Posts Tagged village

Those summer nights

Do you remember those summer nights, each of them holding a secret call, a whisper floating at the atomic level or just surrounding everything in an invisible pulsating halo? For me, those were the nights of my late childhood and teenage years. There was always something out there in air, something untouchable and yet so close, like an imperceptible flutter of wings.
No wonder I ended up a night person, a strange kind of a night bird, with the bad habits of roaming the internet and sometimes just looking at the ceiling and my mind drifting away. Less now, oh, the age… (laziness is what’s killing me, I could do so much better with reading when I’m in my night mood, actually).

What made me go back to those crazy nights was Depeche Mode and all the rest of the music in my early-middle 90’s. Or maybe it’s just the rain that poured down today which made me crave for summer.
1991 was one of the best years I’ve ever had. The group of friends I had back in my parents’ village became a brotherhood, we were almost never apart (except for school days lol) and nobody was dating another in the gang. Years before, we used to get together a big bunch of kids, sometimes even 20 of us, and play hide and seek at sunset until it got dark and our parents were shouting at us to get home alright or else. It was much more fun when nobody could really see whom they were seeking and they’d more or less have to guess. To make it even harder, we used to swap our jumpers or cardigans so that the seeker couldn’t tell us apart. If they made a mistake, they just had to seek again. Quite a harsh task, when we were more than 15 playing they would for sure be the seeker for the night, no chance to pass it to another.

But then we grew up a little, we started dating among the gang, there was even this one guy who dated all of the girls and later on, in the coming years, we’d just sit down for a chat in a lazy hot summer afternoon and have a laugh about how it was when he first invited one us to dance or the first kiss. No, it wasn’t just us girls chatting, it was with him as well. He turned, from early Don Juan, into the charming best friend (I know you can hardly believe it possible, I wouldn’t either).
In 1991 I was studying to pass the admission exam into High School. I did study hard, but I did have lots of fun as well. Saturday and Sunday afternoons were for the brotherhood, and in that year the local pubs weren’t so popular yet, I can hardly remember if any was really open, and yes, I know we were under 18, but it was acceptable back then and we did used to hang out, a year later, in the pub which was also the local disco.

The afternoons in that golden year would just catch us chatting and always doing something silly funny. I remember one rainy Sunday we sheltered under the roof of one house in the street were we usually gathered, the Maths teacher and his wife, Geography teacher, lived there, and she came out to feed the geese which were roaming in the street as well, and she saw us. She laughed, saying “are you soaking wet or is the roof helping at all?”, and then adding she could hear us earlier, she didn’t mind, it just amused her. Well, truth is nobody ever chased us away.
The summer came. That blessed summer when my dad made for us a table for playing tennis, and it filled half of the yard between the main house and the small summer kitchen, sheltered by clinging vines which kept a cooling shadow over. We used to play for hours and the recorder in the hallway fed us all our favourite music. Two bands distinctively stood out: Depeche Mode and Roxette.

It was that year that I had my first coffee sickness as well, this is such a silly story. My mum asked us all if we fancied coffee, we were like 10 kids in the yard, I mean 14-16 years old at the time, and we did all wanted a cup. Thing is most of us didn’t finish their coffees. Me and a friend, O., had a brilliant idea: why don’t we finish it for them? Genius! 20 minutes later, who was having strong heart bits, headache and felt the ground running from under their feet? Me and O. Mum took us inside and made us lay down for half an hour or so, the heroes of the day.

When my dad brought the first video player we watched all the worse action movies of the 90’s, Van Damme was our favourite, we all loved karate action and the good universal soldier hero. There was only one rule: we had to be nice and quiet whilst inside. We all crammed into that small lounge, some on the sofas, some of us on the floor, watched the movie, and then went out quietly.
Every now and then there would be visitors in my parents’ house, either for my father, who’s the priest in the village, or for my mother, who studied alternative medicine practice in the early 90’s and people would come for advice and Chinese massage treatment. In order to get out of the small lounge we had to pass through another room, where my parents would usually sit down with their visitors. They would ask if we’re the priest’s and his wife’s children, and my parents would say yes, we are. One, two… four, five. When it got to six the people couldn’t usually hold their amazement anymore, spared by my mum’s or dad’s explanation: the whole gang was their soul children.

One year later, at the beginning of summer, I got my first boyfriend whom I was in a relation with for four years and the whole brotherhood broke. Not because of me, come on, I wasn’t the only one getting steady. My neighbour became my best friend again (she was never part of the gang), I used to hang out a lot with her when 12, and her cousin was now that steady boyfriend of mine.
It’s fun now to remember all these. Listening to some Euro dance music from that decade, I don’t really remember all my romantic butterflies and projections and plans to get married to my one and only true love (oh, well, I went to college and he turned out not to be the love of my life after all). It just gives me that feeling of utter silliness, of just sticking my nose out in the real world of grown-ups and thinking that having one or two glasses of alcohol and smoking at every Saturday night disco was sooooo cool.
All the silly dreams, pains and suffering of the teenage years seem like sweet madness, the haze of a light and curious heart, and the restlessness of an idealistic mind meeting the world of grown-ups pragmatism.

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The man behind the crystals. Forgotten Romania II

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In the previous post I’ve started to tell about the trip I took on May to Ocna de Fier, together with my brother, sister-in-law and the kids. Driving there was really pleasant as it took us through the fields of my old Banat, the region where I was born and raised, into the hills of Bocșa. While a student in the University, whenever I travelled in that area I got excited as soon as I saw the wavy landscape, the forests, the greener shades as we were approaching the mountains.

Now the mountains weren’t out target, but this hidden village I’ve always known of, but never really sure how far or close it was from Bocșa. I had no idea Ocna de Fier was really just 15 minutes driving. I say 15 as the road is in a quite bad shape and you wouldn’t want to speed up in the forest anyway.

