Csíkszereda Musings

My life in and around Csíkszereda, also known as Miercurea Ciuc.

Archive for September, 2005

Flood season

Posted by Andy Hockley on 29 September, 2005

Obviously the whole year seems to be flood season in Romania if 2005 is anything to go by. But that’s your macro-flood. This week is (in Csikszereda at least) micro-flood season. This is inundation not on the river valley or vast plain level, but on a much smaller scale. Mostly confined to the individual apartment, for example. Or often one apartment and all the apartments directly below it.

This is because it’s the week that the heating gets turned on. The way heating works here is that each neighbourhood has this large central factory like building in which they generate all the hot water for the whole district. For the warmer months this means just the water that comes out of the taps, but in the winter they have to up the capacity and start pumping it around the radiator circuit as well. It’s not in the least bit cold yet, and in fact the last few days have been gloriously warm and sunny, but it’s the end of September and hence, by some arcane system it is time to turn on the heating.

But of course when the heating is turned on after 6 months being off, during which time people have repainted their apartments or moved things around or things have rusted or even detached the radiators to clean or paint behind them, there is the very real chance that water will start dripping, trickling or in the worst case spraying wildly out of the joints or out of cracks in the piping. And so, this is the week when there are numerous cases of water dripping from your upstairs neighbours and vast amounts of work for plumbers and radiator repair men.

It seems our apartment and those above us are OK. Which is good news. Erika’s school on the other hand had a problem and they got an irate lower neighbour screaming blue murder at them. I’ve just got back from the shop having bought him a free tub of white paint, courtesy of the school. No idea if that will pacify him, but what else can you do?

Posted in csikszereda, news | Leave a Comment »

Flood season

Posted by Andy Hockley on 29 September, 2005

Obviously the whole year seems to be flood season in Romania if 2005 is anything to go by. But that’s your macro-flood. This week is (in Csikszereda at least) micro-flood season. This is inundation not on the river valley or vast plain level, but on a much smaller scale. Mostly confined to the individual apartment, for example. Or often one apartment and all the apartments directly below it.

This is because it’s the week that the heating gets turned on. The way heating works here is that each neighbourhood has this large central factory like building in which they generate all the hot water for the whole district. For the warmer months this means just the water that comes out of the taps, but in the winter they have to up the capacity and start pumping it around the radiator circuit as well. It’s not in the least bit cold yet, and in fact the last few days have been gloriously warm and sunny, but it’s the end of September and hence, by some arcane system it is time to turn on the heating.

But of course when the heating is turned on after 6 months being off, during which time people have repainted their apartments or moved things around or things have rusted or even detached the radiators to clean or paint behind them, there is the very real chance that water will start dripping, trickling or in the worst case spraying wildly out of the joints or out of cracks in the piping. And so, this is the week when there are numerous cases of water dripping from your upstairs neighbours and vast amounts of work for plumbers and radiator repair men.

It seems our apartment and those above us are OK. Which is good news. Erika’s school on the other hand had a problem and they got an irate lower neighbour screaming blue murder at them. I’ve just got back from the shop having bought him a free tub of white paint, courtesy of the school. No idea if that will pacify him, but what else can you do?

Posted in csikszereda, news | Leave a Comment »

Sinking to a new low

Posted by Andy Hockley on 26 September, 2005

This evening I sent my six year old stepdaughter out to buy me a bottle of beer. Which she did. I believe the next step is to send her round the corner to score me some crack.

To be fair (i.e. to make me look not quite as bad), she was going to the shop anyway, and I asked as a bit of a joke assuming that she wouldn’t be able to, but then her mother affirmed that she would be able to without a problem. So, I swallowed 6 years of living in the heavily-alcohol-conscious US and promptly handed her an empty bottle to exchange for a full one. (And some money, they don’t, sadly, just exchange empty bottles for full ones without accompanying financial inducements).

Bit busy this week teaching an intensive course so may be posting occasionally and at less length than normal.

Posted in csikszereda, personal | 1 Comment »

Sinking to a new low

Posted by Andy Hockley on 26 September, 2005

This evening I sent my six year old stepdaughter out to buy me a bottle of beer. Which she did. I believe the next step is to send her round the corner to score me some crack.

To be fair (i.e. to make me look not quite as bad), she was going to the shop anyway, and I asked as a bit of a joke assuming that she wouldn’t be able to, but then her mother affirmed that she would be able to without a problem. So, I swallowed 6 years of living in the heavily-alcohol-conscious US and promptly handed her an empty bottle to exchange for a full one. (And some money, they don’t, sadly, just exchange empty bottles for full ones without accompanying financial inducements).

Bit busy this week teaching an intensive course so may be posting occasionally and at less length than normal.

