Today I came into town to do an interview (which went very well thank you) (see even working at weekends, now that’s dedication for you) and walked through the Stefan cel Mare park to my destination and found a very big festival going on. The park has a big fountain in the middle with lots of paths emanating away from it like a giant spider diagram (spot the former OU student) and down each path were lots of stalls relating to the different nationalities and ethnic groups who live in Moldova. After the interview I went back and explored, and took lots of pictures. There were lots of people wearing various national costumes, and music and food and books and knick-knacks and flags and balloons and colours and smells and all sorts of things on display. Groups I counted were (in no particular order): Russians, Ukrainians (including an amassed youth accordion band which surely must have heralded the entrance to Hell itself, but fortunately they weren’t playing when I walked past), Bulgarians, Belorussians, Greeks, Jews, Roma, Uzbeks, Georgians, Armenians, Azeris, Polish, and the Lithuanians/Latvians/Estonians/Germans were lumped together for some reason. There were also stalls for the African-Asian association of Moldova, and by UNHCR staffed by refugees from various places (Somalia, Chechenia, etc).* It really was fascinating. There was a stage where various music and dancing was going on – I saw an Eurovision-esque Ukrainian power ballad singer, some Azeri dancers, some traditional a capella singers (not sure where from), and some gypsy dancers waiting in the wings. I chatted with a couple of girls from the Polish young peoples’ cultural centre (or something like that), and bought a CD from one of the Roma stalls. The one thing I was really sad about was that, despite all this celebration of diversity and ethnic culture, the Roma (ie gypsy) stalls were right on the edges, and nobody was going anywhere near them. I did try to chat with the guy who was selling the CD, but he didn’t speak Romanian, although he did manage to figure out that I was asking him how to pronounce the singer’s name so that was good (I hope I remember!). I also took some really nice pictures of some of the gypsy dancers with their amazing dresses – I hope they come out well when I download them. The Roma community is very small here, much smaller than in Romania and elsewhere in eastern Europe, but it seems even here they’re despised and ignored. It’s so sad.
* ETA: And the Gagauzi! They were there too!