Csíkszereda Musings

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

Archive for December, 2005

Buek

Posted by Andy Hockley on 30 December, 2005

As mentioned elsewhere, the Christmas Eve visitor for us was Az Angyal – the Angel.

The Angel comes in on Christmas Eve, puts up the tree, decorates it, and puts all the presents under it, in the late afternoon/early evening while the children just happen to be out for an hour or so.

Well, as a result of other events documented elswehere, this Christmas Eve our household was rather shrunk (ironically just as it had in practice become larger), and so I sent Bogi out with the neni who looks after her when we’re working/out, and took on the angelic role myself. It was a bitch of a job, I have to say, and I find myself having new found respect for all winged dead people who live on clouds.

Well, obviously it’s not a bitch of the job in the sense that I got to spread Christmas joy and cheer and brighten up my 6 year old stepdaughter’s life no end, but in the sense of the sheer physical labour involved. You see, trees don’t sit in pots here, they get put into a rather elaborate wrought iron supporting holder thingy. But the tree trunk was thicker than the hole provided for the purpose, so I spent over an hour sawing it to the requisite thickness, using only a hacksaw blade. (If I had thought about this in advance I would have been out to buy a real saw that may have made it easier – or even I suppose a hacksaw itself into which I could have inserted the blade – but obviously when you only realise that you will have to do this after all the shops have closed, you have to make do with what you can)

It was all worth it though, even though the angel did forget one entire bag of gifts which were hidden in the shoe cupboard and which thus arrived a few days later.

Buek 2006

I saw this word written in lights on a factory the other day, and wondered what it meant. It was obviously festive and seasonal and related to the new year, but it was a word I had never before seen, and I thought I knew all the Christmas/New Year wishes expressions. Turns out that in fact it’s actually an acronym meaning Boldog Új Evet Kivánunk (We wish you a happy new year). Now, being the contrary sod that I am, I actually felt somewhat hard done by by this seemingly half-arsed wish. I guess it was cheaper in terms of lights. I have yet to hear anyone actually wish me a BUEK, but I wonder if anyone ever does use the acronym to express their best wishes. It’s laziness taken to the nth degree, IMO.

Szilveszter

Well, tomorrow is Szilveszter, and I would like to take this opportunity to wish both my readers a happy new year and a generally cool and groovy 2006. This year a new law has been enecated regarding the sale and discharge of fireworks prior to the big day, and so far it seems to be working – unlike last year (documented here), when by this date the town was rent by a constant stream of explosions, this year I’ve barely heard one. I presume tomorrow they will return with avengeance and make up for lost time.

Posted in csikszereda, romania | 2 Comments »

Buek

Posted by Andy Hockley on 30 December, 2005

As mentioned elsewhere, the Christmas Eve visitor for us was Az Angyal – the Angel.

The Angel comes in on Christmas Eve, puts up the tree, decorates it, and puts all the presents under it, in the late afternoon/early evening while the children just happen to be out for an hour or so.

Well, as a result of other events documented elswehere, this Christmas Eve our household was rather shrunk (ironically just as it had in practice become larger), and so I sent Bogi out with the neni who looks after her when we’re working/out, and took on the angelic role myself. It was a bitch of a job, I have to say, and I find myself having new found respect for all winged dead people who live on clouds.

Well, obviously it’s not a bitch of the job in the sense that I got to spread Christmas joy and cheer and brighten up my 6 year old stepdaughter’s life no end, but in the sense of the sheer physical labour involved. You see, trees don’t sit in pots here, they get put into a rather elaborate wrought iron supporting holder thingy. But the tree trunk was thicker than the hole provided for the purpose, so I spent over an hour sawing it to the requisite thickness, using only a hacksaw blade. (If I had thought about this in advance I would have been out to buy a real saw that may have made it easier – or even I suppose a hacksaw itself into which I could have inserted the blade – but obviously when you only realise that you will have to do this after all the shops have closed, you have to make do with what you can)

It was all worth it though, even though the angel did forget one entire bag of gifts which were hidden in the shoe cupboard and which thus arrived a few days later.

Buek 2006

I saw this word written in lights on a factory the other day, and wondered what it meant. It was obviously festive and seasonal and related to the new year, but it was a word I had never before seen, and I thought I knew all the Christmas/New Year wishes expressions. Turns out that in fact it’s actually an acronym meaning Boldog Új Evet Kivánunk (We wish you a happy new year). Now, being the contrary sod that I am, I actually felt somewhat hard done by by this seemingly half-arsed wish. I guess it was cheaper in terms of lights. I have yet to hear anyone actually wish me a BUEK, but I wonder if anyone ever does use the acronym to express their best wishes. It’s laziness taken to the nth degree, IMO.

