Archive for category People

Chris Pratt and the new superhero image


Having recently re-watched Guardians of the Galaxy, possibly my all times favourite superhero movie, I had the pleasure to discover a feature on and with Chris Pratt in Glamour  magazine. Yes, it was in the June issue and yes, I have missed it when it came out due to a situation with my address being changed to a wrong street number in their system. Never mind, it is all sorted now.

It was pleasant to discover a few things on the guy, described as “a curious mix of humility, enthusiasm and self-assurance”, which does not come completely as a surprise. Turning the few pages in the magazine which present him as the G MAN of June, on awaiting the premiere of Jurassic World, this is exactly what I saw myself in the two photos taken for this feature. A confident guy, as far from being cocky as Pluto from the sun, whose posture and mimic show modesty and a genuine person.
Reading through the article only enhanced this impression. The guy apparently came from a social background which promised nothing such as staring in Hollywood one day. As he briefly mentions it, he grew up being poor and not caring too much about this. But once he got into acting, this was what he wanted to do. Not out of ambition, not for the money and the glamour (if I am good at all in reading between the lines), but just because this was it for him.

Aware of the challenge to keep up now with his own success, Chris does not seem keen on staying a Hollywood star forever. He actually speaks of completely retreating from the limelight at some point, alongside his actress wife, after securing a comfortable amount of money which would allow them to raise their son, generally enjoy life and maybe shifting their creativity towards writing and painting. I must confess this part completely melted my heart. As a writer and former journalist, far from hitting success as Chris did at 35, this is exactly what I am striving towards together with my partner: securing a comfort which would allow us to express ourselves without any other major worry for our future.

If you think of it, back to the movie, the actor, not your usual Hollywood superstar, embodies a quite atypical superhero. He’s got the looks, although it is a somewhat different type of handsome. Not a complete hunk, while not a complete sweety either (think Leo in Romeo and Juliet), he seems the type of the handsome neighbour you could actually trust. Infused with a certain cheekiness which stays with the character, Peter Quill has that something pleasant about him as a man who knows he’s handsome, without caring too much about it.
As for personality, where should we start? Raised by thieves, but not a rotten apple himself really, just a guy who does what he knows to make ends meet, he is the least expected to lead a team of superheroes who would save the galaxy from destruction and dictatorial evil power. And by the image of their leader so is the whole gang of unlikely heroes who save the day.

A few weeks ago I watched the movie again at home, with my friend Ana, who hasn’t seen it before. She loved it as much as I did. On the other hand, I was just curious how I would react the second time at certain scenes. If anybody else wants to know, I cried again with my cheeks covered in tears at the end, when Groot grew around his group of friends, embracing them to protect them from imminent death. It was just as strong as when I watched it the first time and Ana was sobbing herself next to me. Then, when we turned the lights back on, we chatted about the movie and how apparently these guys only superpower was their friendship.
And indeed this is the tweak in the whole movie. Yes, Quill is cunning and he has got some assertiveness skills to shame other heroes in the genre. The big red guy has that blood thirsty rage as all which was left to him after losing his family.  The green girl Gamora, raised by Thanos after he killed her parents in front of her, has all the skills of a deadly warrior, together with an unquenchable thirst for freedom. The little angry Rocket, a racoon genetically modified and tortured, has his implacable instinct of survival. While Groot, oh dear Groot, the walking tree seems to be very single minded while deeply caring for his close ones. This character made me think of nature which provides for us all, without really asking for anything in return, and which in the end could prove to be our real saviour when all else is lost.

Most important, what binds this bunch of unlikely friends together? First, none of them have any roots or attachments any longer, but finding themselves entangled in the circumstances, they need to work together to get out of the situation. And then they become friends. They understand each other’s hurt, disillusion and rage, and friendship is what in the end moves them towards becoming the heroes of the day. Had the circumstances not brought them together, each of them would have minded their own business and would have probably tried to keep away from the disaster.
Of course they are all outcasts and the scene before the very final one, with them all walking towards the repaired ship, is completely delightful. Their questions of what they are not supposed to do any longer as it might be illegal have the twinkling humour of innocence. These guys did not choose to become outcasts, somebody else had chosen for all of them until the right time came to make their own, personal and very decisive choice.

I must admit that an outcast superhero has always appealed to me possibly more than an all righteous one. This is why I’ve always preferred Batman to Superman, as his dark side is always lurking just one step behind his justice maker persona. It may have something to do with the fact that the first novel I have ever read was “Robin Hood”, while my later heroes became the three musketeers and they were no angels whatsoever.

