*** Tuesday, 31 Dec 2002 ***
A staff member mentioned to me that Romanians in 1945 and 46 felt that
USA had abandoned them to the Russians. I have heard this multiple times
so the belief must be there. Yet, I don't know why.
The classically-styled University
building just down the street from my apartment.
Many people walk around with a single _branch_ of a Christmas tree. It
seems to be a popular gift even after Christmas.
The weather is warmer since Saturday; so much so that the sidewalks are
clearing. Anything that faces the sun and anything where someone made
even a flimsy effort at shoveling is now clear. Thank God.
Electronics in my pants pocket, in my coat pocket, on my back. My iPod
adds a sound track to the sights of Bucharest. The city is more beautiful
with the Bach-Gounod Ave Maria in your ears.
This morning on my way to work, I walked up Batistei to the street with
the 5/16 trolley line as a variation. With the sidewalks mostly clear,
it was a quieter way to go.
Bucharest seems to have a habit of changing the names of its streets.
I have seen this before in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan when the government
decided to honor its local heroes whose memories (not to mention their
bodies) had been ignored/suppressed by the Soviet Union. Lenin once said
that the greatest threat to the Soviet Union (the heir to the Russian
Empire) was "minorities question". He was referring to, among
others, Turkmen, Khazaks, Uzbeks, Kirgiz, and dozens of other groups (usually
numbering in the millions) who inhabited the fringe of "Mother Russia".
One way in which the minority chickens have come home to roost is in the
renaming of streets, squares, buildings, etc.
But I don't get it here. When I walked up Batistei I passed a street that
had its name changed since I was last here. The former name (Strada Jean
Louis Calderon) was that of a French journalist who was killed in the
Revolution of December 1989. The new name is Strada Prof Dr Dimitrie Gerota)
who, the sign informs us, was a surgeon and philanthropist (1867-1939).
Why would the Dr. Gerota rate higher than Mr. Calderon? What is the logic
here? I also noted that the boulevard 1st Mai is now boulevard Ion Mihalache.
Given the inevitable confusion that name changes cause, what is the incentive?
(When I was I was in Ashgabat I invited people to a party at my apartment
and discovered that no one knew my street by its new name -- I had to
include the old name so people could find it.)
The system for paying for you ride on buses and trolleys here is interesting.
you must purchase tickets in advance at certain booths (i.e., not every
kiosk sells them) and when you board you are supposed to take a ticket
and put it in a small device fastened to many of the vertical holding
bars and then pull the top of the device toward you. The result is a ticket
with a sequence of holes unique (?) to the bus you are on. Supposedly
you are subject to a demand to present your punched ticket to an inspector
but I have never seen such an event occurring. And I noticed that I see
very few people actually punching tickets. It is possible to buy an "abonament
lunar" which is a monthly pass that can save you at least 25 percent
off a month's commute so perhaps all those non-punchers did that.
A close-up of the University
building. Note the detailed carving around the windows.
Fireworks seem to be very popular as the New Year approaches. They seem
to fall into the small rocket variety and the "cherry bomb"
variety. I haven't heard any "Chinese" fireworks (a rapid explosion
of a number of fireworks). It reminds me of the Fourth of July but they
don't celebrate that here.
Someone planned an early end to the office day because the night guard
showed up at Noon. The eight or so people who had come in started going
around and wishing the others a happy new year. I got the picture.
A subscriber wrote:
"Every problem has a solution, and your first two items may provide
a synergistic one.
"Back . . . in the mid-1980s, I was in one of our South Side parks
one day when I say four Asian men walking side-by-side down a park pathway.
As I observed the men, I could see that their heads were carefully swiveling
back and forth and there was little or no conversation. I realized I was
observing a hunting party. Then I asked myself what they might be hunting
"As I searched my memory, I recalled that in the 1970s as a grad
student I had seen some stuff about the cities being overrun with packs
of wild dogs, growing out of dogs released by people who couldn't or wouldn't
care for them. But I also recalled that I hadn't seen much about this
recently. It came to me that these were fairly recent Southeast Asian
immigrants on the lookout for stray dogs - Yum! Yum! So, when Romania
gets enough "Chinese" restaurants, and real Asian people to
run them, it too will probably solve the urban "wild dog" problem."
There are fewer wild dogs here and more Chinese restaurants. A coincidence?
To bed at 10 PM and to sleep immediately.