 

Getting close, you first reach the old iron mine, a gloomy site, you’d expect miners ghosts to flicker in the shadow of the deserted buildings. Then the countryside houses, aligned on the valley, actually look like mushrooms growing up a hidden path in the forest. You can see people aren’t very rich here, but there is something homely in the simplicity of the landscape, something welcoming, despite the silence that only the fowls in the yard are braking with their „cock-a-doodle-doo”, softer now just before the rain would start.

We drove up the road and I was a bit nervous we might miss the house with the crystal exhibition. On the other hand, I guess I was just excited, as I knew we could always stop, knock at somebody’s door and ask. Didn’t have to do that, as we stopped and asked a man on the street and he gave us precise directions: “Just drive forward and you’ll see it on the left side, before the Village Hall”. Easy, isn’t it?

 

We were there in about two minutes. Couple of days before my mum tried to ring and let the owner of the museum know that we were going. Constantin Gruescu exhibits his collection of stones in his own house. Well, his phone line was disturbed and we couldn’t reach him, but we were lucky that day, he was at home. And his house is always open to guests.

Finally meeting mister Gruescu face to face I could but only admire his energy, his open heart and his dedication. Growing up in a family with a mining tradition, he turned out to be passionate about rocks and minerals since childhood. I don’t know if he was really into mining at all, all I know is that he never worked in a mine, although he didn’t get a higher education either. In the times when he grew up it wasn’t easy for a young man to study. Still, he went to primary and secondary school for 7 years and then got professional qualification, three different courses, started to work at the age of 19, in 1943, as part of the quality control team in the Steel Factories in Reșița.This continued to be his job until 1977 (the year I was born!), when he got pensioned.

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 Mister Gruescu opened this museum in 1945, when he was only 21, and dedicated his life to studying the minerals, collecting them and showing them to everybody who comes to visit. The communist times came and passed, without causing much harm, his collection wasn’t confiscated or “donated” to the state institutions, although over the years he donated for    real many of the rocks and crystals to be hosted by bigger museums. Still, there is nothing    like just driving there, shaking his hand and listening to him for over an hour while you look    at the violet, golden or milky white facets, giving a special glow, of the crystals that seem to    have grown in that very room.

   On the right side, as you enter, you’ll find a big rock which is made of three generation of crystals, each grown in a different age, each by a new process of crystallization. You can see the different groups by their size and orientation. Mister Gruescu encouraged us to hold our hands palms down, above the big rock, and feel its energy. He said each person gets a different feeling, for some it’s a cold vibe, for others is warm, some feel tingling in their toes and arms or whole body, some become agitated. Well, the energy of the crystals is a much argued esoteric belief, although they have been used for centuries in alternative healing techniques. There is some scientific truth, as to crystals vibrating to the pitch that is emitted by a source close to them. For the sceptical, they at least give a quite beautiful sight.

 

The owner of this wonder room of minerals doesn’t practice crystal healing himself, although he could easily do. The massive rocks that he has seem to be taken out of an extra-terrestrial landscape. Some of them really reminded me of Stargate SG-1, to which I’m a forever fan. Some of them just sparkle imagination, some are poisonous, like the realgar rock, which contains arsenic and it’s thought to have been used by the cardinals in the old times whenever they needed to… send somebody to heaven (or hell, who could really tell?).

One of the stories he’s told us stands out for its ironic twist. During the former dictator’s rule, each County Council would send a gift to the Ceaușescu couple on a certain occasion (probably one of the many they were celebrated as the heroes of the Romanian people…). Mister Gruescu has been asked to help with two crystals for that year, which would have been gracefully presented, as gifts from Caraș-Severin. He donated a violet crystal for the dictator and a pink quartz for his wife. A month after the celebration, the quartz came back. The County Council official explained they couldn’t finish the case for it in time, so they didn’t want to make fools of themselves and decided to send something else. Years later, a visitor who had a position as a staff serving the dictators at that particular event said the truth was somewhat different. Ceaușescu wasn’t impressed or bothered by the crystal gift, he was merely indifferent as he passed through the room and was presented with what every county sent him. His wife, however, took a look at the quartz and overreacted, shouting “What’s this crap? Take this stupid thing out of my sight, I don’t want to see it!”  It is thought that she couldn’t stand the good energy of the crystal, which came into conflict with her really murky vibration, one of an egotistical woman driven only by her thirst for power.

 

The truth is that listening to Mr. Gruescu, now 90, can make you feel like you are in crystal heaven. His passion, his generosity and his open heart are the things that make this museum live. There is no fee to visit it. Everybody is welcome and everybody can make a small donation. When we left some money, he said it’s a bit much and asked us to take some crystals he had for sale, take them as gifts. Going there I had in my mind to record him talking about the museum and his experience with collecting and studying the minerals over years. He even discovered a formation unique in the world, called Macla Gruescu, and which looks like a cross, never found anywhere else before or after. But his modesty came first: I could see him a bit embarrassed with talking in front of my laptop, so just gave up the whole idea. Instead, I thought of writing this post in English and posting the photos we’ve taken there.

 

Funny enough, on the way back home both me and my sister-in-law fell in the line of duty. I got so sleepy I couldn’t keep my eyes open while my brother was talking to me, and she just fell asleep in the back and we had to leave her there while stopping at my parents to leave the kids. Maybe it was just because of the rain. Or maybe the power of crystals completely knocked us down, taking our minds to the higher dimension of dreamless sleep.

The happy bunch

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Next to one of my favourite crystals colony

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Three generations 

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Minerals party 

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Note: None of the photos can be reposted without written permission.

@Catalina George

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