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Romania

A new balcony

The new balcony of my first floor neigbours is growing. The "known criminal" Vandar has been working on it for more than a week. It is really interesting to see the Romanian way of constructing something out of cement. There don't seem to be any security standards invloved. The cement is prepared on the sidewalk: just put some cement, pebbles, and water together mix it up and use it for construction. No mixing machine involved. Don't bother about how the sidewalk will look afterwards.
If you ever wondered why Romanian houses look so..., so... untrustworthy, here is why: The casts in which the cement is poured in order to form the balcony' s pillars are made of wood that looks like it has been useed for the same purpose at least 100 times. Everything is very uneven and the wood has holes. The cement is poured into these very unstable looking casts without the help of vibrators which is why I don' t even want to think about the number of air bubbles inside of the pillars. After the casts had been taken away I could see quite some air bubbles on the surface of the pillars...... Lets hope that there is not going to be an earth quake....
The floor of the balcony which is put on top of the pillars is constructed in the very same way with the same wood and the same cement. So far everything has been very interesting to follow. I don't think I will ever put a food on that balcony once it is finished. And should I ever plan to construct a house in Romania I will import German construction workers to do it for me....
27.5.06 11:14


Pimps and Prostitutes

For the last year I have been living in a three-room-apartment in Cluj. We are, or were, six flat mates: Me, Steffi from Germany, Larisa and Alina from Romania, and two “Gypsies”, the twin sisters Elena and Florica.

Our neighbors never liked the fact that two “mulattoes” are living in their building and I have been asked on several occasions by various neighbors if I know that they are Gypsies, if my room has a lock, or where I met them. So far these incidents were tolerable because I did not care about other peoples stereotypes as long as they leave us in peace.

Everything changed last week. One of the “Gypsies”, Elena, has a very stupid boyfriend who showed up at our apartment, got into a fight with her, and forced her to come with him. Florica got scared for her sister and after the two had left she called the police. The next day Elena and her boyfriend had to go to the police, explained what had happened and Elena decided not to press any charges against him. They are still together, and if they are happy with each other that´s none of my business.
This is the story of why the police had been called.

A few days later our landlord called us. Florica and I went to talk to him and his wife. He informed us that he had been contacted by a policemen who had obviously interrogated all of our neighbors about us. Our landlord had been told that Elena is suspected of prostitution and that a very dangerous criminal, called “VanDame”, known for being a pimp and selling women, had visited us several times. All our neighbors were so afraid of him that they never complained directly to us about our music being to loud or about the fighting going on in our apartment. They stated that Elena and Florica scream at each other all the time when I am not in the country and that everything is ok when I am there.

When I told Steffi about the whole story she could not believe it. She said that the ones who had been fighting were Larisa and Alina who had both left the apartment the month before because they did not stand each other anymore.

The next day Florica went to the police because she still had to make a statement about what had happened between Elena and her boyfriend. She used the occasion to ask why her sister is suspected of prostitution. The policemen responsible for Elena´s case said that she is not suspected of anything and that he was not even aware of the fact that our neighbors had been interrogated and our landlord informed. He asked us to find out which policemen was responsible for all this.

In the meantime, Elena told everyone that if she really were a prostitute she would at least have the money to buy herself a cell phone.

“VanDamme” or Vandar, that’s his actual nick name, turned out to be living in the block behind ours. Elena did not really know him. She had talked to him a few times and had once told him that she needs a residence in Cluj (getting a residence in Romania is very hard because you need to own a house to get one. Without a residence you cannot get an identification card, passport or even a library pass!!!). Vandar offered to register her to his house which was very nice of him because it is to a certain degree illegal to register someone who is not actually living there. Anyways, he came to our house twice for a couple of minutes to talk about the residence and in the end he did not do it.

We have already talked to a friend of us who is studying law at university about the whole story. We will go to the police next week to find out what is going on. Why did a policemen interrogate all of our neighbors about us when the police was originally called to protect Elena and not because she is suspected of something? Why did he forward information about Elena to our landlord? Why did all the information turn out to be our neighbors versions of the story instead of official police data? Elena is not officially suspected of prostitution nor is there any sign that she ever will be. And why did the policemen responsible for Elena´s case not know anything about this?

And by the way, we do not know if Vandar is really a pimp or a criminal but isn´t it funny that everyone is too afraid of him to ask us to turn the music down, when today I saw him constructing a new balcony for our first floor neighbors? Is someone going to accuse our first floor neighbors of hiring a known criminal?
21.5.06 19:59


I am famous but misquoted....