As I did not intend to write a movie review, but to stress what stayed with me after watching it twice, I will not really analyse anything else about it. It remains the best superheroes movie I have seen in quite a while, although in tight competition with “X-Men: Days of Future Past”. While on both movies have a score of 8.1, what made the difference for me was the unlikeliness of these characters to actually be the saviours of the day, as well as the brilliant humour. Most viewers and reviewers stressed on how this was one of the elements which actually changed the paradigm of the genre.

And how could it have not changed it?
It was not amazing superpowers which enabled them to defeat the bad guy (although there is this tweak about Quill which will probably unravel in the sequel), but exactly his humour turned the fierce Ronan into a distraught man losing the plot. All evil expects to be opposed by a display of force, brought forward with all the energy and rage their opponents are capable of. And what does this Quill do? Starts dancing and singing as of inviting him on the spotlight at a disco party? This proves indeed enough to stop an evil mind on its tracks, even for that needed moment for the team of friends to take control over the situation and completely change the outcome.

Now I do hope the sequel will rise to the expected standards, and I do hope Chris Pratt remains the nice guy I have seen glimpses of. It’s good to be able to relate to such stories and such people in the craze which constantly pulls us in ten directions at a time.

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From a woman to another woman

It has been four years for me now in the UK and I have finally got a woman friend very close to me now. Ever since moving further away from both my mother and my grandmother, since I left the city which I once thought I would always live in, I did yearn for that joyful, tender and intuitive bond that a woman can only have with another woman.

I have always had great male friends, but there is nothing like a long chat over a cup of coffee, between two women who are good friends, while the daylight begins to dim and get a honey-like consistency, and the words flow from one to another like kitten bouncing softly over a bunch of velvety pillows.
And there is nothing like going for a walk in the nearby park, while your legs ache from the last Body Balance session, led by a woman (yes, don’t tell me I am biased, but I find the energy of a female trainer more beneficial to me in such a class), while you complain and laugh of your aches and make silly jokes, only so that a few minutes later both of you talk lively about how the sunlight falls over the trees crowns projected against a picturesque sky, then go sit on a bench and you find you need to take a photo of her hair shinning with cherry-like reflections in the sunset rays.

There are many, many great moments I have shared with male friends, and the first one to jump in my mind is having hours of discussions on literature and all sorts in a basement rock club, smoking a whole pack of 20 fags between the two of us and him having lots more beers than me (I am done at two, thank you), and one of these crazy intoxicating nights going for a stroll with him to the most beautiful square in the city only to start talking about climate change and maybe a possible new ice age, all on a freezing January night, and then parting there to go in different directions half frozen, half terrified (him) and half drunk (me), but completely relaxed and satisfied with the whole evening.

Today though it is all about women. It is the International Women’s Day and I should have sent cards back home to my mum and both my nans, but I forgot.
With my mum I have always had a strong emotional bond, and there was always great attachment between us. I can honestly say that I was my mum’s girl until about a few years ago, when I finally grew up and took the necessary step to independence. She has always been a strong active woman, despite being a housewife for many years now, or even due to it. Back home, she is the one who pulls all the strings and organizes everything in the family, and makes sure that everybody is somehow taken care of, fed and clean and sorted out, and not doing all sorts of stupid things.

It was my mum who named me Catalina after the name of a princess in a Romanian philosophical poem about the eternal love of an immortal soul, embodied by the Evening Star, and the mortal beautiful young lady. She used to chant it to me on an old classical Romanian romantic song, but with the verses of the poem, whenever I could not sleep, possibly due to illness, when I was about two-three years old. I do remember how it sounded and I do remember how I misunderstood a certain word in the verses, thinking it is the shade of a certain colour, when it was actually a verb.
It was my mum who was very strict with me doing all my homework to the highest standards, because I had the intelligence for it, and who ripped the page out of my homework notebook had I made too many mistakes on it and I would start all over again. This happened only during my first two years in school, as later on I moved over to my grandparents in the city, partly due to illness, partly to go to a better school, and there I did all my homework unsupervised. So her being demanding of me worked and helped me have high standards of myself later on.












Left: My nan with me, when I was 1 month and a half old. Right: With nan, probably 3-4 years old, at Govora resort. Centre: With nan on my 11th birthday)

My nan, my sweet old grandmother whom I then grew up with since I was eight and continued to live with in the old city flat until the second year of my University studies. My clashes with nan were very seldom and strictly in the first years of me living with her and with granddad, as at times I was not only feisty, but really naughty and speaking nastily to her. And once I did broke a boy’s teeth out in the street, with my foot, when I was actually just trying to scare him away, and that time I was harshly punished.

