12 juin 2008

Mihai Eminescu - 'Now far I am from you'

EminescuMihai Eminescu (January 15, 1850 – June 15, 1889), born Mihail Eminovici, was a late romantic Romanian poet, unanimously celebrated as the greatest and most representative of his country. Nicolae Iorga, the Romanian historian, considered Eminescu the godfather of the modern Romanian language. 

Eminescu achieved a comprehensive, penetrating and visionary synthesis of the old Thracians, Dacian custom and Latin traditions that have merged over the past two millenia into an original Romanian cultural pattern, extended over the Carpathians to the Danube and the Black Sea.

Eminescu had only twenty years in which to fully accomplish his work (1864-1883), but in this short time he influenced Romanian consciousness deeply, promoting ideals of social equity, the preservation of national unity, independence and sovereignty and the fight for truth and beauty in both life and art.

He awoke a kind of historic self-awareness
in the Romanian people and encouraged a vision of further development - equality with the rest of the world through the sharing of tragic historical events but without ever being submissive along with an ability to build a "great future" in the intense rhythm of European culture and civilisation.

Eminescu was influenced by the work of Arthur Schopenhauer and some have suggested that his most famous poem, "Luceafarul" was based upon an older German work or the Katha Upanishad. Eminescu's poems have been translated into over 60 languages world-wide. Please visit this wonderful blog dedicated to Mihai Eminescu.

Below, one of my favourite poems:

Departe sînt de tine

Departe sunt de tine şi singur lângă foc,
Petrec în minte viaţa-mi lipsită de noroc,
Optzeci de ani îmi pare în lume c-am trăit,
Că sunt bătrân ca iarna, că tu vei fi murit.
Aducerile-aminte pe suflet cad în picuri,
Redeşteptând în faţă-mi trecutele nimicuri;
Cu degetele-i vântul loveşte în fereşti,
Se toarce-n gându-mi firul duioaselor poveşti,
Ş-atuncea dinainte-mi prin ceaţă parcă treci,
Cu ochii mari în lacrimi, cu mâni subţiri şi reci;
Cu braţele-amândouă de gâtul meu te-anini
Ţi parc-ai vrea a-mi spune ceva... apoi suspini...
Eu strâng la piept averea-mi de-amor şi frumuseţi,
În sărutări unim noi sărmanele vieţi...
O! glasul amintirii rămâie pururi mut,
Să uit pe veci norocul ce-o clipă l-am avut,
Să uit, cum dup-o clipă din braţele-mi te-ai smult...
Voi fi bătrân şi singur, vei fi murit de mult!

Now far I am from you

Now far I am from you, before my fire alone,

And read again the hours that so silently have gone,

And it seems that eighty years beneath my feet did glide,

That I am old as winter, that maybe you have died.

The shadows of the past swift stream across life’s floor

The tale of all times, nothings that now exist no more;

While the wind with clumsy fingers softly fumbles at the blind

And sadly spins the fibre of the story in my mind…

I see you stand before me in a mist that does enfold,

Your eyes are full of tears and your fingers long and cold;

About my neck caressing your arms you gently ply

And it seems you want to speak to me, yet only sigh.

And thus I clasp entranced my all, my world of grace,

And both our lives are joined in that supreme embrace…

Oh, let the voice of memory remain for ever dumb,

Forget the joy that was, but that nevermore will come,

Forget how after an instant you thrust my arms aside,

For now I’m old and lonely, and maybe you have died.

[Translated by the incomparable Corneliu M. Popescu]

Posté par Sarah in Romania à 21:31 - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]

FootballFootball rules, jokes for free

Nine O'Clock, issue 4201, p. 1, 12/06/2008

The European football gala has kicked off and it shows its capacity daily for making a show. Millions of fans await evening after evening for the spectacle with its emotions, dramas and joys brought to them on the small screen between the 16 national teams who qualified for EURO 2008. It has hardly started and some of us already wonder: what shall we do when it's all over?

Although we speak about football, we shall not speak of results. We will leave this for the pages dedicated to that, enjoyed by everybody. Or almost everybody. We shall discuss, to a bigger or smaller extent, the Romanian team. Not from the point of view of the results, but from the perception. And not only that. That and the country Romania.

It's been eight years since Romania last participated in the finals of the European Championship.
That's time to forget some of the “asperities” brought forth before and during the big confrontations between opponents from the group. If it were only the “teasing”, that would not be such a big deal. But as Romanians, the major international competitions – and especially in football, the sport where the players are more or less used to respect – insult us not necessarily as a team, but as a whole nation.

