Csíkszereda Musings

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


Posted by Andy Hockley on 2 July, 2007

No, not the French island off East Africa.

I have never been to a school reunion. Not of my secondary school, not of my (excuse British-ism) VIth form college, not of my University. I have never even been invited to one, and have no idea if such things have ever been held. I have to assume not, since I can’t be that hard to track down – while I have moved a lot and all over the shop, my folks have lived in the same place since I was 7, and I really honestly wasn’t so unpopular that I would have been deliberately “forgotten” when invitations were being sent.

Here, however, these reunions are not only held, but have quite a specific format. I know this because on Friday we went to Erika’s back in Marosvasarhely (Targu Mures). The whole thing kicks off with an “Oszi ora” (spelling very possibly wrong) in which the class reconvenes in their old classroom with their old teacher and says something about what they’ve been up to/cracks a joke etc. That is in the afternoon, and then in the evening there is the party to which the spouses, partners, etc get invited.

What’s especially interesting about this particular class is that the vast majority of them have emigrated. Erika is one of the few of her classmates who still lives in Romania, while the others are in Hungary, Luxembourg, Germany, Canada, the US, Switzerland, etc. This, I think, very much reflects the time at which they graduated high school and the circumstances in which they found themselves. Marosvasarhely/Targu Mures was (for Hungarians) particularly hard hit by the Ceausescu years. This is obviously not to say that everyone wasn’t hard hit by Ceausescu (well nearly everyone, people like Iliescu obviously did alright). Then in 1990, post Ceausescu, the city was the location for Romania’s only serious inter-ethnic conflict between Hungarians and Romanians (Human Rights Watch report), and I think for many people at that time, especially Hungarian young adults, it may have been seen as a time to get out while it was momentarily possible. Obviously things didn’t turn out for the worst, and the riots and attacks were an isolated incident and while the ethnic balance has shifted in the city (it is now majority Romanian), people’s worst fears were not realised. But they have resulted in the emigration of a large section of the Hungarian population who were old enough to remember the 80s, young enough to not have built up a vast set of ties and responsibilities within the town, but adult enough to have been free to leave in the early 90s. (I susepct I have rather ungallantly given Erika’s age away here, or at least led the reader to guess exactly which high school reunion we were celebrating)

Anyway, the party was very good, aside from the food which was bloody rubbish (a universally held opinion, not just mine). I’m even getting used to being at parties at which all the music is entirely unfamiliar to me. As ever it went on until the hours were no longer so wee (I’m still taken aback about how long parties go on here), and there were even people present who spoke less Hungarian than me. There was a football match the following day between the class boys and the husbands of the class girls. I didn’t play, because (a) we had to get back to Paula, (b) I didn’t know about it, and so had no suitable shoes, and (c) I’d only got to bed after 5 and had consumed a fair amount of booze and I am no longer capable of indulging in that kind of madness (and to be honest I’m not sure how any of the others were – I mean the nature of the event means that there isn’t that great an age range between potential participants).

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