But then she was the one who always cooked for me, did my laundry, ironed, made sure I washed my hair right, rinsed it with a certain camomile concoction to make it strong and shiny and to preserve its blonde highlights. She was the one who woke me up in the morning and my glass of hot cocoa milk was ready on the table, together with the two pieces of bread, butter and jam or a few biscuits, or fried egg and sausage. The in the evenings she’d sometimes ask me if I fancied this or that for dinner, things which I actually had in my mind and she just seemed to have guessed them. It is since then that I strongly believe in telepathy.

From her I had learnt how to organise my day into sections, so that I planned for a time to study and a time to relax, and all the evening routine. Unfortunately, over the years I have kind of forgotten this precious lesson.
With her I shared a passion for music, as well as for knitting, doing tapestry and other crafts which she highly encouraged me with and even taught me a few tricks. And she was the one who’d play my student when I was the teacher, at times praising her, at times scolding her and making her laugh and telling her she needs to be serious for the game to work.

If I am to mention all the amazing women whom I have known over the years and whom I think fondly of and treasure as friends, or teachers, or inspiring people, I will turn this text, intended for my blog, into a book. Thinking of it, it doesn’t sound like a bad idea after all.
Some of the girl friends I had in the past I lost contact with and probably will never regain it. But that is life, sometimes you go different ways from the people you love and keep the lasting, shiny memory of them and the things you had together. With N. I used to spend chilly autumn evenings in the garden or in the front of my or her house, sometimes in the church yard (considering my father is a priest and we lived just next to it) and sing our favourite songs together to a bright full moon. In the summer days we’d go on a stroll to her nan’s house, taking my massive mongrel dog, who had some Schnauzer DNA in his blood and looked exactly like one, a gentle giant, and her nan will always have some goodies aside for us. When we grew into teenagers we’d always go to the local disco together and dance our shoes off, and then next morning would wake up to go to church for mass and we’d stay close together with our arms intertwined during the whole service. We loved each other like sisters and one summer afternoon decided we had to become blood sisters, so we made small cuts in our palms, in the church yard, held our hands together and swore eternal friendship. She would always listen to me reading her my poetry and we’d always talk for hours about boys, our favourite TV series and the stories from school.

But then I know all of you, ladies, have such stories which are most precious to you. Some of you might even have been blessed with sisters, or daughters, or granddaughters, I always wanted to have one, but it just did not happen.

My diploma work when I graduated University was centred around Virgin Mary as an inspiring motherly and womanly figure,  and the other feminine types which appeared predominantly on Middle Ages and Renaissance literature. I was particularly fascinated by the adored Lady of the Heart in the troubadours’ creations, as I had learnt in Anthropology that being a dedicated admirer of the beauty and virtues of a (generally) married lady was a wide practice for noble young men during those times.

Reaching this point I felt I needed some Bjork on the background, and I think I will conclude with posting one of her songs/videos. She is one of the women I admire and I have gradually discovered growing up, with her universe of surreal images, with her voice made for magic chants and with that air of a sorceress that both awes me and makes me love her. Bjork is, somehow, my good Snow Queen, whom my heart needs when it has to sink without fear into its own femininity and, at the same time, into the secret understanding which only a woman can have for another woman’s emotional inner dance, cry, jump and flight.  

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Philosophical garden. On men, women and original sin

Most of my revelations come when talking to people or when listening to people. I would have probably made a great woman (or even man, in another life) philosopher in an Ancient Greek style garden where debates were held. Nevertheless, recently I and my friend Ana have started our own small philosophical garden at home. It is comprised of our black table and chairs, usually some bright coloured flowers in a vase, the bookshelves, CD and DVD shelves around us, with additional make-up boxes, and a few plants, amongst which my revived Joseph’s Coat and tow cacti which won’t stop growing.









There has been much debate lately in this small philosophical garden-in-a-flat. On Monday I found the article about India’s Daughter, the documentary on the horrific rape which mutilated and eventually killed an Indian young woman in 2012. It is shocking, enraging and terrifying at the same time. We spent the whole morning talking about it, about how men can do such things to women, and about how such things can happen.
I won’t go into details with this now, as I want to dedicate it a whole text on my blog.