Szilveszter

Well, tomorrow is Szilveszter, and I would like to take this opportunity to wish both my readers a happy new year and a generally cool and groovy 2006. This year a new law has been enecated regarding the sale and discharge of fireworks prior to the big day, and so far it seems to be working – unlike last year (documented here), when by this date the town was rent by a constant stream of explosions, this year I’ve barely heard one. I presume tomorrow they will return with avengeance and make up for lost time.

Posted in csikszereda, romania | 2 Comments »

Rom-Anglican

Posted by Andy Hockley on 29 December, 2005

More inter-linguistic cross-cultural bureaucratic fun.

On Tuesday I went to Udvarhely to pick Erika and Paula up and bring them home. Before they could be released from the hospital though, I had to complete a bunch of paperwork, and take it to the city hall to get a birth certificate. I was ushered into an office where myself and a nurse proceeded to complete these forms. This was interesting as it was a conversation that happened in my limited Hungarian and her limited English in order to complete a form in Romanian.

Many of the lines were easy to fill in – the names etc were all printed on the wedding certificate and our ID cards. For that it was just a question of her copying stuff down correctly. Others involved a little bit of dialogue – her asking me what Erika’s job is and her level of education and so on. This I could cope with though, and was feeling quite chuffed with my comprehension and responses, when suddenly she asked me something about Erika which question I had absolutely no understanding of. She tried repeating it a couple of times but it wasn’t helping, so I asked to see the form – often I can understand Romanian better than Hungarian from speaking other latin languages. Aha, it said “Religia”. This I could have a stab at and we continued. Then she had to do the same thing for me, and once again we hit the “Religia” question. Rather than go into detail about my own particular brand of agnosticism, I took the lazy way out and went for “Anglican”. Fine. She understood what that was…but then, she realised she had no idea how to write Anglican in Romanian. (It’s not terribly surprising, while I’m sure she was pretty fluent in the language, it’s unlikely that she would ever have had to use the word Anglican in any way ever in her life before that moment). Eventually, she made the guess that I would have, and wrote Anglican as phonetically as possible as if it were said by a Romanian (which may actually be “Anglican”)

So, once I got the papers out, I was free to go to the City Hall and get the birth certificate. This proved to be surprisingly easy and there is no funny story to tell about the experience. I have to go back and get it next week though, since they had a bit of a backlog, what with it having been a holiday period and there being a number of births to go into the register.

Eventually though, my girls were free to go, and were released from the delicious cuisine of Udvarhely Hospital. (Most of my trips over involved a shopping list of goods to supplement the culinary offerings). And now they’re home safely and our entire existence has been thrown upside down. In a good way though.

Posted in bureaucracy, paula | 2 Comments »

Rom-Anglican

Posted by Andy Hockley on 29 December, 2005

More inter-linguistic cross-cultural bureaucratic fun.

On Tuesday I went to Udvarhely to pick Erika and Paula up and bring them home. Before they could be released from the hospital though, I had to complete a bunch of paperwork, and take it to the city hall to get a birth certificate. I was ushered into an office where myself and a nurse proceeded to complete these forms. This was interesting as it was a conversation that happened in my limited Hungarian and her limited English in order to complete a form in Romanian.

Many of the lines were easy to fill in – the names etc were all printed on the wedding certificate and our ID cards. For that it was just a question of her copying stuff down correctly. Others involved a little bit of dialogue – her asking me what Erika’s job is and her level of education and so on. This I could cope with though, and was feeling quite chuffed with my comprehension and responses, when suddenly she asked me something about Erika which question I had absolutely no understanding of. She tried repeating it a couple of times but it wasn’t helping, so I asked to see the form – often I can understand Romanian better than Hungarian from speaking other latin languages. Aha, it said “Religia”. This I could have a stab at and we continued. Then she had to do the same thing for me, and once again we hit the “Religia” question. Rather than go into detail about my own particular brand of agnosticism, I took the lazy way out and went for “Anglican”. Fine. She understood what that was…but then, she realised she had no idea how to write Anglican in Romanian. (It’s not terribly surprising, while I’m sure she was pretty fluent in the language, it’s unlikely that she would ever have had to use the word Anglican in any way ever in her life before that moment). Eventually, she made the guess that I would have, and wrote Anglican as phonetically as possible as if it were said by a Romanian (which may actually be “Anglican”)

So, once I got the papers out, I was free to go to the City Hall and get the birth certificate. This proved to be surprisingly easy and there is no funny story to tell about the experience. I have to go back and get it next week though, since they had a bit of a backlog, what with it having been a holiday period and there being a number of births to go into the register.

