Romania fascinates me for many reasons, not the least of which is the drastic contrasts that are apparent everywhere I turn. Not unlike most cities, you can see this on one block:
And in the very next see something like this:
But the contrasts are somehow different here than other cities/countries, because here you have old world communism next to new world capitalism:
I can publish a blog using high speed internet, talk to my friends and family regularly on skype, and go to the mall to watch American movies that came out as recently as two months ago, yet the city trams are from 1960s Germany and electric bills are delivered by being wedged in a crack in your door. I can attend classes at the medical school on Genetics but people adamantly refuse to open multiple windows in houses, buses, or trains, for fear of breezes (Romanians are desperately wary of cold and breezes... but more on that another time). Women wear skirts and shorts in summertime but no wise woman would ever go barefoot, lest she go barren. Because they’re directly linked, you know- everyone knows.
Truly fascinating. And there is no overarching explanation I can point to other than the fact that Romania is caught somewhere in the middle of the transition from developing to developed country. On the surface a lot has changed, but scratch under the shiny exterior and you find deeply embedded myths, mentalities, and mindsets from yesteryear. After all, communism fell a mere 20 years ago. It’s not good or bad, and I’m in no way trying to criticize Romania (though I will adamantly argue against the belief about breezes anyday) or even say that everything about modernity is better (because it’s not). I say all this because I find myself jarred back and forth between casual comfort and complete confusion. I am lulled into thinking that this place isn’t so different from my own country, then I am slapped in the face with the reality that I am in fact in an entirely different culture that is in some ways vastly different than mine. But this is a good battle, a good fight, and so rather than whine about it, I am blogging about it. As I do.