Do you think philosophy comes easier on an empty or on a full stomach? Well, today it came on a full stomach. After a good walk on the beach of Bos Vegas (otherwise known as Boscombe), we had some fried egg and veggie burger lunch and over a cup of coffee we started to talk about men, women, and the original sin.
As some of you might know, I come from a tradition of priests in the family. My great-grandfather and my grandfather were priests, my father is one as well. I was the one in to carry on in line of the tradition, although nobody really asked me or pushed me to do it. I went to study Theology and English in the University, passing both the entry exams and the graduation ones with the highest grades, as well as having the highest grades each of the four years of study. And I loved what I studied, despite not all of our professors being really qualified and some of the knowledge being very superficial, scarce, even a mock of Theology. However there were the books recommended by our best professors, and they still mean a lot to me.

One of these was Elements of Faith by Christos Yannaras, a Greek Orthodox Theologian close to my heart. The part of his book where he speaks of the original sin is like a chant to me, and I can remember it in Romanian. Today I have searched for it and found it, to my joy, in English. You can read it by yourselves either on this web site, or at the end of my text.
Somehow, me bringing Christos Yannaras’ presentation on the matter is related to the articles read about the Indian woman raped and tortured three years ago. We went on to chat about how, in many places in this world a woman is still seen as some sort of inferior being only there for the pleasure and use of man. Actually, let’s be honest, you will find this sort of thinking in every country and every culture, only that in the Western world this is more  restricted by law, as a result of the feminist movement and social changes which started more than 100 years ago. Still, you read and hear about women’s alleged inferiority and see how they say today that Hillary Clinton paid her female employees 72 cents for every dollar she paid her male staff, when she was Senator. However, news such as this I take with maximum circumspection: is it just half the truth, used to point that “oh, look, even one of the biggest and fiercest feminist activists treats women as less worthy!”. To me, this smells a bit rotten.

But then, isn’t all this inequality between men and women even based on the Bible? Well, no, not really. If we do go back to the Bible and read Yannaras’ writings on the creation and original sin parts, we see how actually all of this is complete and utter non-sense.
Telling Ana today about the Greek Theologian’s writing, about how man was created first and he received the warning first (not rule, not threat), and Eve received it from her equal, the man, not the higher divine being, about how none of them took responsibility for their act, about how choosing the deceiving so-called fruit they chose separation from God, self-sufficiency, egotism, their own ego crowned over the whole world, greedy and not caring, I came to the question “but why did God make Adam alone first and later he made Eve?”. It seems to be a lesson yet not learnt by human beings…
Maybe God made Adam first so that he could feel he is alone, so he could feel he needed another being equal to him, who is like him, with whom he could share the love he had learnt from the divine being. Having a partner equal to him, but not completely like him, with the sexual distinction which makes erotic love possible, would be his (and hers) best chance of practicing the communion for which they were made.

And, after all, this is how the Bible introduces the divine intention to give man a partner in life: “It is not good for man to be alone; let us make a helper for him who is like him” (Genesis 2.18)

Blaming your own choices on the others comes always handy. Handy for an ego which believes it is its own cause and purpose and, even more, the whole world is here to serve it. This is the choice the human beings made, according to the Bible, at their creation, and this is still the choice that many of us still make. Probably each of us, throughout our lives, act in line with our grasping ego. But then some of us (many of us as well? or not really?) learn the lesson of love, which was first given by a divine being who wanted to spare us the lesson of death.
According to Yannaras’ analysis, it is death to think and to behave like you could exist on your own, even if the whole Universe disappeared today (not to mention it is absurd as well, but anyway). An ego which thinks itself immortal is the agent of death within. Our essence is divine, which means our ultimate purpose is the communion with the whole: the person next to us, whom we choose to share our life with, the people whom we call friends or workmates or neighbours, nature itself, God (or however you want to call the divine). Once human beings placed themselves in opposition with their existential purpose, is there any wonder they became destructive? Ego above everything leads to destruction, and this is evil.

So evil is treating women as if they were not human beings. Evil is treating women as if they are here only to serve men. Evil is destroying women who do not obey. But then evil is leaving people in utter poverty, with barely any chance to a better life, so that big corporations can raise their profits and directors can award themselves to $1 million bonus yearly. And then these people commit crimes, even horrific raping and torturing of women who dared to go and watch an evening movie with a male friend.
But then there is hope, even in the last hours of one’s life, such as the thief on the cross next to Jesus or the criminal in the “Dead Man Walking” movie, with Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. If people are shown constant love, if they are treated like human beings and not like monsters, a nuisance or disposable machines, they might respond like the human beings they were meant to be.

