Thanks to everyone who’s commented, I’m sorry I’ve not been able to blog before, though I have had a bit of net access so have commented on a few other blogs here and there. I’ve got 1/2 an hour in an internet cafe right now, so thought I’d take the opportunity to let you know I’m still alive, and to update what’s happening on Planet Fieldwork. I thought I might use this blog to share some extracts (or more accurately, outtakes) from my fieldwork diary, as well as give a more general “what’s happening” kind of thing. So, this is what has happened this month:
May 1st – leaving Glasgow
I’m writing this waiting for my train down south to leave Central Station. My flat’s as tidy as it’s ever been (it’s the first time I’ve seen my bedroom floor for months!). [Lovely friend] will be checking on the flat once a week or so, and [temporary lodger] will be moving in for a bit as well, so I know I shouldn’t need to worry – but I am still a bit anxious about it, and was a bit tearful when I took one last look round. I know it’s not much, but it’s my home and I do love it despite all its quirks. If someone told me right now I didn’t have to go to Romania but could go home now I’d go like a shot (and the flat would be tidy – bonus!). OK that’s it, the train’s moving. No going back.
I won’t write about missing HD yet, as I think that’s going to hit me more when I see him this week and then say goodbye. So for now I’ll just stress about pre-Romania anxieties, which I have to say are somewhat legion. Actually I think I’ll stress about those later – for now I think wallowing in denial will be a better strategy.
6th May – Budapest
[Lots of slushy stuff about HD. We had a lovely couple of days at the seaside before I left, and had a suitably tearful farewell at the airport. So far we’re both surviving, but missing each other lots.]
And now I’m in Hungary, which is surreal, given that yesterday I was in Brighton. The hotel is new and nice, I can’t say I had the best night’s sleep (not helped by the lack of non-see-through curtains (also discussed in the comments of yay’s blog earlier this week), something I’d forgotten about but which is the 2nd thing to let me know that I’m back in eastern Europe! The first being a rip-off taxi fare from the airport to the hotel.).
Initial worries as I prepare to head on to Romania this lunchtime are that people won’t want to put themselves out for me and be interviewed, that I’ll struggle to find somewhere not too expensive to live in Sibiu, that I’ll forget all my research questions, that I’ll end up with substandard data, that I’ll miss the point and chase irrelevancies int he quest to have anything at all on paper as “my data”. Of course, it may well be that all those things happen, but also I know that I’ll be surprised by people’s generosity with their time, I’ll have surprising but really rich data, and somehow I’ll manage to make it “home”.
[Later in Romania] Have had an email from one of my Sibiu contacts suggesting I do some work with them while I’m here on one of their projects. That’s very very eek-inducing indeed, but potentially very exciting, and could be a huge boost credibility-wise and give me good inroads into potential interviewees and avenues of discussion. Of course, trust me to have left behind the two books which would have been most helpful for that, but anyway in general it seems to be a good start!
I have a headache.
I hate Romanian pronouns, which are far more complicated than they ought to be.
That is all.
On my first day at school one of my teachers asked me how best I learn, so that she can tailor her methods appropriately, which I really appreciated. Today I realised that I forgot to say, in the course of that conversation, “I don’t do roleplays”. Sigh.
There was a rally this afternoon in the square near the school for the (currently suspended, awaiting possible impeachment proceedings) President. I didn’t see the man himself, as he gave his speech while I was still in classes, but I did hang around a bit for the tail end of the rally and took a few photos. The political situation at the moment here is really quite farcical – the President (Traian Basescu) and PM (Calin Popescu Tariceanu, who is the absolute spitting image of Sam the Eagle from the Muppets) haven’t got on for ages, and when I was here last summer there was a big bust up because Tariceanu said Romania should withdraw its troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and Basescu refused to allow it, and relations have gone downhill from there. It has got more and more ridiculous, culminating a couple of months or so ago in a live TV show which featured Tariceanu, where he accused Basescu of something or other to do with energy payments, and Basescu then phoned in live to demand an apology (an almost identical scenario to one which features in the live phone-in show in “12:08 East of Bucharest”, the comedy we saw at the Glasgow Film Festival the other month). I can’t remember if it was the same occasion or another one where Basescu also ridiculed Tariceanu’s bowtie (I’m not making this up), and for a few days afterwards the PM’s supporters wore bowties to express their support and solidarity. Anyway, next weekend there is a referendum where the people have to vote to say whether Basescu should be permanently suspended (at least, I think that’s what they’re voting for). Which I think is the govt shooting itself in the foot, as however unpopular Basescu is with the govt, he’s clearly very popular with the general population. Mind you, if there’s a presidential election then Basescu’s opponent might well be Gigi Becali (for those of you who know anything about Scotland, Gigi Becali is the Romanian equivalent of Vladimir Romanov) which is quite a scary proposition as far as I can see. It’s all very entertaining, and whenever I’ve asked my teachers about it they’ve been very embarrassed about the whole thing.
Mind you, it’s all rather tame compared to someone I know who went to one of the -stan’s for her fieldwork, and shortly after she arrived they had a full-blown revolution (somewhat ironic, given that her PhD was on security issues. She assures me the timing was purely coincidental).
That’s today! I’m in Sibiu, as I thought I’d better find somewhere to live. I’ve been fretting all week about it, and convincing myself that I’d be sleeping on a park bench and paying through the nose for the privilege, so I am in the middle of a flat-seeking adventure. But what are the 15 seconds of fame in the title, I hear you ask? I’m not making this up either – my first stop was tourist information to see about getting a list of estate agents, and booking myself into a hotel for a couple of nights when I first get here, and once I’d finished this woman came up to me and asked in English if I could help her. She was holding a microphone, and asked if I would look at (and be filmed looking at!) some paintings that were being exhibited in the tourist info office, and then I would be filmed while she asked me whether I thought the paintings were representative of Sibiu (they were all of buildings around the centre of town). It probably wasn’t even 15 seconds, and goodness knows what I looked like as I’d just eaten some sandwiches and was covered in dust from outside (it’s ever so hot here already!). It’s for a national news station, so we’re not talking crap TV here, no sir, I’m now a serious broadcaster don’t you know.
After that adventure, I sorted out the hotel for when I return (in just over a week) and then on the offchance wandered to an estate agent’s office more to figure out where it was than anything else (as they all seem to be closed at weekends here). However, not only was it open, but they had a flat that isn’t too expensive, right in the centre, with an English landlord, available from next week to when I leave Romania. So barring disaster that’s what I’m going to go for – there wasn’t time to arrange a viewing today as my bus back to Cluj leaves in an hour, so I’ll have to see it when I get here in just over a week, but hooray! I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I said that to the girl in the office, she told me I clearly had lots of luck. I don’t know about that, I certainly can’t believe I keep on landing on my feet in this country, I guess someone must be looking after me, right?
What’s even better – because my bus leaves earlier than I originally wanted it to, I’m going to be back in Cluj in time for Eurovision! How cool is that! (though am devastated that I won’t hear Terry Wogan’s commentary).
So that’s it for now – I’m alive, I’m doing surprisingly well, I’m missing HD, but life generally is good. And I’ve been trampolining again (see last year’s entries for photo) – it’s all go.