I started writing this post shortly after am arriving back home from spending a weekend in Bucharest with Andreea to see Sting in concert. This was at the end of July … a delay caused by a combination of lack of motivation to write, business and internet connectivity issues.
We travelled there and back by bus – it’s an 8.5-9 hour journey (with a 15 minute and 30 minute break). The other options are by a night train (with sleeping carriages) – and it’s twice as expensive as a bus and approximately the same journey time (sometimes longer). And then there are flights which cost more then twice the price of a train but are super comfortable – an hour and we could be there.
On the journey there we sat behind the driver – Andreea’s preferred place where she can see the road which makes the drive easier for her (prevents slight sickness). It also meant we had a spectacular view to the driver’s horrific driving. I am convinced that if the bus had a pointed metal triangle sticking out the front … the driver would have gone full Mad Max on many other cars. There were quite a few near accidents … but it is a “normal” thing in Romania. Even if the driver is OK (which was the case on the way back) the oncoming traffic always includes people willing to overtake traffic in crazy places … inviting plenty of almost accidents.
The horrific driving on the way there was “nicely” complemented by the horrific pop-music the driver chose for entertainment. The music was accompanied by video-clips (small TV above the driver). It seemed that as we progressed in the journey the girls clothing got skimpier and indeed just before we stopped about half-way in Velcea there was video clip with two naked girls in bed playing lesbian. There was something extremely primitve – biological in the music and images – pure sex (biological reproduction) peppered with bullshit social ideas (many of which seem to take place on luxurious yachts). However I could also see in it feminine power and control. Who knows.
Liviu arrived at Bhudeva shortly after we set out on the road to Bucharest. He calles us on the phone with the most hillarious question, he gave the dogs food (as in put in their plates in front of them) but they wouldn’t touch it. Since our dogs roam free all day the only consistent practice of discipline we adhere to is feeding. They are not allowed and will not touch their food until they are given permission. You can place it before them and walk away and they won’t touch it. They need to be given explicit permission to eat. I was amused to learn that the discipline holds firm even in the presence of a stranger who does not know about our habits and agreements
This is the time of year where corn has peaked and is now maturing. Romania is covered in corn (at least those parts we met on the road). I would guess 95% percent of fields are corn.
As I watched these I thought of a theme that I believe has been presented in numerous sci-fi films (including one I recently saw: Oblivion). It is the theme of a race (either ourselves or aliens) sucking life energy out of the planet. I thought of this as I gazed upon the fields of corn … it isn’t science as fiction … it is exactly what is happening with the fields of corn. Corn is a crop that consumes a lot of energy and soil fertility (I was surprised to learn that each giant corn plant produces 2 or maybe 3 ears of corn at most!). It’s a staple crop for both animals and people … and it sucks life out of soil … especially as a vast monoculture that is grown year after year.
Religion & Intellect
I’m allergic to religion. Romania is a very religious country (mostly flavors of Christianity). One common expression of Religion in Romania is people making the cross gesture when passing churches or “on the road crosses”. You can see this in the city when people are walking and on buses. It is an instinct and is repeated everytime a religious person is awake and aware of a passion religious location. It creeps me out most when I see it in young adults or kids.
When I saw this on the way I thought about indoctrination – a more generic term for faith-based-education (that I believe encompasses religion). I asked myself what was my indoctrination as I was brought up in life and maybe still has a grip on me. The answer came quickly: mind/thought/intellect. I am definitely still working on balancing this one out in my life.
Oltea & Andrei
We were warmly welcomed to the home of Oltea & Andrei. They live in a central place close to one of the main squares in Bucharest in a spacious apartment in a cozy small building (compared to the typical mamoth blocks that dominate Bucharest and many other Romanian cities).
Oltea visited Bhudeva during our first winter here. There was an immediate connection that continued between her and Andreea. I felt immediately embraced and protected when we entered their apartment. Oltea had cooked up a warm vegetable dish which was nourishing and grounding and much appreciated.
Oltea was a changed person since I first (and briefly) saw her. I had plenty of pleasant conversations with Andrei discovering many shared visions and values. He is definitely on my short but growing list of good men. Unfortunately we did not get to meet their children who were away with their grandparents (which is also why they had space for us).
Electric Induction Cooking
In their apartment I experienced for the first time an electric-induction cooking surface (I am used to gas cookers). I was really impressed. I don’t know how energy efficient in terms of electricity consumption – but in terms of output it seems to be very efficient … things are heated very fast on it and there is much less dissipated heat than I am used to with gas cooking. Using it was a great pleasure – it heats things very fast, there is a high resolution of control over heat levels (each cooker can be set on a level from 1 to 9), it has a keep-warm mode, it shuts off automatically, it is super easy to clean and it is very esthetic.
If it is efficient I would love to have something like it in our future home. I can generate electricity … I can’t generate cooking gas (well I probably can but it would be complicated) … and I would be happy not to have gas flowing into the house.
Being in the apartment reminded me of the potential comforts of modern city life. I was even slightly tempted … but not really. It is a life that is highly dependent on a constant flow of money, and a relatively expensive one at that … and I am not in the least bit tempted to become dependent on money again. I am happy to forgo many of the comforts for the safety I experience living away from money.
Bucharest was horrible for me. It is very dense, very crowded, very noisy, very busy … there isn’t a moment of silence in it. The contrast between it and Bhudeva is too much for me. I felt attacked and oppressed. I was sheltered in Oltea & Andrei’s home (which is much more than its walls). I was somehat sheltered in a tea-house I spent a few hours at. But otherwise I only wanted to hide from the city. The climate was also unpleasant … hot and humid indoors and out … that is compared to Bhudeva climate where it can be hot but dry outside but pleasantly cool indoors.
There is tons of information coming from infinite directions. I suppose you could get used to it … by practicing being it and learning to filter and ignore a lot of the information which bombarded me. But I am not sure I would want to go through that kind of training … it feels like a process of desensitization … a skill of ignoring rather than connecting.
When we came to Romania I thought it would be great … that I would be able to enjoy more rock concerts living in Europe. But having done it … I don’t expect I’ll be doing it again soon.
The venue was dull … a large parking lot at what I believe is some kind of convention center kind of place. We got there just when the first opening act ended and Mike and the Mechanics came on … and were really surprising. A tight and good energy band that gave a nice set of their own songs and a few Genesis hits. Really got the place into a good atmosphere.
Sting came on 20 minutes earlier then planned. It was the last concert of this leg of the tour … so maybe they wanted to get it done and go home. He and his band were fantastic. This was the same core musicians I had seen playing with him when I first saw him in Israel almost 20 years ago. It was a great concert. It made up for the 2nd time I saw him (also in Israel) in a lifeless performance. Though it didn’t live up to the my impression of the first performance … though I don’t know if that is possible. The first performance was an album tour so it had more specifity and wholeness to it while this concert was more like a greatest hits. There were one or two times where I felt moved … the rest of the time I was enjoying the music.
5 minutes after the concert ended a drenching rain came pouring down. We were able to find shelter and wait it out. Then there was a mess with taxis getting home (apparently there are taxis in Bucharest that charge almost 3 times then typical rate that most taxis in Bucharest charge … so beware!).