Csíkszereda Musings

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

A collection of unconnected trivia

Posted by Andy Hockley on 11 August, 2006

I’ve been headhunted by the “Gimme your stuff” website who would like a Romanian representative to join their gang of people swapping culturally significant items (As has Paul in Budapest). The object is for me to offer up some item from these parts which can then be exchanged with someone else in another part of the world. However, as I thought about it, I realised I have no idea what that would be. If I went for the Hargita County/Szekely option then the things that are produced round here are Palinka (Hungarian fruit brandy), Ciuc beer, borviz (mineral water) and potatoes. I’m guessing none of these things will be easy to post, and may even be illegal, especially now that liquid is banned on planes (by the way, since people are now – since yesterday- being asked to taste baby’s milk in order to check that it’s not explosive, what happens to people with colostomy bags?). The other cultural artifact of the Szekely would be a big knife, but once again, there are questions of legality and postage which may cause issues. So, I could market myself as a representative of Romania and send polenta (or, as many menus seem to translate mamaliga, “corn mush”), or an advert for BRD with a picture of Nadia Comaneci on it or something. Any ideas? A lock of Ion Tiriac’s moustache? An old shoe which I could pretend was one of the thousands owned by Elena Ceausescu? Gigi Becali’s head on a platter (I wish that were possible without committing some crime or other)? Any ideas?

Bit of a bad week here – I brought a major cold* home with me from Barcelona, and have had to spend the week attempting not to spread it to anyone in my family since we are hoping to fly to England on Monday (terror alerts permitting) This is very difficult since obviously having been away for a week, the first thing I want to do is to spread germs around (or at least offer up a kiss or two). Then my hard drive died, with lots of important and un-backed up data on it. Thankfully, my computer expert friend Attila (yes, there are Hungarians called Attila – loads of them in fact) came to my rescue and managed to save all the vital stuff.

[*Interesting fact about colds in Romania – it is almost impossible to convince otherwise intelligent people that a cold is a virus. Colds are caught just through being cold, and there are no viruses involved. It’s baffling. Mind you I’ve just heard a stat on Euronews that 60% of Europeans believe that antibiotics are useful against colds, so it’s not just confined to here obviously]

In Milan airport on Sunday evening, I was presented with an impossible dilemma from a British perspective. I needed to go from the Schengen terminal where my plane from Barcelona arrived to the non-Schengen terminal where my plane to Bucharest departed. The problem was that I didn’t have a lot of time, and there was a passport check to pass through between the two. And at that checkpoint there was one person working, and a queue that was immense. This created a mental vortex within me, as the competing cultural imperatives of being on time and respecting queues battled for supremacy. In the end the need to catch the plane and be home with the family won out and I pushed in brazenly, while keeping my head down and not cacthing anyone’s eye. I felt shitty about it, but ultimately the fact that I was in Italy saved me, as presumably people are used to it. If I’d done the same in the UK, I would have been hung, drawn, and quartered.

Not sure when I will next post here, since we are off on our two weeks holiday to England on Monday (in fact on Monday we fly to Budapest, and thence to England on Tuesday), but I still want to craft my Hungarian/Romanian national psychology post promised some time ago. If I get to it today/tomorrow, you’ll see it, otherwise it’ll have to wait.

4 Responses to “A collection of unconnected trivia”

  1. Catherine said

    I hear you re: the Milan transfer terminals…!

  2. Petrus said

    A native Muldovian told me that people get colds from open windows in buses, even when its a stifling 104 degrees outside 🙂

  3. Andy H said

    Oh, yes, draughts are the number one fear around these parts. Windows open on trains or buses get quickly shut, even in the middle of summer, and a number of Romanians walk around with pieces of cotton wool stuffed in their ears so as not to be affected by any loose draughts that may be floating around. (At least the draughts-can-cause-earache connection exists, so it is not entirely irrational, but it seems somewhat antisocial to walk around with cotton wool in your ears.)

  4. Anonymous said

    The idea of Germany changing its mind is apparently just a rumour started by The Guardian. The Germans said they haven’t claimed anything like that.


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