We remember a British joke posted on the internet from several years ago which presented some theoretical game schemes of the teams. Brazil, Germany, France, etc. – all of them had scenes on the pitch. But what was Romania doing? Its bit referred to watching the championship on TV. The Romanians laughed but did not react. Actually it was true, the national team had not qualified for the final.
“Jokes” come up all the time. That of the Virgin Media left us with a rather bitter taste. While Italy, France and The Netherlands were presented with the Colosseum, the Eiffel Tower or a specific Dutch landscape, Romania's leg was pulled. On the screen appeared several fat men with thick gold chains and huge crosses. The Romanian Embassy in London was presented with an official apology and the clip was withdrawn. But the image was created. The Romanians are rather rough people, with… broad faces and an opulent way of showing their wealth. We called the presentation an obvious exaggeration. But, at the first match of Romania in the EURO 2008, along with France, the cameras focused on a person in the stands from that respective background…

We know this already, those from the Dambovita banks. The nouveau-riches enjoying a ride in the biggest SUVs on the market, complete with defying look. These are things we see at home. However, the image of Romanians abroad is immediately caught and amplified. Wherefrom also comes the opinion of the Western citizen, not at all favourable towards Romanians, who have just so recently joined the EU. However, if we are told not to be racists (on the Romanian TV channels the ethnic affiliation of the person, whoever he is, is no longer mentioned, he is only a Romanian citizen), in exchange tactics are used to characterize us negatively at any cost. Between “Roma” and “Romanian” the difference is not huge when it comes to spelling.

There is one more cartoon in which a beggar on a street corner is assimilated with the Romanian in general, or the advert for a car brand in which the car “Romania” overturns at the slightest touch. We should not forget, both Italy and The Netherlands overturn as easily. Less easily does the French car. Then again, these are absolutely benign jokes.

When we believed that we had got rid of (let’s say slightly malicious) jokes, the surprise comes from Israel. As the daily “Gardianul” informs us, the Israelis from Eshed Production are those who continue the series of ironies against Romanians publishing two animated episodes on Internet. The hint at Romania is more than obvious, the so-called players dressed in yellow and playing against France and Italy. These two episodes show a Romanian team consisting of seven players, two of them short, big-bellied and with moustaches, a big woman with big breasts, an old man who leans all the time against a grave stone, a fair-haired child and a goat. One thing is certain: the end of the second film finds the team behind bars after violence on the field… Is this a compliment to Romanians?

The respective cartoons fall prey to serious confusion, intended or not. They do not mention the name 'Romania', but the state “Kossovocho” (a clear hint at the newly proclaimed state Kosovo) that Bucharest has not recognized officially. I have seen many short films and, quite shamefully, I did not understand the clue. The only perceptible thing is the irony against Romanians, even if they are presented under another name.
When all's said and done, we are rather confused. When Europeans, and not only them, get bored, their fun is jokes against Romanians. Some of them, we admit, have a grain of truth which is far from honouring us, namely the behaviour of our fellow citizens abroad. Others simply border the absurd. Maybe we should also joke about others. After all, nobody is perfect.

PS: The French TV Channel M6 just did its part of the job, insulting Romanians directly.

by Victor Lupu

Posté par Sarah in Romania à 01:07 - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]

11 juin 2008

French TV station M6 fined for calling Romanian team "hen thieves"

de Radu Rizea HotNews.ro

Miercuri, 11 iunie 2008, 14:50 English | Top News

The French authority for radio and TV regulations and survey decided to impose sanctions against the M6 TV station, which broadcast live the Romania - France (0:0) football game, given the fact that a journalist referred to the Romanian national team as "hen thieves" (Fr.: "voleurs de poules").

Journalist Dominique Grimault said during the "100% foot" show that the Romanian players are nothing but petty thieves. The CSA (the authority for radio and TV regulations and survey) reacted promptly, describing the language as offensive and discriminatory.

The game reached an audience of 9.6 million viewers, which is an absolute first for M6.

