On Being Romanian
I’ve never been anything else but Romanian, nor would I ever want to be. I’m quite pleased with who I am and I know that even if I tried, I could never be something or someone else. This is not superiority, this is just acceptance. However, above pertaining to a nationality, I am human. And no matter what nationality or race we belong to, we all are just that, everything else is just… details.
I was reading this article by Vlad Mixich on Hotnews.ro yesterday and had some of my thoughts about being Romanian confirmed. The article basically condemns some of the great names in Romanian culture, who do nothing but lament about the current state in which we find ourselves as a nation and crucify our destiny as though we were damned and hated by some sort of mocking superior force to be where we are. The author thinks, just like myself, that we are doing pretty well where we are right now. Well, not great, but we could have been a lot worse considering what we’ve had to survive throughout the last century. Yes, many people here live very poorly, yes the authorities could do a lot better, but we’re working on making things better. And by “we”, I mean the young and hopeful who still believe that they can change something. Yes, many of our valuable and talented people have left for other countries, where they are paid better and are more appreciated, but some of them eventually come back here, in their home country, and start their own businesses here, teaching others what they were taught abroad.
We’re not so bad as a nation. And, living in Bucharest, I can tell you what I love about this place; I love its diversity. I love the young people who, just like me, came here to study, holding their hopes high and dreaming about changing the world. I love the orange hair that some girls have and the thick dreadlocks that bohemian boys and girls proudly hold on their heads. I love the colors in people’s clothes, I love the accidental smiles on the faces of those talking on the phones or handsfree devices, as though they are laughing to themselves, on the street. I love the noise and the queues in front of theaters, cinemas and museums on various occasions. I love the accents that differ from one person to another, depending on where they came from. I love hidden places in Bucharest, with old houses covered in ivy, with chipped walls, that bleed with the reddish dust of naked bricks. I love small and unknown small streets, with archaic names and vintage charisma. I love old people that stop and warn you about dangerous things and tell you beautiful stories…
I don’t love it when I see frowning faces, beggars and stray dogs on every corner. I don’t like it when I’m verbally abused or touched on the streets just because I am a girl. I don’t like watching my back whenever I go home later and not feeling safe, even in the center of the city. I don’t like the fact that beautiful old buildings, architectural works of art, are crumbling apart in front of us. I don’t like the fact the the elderly are forgotten and thrown into miserable apartments where they are left to die of famine and lack of affection. I don’t like the children whose parents never showed them the beautiful things in life or warned them about the bad ones, because they didn’t have time or because they left abroad in order to make money…
I especially don’t like it when we do nothing but complain about the way things are and the way the authorities deal or don’t deal with major issues. I would love it if we actually began using that wasted energy in order to change things. I know that things can and will be different. And if we stop wallowing in our own misery and start believing that we can do better, maybe it won’t be that long before that long-awaited change will eventually take place.
I wrote this in English so that someone looking up Romania or Bucharest will find and understand it. Romania has wonderful places and people, it is definitely a country worth visiting and reading about. We might be making a lot of mistakes, but our newly found democracy is only 20 years old. So, excuse us if we’re not that good at it; we’re still working on improving it.