Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Off-Season

I don't celebrate Halloween, never have and, perhaps, never will, save for the years when Colin will come home from school with a pumpkin on his head and a plastic spider in his pocket, with the sole purpose of the fake beast to give mom a genuine fright and with a great hope that she'll not turn the pumpkin into anything edible.

In fact, I don't know what Halloween celebrates exactly, I don't even bother to look it up. We never had it like this in Romania, but still there's something going on around this time that involves occult celebrations and evocation of the dead and, the more I think about it, the more I see a common denominator for customs and habits that stretch through different cultures.

To start with, either on the last day of October or the first of November, the Romanians celebrate the dead. At least the people in Transilvania do that. How they decide whether it's October or November is still a mystery to me and it depends randomly on the village/city, with the bonus that big cities do it for two days.

Whatever that means, it's gorgeous when you're a kid. I still remember how eager I was to attend it. The late people celebrated there meant very little to me (I never met my grandfather and surely not my father's grandparents) but the show was just a splendour.  In my village, the graveyard was/still is on a hill and it was teeming with lit candles that glowed in the night like a huge carpet on fire. And that was just the beginning, more or less like the commercials we get nowadays when we go out to see a movie. The real show was there, on the hill, in the eye of the fire.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Paradise Deserved

When the parents get someone (i.e. grandma)  to baby sit their child, two deep thoughts penetrate their minds. The first one is how could they make themselves scarce together and the second one is how to maximise that, to avoid any forms of dead times. Needless to say, at least one day off is compulsory and it should be used to go to the land no nappy, no toy under 19.99 euros that goes on and on and could drive a monk crazy, and so forth and so forth. In short, one should go to a place of utter serenity and complete oblivion.

And, for the utter oblivion and complete serenity, nothing beats a whole, full, entire day at the sauna. For those who are not familiar to the Dutch way of sauna-ing, allow me a very short introduction. A sauna is an umbrella term for a place that comprises a few saunas (yes, I know you got that, but lemme go further). It's not only saunas (or steam/Turkish baths), there are lots of small pools, hot, warm, cold, damn cold, whirling, salty or not, etc, in which you can dump yourself after having raised your body temperature to a few degrees more. By being in the sauna, hellooo!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fink Ployd

Do you remember the good old times when the market was teeming with counterfeit products that looked the same and sometimes also functioned the same as the original ones? When you could get some "original" Abibas trainers or a Panasoanic cassette player (yes, it was a time when the music came on cassettes that could be rewound with a pencil, but that's another story).  I personally remember having got a coffee grinder, Mounilex, and not being able to tell the fake, not even when reading the name. For weeks I kept reading Moulinex on it. And it was so easy to have it wrong: the same kind-of-hand-written font, the original brand in my head and, not least, the quality of the ground coffee. Truth be told, I wasn't any less happy when I found out the counterfeit, for two big and fat reasons: first, it ground the coffee properly without problems and second, I didn't know any better, I'd never had a genuine Moulinex grinder to compare mine against.  Happiness unaltered.

...Which was exactly the same feeling I had when I went to a concert last week to see a band performing not only Pink Floyd music, but also their style. Still, I wouldn't go that far to say, like some picturesque Kusturica's heroes, that "our whisky is better than the original one", but they were doing just fine. Some fine ears would probably spot loads of flaws, but I have the music finesse of a donkey, thus all bliss on my front.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Toddler's Precious

This post is not to be read by pregnant-with-first-child women, nor by women who'd think having another baby. It also goes without saying that any man who'd consider parenting in the near, medium, or far future should look away, too. 

"What makes them tick?" - This is one of the numerous imponderable questions that come around us. Sure, normally "them" is replaced by "women" but life has taught me to seize any opportunity to shut up, so I won't take that path. Thus: women - far too complicated and dangerous; men - we have one desire, one sentence could easily describe it, not worth debating.

However, what I've discovered is what toddlers want and cherish the most. What is that precious thing that they will fight to the death for when you try to take it away from them? Is that a toy? Is that food? Maybe the TV? None of the above. What they really really really have a hard time to part with is .... shit. And I do not mean this as an umbrella term like, say, "music that teenagers listen to nowadays" or "my raise last-this-next year". Not at all. I mean exactly what that is: feces, poo, crap, you name it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What's In A Frog?

This is a story about two brave men: Ion and Gheo (short for Gheorghe, but I thought of sparing the non-native speakers). They are two Romanian peasants living in a remote village, working the land and rearing animals, pretty much copy-pasting their life from one day to another. Until that day, when Ion decided it was the time to go to the livestock market to sell his cow. 

And, as he couldn't go alone, he asked his neighbour Gheo, who had nothing worth mentioning to do that day, to come along. The business was bad, however, and at the end of the day they came back home, carrying the poor cow with them, as they could not sell it. And because of this, the conversation between them two was somehow low, even for the peasants expectations.

"You know", Ion began the to break the silence, "what if we were, for instance, some Scottish peasants, not Romanians? What would we talk about?" 

"That's an admirably good question, indeed. We'd probably talk about whiskey, cattle, sheep, wellies, bagpipes...". 

Monday, April 2, 2012

In Bruges

    Iubesc Belgia. E o țară complicată și plină de sensuri pe care doar cei inițiați le pot înțelege. Da' nu o iubesc pentru asta, dimpotrivă.
    Cei care s-au dat cu mașina prin Belgia au observat tendința lor pentru lucrurile complicate. In primul rând, semnele de circulație nu pot fi puse ca in restul lumii, pe o tabla bidimensionala si cu indicații clare, inaintea intersecțiilor. Semnele belgiene sunt toate 3D. Nimic dubios pana aici, dacă vrei sa mergi la stânga sau la dreapta. Dacă însă vrei să o iei inainte, semnul e un fel de stânga, cam la 45 grade, suficient să te încurce ireversibil. Evident, acum am GPS, cea mai tare invenție a mașinii de la aerul condiționat încoace. Surpriză, Belgia e singura țară ce a reusit sa mi-l zăpăceasca. Dar astea-s detalii, pana la urmă ajungi unde ți-ai propus.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Who's Going To College?

A few days ago there was a picture going around on internet, chiefly on Facebook. I'd like to share it with you, here on the blog, for it is touching in many senses.
A few things caught my eyes immediately: the little girl going dancing, the food on the table, and the student in college. I think they all deserve to fulfil their dreams (except maybe for the food on the table), and if we could help them achieve that, I'm sure we'll all get a good mark on St Peter's slate, which will help us getting in.

On the other hand, screw the rapacious CEO whose only concern is to get yet another holiday house, a younger and more demanding mistress, or a faster car to drive it in the weekends only.

What? What do you mean by "If  you buy from a bigger business you help several families put food on the table?". This is not the point here, come on. We should show solidarity with the small ones, as they show it to us as well. Only too well sometimes.