Posté par Sarah in Romania à 21:32 - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]

09 juin 2008

Tiav Gallery

From Nine O'Clock:

Tiav_gallery_PeisajTiav Gallery to open a new exhibition room

published in issue 4198, p. 12, 09/06/08

The Foundation SOCIETA Club UNESCO will open a new exhibition room at the Tiav Gallery in the old part of Bucharest (end of str. Cauzasilor, sector 3, just north of Bd. Unirii, off Mihai Voda) on Wednesday 11th June. A group of artists both from Romania and abroad will have permanent exhibitions here. Among them are Letitia Oprisan, Mircia Dumitrescu, Lorin Lucan, Aurel Pastrascu, Radu Dumitru, Rares Pantea, Andrei Romoceanu, Iulia Lucan, Emilia Kiss, Dumitru Cosma, Daniela Trandafir, Giuseppe Lisciotto – Italy, Marc Huet Zoro – USA.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday: from 10.30 and 19.00; Mondays: 14.00 and 19.00.  Closed Sundays.
The opening of the new room at the Tiav Gallery will take place with an inauguration ceremony and piano recital by Leonard Mocanu.

See more: http://www.tiavgallery.ro/ A mixed bunch of styles but maybe worth a visit?  Of course I will be working Wednesday 11th June til 20h30, but do go, my Bucurestean friends, and tell me all about it. xox 


Posté par Sarah in Romania à 22:05 - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]

08 juin 2008

Sunday Morning Walk With Eugenia

Dear Everybody,

Happy Sunday! I've just come back from a lovely walk around the Kiselef area with Eugenia. Nicole sent me an album with some gorgeous houses, some of which were in this neighbourhood, and I was keen to go and see them. Eugenia was just as keen, and we'd already had a lengthy discussion regarding the Toma Stelian House. So, this morning we hit the road.

P6080004Wending our way down str. Bruxelles and str. Washington, we foundP6080005 ourselves on Piata Quito. Flori and I had spent a lot of time here trying to fathom a strange looking monument of four sculpted columns crowned with golden eagles and a globe inscripted with signs of the zodiac. I'd completely misunderstood the symbolism at the time and Eugenia was enthusiastic to educate me. The sculpted columns depicted not an Indian squaw with long plaits resembling Pocahontas to a tee at all, but a peasant from Moldavia (cow's head is the mascot of Moldavia). The chiselled man, I'd been sure, was a second world was soldier. Not at all. He represents a peasant too. He's not holding a gun as I had imagined, but an instrument a little like a very long flute used for calling his sheep. The branches are from an olive tree, symbolic ofP6080006 peace. The angel above him is visible on all four columns and represents the Guardian Angel of Aviators. She was clearly having an 'off' day, as this memorial is for Mircea Zorileanu, 1884-1919, an aviator killed in action. Aeroplanes are all over the columns and I hadn't noticed them before. It was built in 1937. There is no plaque, and therefore I hadn't had any idea of the reason for such a strange monument. Eugenia, however, polished the marble with her foot and there was the name M. Zorileanu. Just goes to show! I was so glad to have understood this memorial as it had puzzled Flori and I for such a long time. I have walked past it often, wondered and wondered. Now I know, and instead of finding it strange, I like it very much. The eagles are not a symbol of the Third Reicht or of occupation as I had supposed. They represent aviators.

P6080013We continued our stroll along the shaded streets approaching the elegant SoseauaP6080017 Kiselef. A horror was close by. The beautiful Ausnit house (architect Louis Blanc?) that became the Embassy of Argentina after World War 2 and is now the administrative mansion of Gigi Becali, the soit-disant politician. Such a beautiful house has been defaced by gold leaf and utter, unthinkable kitsche. Red carpet from the pavement leading up to the majestic front steps is one thing, but the horrendous and aberrant crucifix in the garden is the cherry on the cake to make you want to reach for a bucket. It overlooks bd. Aviatorilor and was, I heard, placed there just before the Nato Summit, probably to P6080014impress the VIPs. This is an Orthodox country, and the crucifix is not a symbol of the faith. It is a huge scream of ignorance and blasphemy, offensive and vulgar. I had wanted to check it out as I'd driven past it on the way to work, but there was never any time. I almost wish I hadn't bothered. Ugh. How sad that this beautiful, elegant house should be turned into a Barbie mansion of tasteless gaudiness.

