Monday, July 30, 2007


I have this new theory: that Romanians are the greatest communicators on Earth.

I have spent a few weeks there this time around. And I am in love with the very people that originated ME. How lucky is that? What were the odds, I ask bombastically?

They have this saying that goes "Romania is a beautiful country, too bad it's inhabited". (Don't they say that about France, too?) Anyway, it makes me mad: no, Romania's natural beauty is not really that great. And, on the contrary, the people are so warm and friendly and funny and bizarre and crazy that they are indeed Romania's only claim to fame.

They have started to learn to put that on camera -- and they bagged the big prize in Cannes -- and kudos to that wonderful Mungiu for an important story, fantastically told. My take: this is only the beginning. This amazing people will be known for its quirky, bizarre and deeply disturbing human rawness and its unique way of coping-by-communication.

I remember being slightly amazed at how the Internet made its debut in Romania: at the Net Cafes everywhere, people were busy... chatting! IRC channels open, they were tirelessly meeting one another and yakking away. Or the mobile phone craze! Everyone has a few of those, and they keep chatting and chatting. They can't keep their mouths shut or their fingers still, they have to communicate to one another, day in, day out. A latin people, granted, but... There are no limits!

Remember those TV channels I was upset about? Now I GET them better. People chatting, everywhere you turn, they can't help themselves. I suppose there are TV channels that nobody tunes into, but still those TV talk shows will be on because those people have to express themselves, and they'd do it anyway, so who cares how many cameras are on them, and if you pay them to talk to each other, sure, they'll take it! That's the spirit of many, many TV stations. It's a non-stop, non-alcoholic (although I can't be 100% sure) happy hour on air.

And the level of detail and intimacy! Californians have a way to go before they touch this! Any taxi driver will dive right into their heart and souls and pour their private life stories if only you make a slight remark they can latch on to -- or, alternatively, you can bare yours for them, they'll listen intently. And then repeat it to the next customer. Everyone is everyone else's shrink there. Total therapy -- or an exasperating madhouse, it depends on one's mood.

I love it how the terraces are full of people. I hadn't realized that, since for quite a few years I had come there in winter. People seem to have quite a bit of money in Bucharest. And the restaurants have improved vastly. Atmosphere, service, everything is quite alright. Almost as good as Prague, only the beauty is missing and some extra traffic and pollution occur. But hey, then... There are the Romanians! The big Communicators! English everywhere, French quite often, Italian understood, and now even Spanish is no longer that uncommon. You can't find that in Prague, you can't compare the two!

So, to the accidental tourist who may happen upon my words: if you're moved by beauty and loftiness, and the party life is secondary or has to happen in such surroundings, by all means, do Prague and be happy. But if you're looking for quite possibly the coolest people, the warmest, funniest, bend-over-backwardest for their guests and really happy to talk to you about themselves, yourself, their country, your country, other people's countries, selves, TV series, whatever -- come to Romania and you'll be sure to have a blast! Just make sure to do your homework right -- a few good addresses, and you'll be set for meeting the COMMUNICATORS!