It’s been such a long time since I was in Romania. I am really excited to have found a conference in Sibiu, where I did some of my PhD fieldwork, next summer – I’m now plotting and dreaming of a return. Just a little matter of getting a paper proposal together and getting it accepted. We’ll see, but I hope it works out, it’s been far too long.
Ian has already spotted it, but having meant to do this for months, I have finally got round to starting a Sibiu photo blog. I’m really enjoying doing Glasgow Daily Photo, and am carrying on with that, but I thought that as I took so many pictures when I was in Sibiu last year doing a Sibiu blog as well would be really fun too. I absolutely adored Sibiu (I guess you might have noticed), and miss it a lot, so I’m going to enjoy reliving these pictures – especially as lots of them have blue sky and sun and dry weather, all of which it has to be said are distinctly lacking this summer!
I did worry a bit about the time commitment – going out and getting up to date pictures for the Glasgow blog is sometimes quite time-consuming, and sometimes if I’m really busy it feels like a bit of a chore. But overall I do enjoy the community that has built up with the various city daily photo blogs, and I have a core of regular commenters who are really fun, and so I’m glad to continue. I do think though that Sibiu will take less time – after all, I already have the photos ready and waiting to go! The first post was today, and the blog is here: Sibiu Daily Photo (I’ll link to it in the blogroll to the left too).
Who am I trying to kid? I’m supposed to start writing up my thesis soon. It’s pure procrastination! 😉 But it’ll be constructive procrastination, as it will get me into the Romania vibe, which will be good for my frame of mind when writing up. Or something 😀
Auntie Doris and Cal are putting me to shame with their reading – AD has nearly read 50 books this year already, and Cal’s gone over 30 I think. I don’t think I’ve made it into double figures yet!
I have though just finished “The Dog with the Chip in his Neck” by Andrei Codrescu, which is one of those dippable-into books (which is probably why it’s taken me so long – I must have started reading it 2 months ago, and I’ve read other stuff in the meantime). Codrescu is Romanian-born, but emigrated to the USA in 1966. The book is a series of (very short, mostly!) essays, many of which originally appeared on National Public Radio (NPR). The essays are on all sorts of diverse subjects, ranging from religion, America, Romania, the experience of being an immigrant, art, poetry, and all sorts of other things. He now works as a university professor, teaching (I think) creative writing, and it is clear that language and writing is really important to him. I enjoyed his musings on learning English (when he arrived in the US he hardly spoke any English, and learnt it from being immersed in it rather than from formal classes). I have to say that at times I found his style really quite bombastic and irritating, but whenever I got to the point where I was going to stop reading I’d suddenly read something really profound or beautiful and have to stop and ponder what he’d just said.
There were plenty of the essays about which I felt largely indifferent. But that’s OK, because they were mostly only a page and a half long. But I always loved when he talked about Romania. He was born and lived the first 19 years of his life in Sibiu, where I was living last year. So when he talked about the city I could actually see the places he was talking about. I was really moved when he was talking about the Torah from the Synagogue in Sibiu – along with synagogues throughout Europe, it was sacked by the Nazis during the 2nd world war and the Torah taken to Germany, where eventually the plan of the Nazis was that they would feature in a Museum of Judaism. After the war, the various Torahs and other artifacts found themselves in the care of synagogues throughout the world, and the Sibiu Torah found a resting place in the Synagogue in Dallas. Codrescu talked about how in Dallas the children of the synagogue congregation were allowed to touch and hold the Torah, and that in that way each child had the care, in their heart, of each member of the Sibiu Synagogue. I was so moved by that – I met some of those members, they were so friendly in showing me round when I visited. I remember one older man (probably well into his 60s) who came in just as I was finishing looking round and looking at the displays in the entrance hall, shaking my hand and bidding me “Shalom”, and frankly being really rather flirtatious! And the younger, very shy many who was with him. And the lovely young man who showed me round, who explained about the various parts of the synagogue and its history and people.
So, despite the sometimes irritating bits of this book, the references to Romania and particularly to Sibiu meant that I kept coming back to it, and feeling a connection to what he was saying. I’ll definitely dip back into this book again.
[I wonder who’ll be the first to make a comment about I’ll have a vowel please Carol?]
