitchhiking system is probably the best developed system of public transport in Romania. I never have to wait long. AND: I tend to get sick (especially respiratory problems) in Romanian trains because the heating is to high. That is my number one reason for hitchhiking.
8.6.06 10:50


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