Fortunately, to assuage our disgust, we could drink in the lovely house oP6080021f Elena Lupescu,P6080019 P6080020mistress and eventual wife of King Carol II. It stands on the corner of Aviatorilor and Aleea Modrogan, and is surrounded by a gorgeous park. Today, it is the Democratic Party Head Quarters. About Elena Lupescu, Nicole my history teacher (!) and rechercheuse extraoooooordinaire says the following: "She was née Gruenberg, father jewish, mother catholic,  King Carol II's  lover for many, many years. As you know, he abdicated in 1940 and left with many precious paintings that belonged to the national museum, among them an El Greco.They settled in Estoril, a magnificent resort in Portugal where they spent  a leasurely life, ignorant of the war. They married  in 1947, in Brazil and lived happily ever after; he died in 1957 (not sure) and she followed much later, in 1977." So now you know everything I do. Thank you, Nicole, as always.

On to Kiselef, via str. Ion Mincu, we passed in front of the Doina P6080024Restaurant, a gorgeous piece of architecture. I'm hoping someone can tell me a bit ofP6080025 history concerning this elegant house built in typical Roumanian style (pix left).

Across the road, the house of the politician Tache Ionescu -P6080026 remember him (pic right)? He had another house in what is now str. Tache Ionescu between Pta Lahovary and Bd. Magheru.

A little further along, the target of our walk, the Toma Stelian House. The caretaker was P6080029quite adorable. I explained that I was a journalist interested in Roumanian architecture, and could I look around (this ruse often works!). He was genuinely sorry to tell me that a conference was under wayP6080028 inside, and that due to the high security and TV cameras, he'd be very happy to show me around if I came back in twenty minutes or so. Eugenia tried not to splutter with laughter. Anyway, said the caretaker, as long as the politicians were having their meeting, photos were forbidden anyhow... Eugenia was very attached to this gorgeous house. She had spent many hours here as a child, when it was a museum. I don't think she really wanted to go inside now that it was the PSD head quarters, and all the beautiful exhibits were at the Museum of Art Collections on cal. Victoriei. I'll come back another time alone now that I know the caretaker will give me a tour. In the garden is an ugly statue of the head of Eminescu. It has no connection whatsoever with the style of the house, and sadly the defunct poet is devoid of respect and elegance here.

P6080009It was time to return to Pta Dorobantilor and go our separate ways, Eugenia on towards str. Bruxelles, and me home for Andra and her mum, visiting me for tea at 5pm.

It was such a nice morning. I would like to have a bit more info. on the architects, history of these houses and their old occupants. As soon as I find them, I'll add them to this post.

In the meantime, enjoy the Sunday afternoon!

Thank you Eugenia! What a nice way to spend a Sunday.

Love, Sarah xox

Posté par Sarah in Romania à 15:06 - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]

07 juin 2008

Welcome Home, King Mihai.

From the Herald Tribune

King_Mihai_at_PelesBUCHAREST, Romania: The Romanian government said Thursday it would return a castle and other confiscated property to former King Michael.

Peles castle was built in the mountain resort of Sinaia in the late 19th century by Romania's first German-born king, Carol of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. It was confiscated by the former Communist regime after Michael abdicated in 1947. The nearby Pelisor and Foisor palaces also will be returned.

Michael, 85, hailed the return of his castle, a place where he spent most of his childhood.

P5300114"This is not just about returning a possession, but also an act of moral and historical reparation," he said in aP5300118 statement. He added that the castle, which is well preserved and is one of Romania's top tourist attractions, would remain forever a museum, and would never be used for commercial purposes.

The former king is the last living European leader who was in power during WWII.

The government has agreed in principle to buy the Peles castle back from the former king, with a memorandum to be signed next week. The royal family wants to use the Pelisor palace as its headquarters, but parts of it will remain a museum.

Michael and his daughter, Princess Margarita, have been acting as goodwill ambassadors in recent years, supporting Romania's efforts to join the European Union in 2007.

P5300121Romania has passed legislation to return property seized by Communist-P5300117era authorities to its former owners.The government and Michael initially reached a deal in 2005 in which the former king would be paid €30 million (US$40 million) instead of regaining the Peles castle, but a court invalidated it, ruling that Michael could not be given special treatment. Michael's representatives have said he would sell the castle to the state for the same price.

Last year, the government returned the 15th century Bran Castle, knownP5300132 for its ties to medieval prince Vlad the Impaler who inspired Bram Stoker's "Dracula" novel, to other members of the former royal family.

Bran Castle will remain open to the public as a museum for the next three years, according to an agreement signed by the Culture Ministry and the new owners.