This monday's edition of the local newspaper "Clujeanul" features a big article about hospitalityclub. One of the editors got interested in it over a friend who is a member. And since I had invited all Clujean members to the HC party at my house he reffered to me.
Well, the interview was ok but not great and the outcome is horrible. The editor asked me all these questions about Germans being better than Romanians. I tried to explain that the initiative for HC came from Germany but that does not mean that it is a German thing. By now almost every country in the world has members. I told her that the founders of HC are former exchnage students from Germany and in the article she quoted me "We [Germans] invented student exchange programs". And then she tried to define what that is but messed it up totally. When I told her that you can use the "Groups" section in order to find members that share a common interest with you or to find a family were you could stay she wrote "in the occident whole families sign up as members". It really annoys me how she presented this whole thing as something foreign instead of something everyone can join.
I was carefull when I gave the answers during the interview because I now how badly you can be misinterpreted and how bad the Romanian press works. And still the outcome is a disaster. But, now it is published and I cannot change it anymore....
14.12.05 09:33


I Love Professor Snape!

My relationship to Harry Potter is very special. I think Harry Potter had a great effect not only on me but on many people. My cousin Anne learned how to read because she did not want to wait for her mom to read the next chapter to her. I wonder if by now she learned English because she did not want to wait for the German translation. Harry Potter part five was the only book published in English that ever made it into the German book ?charts? because people did not want to wait for the translation. It remained number one for many weeks.
My personal relationship to Harry started quite late. I only got interested in the books after I had seen the first movie. I managed to see it in English which is pretty hard in Germany because all movies are usually dupped. I remember that I saw it with my friend Jose from Columbia. A short while later I told my mother that I would like to read Harry Potter and that I had also decided to read books in the original language if possible. My mother made her own thing out of it and gave me the first four parts of Harry Potter for Easter. The first one in English, the second one in Italian, the third one in Spanish, and the fourth one in French. My mother is really supportive when it comes to developing my language skills! The only problem is that the characters have different names in each language. Dumbleodore is called Silente in Italian, Snape is called Rouge and Mad Eye Moody is called Maugrey fol Oeil in French. This makes it quite hard to read each book in a different language. I managed well with the English version eventhough I did not know all of the wizzard vocabulary, I managed ok with the Italian version, I cheated while reading the spanish one consulting the German version from time to time, and the French one took me for ever to read.
I loved part one and two but everything that came after it I only read because I have to know how the story ends. Book five I read in English because I did not want to wait for the Romanian translation and book six I read online, in English of course, because I had to know who kills Dumbledore. My mother once threatend me to buy me a Harry Potter version in Japanese and was very disappointed when I told her that I might know twenty words of Japanese but that does not mean that I can READ it!!!

I saw Harry Potter part four last Wednesday. I have to admit that the main reason I had to see it, was because I am in love with Professor Snape. Well, also because of the wonderfull pictures and scenery of that magic world. I love professor Snape because he is so evil. I mean I do not love the snape of the books but that movie Snape. He has these piercingly evil eyes, this expressionless face, and of course black hair, black clothes and a pale face. Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr he gives me the shivers. I would join Tu Sabes Quien?s team just to learn how to look so piercingly evil. I am a real groupie! Sorry, I might ruin the picture that you had of me by saying it but nobody is perfect. At least I am not in love with Harry! The point is that I am in love only with the movie Snape and not the book Snape, and definately not with the actor who plays him!!! I saw him once in?Sense and Sensibility? as Kate Winslets suiter and it almost made me puke. He looks very stupid in that movie. You know: handsome 19th century guy with a weird beard on his cheeks. I was really shocked. It almost felt like Snape joyfully offering a cup of tea to Harry without verita serum in it.
If you are also a Snape fan, please contact me.....


PS. Did anyone get the point why Hermione went to the ball with Victor Krum? There must be some deeper meaning to it?!
11.12.05 15:33


Flags

When I was wandering through Cluj yesterday I witnessed something very wonderful! Those of you who have been in Cluj before will know that the city was full of flags and other items painted in Romania?s national colours. The playgrounds, the trash cans, and basically every item you can paint. Yesterday they finally took off the nationalistic christmas decoration which has been hanging over the streets since last year?s christmas. Yes, they actually took of the coloured light bulbs and replaced them by white ones. It made me feel very good because during the last year they also removed many other signs of this stupid ethnic nationalism which is not meant to include all the people that live in this country but to exclude everyone who is not ethnic Romanian. I am really wondering how this city will look like in ten years?. Change is possible!

30.11.05 17:56


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