Now, at the end of this moment in our philosophical garden, I will let Christos Yannaras speak about one of the consequences of sin:

The sense of nakedness is the first consequence: “the eyes of the two of them wereopened and they knew that they were naked and they sewed fig leaves and madeaprons for themselves” (Gen 3.7). Until the time of the fall “the two were naked, both Adam and his wife, and they were not ashamed” (Gen 2.25). What, then, is the feeling of nakedness, the shame of nakedness which accompanies the fall? It is the awarenessthat the look of the other which falls on me is not the look of the beloved, of the one wholoves me, whom I trust. It is the look of a stranger; he does not look at me with love, butsees mejust as an object only of his desire and pleasure. The other’s look objectifies me,transforms me into a neutral individual. I feel him taking away my subjectivity, mydeepest and unique identity. To feel naked is, the rupture of relationship, the revocationof love, the need to protect myself from the threat which the other now constitutes for me. And I defend myself with shame. I dress myself in order to save my subjectivity, toprotect myself from the look of the other, not to be transformed into an object at theservice of the other’s individual pleasure and self-sufficiency.

(Christos Yannaras – Elements of Faith)



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A journey to Romania

From the 25th of June to the 9th of July, we have put together more than 1500 kilometres travelled by train, thousands of photos, a good bunch of great friends, a few disappointments in Timisoara and some seriously good food eaten in Cluj, in other words, our welcomed Romanian holiday, which shouldn’t have happened to start with.

Starting 2014, we had other plans, which we are meticulously puzzling together. Going to Romania wasn’t in the cards. Then I found out that a friend of mine was getting married, and this was a great opportunity to be in the wedding of one of the most fascinating women I have ever known closely. And when I say this, I mean really being part of the event: we offered to do the make-up and photography for the wedding, as a gift for the bride and groom. But just about a month before our flight I’d got the news she wasn’t getting married after all, wrong decision.
Still, the whole travel turned out to be an experience we needed. We came back tired, but refreshed, more relaxed and with that feeling that life just goes on for all of us, friends and family, and there’s no room for nostalgia, but for contemplating and taking part, when possible, in what our friends and family do and experience as well. At the same time, we have taken the opportunity to work with people who modelled for us, which made our holiday this spicy mix of leisure, business and getting together as well.

First, it was Bucharest. We have landed there as our initial plan was, for a trial make-up and photo session with the bride to be, which we did not do, obviously. It was, anyhow, much more convenient regarding travel times (flights at a more reasonable hour rather than 7:00 in the morning) and cost. We stayed there for a day and a half, then took an early train (yes, 5:45 am!) to Timisoara.
How did we find Bucharest? Same old, same old, it was us who were more detached now, relieved of the everyday madness to succeed in a city without rules, where being tough, unscrupulous and knowing the right people is a must. I can’t but admire my friends who still work in the Romanian central media, such as Mugur Grosu, poet and artist (visual arts are also his field), one of the people most pleasant to listen to in the whole wide world, whatever it is he is talking about. And yes, he does talk a lot, but it’s fascinating, his speech is like a journey taking you to some awesome places, a ride on a magic invisible carpet. He has been working for 3 years now for this architecture magazine called “Zeppelin” which keeps publishing in a city where major newspapers were closed one after another and only a couple of tabloids thrive.

(Photos by Catalina George and Attila Vigh. In photos: 1. Mugur Grosu. 2. Silviu Dancu. 3. The whole group while Silviu was telling and acting a story from his travels)





We had to get together with Silviu Dancu, my most fascinating writer friend on Facebook (and in real life) who posts on a daily basis on the social media platform the best short texts on whatever draws his attention. His Facebook writing is instant literature, philosophy and journalistic reporting, all in one, like a hot coffee, a cold ice cream, a drop of alcohol, served with a discrete candle aside, burning essential oils. This guy, an old friend of Mugur’s as well (they come from the same seaside city of Constanta), apparently manages to freelance in Bucharest on cultural contracts of organising events and PR services. And he’s not the bachelor who couldn’t care if one month he’s out of money for drinks, he’s got a family, managed to buy a flat and is doing pretty well in that harsh and unforgiving city. True, he has got an impressive CV: worked in the past for the Romanian Cultural Institute under the best management it had ever had, as well as for the Polish Cultural Institute in Bucharest. I am but amazed myself at how well these people are doing in a place where, in the end, I decided I didn’t fit in anymore.

