I was invited by my friend/blogging colleague Maria Nenova to participate in a Blog game of associations. The theme is to think about countries, and Maria asked me to write about what I associate with Romania. Thanks for the opportunity, Maria!
One of the things that has changed most in the last three years in my life, except for meeting the love of it, is my perception of Romania. In Sweden, Romania meant post-communist and poverty. I remember maltreated orphans, and the mineriads. It was all very strange to me. But Romania been strange alos to people older than me.
While Bulgaria's Todor Jivkov still doesn't strike me as anything more than a boring man in a suite, like Honnecker or Breznjev, Ceaucescu was this kind of thrilling third world dictator.The kind of dictator you meet ine Garcia Marquez's and Vargas Llosa's novels. His wife with a million pair of shoes, his faraonic building projects, his megalomania and his horrible end, shot like a dog and broadcasted around the world. It was all so terrifying and fascinating.
Then I went to Moldova, and over a night, Romania became the symbol of Europe. I think Bulgarians also remember this night, the new years night between 2006 and 2007 when Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU. I celebrated it in Moldova, with a family where about half of the members had Romanian passports. They were dancing and singing right out in the air: "We are in Europe!" "We are in Europe!". The other half were much less agitated. For them this new year marked the first when they needed a visa even to go to Bucharest, or to the closer Iasi.
In Moldova I learned Romanian, and I still flirt with it. I like to play with the diftongues and pronounce slightly outdated words from Mercia Eliade's novels. I was working at a voluntary project that was closed most of the time, so I had plenty of time to learn. I wanted to also study Russian, but I didn't manage. It's a pity really... I don't think you can fully appreciate Moldova without knowing both Russian and Romanian.
In the spring I had, like all foreigners in Moldova have, some problems with my permission to stay. The deal was that I had to leave the country for Iasi, stay in Romania 24 hours and then return. I was madly in love at the time. I left Moldova with my Bulgarian girlfriend as she had made her first visit there. These 24 hours in Iasi were a fantastic adventure. There were lowers everywhere. A much more relaxed atmosphere than in Chisinau. It's a student's city so there were bookstores and cafes everwhere... so much of everything. And it was all in Romanian!
I had actually decided to stay in Romania, but eventually I didn't. I returned to Moldova to finish my project. Since then, crossing the border between Moldova and Romania always made me feel a little, just a little, bit more at home.
I went to Bulgaria, and to be frank I think my Bulgarian is better than my Romanian by now. A Bulgarian passport is as good as a Romanian or a Swedish, so the glory around Romania has somehow faded. But still... Romania has a place in my heart :)
I don't want the game to die with me, so I pass the ball to Svetla Encheva, author of the Neyioten blog. I would like to read Svetla's thoughts about Moldova.
And I will try to take athe game abroad, and ask two Swedish bloggers, I want to ask my friend Jimmy what he thinks about France, and the profilic left wing blog Svensson that I follow with interest how he percieves Russia