Posted in csikszereda, personal | 1 Comment »

Sacked

Posted by Andy Hockley on 23 September, 2005

I saw this story reported on the TV the other evening, but thought it so bizarre that I didn’t trust my on translation of it (and thankfully there were no graphic images to accompany it). But now, I see that I did get it broadly correct. I didn’t know it was a sack of grain that he had dropped on his, ahem, member, but other than that I’d got it pretty much spot on. Not much to add, but I hope I’ll be able to uncross my legs in an hour or so.

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Romanian music

Posted by Andy Hockley on 23 September, 2005

An entirely subjective and limited view based more or less entirely on what I’ve seen on TV, since I rarely, if ever, listen to the radio.

Popular Romanian music can be divided into two categories – Romanianised western pop music and manele. Manele is this musical style which is apparently insanely popular, for no good reason. It’s the music of the barrio (or whatever the Romanian word for barrio is) and it is based (very obviously) on Turkish music. I feel I should like it just because it is a musical style beloved of the urban and rural proletariat and sneered upon by the middle classes, and being British and therefore class-obsessed, manele should trip all my right-on buttons. But, like Country and Western, I can’t get into it at all. It’s not half as good as the Turkish music it’s based on, it’s not really what anyone with any options would choose to listen to or dance to, and it has this really weird chav-ish subculture in which all the singers (it seems) are named like wrestlers – there’s “Adrian The Wonder Child” and “Sorinel the Kid” for example – and drive Mercs or BMWs.

(The middle class hatred of manele and desire to sweep it under the carpet and pretend that it doesn’t really exist led to a movement to ban it on TV for a while, which sounds incredible. Not quite sure why it provokes such a strong reaction since it’s basically just rubbish and you could quite easily ignore it by the simple expedient of not listening to it, which is the way I manage. I’ve never been seized by a compulsion to outlaw it and boycott TV channels that dare show it.)

Romanian pop music (of the Western pop music Romanianised form) I hear a lot more of because Bogi has recently discovered the delights of MTV and has been spending almost as much time watching it as she does Minimax. Most major streams of music are covered by the top bands of the moment. There are Romanian rappers, for example, and Romanian rockers (the rockers don’t tend to make it on to MTV though, just play music festivals, like felsziget, around the country). There is also a growing number of those X feat. Y type acts, reflecting this trend elsewhere.

Then there is a strand of groups that play Romanian versions of Latin American music (I think it’s part of the “remember we’re Latin” thing that is quite big in Romania, and an obvious bulwark against the “let’s try not to think of ourselves as Balkan” thing which is possibly behind the anti-manele campaigners). One of the most popular is this bloke called Pepe, who is like a much much uglier version of Enrique Iglesias. His videos always feature him being fawned over by large numbers of beautiful women, and in so doing clearly provide a public service in upping the self-esteem of the terminally ugly. “Look, if Pepe can get women, anyone can!”. One of the others going around at the moment is quite a catchy little number called Soarele Meu by a band called Mandinga, which I’ve heard often enough now to pretty much know the words to.

But the largest proportion of MTV Romania’s airtime is given over to boy bands. This is, I’m sure, as a result of the vast pan-global popularity of O-Zone and “that numa numa song” from last year. But this, to me, presents an interesting paradox. Romania is a pretty macho country and male stars tend to be pretty Male with a capital M. But boy bands, by their very nature, are made up of androgynous a-sexual post-teenage-boys, so as not to freak out the pre-pubescent girls (and the pre-pubescent girls’ parents) who are their principal target market. To give an example, one of Bogi’s current favourites is a band called 3 Sud-Est who have this current hit with “Cu capu-n nori”. It’s a bland piece of pop pap as you might expect, but the video is as camp as a row of tents. There are women in it, but it definitely looks like they’re there because videos have to have women in them. You wonder how these blokes deal with everyday life. Do they affect gruff voices and stand on the terraces at Steaua chewing sunflower seeds as a proof of their masculinity?

This brief overview has obviously left out vast swathes of musical diversity, such as some really really great gypsy music, and I really need to one day write about the baffling affinity for a band called Modern Talking who no-one else in the world seems to have heard of, but this will have to do for now.

Posted in music, romania | 7 Comments »

Sacked

Posted by Andy Hockley on 23 September, 2005

I saw this story reported on the TV the other evening, but thought it so bizarre that I didn’t trust my on translation of it (and thankfully there were no graphic images to accompany it). But now, I see that I did get it broadly correct. I didn’t know it was a sack of grain that he had dropped on his, ahem, member, but other than that I’d got it pretty much spot on. Not much to add, but I hope I’ll be able to uncross my legs in an hour or so.