(See video: http://video.aol.com/video-detail/regele-mihai-peles/1652213727 )

Posté par Sarah in Romania à 15:59 - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]

Small update

Dear Everybody,

Following the outrageous video released by Virgin Media in UK for the Euro Cup, I scribed a rant on Wednesday night and removed it yesterday as it really WAS a stinky rant. Regret removing it now. Should have left it there. VM have since withdrawn the film, due to a massive reaction from the public, which showed Italy symbolised by the Colosseum, Germany by the Brandenberg Gates and Roumania represented by...fat gypsies complete with 'burta' and gold chains with huge Becali style crosses on the end. I was so horrified, disgusted.... The symbol of Roumania is surely the Ateneum, is it not? Or the rolling hills and monasteries of Bucovina, the Danube Delta with its magnificent wildlife, Bran Castle perhaps or Peles, the majestic mountains of the Carpati range? No wonder racism against Roumanians continue in the west with idiots like Virgin Media launching such uneducated, insulting tripe. If you want to see it, here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZxqCu0deHg

VM have 'offered' an apology to those who felt 'offensed' say HotNews. As punishment they should be forced to read history books and take a month's trip to Roumania. I say punishment, as for these idiots, it seems that a cultural period would be pure purgatory. Huh. It's what they deserve. Then maybe they'll be capable of making a film which really shows off this beautiful country and its people for what it is. That would be the apology deserved and justly merited. VM don't have the brains, intelligence or sensitivity, however, to understand a darn thing. Cretins. They are going to re-edit the film...I dread to think what they will come up with next.

On to beautiful, happy seeming things. My marvellous and ever resourceful friend Nicole has introduced me to an architect and painter, Gheorghe Leahu. I don't mean REALLY introduced as in a handshake and all. No. I mean that she has sent me some of his paintings to peruse. What gorgeous watercolours. They depict the Bucharest de Alta Data, Milla's Bucuresti, and I'd like to share a few with you. Virgin Media, look and learn...

Leahu_Bookstore_on_Mosilor  Leahu_Doamnei_street_19_Leahu_Hanul_lui_ManucLeahu_Lipscani



Leahu_MitzaLeahu_Ministry_of_JusticeLeahu_VillacrosseAren't they lovely? Warm, holiday colours. They are as follows: 1) Univers Bookstore on Mosilor; 2) str. Doamnei; 3) Hanul lui Manuc; 4) str. Lipscani; 5) Old houses along the Dambovita; 6) The Russian Church, str. Ion Ghica; 7) Sutu Palas; 8) Mitza Biciclista's house; 9) Ministry of Justice; 10) Passajul Villacrosse.

Thank you so much, Nicole. Another blinder!

P6060010What else to tell you? Ah yes, went to the BookFest yesterdayP6060002 at RomExpo. Must say I was disappointed, but I hate to admit it. In this country of literary maniacs, where were they? The place was a ghost town. Okay, it was 10h30 on a Friday morning. But still. I wanted to find a book on Bellu, and all the stand owners looked at me as if I were a fruitcake. What on earth do I want one of those for? There aren't any.P6060003 Point barre... No international stalls,P6060004 everything in Roumanian, no translations, nothing on tourism, history of P6060005P6060008the country that I could find, guidebooks. There were dictionaries, though. Lots of stalls, but nothing that interested me. If I was to buy a novel it would take me so long to read (I've been reading Alice in Wonderland for three years and haven't got to the Queen of Hearts yet - it's the longest tea party in the history of Lewis Carroll), and poetry is out of the question. I bought Bacovia just to say I'd bought something, but I can't read it in its original form. Poetry is far too deep and cultural for my useless, shameful Roumanian. Maybe one day. I left to go and see Tantza with heavy heart presuming that the Food and Drink Expo had probably hauled a larger public. It's better advertised, even in RomExpo itself.

My class with Eugenia was fun. She's progressed so much that I wonder if she's swallowed a microchip. She told me all about the three Capsa brothers, about Tudor Vianu (originally Jewish who converted before the war, apparently. Antonescu realised how useful he was and left the poor man in peace, she said), Toma Stelian and a mass of other interesting people. All in English. Improvement indeed!

P6070001Took Rosie to Parcul Verdi this morning for a free run. It's a bit like Wimbledon Common there - complete with horse dung. She decided to roll in a mountain of it and had to have a bath on return to base. She still smells awful and en revanche, the whole flamin' flat smells ditto...George will come to dinner tonight (I've made a fatouch Lebanese salad and am very proud of myself!) - just hope the obnoxious affluvia has dissipated by then!