So, it’s my last day in Sibiu, and my penultimate day in Romania. Which means that I’ll be probably offline for the next few days (though knowing me I’ll maybe squeeze in a bit of internet time later today). I have all sorts of mixed feelings. Really Really Happy to be heading home at last, and being able to spend some time with HD and think about the wedding. Also really looking forward to getting my teeth into my interviews and the whole analysis process – apart from the actual fieldwork, this is the bit of the PhD I’ve been really looking forward to. Dreading having to do the teaching again. Worrying I’ll forget the language after being immersed back in English again. Looking forward to being immersed back in English again (jokes about Glasgow accents notwithstanding). Excited about HD moving to Scotland and us getting married soon (that’s the best thing 😀 ). Annoyed with downwiththissortofthing.com (see I think the penultimate September blog entry for explanation) in a Really Big Way today – and wondering if they’re inadvertently talking to me about ‘vocation’, about what I’m meant to be and do (though absolutely not in the way they’d want!).
But also a bit sad that I’m leaving Romania again – there’s something about this place which is really under my skin. No doubt I’ll be back 🙂
Thanks for praying. It’s sort of been half answered and I’m feeling better – but I still need that email!
An interesting day today (we won’t mention the insomnia in the small hours this morning though – grrrr), including a trip to a couple of villages in the countryside round about Sibiu. The scenery was lovely, and the weather too, but unfortunately the sun meant that it was too hazy to take any decent photos – the tops of the mountains peering through the haze were really something, but it wouldn’t have worked on film (well OK memory card, but you know what I mean).
I have had to hand over a tiny bit of control of a tiny weeny bit of my research to someone else in order to get some more information, and I don’t like it at all! Despite my best efforts, I still want it to be All About Me. We’ll see what happens.
On a related note, for those of you who pray please can you say a few for something research-related that is niggling me and is potentially worrying. I really hope I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, but I’d just appreciate an email from someone specific to reassure me. Thank you 🙂
I decided to pop along to the supermarket today, as when I was here in the summer they were selling 2GB memory sticks for a tenner so I thought I’d get a couple more while I had the chance. Sadly, they weren’t there anymore (they had 2GB memory sticks but they were more than 4 times the price, so I didn’t bother). To make up for the disappointment I have bought a couple of DVDs instead from the bargain bucket, and some vaguely healthy food so I don’t have to spend the entire week eating crisps and pizza (it’s a right pain not having a kitchen!).
In other news, I have just had to give my supervisor a provisional title for a conference talk that I will hopefully be giving next year, based on preliminary findings from this period of fieldwork. I’m kind of looking forward to it, except that everyone else on my panel is really experienced and has published tons of stuff and know what they’re doing, whereas I’ve published nothing in my field and don’t really have a clue what I’m doing. I’m going to have to be so careful not to leave it till the last minute (what with wedding planning and possible house moving between now and then leaving it till the last minute is a distinct possibility) – if I’m organised I’ll be able to blag my way to sounding knowledgeable and authoritative. If I’m not I will just be embarrassing.
So, I blogged last week about being interviewed for national radio, and the various hideous indignities and unintentional hilarity that ensued. Now I’m in the internet cafe I’ve just checked the website to find that I can’t listen to it tonight (for it is tonight that I am broadcast to the world) after all as the computers here don’t allow any plug-ins to be installed (it means I can’t see anything on YouTube while I’m here either).
I suspect that’s probably just as well actually, it’s bound to be cringeworthy. When I’m home this weekend I’ll see if they have a “listen again” feature (I suspect not actually, but it’s worth a try).
I’ve arranged my programme here in such a way that I have most of today and all of tomorrow off. This is good because I am knackered. It has also meant that I wasn’t flapping when I had to wait an hour for my phone to be unblocked so I could use it here, and meant that I have had time to do boring stuff like change money, and also that I can wander round and relax a bit. Most importantly, it means I can have a lie-in tomorrow. Hooray!
The only (minor) gripe is that the TV in my hotel room doesn’t work. They did say yesterday that it would be fixed today, but they don’t seem to be in any great hurry to sort it out. It isn’t just laziness that I want the TV – it has been quite useful to watch the news programmes here, good for my language and also to have a clue what is going on in the world outside of my research. Plus in Bucharest a couple of days ago I woke up in the small hours and couldn’t go back to sleep, and having the TV on really quietly was as good as someone singing lullabies.