Posted in links, news | Leave a Comment »

Romanian music

Posted by Andy Hockley on 23 September, 2005

An entirely subjective and limited view based more or less entirely on what I’ve seen on TV, since I rarely, if ever, listen to the radio.

Popular Romanian music can be divided into two categories – Romanianised western pop music and manele. Manele is this musical style which is apparently insanely popular, for no good reason. It’s the music of the barrio (or whatever the Romanian word for barrio is) and it is based (very obviously) on Turkish music. I feel I should like it just because it is a musical style beloved of the urban and rural proletariat and sneered upon by the middle classes, and being British and therefore class-obsessed, manele should trip all my right-on buttons. But, like Country and Western, I can’t get into it at all. It’s not half as good as the Turkish music it’s based on, it’s not really what anyone with any options would choose to listen to or dance to, and it has this really weird chav-ish subculture in which all the singers (it seems) are named like wrestlers – there’s “Adrian The Wonder Child” and “Sorinel the Kid” for example – and drive Mercs or BMWs.

(The middle class hatred of manele and desire to sweep it under the carpet and pretend that it doesn’t really exist led to a movement to ban it on TV for a while, which sounds incredible. Not quite sure why it provokes such a strong reaction since it’s basically just rubbish and you could quite easily ignore it by the simple expedient of not listening to it, which is the way I manage. I’ve never been seized by a compulsion to outlaw it and boycott TV channels that dare show it.)

Romanian pop music (of the Western pop music Romanianised form) I hear a lot more of because Bogi has recently discovered the delights of MTV and has been spending almost as much time watching it as she does Minimax. Most major streams of music are covered by the top bands of the moment. There are Romanian rappers, for example, and Romanian rockers (the rockers don’t tend to make it on to MTV though, just play music festivals, like felsziget, around the country). There is also a growing number of those X feat. Y type acts, reflecting this trend elsewhere.

Then there is a strand of groups that play Romanian versions of Latin American music (I think it’s part of the “remember we’re Latin” thing that is quite big in Romania, and an obvious bulwark against the “let’s try not to think of ourselves as Balkan” thing which is possibly behind the anti-manele campaigners). One of the most popular is this bloke called Pepe, who is like a much much uglier version of Enrique Iglesias. His videos always feature him being fawned over by large numbers of beautiful women, and in so doing clearly provide a public service in upping the self-esteem of the terminally ugly. “Look, if Pepe can get women, anyone can!”. One of the others going around at the moment is quite a catchy little number called Soarele Meu by a band called Mandinga, which I’ve heard often enough now to pretty much know the words to.

But the largest proportion of MTV Romania’s airtime is given over to boy bands. This is, I’m sure, as a result of the vast pan-global popularity of O-Zone and “that numa numa song” from last year. But this, to me, presents an interesting paradox. Romania is a pretty macho country and male stars tend to be pretty Male with a capital M. But boy bands, by their very nature, are made up of androgynous a-sexual post-teenage-boys, so as not to freak out the pre-pubescent girls (and the pre-pubescent girls’ parents) who are their principal target market. To give an example, one of Bogi’s current favourites is a band called 3 Sud-Est who have this current hit with “Cu capu-n nori”. It’s a bland piece of pop pap as you might expect, but the video is as camp as a row of tents. There are women in it, but it definitely looks like they’re there because videos have to have women in them. You wonder how these blokes deal with everyday life. Do they affect gruff voices and stand on the terraces at Steaua chewing sunflower seeds as a proof of their masculinity?

This brief overview has obviously left out vast swathes of musical diversity, such as some really really great gypsy music, and I really need to one day write about the baffling affinity for a band called Modern Talking who no-one else in the world seems to have heard of, but this will have to do for now.

Posted in music, romania | 5 Comments »

1963

Posted by Andy Hockley on 21 September, 2005

Was the year that the following document (which on the face of it seems genuine) was written. It’s about why women shouldn’t represent Australia as trade commissioners.

Contains such enlightened and progressive gems as:

“A man normally has his household run efficiently by his wife, who also looks after much of the entertaining. A woman trade commissioner would have all this on top of her normal work”

and

“A spinster lady can, and very often does, turn into something of a battleaxe with the passing years. A man usually mellows”

Blimey.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

1963

Posted by Andy Hockley on 21 September, 2005

Was the year that the following document (which on the face of it seems genuine) was written. It’s about why women shouldn’t represent Australia as trade commissioners.

Contains such enlightened and progressive gems as:

“A man normally has his household run efficiently by his wife, who also looks after much of the entertaining. A woman trade commissioner would have all this on top of her normal work”

and

“A spinster lady can, and very often does, turn into something of a battleaxe with the passing years. A man usually mellows”

Blimey.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »