Saturday, May 28, 2011
As many of my postings have shown, this country has great beauty in its countryside, its architecture, its traditions, dance and music, but what will remain most poignant in my memories is its people. I've decided to write about a few specific persons who have touched my life here. I can't say they are particularly representative since I've met so many vastly different personalities--just as one would anywhere. I was going to call these descriptions "portraits," but since they are limited glimpses, I'll call them "snapshots." Oh, and I'm changing their names to other typical Romanian names. Bogdan: My village is very close to the city (about 4 miles) and has a shuttle bus that runs on the hour most hours of the workday until 8pm. However, if you need to come back from the city after hours (like after a concert or movie) or if you need to go in on the weekend, or if you need to get yourself and luggage to the train station or pick up heavy boxes at the post office, you'll need a taxi. I found Bogdan last fall and was so impressed with his courteousness, promptness, and good driving, AND his good English that I immediately put his number in my cell phone. He has become not only a reliable driver...but a friend. I sit in the front with him and we speak in English so that he can practice his skills while patiently feeding me Romanian phrases as I inquire. He says it once slowly as though he's handing me a gift for my brain. "I have to see it written," I whine, laughing at my bad pronunciation. Then he'll say it again rapidly several times as though that should do it. Bogdan is in his early 30's, college-educated, a vegetarian, and a t-totaler. He laments the fact that poor economic times have hurt the taxi business and is not as happy about sunny weather as I am. "No one in the city wants to ride when they can walk in this nice weather." He and his wife have no children and very little extended family. They are intellectuals (he agrees with me when I offer this description), read voraciously and do not have much of a social life. (It would be difficult in Romania to have much of a social life if you didn't eat meat nor drink...nor have children.) Another unusual aspect of his personality is that he is not Orthodox and is in fact more Hindu--a follower of Hari Krishna and the Upanishads philosophy. For my birthday, he gave me a very nice copy of the Bhagavad-gita in English. I am reading passages with titles that seem interesting like "Nature, the Enjoyer and Consciousness." He likes discussing life-and-meaning and believes there are no accidents in life, that our random meeting was not random at all. We are surprisingly close on many of our views of spirituality, but miles apart in other areas like government and society. When we were discussing family at Christmas, he told Lee and me that he had very little. "Well, we can just be 'family'," I said impulsively and he immediately agreed, "Yes, you are family." I can't tell you how comforting that attitude was when I hurt my back last winter and he helped me up and down stairs and along icy sidewalks, to the post office once where he carried the package, and always driving slowly so as not to jar me. I don't think a son could have been more attentive. Family indeed.