Love to you all and til the next entry,

Sarah xox

Posté par Sarah in Romania à 11:55 - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]

05 juin 2008

Update so far

Chiliman2Dear Everyone,

Lots of you have asked about the results of our mayor vote. Glad you're taking an interest even outside Roumania. Imagine how proud I was to vote for the mayor of 'my' sector...and he won! Chiliman knocked'em dead in Sector 1. Hurrah! The mayors for Sectors 2 and 5 remain the same. The fight continues for central mayor, to be voted in two weeks. A very difficult decision though since it's between Oprescu and Blaga. It'll have to be Blaga however as Oprescu as mayor is unthinkable. Diaconescu is out. It reminds me a bit of the Chirac v. Le Pen fight we had in France...one can only vote Blaga, if you see what I mean. And one can't NOT vote.

What to tell you about the week so far? Saw Tantza yesterday who was quite depressed. She's home from hospital and her leg looks much better, but her get up and go has got up and gone. Please spare her a thought.

P6020006P6020012Tuesday (I think - lost track of time) I went on a mission to find Mestrovic's BratianuP6020010 statue on bd. Dacia, not far from the Roumanian Literature Museum and opposite the German Institute. It stands in a nice square backing on to the gardens and house of the Bratianu Foundation (which does...what exactly?). Who did I see there busily snapping the same statue but Dan, Nicole and Serge's friend. In Nicole's guidebooks she was quoted that the statue was in str. B. Amzei in the courtyard of the Collections, so that was my next port of call. I hadn't covered it on Nicole Tour 1 due to Rosie being with me - there was a large number of cats roaming around and I didn't want any fur flying.

P6020020The courtyard is no longer much to speak of. What used to be cobbled gardens filled withP6020023P6020024 flowers, lawns and statues (perhaps this one?), there are now only cars and skinny though very talkative andP6020025 friendly pusscats. I did find a bust of Bratianu, however, in the hallway of the museum. The architecture of the museum, university and surrounding houses is quite lovely, and I sought shelter under a tree from the hot sun for a while to absorb it all, very glad to have returned there.

P6020027My next visit was to Mavrogheni P6020034Church off Soseaua Kiseleff next door to the Peasants Museum. Rumi thought the statue was here. As I'd never heard of it, I thoughtP6020035 I'd better go and have a nose. Delighted to have done so as it's a gorgeous church, built in the later part of the 18th century. It has a pretty garden, is quiet and an oasis of peace after the traffic on the busy Pta Victoriei nearby. There certainly wasn't any trace of anything vaguely Mestrovic-like anywhere in the gardens or the church itself. I spent quite a long time looking, then collapsed on a bench in the shade with a street dog to talk to. He didn't know anything about any statues either, but was appreciative of half a KitKat. So Rumi, if you're reading, your Bratianu is on Dacia, not in a churchyard. And very elegant it is, too.

That was my culture for the week so far.

P6040039Rebecca came in to work with Miri yesterday, who's become quite the most P6040043gorgeous, giggly baby. It was lovely to see them both. Apart from that, life at BC continues much the same. We're past the mid-term mark so it's a bit of a rush now to get the syllabus covered. Today being World Environment Day meant no photocopying (!!), so that rather slowed everything down. One of my students gave me the address of an osteopath at the Osteoclinic. I'll call him Monday and make an appointment just to meet him before I let him anywhere near my back, dodgy to say the least since Monday. The weather has been weird with ever-changing pressure which probably explains it.

The Bookfest is on at RomExpo, and I shall pop in Saturday morning on the way to Bellu - my mission for this weekend. Would you believe that I went to every bookshop on Dorobanti, this end of Stefan Cel Mare and Magheru for a book on the afore-mentioned cemetry - none anywhere. Not even Noi or Cartaresti. Not even a pamphlet. Thank heavens for Nicole and Internet! Speaking of Nicole, she's still suffering terribly from lumbago - today being Day 10 of her ordeal, with no improvement despite horse pills. Please spare her a thought too, and send her healing vibes.

Lucia has left for Geneva back Sunday afternoon, Aura's plane took off (with her in it, presumably as I have no news to the contrary) bound for Istanbul at 19h30 this evening return early July, Mary has left for Paris and Gaby is with her mum 25km from Bucharest...so the team is depleted.

