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Word for the traveler

Why do I love Romania
Why do I love Romania ? On one hand it's so easy to answer, but on the other hand I'm afraid I'll not make myself understood to many.
More than 10 years back, during the peak of economic crisis in Romania, when poverty pushed many to the verge of desperation, during my trips all over the country I met wonderful people. People who, in spite of their poverty, invited us in their houses and at their tables without asking for something in return. I understood then that wealth and kindness are not necessarily strongly related. Moreover, the more isolated and the poorer the villages we visited, the more joyful and friendlier people seemed to be. They couldn't care less about the economic crisis, there was something dignified in their poverty, they seemed to mock at the UN statistics showing that many Romanians were under the poverty threshold.
When I was telling this story, I was called idealistic, poet, I was told that reality was different, my friends and colleagues wanted to leave the country. And they left it, in a big wave. With that wave, I left too. And I saw many good and bad things abroad. I lived decently, I gathered a good work experience, I even saved some money. But the biggest win, I believe, was that I understood what I was missing. I saw people with two citizenships who don't feel at home anywhere. Stateless persons with double citizenship ! And I understood the meaning of the old Romanian saying: "no matter how bad the bread is, it's still better in your own country".
I was missing the unique way the Romanians smile in the face of adversity, their blandness and lust for life, the old beggar who stands shyly at the street corner and then shares her little earnings with less lucky beggars, I was missing the warmth and familiarity of a Sunday mass and the touching tolling of the monasteries bells, the traditions piously preserved even in the cities, even by those more "progressive" among us, I was missing the haystacks collected with the rake, I was even missing the holes in the roads in the city center, even the bureaucrats working for the state authorities who receive you with listless rudeness, but never let you leave without a good advice.
I understood why I love Romania and why only in Romania I feel at home. Of course I'm subjective, poet, idealistic, but I'm also realistic, now I have more experience and I can compare. And, though I completely realize there is no perfect place in this world, I also believe there is no place better than home.


Sorin Cristescu, May 2006

For any comments, suggestions, ideas, stories, please contact me at sorin@incogniterra.com or leave a message below.


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