Landing in Bucharest gave us a chance to meet these great people we are still in contact with. One of them is also my former editor-in-chief Ionut Popa, from “Terra Magazin”, a monthly publication on science, history, geography and travel, and while he is the same great guy I have known for some good years now, I could see disappointment in him. It’s a sad story that, after I was made redundant, the whole team who used to make this magazine, the best and oldest Romanian publication of its sort, has been removed. While all of them did find good jobs, I guess we will all carry with us the regret of something we loved doing being snatched from us just like that, with no good reason, and turned into a pitiful thin journal with lots and photos and silly toys to make it sell better, apparently… I have seen it on a newsagent’s shelf and felt like I was looking at a brochure of a questionable taste.

On the other hand though, this guy, Ionut Popa, has no long ago published a great travel book about his journey to Lake Baikal, on the Trans-Siberian Railway, and his writing, while being based on the exactness of a scientific approach (the author is a Doctor in Geography), is also very poetically personal. It was, after all, the personal experience of a man, not only a scientist, on the long and strenuous journey to the Island of the Shamans (Okhlon Island), not through direct physical effort, but through the effort of being confined to a small space in a train compartment for days, while the wild landscapes just rolled under his eyes.
And indeed the book ends with the most poetic epilogue, which has even taken me by surprise, and I know this man, I used to work next to him (literally, desk by desk), debate, laugh and rake our brains together for ideas for more than two years. What he is involved with right now is something most successful in Western countries, judging by the amount of books and magazines centred on this: travel writing publishing. A book like his “Baikal, a Deep Blue Eye” would for certain sell very successfully in a country like the UK. In Romania, he is at the moment investing effort in this uncertain field.

If I have kept you reading to this point, you are most probably asking yourselves, well, what about the city? Is this an exclusive account on my friends, who might be great people, but whom you will probably never meet, or was it meant to be a story on our recent travels through Romania?

True, I have written a few good long fragments about these people I know closely and admire, testing your patience at the same time. In a way, I had to do this. If I am telling others about my country, what can be more important than to let them see the people I know there, the way I know them? In a sea of grotesque images about Romanians, watched through a lens set to only show the ugly, the dirty, the unfit, the messy and the meager, talking about beautiful Romanians can be the missing pieces of the whole picture. 
And how much it is missing still!

Landing around lunchtime on the 25th of June, we got out of the airport and on the bus to face a confirmation of one of Bucharest’s realities. On the one hour ride to Union Square (Piata Unirii), so many long sad faces around us, so many unhappy and tensed expressions, dry grey glances, bitter and doubtful, made us remember the roughness of this place. However, over our holiday this feeling not necessarily faded, but took a few steps back, allowing others to come into light.
When one visits Romania, be they one of the nationals established abroad or a foreign traveller, they will most certainly have strong feelings towards the place and its people. Some might see mainly the poverty, the misery, the struggle, and that expression of tensed resignation. Or on the contrary, they could notice Romanians chatting lively, local young women having a really nice figure, with a sensual or really provocative attitude, very feminine or very aggressive, chic or cheap imitation (yes, it is possible) of today’s pop culture kitsch. Depending on the part of the country they find themselves, they could manage to distinguish that sweet waved Transylvanian accent or the sharp cut, loud Bucharest one.
In a crowded place such as Centrul Vechi (the Old Centre) in the capital some may be tempted to try and avoid too much contact, as the streets and terraces full of people who are mainly out drinking and chatting (not so much for eating) can give you a sense of agoraphobia. In Cluj-Napoca’s big open squares, where your sight isn’t blocked by so many crammed buildings, the plan and details of the architecture are more obvious, give you the feeling of being in a very historical place, as well as time and space to explore at leisure. The hotchpotch of buildings from different periods of time in the centre of Bucharest can get the visitor dizzy and will require a sustained effort of observation to make sense of it all and to be able to see its hidden beauties.