I’ve wandered round and noticed a few more changes. The flowers outside the Dumbrava department store are amazing (in the summer they were very lethargic and limp, they didn’t seem to like 40 degree temperatures any more than I did, but they’re looking great now), the Hotel at the bottom of my old road which was being renovated has now opened, large parts of roads which were building sites are now properly tarmacked (I’m sure that’s not how you spell it, but neither one ‘c’ nor two ‘c’s looked right), and for some reason the council seems to have stuck the same sign (showing it is a “Historic Building”) on every building, which is really rather spoiling them I think. And I can’t get used to the big stage not being in Piata Mare, there’s a big gap there now! Though the statue I always felt a bit sorry for* that was hidden right behind the stage is now fully visible.
* Yes I know it’s an inanimate object. I’m just soft.
I’m in Romania again! More than that, I’m in Sibiu! In the old internet cafe! Hooray!
[That’s quite enough exclamation marks thank you. -Ed]
And I have all sorts of emotions churning up at the moment. To deal with the easy stuff first – Sibiu. There are a few changes (the big stage and the topiary have disappeared from Piata Mare sometime in the last 2 months and aren’t there any more) but basically it’s pretty much the same place (the giant egg is still in Piata Mica and I had delicious pasta and wine in the cool restaurant this evening). I’m disappointed to be missing some great culture later this month – “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” is on general release at the cinema from the day I leave (crappest of crap timing there), a few days of World Music in a couple of weeks’ time, and the (well-established, not just Year of Culture stuff) anthropological film festival at the end of the month – maybe after I’ve finished the PhD and having to teach by the end of October I’ll try to make the film festival a regular pilgrimage – a whole week of documentary films from around the world, in one of my favourite towns, how wonderful is that?! But – I feel ever so weird, typing here just a stone’s throw from my little flat, and – it’s not my flat any more and I have to turn right instead of left when I leave the internet cafe and go to a hotel instead. I guess it’s just tapping into this huge longing for “home” – and let’s face it, I’ve got less than a week before I’m back in the UK and it’s officially The End of fieldwork, so it’s not the most traumatic experience, but it is very real nonetheless.
More obliquely, when I arrived in Bucharest yesterday and was on the bus to the hotel, I had the strangest feeling (especially given that I’ve never been particularly fond of Bucharest), that I was somewhere familiar – “home”-like almost – it felt like I could breathe again, for the first time in a couple of months. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Chisinau, and have many friends there, and having been there 2 months I was really starting to get a feel for the place. But (and I think this relates to my last post) I think that living with a family rather than in my own place, and in a society that is generally more conservative, had started to become stifling. And then leaving Bucharest today, on the bus heading for Sibiu, that feeling was even stronger. I’ve reflected more than once since being away that if I was still resolutely single (as until last year looked like it was going to be the case) then I would really seriously consider at least buying a flat in Romania, if not moving. There’s something about the place which is very “me”. Mind you, if I was still resolutely single I wouldn’t be able to do much about it anyway without also being resolutely rich, and that’s never going to happen.
Anyway, all this is idle talk – less than a week and I’m properly “home”. I can’t wait.
At some point reasonably soon, Mary is, God and Bishop-willing, going to be ordained as an OLM. I’m sure she’d appreciate prayers (and her loyal fans would appreciate a blog update 😉 ). [3rd attempt, hopefully the link will work now]
Intrepid Expat has finally arrived in Khartoum, and has started blogging – hooray! I’m sure she’d be happy to be prayed for too.
And Jane (blog pending, I hope) (*spot the subliminal subtle hint*) is off to vicar factory, today I think – definitely pray for her.
As for me – I fly to Romania a week today, and to the UK 2 weeks today! Will everything be done in time? Will I defeat the dastardly Man Flu before I leave? Will the Sibiu internet cafe staff remember me and greet me like a long-lost friend? Will I overcome my pathological phone phobia and speak to all the remaining scary people (who are fine and normal and lovely really)? Stay tuned ….