Eventually though, my girls were free to go, and were released from the delicious cuisine of Udvarhely Hospital. (Most of my trips over involved a shopping list of goods to supplement the culinary offerings). And now they’re home safely and our entire existence has been thrown upside down. In a good way though.

Posted in bureaucracy, paula | 2 Comments »

Paula’s birthday

Posted by Andy Hockley on 26 December, 2005

Thursday December 22nd, 2005. When we woke up Erika was complaining of some small contractions. I say “small” because that’s how she described them, but as everyone knows, women basically have no realistic concept of pain.

Man (slightly cuts finger): Arrrgggghhhhh. Expletive deleted. Expletive deleted.
Woman (partially amputates own arm with a rusty fish slice): Ooooh. That stings a bit.

So, anyway, she’s suffering some level of pain that would probably lay low an entire troop of battle hardened Marines, but thinks that “It’s nothing”. As the morning goes on, I keep solicitously enquiring after these contractions, but they are still regarded as nothing much, and certainly nothing to get worried about or to start driving over the mountain to the hospital for. I, on the other hand, am frantically consulting our dog-eared copy of “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” every few minutes to work out if there are any visible signs I will be able to pick up on to offer up as conclusive evidence that this is in fact the onset of labour, and hence get her to the hospital.

We make stuffed cabbage for Christmas dinner. I do the heavy work, such as grinding up the pork (this at least makes me feel that I’m contributing in some small way as this kind of thing is an odd activity for a vegetarian to be indulging in). Erika does the mixing, and subsequently the stuffing. It is thus, then, that at 2pm on the day in question a visitor would have witnessed Erika bent double over the kitchen counter, gritting her teeth against the pain, and rolling pickled cabbage leaves around a kind of pork/rice paste. By now the contractions were coming every five minutes (by a curious coincidence, my enquiries after her well being were coming at similar intervals). Eventually at 3pm she agreed (in an effort to shut me up perhaps) to call someone at the hospital. There was no answer, but it seemed that she felt she had done all she needed to at this point.

Eventually I convinced her that we really should probably go, as from what she told mne about the frequency and length of the contractions it was certain to me that the baby’s head was out by now. We called our friend Gyözö, who had offered (nay insisted) that he drive us over to the hospital, and he came over to pick us up (he has winter tyres on his car). We finally left the house at 4pm.

The road over was not too bad, a little slippy in places and with a light dusting of snow, but at least it was daylight and there were no real problems. I was glad that I was not at the wheel, though, as I was knotted up inside with tension and I think my fists were clenched in traditional white knuckle style. By this time, Erika was timing her contractions down to about three minutes apart, and I wondered whether we’d have to pull over and deliver the baby somewhere on the Harghita Mountain.

Finally, at 5pm, we made it into Udvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc in Romanian), and drew up at the hospital. We found the midwife on duty and she examined Erika. She came out and said that she’d called the doctor as she thought the baby would be here in ten minutes to one hour. Ten minutes! I was extremely grateful that I hadn’t known this ETA while on the road.

An hour later she told us “I think, about an hour”. At this point Erika’s doctor arrioved and told us, “an hour or two”. We went off to buy Erika some slippers (Romanian hospitals don’t provide you with any of the stuff, and the ones that Erika had packed, the midwife had looked upon rather disdainfully). By 7pm we (Gyözö and I) were back in the corridor, looking at bits of old sterilisation machines that had been dismantled and left to clutter up the hallways. Time passed. I sat, I wandered aimlessly, I tried to read a book (without success). At about 8.30, at the edge of the two hours that the doctor had suggested as the outer limit of this wait, a nurse came sprinting past us from some other corner of the hospital and into the delivery area. This did nothing for my nerves, since I knew that Erika was the only person in there, and why would a nurse need to be sprinting unless there was something seriously problematic. By now my wandering had turned to pacing and trying to strain my ears to hear anything at all from behing the doors.

But then, 15 minutes later, out walked the same sprinting nurse from earlier carrying in her arms a little bundle of cloth with a baby stuffed in the middle. My baby. Our baby. Who was fine and healthy and perfect. Apparently, behind the doors, everything had gone very smoothly and normally. Paula got taken away to wherever it is that she was taken to, and Erika had to remain in the delivery room for four hours to rest before going up to the ward where she would be reunited with Paula. I started texting people and taking phone calls. So overcome was I that I completely omitted to slip the doctor his envelope when he came out past us and went home. (There is a system of wage supplementation for doctors here, and for delivering a baby the going discrete backhander is 1.5 million Lei. Had the baby had to be delivered by caesarean, it would have been 3million, so I was all ready with various denominations. The midwife gets a mere half million, which seems a bit unfair, but thems the breaks).

