It has been quite I while that I posted the last part of my Romanian diaries, yet that does not mean that there has not been anything to write about. Actually there was plenty and way too much, while I was kinda busy. My favorite hangouts have been Godaddy and forums in the domaining industry (guys and gals making money by selling domains), I gave way to tens of new websites (ironically my own company website is still missing) and moreover, I changed my job and work now for the biggest publisher of the country and thus, moved last fall to Bucharest. Now I can enjoy an awesome view on the House of Parliament (better known as Casa Poporului), to be admired in the picture.
A typical Romanian would probably stress now that it is the nearly largest building of the world, second only to the Pentagon and actually, after 9/11 even the largest (at least I heard so). He will consider it also the right moment to let you know that Bucharest is actually little Paris and does not mind about the fact that there are several other Eastern European capitals which claim this very title for themselves. Indeed, it were in most cases French architects (Paul Gotterau is the first to be mentioned here) who built the most interesting buildings in the Romanian Capital (see here for more examples).
A less known, but extremely well fitting comparison – brought to me by Mihai – is about Bucharest being little Venice. It refers to the poor performance of the local canalization system and the flooded streets after a rain or when snow melts. In collaboration with the potholed streets and sidewalks it indeed resembles little Venice; just that the badly needed boats are missing.
But for several weeks we had snow and several centimeters of ice on the sidewalks as hardly the streets have been cleared. At least not without the very personal intervention of Major Oprescu. After four weeks of discussions whether streets have been cleared or not , Oprescu went out at 3 A.M. to look for himself and afterwards fined all snow clearing companies. One day later the streets looked awesome. The sidewalks instead not, and so people walked on the streets to get to work I for myself have become quite an expert at ice figure skating, but of course I lack the elegance. Bad for me, fun for the viewers.
Better news do not exist right now, as Romania is still being hit hard by crisis. GDP fell last year by some 7.7%, unemployment in Romania is on the rise and many salaries have been reduced. I just witnessed several newspapers being closed and remaining redactors facing the fact to work for 20% – 30% less salary. Just over night. For my German readers I might mention that Nokia actually raised the salaries here by 9% right now, but that’s an exception.
One might argue that it is not Romania’s fault as Romania did not produce the crisis, but – among others – has to suffer the consequences now. Yet, if the guys here had used the years of growth before properly it would not have been that accentuated. For example, the planned and badly needed investments in infrastructure have been delayed all the time and as a result e.g. Mercedes opted in late 2008 for Hungary and their nice highways instead for Romania. Nokia’s suppliers did not come as promised streets haven’t been built, while politicians spent the allocated money for current spending or simply bullshit like the next “feasibility study “ with astonishing prices. And the people here just accept such monkey business instead of kicking those politicians’ asses. It’s the same as with snow clearing, actually.
That is not to say, that here are not good points, too. Romanians, when they happened to criticize something about their country usually start with the assertion they don’t want to generalize anything and close with the conclusion, that there are actually several “honest, hard working and admirable people” in this country, namely on the country side. I have never been good at diplomacy and stuff, neither I am a big fan of the countryside and hard working in subsistence agriculture and thus, I will end this post in a different way: Bucharest is great city; the people here are quite polite and educated and especially much more civilized as their buddies on the countryside (including wannabe cities) tell them to be. And I have the opportunity to work with some of Europe’s best online developers and marketers here. That’s amazing and I really appreciate them and their little Paris.