And that's my news. The BC timetable has seen to it that I have no life from Monday to Thursday, and tomorrow I have cover to do for a colleague on paternity leave, plus a private lesson with Eugenia and a cup of tea with my Tantza. More as it happens.

Two sad pieces of news to share with you: Lidia in Brasov lost her beautiful black snoutzer dog Nenah this week, and Dana has just e-mailed to say her dog died this evening. How awful for them both. Losing an animal is like losing a child for those of us who either don't have any or whose children are now grown and no longer need nurturing. I remember Paul Dunn preaching at St. Paul's after the death of Norrie's dog (or maybe it was his own dog - I don't remember). He said that there is, of course, an animal heaven, full of glorious adventures, especially for dogs - bone burying and digging, cat chasing, tummy rubbing, ear scratching, rolling in lush green grass and endless good nosh. I know that this place exists for animals for they deserve it far more than we do. Infinite loyalty and goodness, trust and fidelity. Animals don't know cruelty from their own race, how to torture one another, how to double-cross or destroy lives for pleasure. For that reason, heaven is there for our wet-nosed, four legged friends. I'm quite sure of it.

Love to you all, Sarah xox

Posté par Sarah in Romania à 21:59 - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]

01 juin 2008

60 Years of Israel

P6010001Dear Everyone,P6010008

Sunday night already, and just back from the celebration for 60 years of Israel and a little time with my Lucia and George. It was a lovely evening, and albeit having to leave early and the absence of the klezmer I was so  dying to hear, the show was great and the ambience even more so. A lady sitting near us told Lucia she felt as if she was in Israel.

The foyer of the National Theatre was decked with stalls of P6010010books, travel info, school data, religiousP6010011 objects, jewellery, art, wine and there was even a group of childrenP6010002 dancing traditional folkmusic which was rather sweet.

It was a very moving show. The whole audience seemed to know every song. They were up on their feet dancing and singing, even the crumblies amongst us!

P6010013Bravo and thank you JCC for organising such a wonderful celebration. Roll on 70th birthday! Maybe I'll be able to stay long enough for the Hatikva. My flag is in a vase on top of my bookcase waiting.




Posté par Sarah in Romania à 21:53 - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]

Caru' Cu Bere

Caru_cu_bere10Caru__cu_bere6I knew Caru' cu Bere had always been a beer cavern, founded in 1875 and so-named because a beer cart delivered there...but that was the extent of my knowledge. Its history, however, is fascinating.
As the Peace treaty was being signed in Berlin in 1878, Ioan Cabasan was buying a delapidated house behind Zlatari Inn, on str. Stavropoleos in central Bucharest. At the time, much of the original Constantin Voda Inn there before had been demolished. In 1861, this was a large open area, opening onto the Stavropoleos and St. Ioan cel Mare inns. To the south, imposingly towering over the slums was Nicolae Brancoveanu’s palace, where the Mogosoaia Bridge began.

For an businessman, this space was pretty interesting, albeit a dump! Soon more substantial incentivesCaru__cu_bere7 appeared, such as the wooden panelled circus “Walhala,” alternatively used by German artists and politicians.

The constructions of “La pisica neagra” and “Baltador,” both located in the Zlatari Inn wing opening onto Stavropoleos, rapidly turned the area into promising commercial potential. In 1878, a merchant from Bacau, Dumitru Marinescu, set about building a brewery in the neighbourhood, finished in 1899 and known as the Bragadiru brewery. The owner was already looking for clients to sign sales agreements, and among them was Cabasan. Under such favourable and fool-proof circumstances to trade, the latter decided take the plunge into business. On May Day 1879, he opened a beer house in the building on str Stavropoleos and named it “La Caru cu bere” (The beer cart).
Caru__cu_bere8It was to be shared with the Capsa brothers’ company, a celebrity untouched by the passage of time. A new era began. The owners commissioned the plans for the reconstruction and redecoration of the pub to Austrian architect Siegfrid Kofezinsky. Radical reconstruction and improvement works began in 1888 - the date is mentioned in several memoirs  - and was completed eventually in 1924. The old, modest building was demolished, the central building erected, along with the cellar, the kitchen and the front part, in neo-Gothic style.