Eventually, with no reason to wait around any longer, Gyözö drove me home. Mother and baby are still doing fine and everyobody is happy and healthy. Two pictures below:


Posted in health, paula | 12 Comments »

Paula’s birthday

Posted by Andy Hockley on 26 December, 2005

Thursday December 22nd, 2005. When we woke up Erika was complaining of some small contractions. I say “small” because that’s how she described them, but as everyone knows, women basically have no realistic concept of pain.

Man (slightly cuts finger): Arrrgggghhhhh. Expletive deleted. Expletive deleted.
Woman (partially amputates own arm with a rusty fish slice): Ooooh. That stings a bit.

So, anyway, she’s suffering some level of pain that would probably lay low an entire troop of battle hardened Marines, but thinks that “It’s nothing”. As the morning goes on, I keep solicitously enquiring after these contractions, but they are still regarded as nothing much, and certainly nothing to get worried about or to start driving over the mountain to the hospital for. I, on the other hand, am frantically consulting our dog-eared copy of “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” every few minutes to work out if there are any visible signs I will be able to pick up on to offer up as conclusive evidence that this is in fact the onset of labour, and hence get her to the hospital.

We make stuffed cabbage for Christmas dinner. I do the heavy work, such as grinding up the pork (this at least makes me feel that I’m contributing in some small way as this kind of thing is an odd activity for a vegetarian to be indulging in). Erika does the mixing, and subsequently the stuffing. It is thus, then, that at 2pm on the day in question a visitor would have witnessed Erika bent double over the kitchen counter, gritting her teeth against the pain, and rolling pickled cabbage leaves around a kind of pork/rice paste. By now the contractions were coming every five minutes (by a curious coincidence, my enquiries after her well being were coming at similar intervals). Eventually at 3pm she agreed (in an effort to shut me up perhaps) to call someone at the hospital. There was no answer, but it seemed that she felt she had done all she needed to at this point.

Eventually I convinced her that we really should probably go, as from what she told mne about the frequency and length of the contractions it was certain to me that the baby’s head was out by now. We called our friend Gyözö, who had offered (nay insisted) that he drive us over to the hospital, and he came over to pick us up (he has winter tyres on his car). We finally left the house at 4pm.

The road over was not too bad, a little slippy in places and with a light dusting of snow, but at least it was daylight and there were no real problems. I was glad that I was not at the wheel, though, as I was knotted up inside with tension and I think my fists were clenched in traditional white knuckle style. By this time, Erika was timing her contractions down to about three minutes apart, and I wondered whether we’d have to pull over and deliver the baby somewhere on the Harghita Mountain.

Finally, at 5pm, we made it into Udvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc in Romanian), and drew up at the hospital. We found the midwife on duty and she examined Erika. She came out and said that she’d called the doctor as she thought the baby would be here in ten minutes to one hour. Ten minutes! I was extremely grateful that I hadn’t known this ETA while on the road.

An hour later she told us “I think, about an hour”. At this point Erika’s doctor arrioved and told us, “an hour or two”. We went off to buy Erika some slippers (Romanian hospitals don’t provide you with any of the stuff, and the ones that Erika had packed, the midwife had looked upon rather disdainfully). By 7pm we (Gyözö and I) were back in the corridor, looking at bits of old sterilisation machines that had been dismantled and left to clutter up the hallways. Time passed. I sat, I wandered aimlessly, I tried to read a book (without success). At about 8.30, at the edge of the two hours that the doctor had suggested as the outer limit of this wait, a nurse came sprinting past us from some other corner of the hospital and into the delivery area. This did nothing for my nerves, since I knew that Erika was the only person in there, and why would a nurse need to be sprinting unless there was something seriously problematic. By now my wandering had turned to pacing and trying to strain my ears to hear anything at all from behing the doors.

But then, 15 minutes later, out walked the same sprinting nurse from earlier carrying in her arms a little bundle of cloth with a baby stuffed in the middle. My baby. Our baby. Who was fine and healthy and perfect. Apparently, behind the doors, everything had gone very smoothly and normally. Paula got taken away to wherever it is that she was taken to, and Erika had to remain in the delivery room for four hours to rest before going up to the ward where she would be reunited with Paula. I started texting people and taking phone calls. So overcome was I that I completely omitted to slip the doctor his envelope when he came out past us and went home. (There is a system of wage supplementation for doctors here, and for delivering a baby the going discrete backhander is 1.5 million Lei. Had the baby had to be delivered by caesarean, it would have been 3million, so I was all ready with various denominations. The midwife gets a mere half million, which seems a bit unfair, but thems the breaks).

