Sunday, 23 September 2012


Romanians are proud of their nation.
They carry their nation in their hearts, they carry it in their souls, and they are proud of their nations flag and this nations proud and brave history. (look up 'Decebal, Dacia and the Dacia isn't just the name of the car manufacturer in Romania)
Like any country, Romania has it good bits and it has it's bad bits. I even had one friend, who is proud to call herself Romanian say;

"There is only one problem with Romania, Romanians live in it"

Romanians have a right to criticize though, after all it is their country, but If you criticize, or complain about any aspect of the country, a Romanian might say;

"That's Romania!"

Equally that same Romanian may just give you a shrug of the shoulders and pout slightly, if it happens to you, be warned, because that one gesture means so many things, none of them positive towards you. It could mean;

"You're an idiot....... You don't like it, just leave!....... What did you expect when you came here?...............Be careful, that is my country you are talking about!"

Criticism for the sake of criticism from a visitor to the country isn't taken well, just as you wouldn't take kindly to negative comments that you heard regarding your own home from someone who was just visiting.

There is nothing worse, no worse person than one who 'just dips their tow in' and thinks they know it all.
This is a mad, bad, fantastic, brilliant country full of wonderful people, and no-one can fully understand it just from information gleaned during a short stay here. Romanian life has to be lived, and lived to the full for it to be fully understood.
I live here permanently now, and I don't understand it, but I am prepared to observe and listen and take a BALANCED view.
In any part of the world, if you look for the bad things, you will see the bad things, but if you look for the good things, they are what you see. So? Open your eyes, see it ALL, use balance and judgement and think about what you say and the effect that what you say has on the people of the country you are in. Don't assume that just because you are in a country that doesn't use your language as it's own, that you won't be understood by a local sitting at the next table in a cafe. That could be your worst mistake ever.

In case you hadn't guessed already, I am British. Many years ago, my mother visited London with a group of friends. It was at the time when London and other major cities in Britain were being indiscriminately bombed by the IRA, and precautions had to be taken everywhere to try and ensure the safety of the general public. As my mother and her friends were walking down the street they passed a group of mature Americans (who were old enough to know better), and they overheard one of the Americans say;

"This is such a dirty city, there is trash everywhere and they don't even have trash cans to get rid of our rubbish into"

Now upon hearing this, one of the ladies in my mother's group turned to the American lady and said;

"No you're right Dear, there are no rubbish bins. We can't have rubbish bins because the IRA, the IRA who are supported by money they get from Americans like you, put bombs in them and kill people, so they all had to be taken away"

The American lady blushed deeply and then she and her friends scuttled off rapidly into the safety of a nearby store. I don't know if what was said made any difference to that American lady or her friends, but I hope it did. I hope that it taught her a lot of lessons, including maybe to learn a little about your destination before you leave home and also to be careful about expressing ill-informed opinions out loud. They might just come back and bite you. I am so proud of my mother's friend for having the courage to tell that American lady straight.

I have visited many many countries in my lifetime, and I have loved being in every one of them. I have spent as much time as I can in each with the local people, and going to the places the local people go, I have never been one for just going to where the tourists go and assuming that what I see in those places is everything that country has to offer. I truly believe that in trying to involve myself this way everywhere I go, that I have had a much richer, far more fulfilling experience of those countries than most tourists would have had, but I would never believe that I know everything there is to know about any of them just from my short visit there.

Romania and Romanians get more than their fair share of criticism around Europe, and it is largely underserved. The 'Romanians' criticized most often in the press or on TV in other countries are usually gypsies who might actually be from any country in Eastern Europe, or may even not have a loyalty to any country at all, their loyalties laying entirely with just their tribe or their family. Maybe that is the reason that Romanians, and I, are so sensitive to biased criticism when we see it aired publicly and without balance.

One day I hope to be able to call myself Romanian too. I hope that one day Romanians will do me the honour of allowing me to take citizenship of their country, in the meantime I will do my best to defend it from unfair, outdated criticism when I see it. Fair warning.


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