The interior is decorated in a myriad of styles, with a Byzantine influence represented in balconiesCaru__cu_bere4 and banisters,  combined with the gilded frescoes and the stained-glass windows of the Bavarian academic style. A statue of old Ghita the cellarman holding a lamp in his hand was added later at the foot of the stairs, next to the balcony. The pub features were also changed, and in 1902 it was both a beer house and a restaurant, although ads tried to reassure the old customers that “special beer from the Bragadiru brewery is served every day and evening, until after the late night shows.” Brothers Nicolae, Ignat and Victor Mircea, born in Cata village near Medias, had new ideas, French rather than German. As far as the menu was concerned, customers from Transilvania, the most numerous over the years, reminded them of the taverns at home. The Praguer sausages with horse radish, frankfurters, boeuf salad, mushy peas were very popular not to mention the always present “small bottle” of “Lacrima Cristi” wine, which old Ghita the cellarman took care of for over a quarter of a century, in the cellar. Beer drinkers were offered draught beer directly from the cask. (pic left: the bar)
“Caru cu bere” was indeed unique and its unrivalled fame wasCaru_cu_bere13 secure. Before the WW1 outbreak, one of the brothers, Victor, abandoned the family business and set up his own beer house especially for officers, under the new Military Palace inaugurated in 1912. Ads indicate that he took full advantage of the fame gained in “Caru cu bere,” and he named his pub “the Victor Mircea beer house.” A man of innovative spirit, he was also the one who took over caru_du_bere14the management of the restaurant inside the Gara de Nord (railway station). Thus, theCaru_cu_bere11 Stavropoleos pub was left with two owners only. Soon, Ignat was also to try to start his own business. With his brother Nicolae’s support and advice, he bought a tavern and costly transformed it into a beer house named “Ignat Mircea.” He too tried to take advantage of the fame that “Caru cu bere” had secured for the Mircea family. He failed however, and in Caru__cu_bere151929 the Roumanian-British bank declared him bankrupt. Unfortunately he didn’t go down by himself. As he had guaranteed his brother’s credit and the bank threatened to take away his pub, Nicolae committed suicide, falling from the second floor above the cellar, as we learn from the newspapers of the time. Bucharest locals decried the misfortune, but equally clear was their concern with the future of the famous pub. Times were testing but the company and the beer house survived.

Apparently, the new owner did not interfere with the “house customs,” which explains the popularity of the beer house among the German officers between 1942 and 1944. Then came the occupation by the barbaric Red Army and the P5310043abusive seizing of the pub in 1948-1949 (so-called “nationalisation”). The Russian officers, bothered by the “German paintings,” ordered that they be covered in red paint, so that everybody would know who the new master was, and that decorations be covered in white paint. Whether communist or apolitical, Bucaresteans were appalled by the mutilation of their beer house and shortly after Stalin’s death 1953, works were carried out to remove the red paint.

Under new ownership, the “bourgeois” tradition lost its appeal: the horse radish Praguers were replaced with the more popular Olt sausages, the mushy peas were taken off the menu.... “Caru cu bere” was perhaps doomed to become a regular Socialist beer house. Clients were still numerous however, and most of the time graced by artists. The decadence lasted untilCaru__cu_bere9_unrestored 1986, when large-scale restoration work began, coordinated by painter Nicolae Gheorghe. He restored not only its past elegance, but also its lost dignity, at the expense of proletarian clients. Today, the Caru' Cu Bere is part of the City Grill network. Murals and frescoes on the walls and ceilings and the gilded decorations look just as they did 100 years ago, tables have been reconditioned, along with the oak wood furniture. Superb stained-glass windows filter the light, and chandeliers have regained their lustre. Downstairs in the cellar is a genuine museum displaying beer steins and pints from various periods. There is also an unrestored part of the building that gives access by winding stairway to other apartments and rooms above and behind the restaurant (see pic right). I have to go and check it out!
P5310029It's a great place to meet, drink and eat, the live music is usually very good, though sometimes a little overbearing, and ranges from gypsy music - see HERE, traditional Romanian music. No kitsch at all (with the exception of 'Voulez-vous Coucher Avec Moi'!!!). Bravo! Just a little word of advice: don't forget to reserve in advance - the queues sometimes stretch past Stavropoleos Church, and as the service isn't that rapid, you could be standing there waiting all night! Everyone wants to experience a bit of Caru' cu Bere, and who can blame them, for this is a sparkle of Bucuresti de Alta Data, a memory of the Little Paris that was  and is still present here in this haven of marble, wood, frescoes and ambiance.


Posté par Sarah in Romania à 11:45 - Commentaires [1] - Permalien [#]

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