Eventually, with no reason to wait around any longer, Gyözö drove me home. Mother and baby are still doing fine and everyobody is happy and healthy. Two pictures below:


Posted in health, paula | 12 Comments »

Happy Christmas

Posted by Andy Hockley on 23 December, 2005

I am achingly happy to announce that last night at approximately 8.45 local time, Paula Reka Hockley was born looking as beautifully gorgeous as it’s possible to look when covered in slime. Both she and her mother are healthy and well, and her father is still far too elated to be especially coherent.

[Pronunciation guide: Paula is pronounced like the Italian name Paola rather than the English Paul-with-an-A-on-it. Reka is NOT pronounced “wrecker”, but closer to the Japanese name Reiko – something like Ray-kaw (where that last syllable is very short)]

My only regret is that due to factors beyond my control (an innate crapness at indoor photography) I cannot share with you a reasonable picture at this
time.

I hope you all have a very very merry Christmas and New Year and a very happy and successful 2006.

Andy (and Erika, and Bogi, and Paula Reka)

Posted in paula | 8 Comments »

Happy Christmas

Posted by Andy Hockley on 23 December, 2005

I am achingly happy to announce that last night at approximately 8.45 local time, Paula Reka Hockley was born looking as beautifully gorgeous as it’s possible to look when covered in slime. Both she and her mother are healthy and well, and her father is still far too elated to be especially coherent.

[Pronunciation guide: Paula is pronounced like the Italian name Paola rather than the English Paul-with-an-A-on-it. Reka is NOT pronounced “wrecker”, but closer to the Japanese name Reiko – something like Ray-kaw (where that last syllable is very short)]

My only regret is that due to factors beyond my control (an innate crapness at indoor photography) I cannot share with you a reasonable picture at this
time.

I hope you all have a very very merry Christmas and New Year and a very happy and successful 2006.

Andy (and Erika, and Bogi, and Paula Reka)

Posted in paula | 8 Comments »

Hrean man

Posted by Andy Hockley on 22 December, 2005

Lately, I have been eating a lot of horseradish. I have decided that it (horseradish) is one of the finest and most underrated of vegetables. That, of course, is assuming that it is a vegetable. The Romanian word from horseradish is hrean and the Hungarian word is torma.

I have started eating it with everything. The other day, for example, I had a horseradish sandwich. It was gorgeous. And here I am not referring to horseradish sauce, or horseradish mixed with mayonnaise, but genuine strong, sinus-clearing, head-expanding, wasabi-esque horseradish. I’m thinking of writing a horseradish cookbook. This will be a triumph of marketing as it will basically just be lots of traditional recipes with horseradish added. I might even make it trilingual so it would feature, for example, fish ‘n chips ‘n horseradish, as well as tormás rakott krumpli, and of course mămăligă cu brânză şi smântână şi hrean. It would go down a storm in the lovers of strong tastes community of the Hungarian-Romanian-English speaking world.

Yesterday I dropped and broke a whole jar of it, which caused me much grief. I half expected the carpet to be eaten away this morning.

Sorry about the title, by the way, I couldn’t help myself.

Posted in food | 6 Comments »

Hrean man

Posted by Andy Hockley on 22 December, 2005

Lately, I have been eating a lot of horseradish. I have decided that it (horseradish) is one of the finest and most underrated of vegetables. That, of course, is assuming that it is a vegetable. The Romanian word from horseradish is hrean and the Hungarian word is torma.

I have started eating it with everything. The other day, for example, I had a horseradish sandwich. It was gorgeous. And here I am not referring to horseradish sauce, or horseradish mixed with mayonnaise, but genuine strong, sinus-clearing, head-expanding, wasabi-esque horseradish. I’m thinking of writing a horseradish cookbook. This will be a triumph of marketing as it will basically just be lots of traditional recipes with horseradish added. I might even make it trilingual so it would feature, for example, fish ‘n chips ‘n horseradish, as well as tormás rakott krumpli, and of course mămăligă cu brânză şi smântână şi hrean. It would go down a storm in the lovers of strong tastes community of the Hungarian-Romanian-English speaking world.

Yesterday I dropped and broke a whole jar of it, which caused me much grief. I half expected the carpet to be eaten away this morning.

Sorry about the title, by the way, I couldn’t help myself.

Posted in food | 6 Comments »