The Romanian Register Issue 02
*** Sunday, 24 Nov 2002 ***
I woke up at 4:30 AM and faked it until 5 AM and then got up instead of lying awake in the bed. I checked my Rolodex and discovered that I had never entered most of the names of the Romanians I want to contact professionally. When I was here before the secretaries called for us since only some officials spoke English. I will have to update my Rolodex in a big way.
The drippy rain stopped, there is blue in the sky and the day was mild: more refreshing than cold. Before 8 AM I started a walk that took me south along Calea Dorobantsilor to Piatza Romana to the old office near the American Embassy, to Revolution Square (where Bush spoke yesterday) and the stands were almost completely gone, up Calea Victorie (past where I lived on my first trip) to Piatza Victorie Square and then back to my temporary apartment. It was a delight.
Bucharest seems much less changed than I had been led me to believe; on my walk I saw only one new major building though the streets seem cleaner. There is a lot I haven't seen yet, so we shall see.
I called Dennis and left a message that I would be at the Pizza Hut in Piatza Romana at Noon but when I got there I realized that I had failed to reset my watch for the hour difference between Zurich and here. He found me anyway and we had a pleasant chat. The pizza there was not as good as I remembered it.
I asked Dennis about the dog problem and he said that the he thought the current mayor had had them rounded up and shot. Bridget Bardot (a noted animal rights activist) couldn't have been too happy about that but I don't see what other solution is possible in a poor country.
I came back from meeting Dennis and decided on a short nap. It was wonderful and I held it to 90 minutes so I should get to sleep at a reasonable hour tonight. I finally went to bed at 11 PM and slept soundly.
*** Monday, 25 Nov 2002 ***
My ride came by at 9 AM and I was shortly at the office. To my surprise, this old office, was not the "old" office that I had worked in three and four years ago so it was new to me. It was nicer than what I remembered but was already overfull as there were 21 staff (mostly local) already working. There were only four survivors from the old days, everyone else was new but I was impressed with their quality and level of energy.
I met our CTO. She told me that John and Barbara Foster were no longer in the country. It made me thirst for their wonderful apartment over Cismigiu Park. Unfortunately I have no way to contact the landlord having no idea who he or she might be.
*** Tuesday, 26 Nov 2002 ***
I got to the office at 9 AM and tried to get connected to the network and a printer. Mihai, the project computer guy, was very helpful but my Mac was resistant. Still we got it all worked out fairly quickly.
Out viewing apartments. My realtor was flummoxed by my desire to live in the old downtown. She showed me some very nice apartments in the Aviatorilor area but, except for the first one, I was not impressed. She will show me more tomorrow.
I sat in on a meeting of most everyone where they discussed the preliminary interviews they will do around the country on needs assessment. It was a long meeting, but productive and useful, especially at the early stage of such a project as ours.
I left at 4:30 for lunch and had spicy chicken wings at KFC. Three days and three American meals -- I have to start transitioning to the local cuisine.
I figured out how to buy a ticket on the bus that heads my way up Dorobantsilor but not how to find out which bus I wanted. I ended up walking home which wasn't a problem for it was a nice evening. As I walked I checked out the route numbers of the busses that were going my way.
*** Wednesday, 27 Nov 2002 ***
Mihai connected me to Crina's printer via Virtual PC but said that he couldn't do it for the Mac side since there was no Windows server. In January we can eliminate this limitation.
Lunch turned out to be an odd affair with people gradually arriving at different times and, since we had not organized it, people gradually finished and left before the late arrivers had gotten there. Still, the conversation was good and the food was good; I had chicken schnitzel which I enjoyed.
Allen told me that I was invited to Whispers, an "American" restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner. I asked what an "American" restaurant was. He didn't really have an answer so I decided to go and find out.
Went apartment hunting again and found something I liked but the rents I was quoted would exceed my allowance. I decided to see apartments with a different company tomorrow (Thanksgiving Day).
Late in the day I went to fx.ro, the Internet service provider that I used when last in Romania, and signed up myself and Allen for home Internet service. The staff didn't seem to mind me signing for Allen just after I signed for myself.
When I got back we found out the cities we would be visiting in the next ten days. Busy and exciting.
*** Thursday, 28 Nov 2002 Thanksgiving! ***
I walked toward Piatza University which I regard as the center of the city. I was starving when I got to the McDonalds in the underground and tried to order a plain cheeseburger with extra cheese. The young lady behind the counter seemed very confused. She got her boss who was male but not much older. He asked me for my order again and then solved the problem by saying in his best English "It is not possible." I made do.
I was scheduled to have a Thanksgiving meal at the "American" restaurant called Whispers (the sign on its front describes it as "a pub and restaurant") so I searched it out so that I would not have a problem finding it later in the evening and then headed home quite tired. I took the train to the Aviatorilor stop and then, misunderstanding where I was, walked around the entire (very large) traffic circle. Then I jumped on a bus and went to Piatza Dorobantsilor where I crossed the street improperly and tore my slacks and bruised my hand and knee when I clumsily stepped over a low fence. I got back to my apartment and lay abed for over an hour before leaving for dinner. I took the train to University Square and walked to Whispers where I met some Americans and Romanians and had an nice Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey was sweet and juicy but there was no cranberry sauce. All in all it was a nice time.