As if the previous post isn't bad enough, yesterday brought with it another shock. The same intrepid friend and I decided to take another walk, this time around L.Catargiu. It is full of such beautiful architecture from Berindei to Cerchez and always does one's soul good. Or so we thought.
Halfway up the boulevard, we turned off on to str. G.Manu and fell upon number 7, the Muzeul Spiru Haret. I had no idea this was it for I have never been there, never actually seen it except via the superbly written and very upsetting blogpost written a few months ago by Silvia Colfescu. Suddenly, there we were in front of it.
We realised only when we saw the plaque (see below left) which had been scratched and vandalised in an effort to hide the name. The steps were destroyed, the windows all broken, frames wrenched off, grafitti all over the walls, dirt and grime everywhere you looked. If you are reading this and you live in Bucharest, then you will immediately be able to visualise the tragedy of neglect and destruction of which I write, for one now sees it all over the place, particularly in old and beautiful villas once loved.
We stood outside taking photos for a while and just as we were moving on, a car stopped at the gate, locked by padlock and chain. What did we want, the man wanted to know. He heard my accent and addressed me very politely in French. I asked if he lived there. No, he answered, but he parked his car there, had done for years, and if we wanted to go in, he would take us. We didn't need a second invitation.
He explained that it was a terrible sadness to see the house in such a state of appalling neglect and that gypsies had taken it over. I hoped that he would not attract their wrath for allowing us in, but he assured us that his daughter was a policewoman, the gypsies knew this perfectly well, and left him and his car alone. He asked me to write about the state of the house, to call for international condamnation as to what was happening to Romania's heritage. He explained how the gypsies had been 'placed' there to help the house on its path of total destruction so that an office block could be built there instead. The house next door (a Cerchez from 1911), he added, had more luck for it was owned by businesses. But this one...alas. Very little noise had been made about it. It was shameful, unimaginable that this could be happening under his very nose, and he was powerless to do anything to stop it. I promised I would write this post, distribute it widely with the photos he had allowed us to take and to publically thank him for his kindness and compassion for a dying part of Romanian history. Thank you.
As we were leaving, we passed an open window filled with a gypsy sporting the biggest burta I have ever seen in my life. "You had better be nice to this house" I told him sardonically. "Oh, yes, very nice," he replied. Indeed. Their care could be seen widely through the open windows we managed to aim our cameras into: graffiti, destruction, filth, broken glass, more filth, splintered wooden door frames, yet more filth.
Clearly, he sent two women out to see what we were about. I refused to speak any Romanian at all. Let them make an effort for once in their lives. I asked if they lived in the house. They said they did and were, in fact, the legal owners. Wow, I said, what an incredible house. How lucky you are. Did you win the lottery? A smirk. Did you know it was a museum of a great Romanian? They said they did for they were his family. Oh yes. Didn't you know, Bucharesteans, that the mutilated Muzeul Spiru Haret is being cared for by Spiru Haret's 'daughter' and 'niece'? You didn't? Check out their photos here. You can see the family resemblance of course. As a friend commented last night, "the moustache is the same..."
Nothing has been done to stop the destruction of this incredibly lovely old house. The frescoes on the upper floor ceilings exist no more. The floor boards have been ripped up and sold by its occupants, the 'legal owners', so they say, of the house. They are known by everyone to be there and they are allowed to stay. However, we, the general respectful public, are kept out by chains and padlocks. Is this normal? Spiru Haret, a man who has statues, streets and squares named after him, not to mention a crater on the Moon, is abused post-mortem by the constant and wilful massacre of his house - a house which is testimony to his brillliance and his contribution not only to Romanian society, but to the world.
How can a minister of culture allow this to be? Does Romania's bright minister of tourism (for this involves her just as much) even know who Spiru Haret is? See PUZ modification HERE signed by Patrascu in 2006 and another HERE signed by Stefan Damian, the man who did so much terrible damage to Bucharest almost single-handedly (though he has impressive competition today)....
What about the PMB? The European Parliament? The Romanian Academy? The Writers' Union? The Scientists' Union? Why are they so quiet? Is this what it means to be a figurehead in Romania? Gypsies ripping up your home, plundering, stealing, selling, fouling, destroying?
It's no secret that the company who owns the house, Invest Lux Construct (behind which are various owners of a multitude of nationalities from Lebanese to Romanian), was established in 2005 and registered in 2009 with a capital of..... 1.000 RON. The administrator is Cristina-Nicoleta Flutur found at either bd.Ion Mihalache 152, bloc 6, scara C. ap. 94, sectorul 1 or str, Barbu Lautaru 2, also in sectorul 1 (phone: 0212236336). See more info on her here if you can, for it makes for worrisome reading. She has very powerful connections and today, as I write, is granted all the approvals she wants for building glass eye-sores. Invest Lux Construct bought the house in 2005 for 1.4 million euros. The 'company' has, apparently, zero income and zero employees. Make of that what you will. It is common knowledge that Invest Lux Construct plans to build a seven storey building behind the house - maybe they already have but I didn't notice in my state of horror. Check out THIS article for more poignant information concerning Invest Lux Construct and the position of the Ministry of Culture explained by the MC's press advisor, Radu Enache. It is explosive indeed and SHOULD BE READ.
I have run out of words. There is a petition HERE for you to sign. Articles have appeared in Hotnews, Dilema Veche, B365, Adevarul (see also HERE), Presa Online, Saptamana Financiara plus a great number of sites and blogs including Pro_Do_Mo, Reptilianul, Jurnalul.ro and Gamezplayi. Go read them for yourself. Just look at the photographs especially HERE... they are sickening. And so what? What has that achieved? The gypsies are still there - have been for two years, they told me. How? Why? Because it is convenient. Because this is how things are done in Bucharest. Disgusting. Repugnant. Illegal.
Only in Romania... for no other country in Europe would tolerate such a stain on its history, such an offense, such an insult. No other. The disrespect and indecency of such a purposeful act of vandalism, knowingly desecrating a sanctuary of thought and brilliance is so low, so revolting. And why? For the God of Bucharest. Money, of course. In its place, the office complex will shoot up, just like the odious monstrosity next door to it. May those responsible who could stop this and do not, rot. With every visit I make to Bucharest, my heart sinks a little deeper, the hope dissipates a little further and the tears flow a little harder. My city dies with each season change and the people within it observe what their indifference and inertia has reaped - or not as the case may be, for many see nothing at all... That is the tragedy. A country with no soul is dead and the smell of necrosis is overwhelming.
- Many thanks to V for allowing me use of his photographs taken yesterday and Florina for her great detective work.