At times… or even most of the time it can be difficult even for somebody who has lived in the Romanian capital to see these treasures. The reason does not stay only with the eyes of the beholder, unfortunately it means that the communist conspiracy against all that was built in the late 19th century, early 20th, has almost succeeded. It was in the old regime plans to cover it, hide it, even destroy it if possible. Little is known of fake buildings or architectural feints meant to keep away from the onlooker the edifices built in the 20’s and 30’s or even earlier, in times when the local monarchy was loved and their governance appreciated. Even after about 10 years in this city, my partner A. did not come to like it in too many ways and he is not a big fan of the way the place is built. On the night before the last in Bucharest, at the end of our holiday, we took a longer stroll with Mugur and Silviu on the backstreets of the central area, where most people don’t go regularly, unless they are looking for more cultural, alternative cafés and bars. Talking about the city and what makes it beautiful and worthwhile, a passionate debate started: A. was stating that its beauty is lost due to neglect, so many buildings left to decay and almost becoming a threat to safety, while Silviu explained how it is all due to the poor laws, subject to corruption, in the same time affirming his love for Bucharest. He used to hate it as well, until he fell in love with the place.
I myself tend to agree with Silviu, although A. brings good reasons into the topic: the greed, corruption and egotism of so many so-called rulers in our country tend to shadow its charm, its history and its values, cultural, human and natural. But then here we are, some of us still trying to uncover them, to remove the dirt, the refuse, the claws that cling on anything that can be sold, used, transformed in money and up to date Western luxury.

And there is still much to uncover, to clean, to polish and to bring out into the light. It takes effort, eyes to see and inquisitive minds to be able to reach the realities behind the harsh surface of daily, mediatized Romania (on all fronts).

(to be continued)





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Povești cu bunici

Am regăsit-o pe bătrână de cu două seri înainte la același semaforul din colț, cum treci din Piața Unirii spre strada Matei Corvin. De data asta am cumpărat un buchet de margarete, ocazie cu care chiar am privit-o: baticul, hainele, până și ridurile vorbeau cumva despre viața unei femei de la țară, obișnuită cu munca grea și traiul simplu. Pe partea cealaltă de stradă ne-am oprit să răspund la telefon, am văzut că altă fată cumpăra celălalt buchet de margarete și m-am bucurat.
Florile le-am folosit mai târziu, ca parte din decor pentru ”Zaraza” a lui Andrei Ruse, cumpărată astăzi în Librarium, și o dată ajunși unde suntem cazați le-am pus într-un borcan cu apă. Mă gândesc să presez una și să o păstrez în carte.

La Cluj am venit miercuri, într-un foarte plăcut drum cu trenul, din care două ore am dormit lungită pe toate cele patru scaune acoperite cu pluș, în timp ce A. mă veghea pe mine și bagajele. Cam egoistă, știu. Și de când am ieșit din gară mă bucur de orașul ăsta, cu arhitectura lui, cu străzile lui late și luminate, cu străduțele înguste și răcoroase, clădiri renovate la tot pasul, mâncare foarte bună și  oameni parcă mai relaxați decât în București.
După-amiaza am petrecut-o la Roata și în Shadow cu prietenii lui, oameni faini și foarte calzi, și cu umor de-ăsta ardelenesc de-ți merge la suflet. Am ieșit apoi la fotografiat, pe când treceam prin Piața Unirii se întunecase deja. La colțul cu semafor dinspre strada Matei Corvin nu am aruncat nici o privire bătrânei care vinde flori, dar i-am auzit glasul, blând, molcom, cu accent vălurit de Ardeal, simplu, neînsiropat în stilul  celor care îți întind câte un buchet vai de el, ca să cerșească de fapt agresiv și te fugăresc cu mâinile întinse până te răstești la ei. Mergând mai departe, cu ochii la fațadele luminate, printre terase ”de centru”, m-am întristat. Era deja aproape de teatru când am zis că a doua zi neapărat voi cumpăra un buchet de flori de la ea.

I-am spus și lui că m-am întristat și mă gândeam oare de ce. Ce a fost în glasul ei de m-a atins așa? Poate eram obosită, poate contrastul dintre terasele pline și simplitatea femeii de la țară, poate cumva gândul ascuns la bunicile noastre, care sunt trecute deja de 80 de ani și cine știe cât și cum vor mai trăi. Sau poate să fie ceva și mai adânc, acea parte a mea care rămâne legată de sau care poate tânjește după o viață aproape de natură și de oameni în același timp, în care nu totul are valoare pecuniară, în care familia și grija pentru cele ce te înconjoară contează mai mult decât ambițiile carieristice, necesitatea de a te simți unic și de a te așeza pe tine însuți în centrul întregului univers.

