*** Monday, 23 Dec 2002 ***
The Christmas party was put off from 12 to 1 PM. We had the party but
there seemed to be only deserts and no lunch food. Even worse, there was
no booze at all. Everyone seems to want to go back to work. We had our
Secret Santa surprise gift game with the added surprise that we had to
tell some sort of lead-in story that would explain why the gift was appropriate.
My story was about the inevitable mistakes we would make in so complicated
a project, so my gift was a Phoenix that represented a rebirth from its
own ashes (actually a giant enamel and rhinestone bird) pin. Later I gave
a small elephant pin to Mrs. Sanda, our cleaning lady, who has been with
the program since I first came to Romania. She seemed impressed and even
put the pin on.
Ice fishing in Harastrau Park.
The fish they were catching were barely two inches long.
It snowed lightly all day. The soft large flakes made a several inch
covering over the iced sidewalks making walking treacherous. At least
now I saw plows on the streets, shovelers and very little rock salt on
Unable to get a cab, I jumped on a linea 5 trolley which saved me from
a lot of snowy walking. Walking through the Piatza University underground,
I stopped to get a plain double cheeseburger since I had eaten very little
of the little there was to eat at lunch.
*** Wednesday, 25 Dec 2002 ***
It was sunny and cheerful so I went out for a walk but the cold got to
my fingers and my ears so I didn't walk that far or that long. I was back
in about an hour and grateful to stay in for the rest of the day. I relaxed
and rested in a very pleasant way.
*** Thursday, 26 Dec 2002 ***
Today is a holiday as well!!
I really bundled up today taking my ear muffs and gloves -- a wise decision
as it was ear-reddeningly cold. I walked through Cismigiu Park and caught
the linea 44 and took it past Gara de Nord all the way to its end at the
WNW edge of the city. Then I took linea 11 for a ride. It went east, south
then south east and was headed for the east south east edge of the city.
I left it well on its way and took the Metrou back to city center.
The park's were a popular
place to sled. The sled couldn't get up much speed and there was
nothing to bump into.
The idea of traveling the trolleys this way is a good one but today was
a difficult day for it as the 11 trolley I was on had frost condensed
on nearly every window obscuring the view. I made the best notes that
I could and eventually took the Metrou to Piatza Romana and had lunch
at the KFC. Not all that many restaurants have reopened.
*** Friday, 27 Dec 2002 ***
Back to work day! I arrived at 9 AM and I was the third person there.
It was a very relaxed day with people taking long lunches and going shopping,
The big event of my day was the 1 PM interview with a candidate for the
local government specialist position. The candidate arrived on time and
Adrian and I talked to him. Adrian had told me in advance that he wanted
to ask some quite technical questions about the authority of mayors and
councils, etc. and I encouraged him to do so. I opened with a general
description of GRASP and then handed the candidate over to Adrian who
tortured him like a college professor at an oral exam. The candidate did
quite well showing that he had learned something in school. I asked about
his academic background and he responded clearly. We grilled him for an
hour and at the end he asked when we would make a decision about the position.
Without revealing that there was another candidate we wanted to interview
I told him we would decide by Jan 15.
It was 2 PM and we had not eaten when Adrian asked if I knew where the
Chinese restaurant near us was. I told him that I would like to have lunch
with him so we walk to the restaurant. Adrian told me that the first foreign
country he had been to was China in 1975. He went to train the Chinese
on computers they had bought from Romania (manufactured in Romania under
a French license). He spent three months there and loved it. Later he
spoke up against the Party and was expelled. When the Communists fell
he established an NGO called Pro-Democracy and was very active in explaining
and encouraging democracy in Romania. It made him famous in a small way
and it lead to an invitation to the US. When he was here he asked for
permission to travel alone (he was given some advice about how to travel
in the US) and he set off around the country. He had a great time.
We talked about alphabets, literary languages, and Grendel's Den. He quoted
Hamlet's famous "To be or not to be" soliloquy, I quoted Frost,
Poe and Ogden Nash. It was a wonderful lunch.
*** Saturday, 28 Dec 2002 ***
The weather is suddenly milder. Not warm, just seasonably cold. A big
improvement in the weeks of extremely cold temperatures we have been experiencing.
Trolley trip to the outdoor market at Coltentina; as pushy as Tolkushka
but less exotic. Clothes, shoes, cosmetics, etc. Perhaps interesting in
*** Sunday, 29 Dec 2002 ***
Another seasonably cold day! Trolley trips and walks in Herastrau Park.
Taking trolleys is a great way to see the city but I am discovering that
outside the center the Bucharest looks much the same -- endless blocks
of dreary high rise "flats". Still it's a big city and there
is a lot of it to see.
Today I took linea 40 to the end of the city if not the world and then
took the 15 to I did not know where until I looked it up on the map (near
the end of Alexandriei). Then I took the 32 to Uniri and had pizza at
the Harp Pub (where they don't serve their namesake and don't even know
what it is).
The Triumphal Arch celebrates
Romania's victory in
World War I.
Then I took the M2 to Aviatorilor and walked to the Arcului de Triomf
and then up Kisselef to the small amusement park at the northwest corner
of Parcul Harastrau and then I walked through the park back to the Arc
watching all the kids with their parents sledding on the snow. I took
some pictures but it would have been better to have been videoing because
there were so many action scenes that I might have caught. The weather
is suddenly warmer, yesterday and today, and by Wednesday the snow might
be gone I might well have lost my opportunity. Romanians enjoy their parks
much more than Americans do and I want video to prove it!
A friend wrote: "I can picture Bucharest in the snow. And, you couldn't
be more right about the Romanians enjoying their parks. I have, however,
thought that about Europeans since my first trip there in '72. Always
wondered if it is cultural or simply the fact that we are used to having
much more private space ... backyards, etc....to enjoy than most of the
world who have to share their outdoor space."