Au trecut ani buni de când mă tot gândesc să adun  poveștile bunicilor și să le păstrez amintirile chiar ca inspirație pentru literatură. Cred că merită spuse nu doar pentru că sunt ai mei, ci pentru că nu sunt singura care mă întreb cum au putut trece ei prin atâtea schimbări, cum a fost adolescența lor în timpul războiului, cum s-au îndrăgostit, s-au căsătorit și au avut copii într-o lume pe muchie de cuțit, aspră, nesigură, zdrobită sub călcâiul unor ideologii schiloade și mutilatoare. Și mai știu că există tentația de a romanța aceste experiențe ale generațiilor dinainte, mai ales ale bunicilor, pentru că lumea lor este cumva aproape de a noastră și de așteptările pe care le avem de la realitatea imediată, dar și la distanța perfectă pentru a o îmbrăca într-o aură delicată, un văl aproape nedetectat, ca o a doua pleoapă, aurie și transparentă, prin care privim înapoi.
Probabil că, genetic vorbind, dar și psihologic, ne simțim mai apropiați de bunici decât de părinții pe care avem nevoia naturală să-i contestăm pentru a ne elibera din umbra lor. Moștenirea bătrânilor însă părem să o purtăm de bună voie și chiar ca pe o necesară conectare la originile adânci.

De ani de zile îmi spun că mă voi așeza cu bunicile mele, Liubița și Georgina, la masă, ca să îmi povestească cele auzite și răsauzite, dar și amintiri încă neîmpărtășite. Am plecat de vreme bună de lângă ele, deși cu buna Liubița am crescut, în 2005 m-am mutat în București și de atunci ajung, în medie, de două ori pe an acasă. Le văd tot mai fragile, mai nesigure, ca și cum prezența lor fizică s-ar pierde ușor-ușor într-o umbră de amintiri fugare și gata să se risipească.

În iarnă, când am fost acasă singură și am petrecut mult timp cu familia, am reușit în sfârșit să o pornesc pe buna mea să-mi spună despre copilăria ei. Din păcate, nu e ușor. Atunci a vorbit parcă mai în voie, și-a găsit firmiturile de pâine ale unei vârste poate mult uitate și, ușor-ușor, când mai poticnit, când mai limpede, am adunat câteva ceva de la ea. După ce am plecat mi-a zis mama la telefon că îi povestea ei de îi facea capul calendar și că tot spune că o să se apuce să le scrie, cum am îndemnat-o.
Acum în vară mi-a fost mult mai greu să o mișc pe buna mea la vorbă. Se fâstâcea, își cerea scuze că face greșeli de gramatică, dacă nu a fost mai mult la școală, că nu-și găsește cuvintele așa cum ar vrea. La un moment dat a intervenit și mama, moment în care bunica s-a lenevit și a început, ca un copil, să tot tragă cu ochiul la televizor și să caute să scape. M-am și zburlit puțin la ea, zicându-i că dacă vrea să-mi lase ceva să-mi lase amintirile ei, că nu vreau nimic altceva.

Când am invitat-o pe ea să continue, fața mamei s-a luminat ca și cum s-ar fi așezat în fața unui foc nevăzut, care-i încălzea obrajii și-i strălucea pe retină. Contactul cu propria copilărie a adus în privirile ei, la fel ca în ale buncii astă-iarnă, un fel de dulceață caldă și moale, un fel de întoarcere asupra unei comori interioare, a unei vetre care încă păstrează un pumn de jar. Mă intrigă acel mod în care amintirile ne aprind, în timp ce descompun realitatea în franjuri prin care vedem ceea ce vrem să alegem, și nu mai suntem nici acum, nici atunci, ci într-un fel de interspațiu și timp din afară, nedefinit și fără limite.

Încă nu m-am lămurit dacă bătrânica din centrul Clujului m-a făcut să mă gândesc la propriile mele bunici, la visele tuturor bătrânilor noștri, la așteptările lor care s-au năruit, care s-au dat peste cap sau care s-au pierdut printre amintiri. Dar știu că modul în care văd viața bunicilor mei se apropie foarte mult de cum privesc țara asta, o Românie nesigură, mereu pe muchie, mereu cu șanse pierdute și cu generații de sacrificiu în lanț, una după cealaltă.
Totuși, sunt destule pe care trebuie să le scot de sub vălul unei a doua pleoape, interioare, și să le văd mai de la distanță, mai ca un privitor care nu simte nevoia să compeseze toate pierderile moștenite și duse mai departe. Atunci aș putea fi chiar eu cea care schimbă tonul, fundalul, direcția.

Între timp, poveștile bunicilor trebuie descoperite și păstrate ca marcaje, semnale, avertismente. Fără moștenirea asta, s-ar putea să ne trezim că tot ce facem este să căutăm să compensăm, să scuzăm sau să împlinim ceea ce s-a întâmplat deja, dar nimeni nu a reușit să-și asume, să împace și să încheie.




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