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[12.10.02] Bucharest sketchings
[11.10.02] the next move
[09.10.02] through the Dracula's places
[06.09.02] information shortage
[03.09.02] applied ethnography
  [28.08.02] 424 volts
[20.08.02] little pleasures
[11.08.02] Marea Neagra
[02.08.02] an article about Romania
[30.07.02] Canada revealed
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18 Sep 2001 :: There were no news from me after I went to Romania. Well, I am ok and it was because I was settling here, starting with my new job, etc. I rented a 3 rooms appartment in the center of the city. I even can see the Moldovan king (knyaz? boyar?) palace from my window. I am also full of new impressions... [ more.. ]

26 Sep 2003 :: GNU and the Reasons.. [ more.. ]

17 Apr 2001 :: Today new versions both of motor and centericq were released. Details are on the programs' homepages... [ more.. ]

[ 3rd Sep 2002 ] applied ethnography | leave a comment

All of our intellectual and creative activity, as well as our emotional state, usually depend on our physical condition. It's like when you're tired you're not able to do anything no matter how many ideas you've got. It is another thing to be rejuvenated... With hectic activity comes progress as long as your energy is flowing in the creative way.

I'm not just making excuses. Sure, this note is quite late and my state of mind, described above, is to blame. I spent several days feeling like this, and now you're probably curious why. My answer is to share with you a story about the many impressions I have from visiting a Romanian wedding.

Along my other compatriots here I was invited to the great event by a guy whose name was Shtefan, he's a system administrator in our company. He was single until just recently and he decided to take a major step in his life. Obviously I had to accept the invitation to his wedding for the following reasons: 1) I like interesting parties; 2) It was an honour to be invited; and 3) It sounded like an opportunity to gather new impressions -- even if just to share it with the readers of my almost weekly creativity - the notes you see now on your monitors.

Romanians are a far cry from Germans when it comes to being punctual. Well, they are just like our people. Especially when it comes to celebrations. Despite the fact that the guests were invited to come to the wedding at 7pm, all of them failed to make it until 9pm. It was quite easy to find out about someone's arrival by the same (traditional?) melody that was played by the DJ. So, my first observation - the absence of live music. Man, I was glad to see it that way! Often, when I hear live musicians my hand itself starts looking for a machine-gun, napalm, a "Stinger" rocket-launcher or at the very least a nuclear bomb. Well, this sounds like an idiosyncrasy of mine but I really can't do anything about it. There also was no toast-master, by the way.

My second impression - the tables. There were no tables full of salads, aperitives, sliced meat, mushrooms, salted fish, vegetables, pancakes, patties, jellies, i.e. nothing a typical Russian eye is used to seeing at a celebration. To my deep disappointment, all of the tables were arranged with only dishes of various cookies! Keep in mind that I intentionally didn't eat dinner that day -- I wasn't too glad to see the cookie selection. In addition to biscuit industry products there were glasses of cognac - one glass per head. There was also some fruit-drink and finally wine. Though that was a bit later.

At a given moment we took our places in the room and watched the guests arrive. The people came well-dressed, men in suits and ladies in smart dresses, fancy hair and make-up. They stuck white bows on the chest of every new arrival.

Now, a few words about the place - It was called Casa Armatei (the army's house) and judging from the name it was a relic from the communist period. It was situated not far away from the center of the city, on the slope of an hill in the Copou district was. It is a special place for various ceremonies, as far as I understood. Not really a delux place or anything, but it had all the needed stuff. The only thing that confused me was the toilet's location. It was behind the DJ. There was a curtain that you had to push aside in order to see the door. I had to ask for directions there twice - just in case.

All of this took some time. Then apperitives were brought out first: dishes with sliced cheese, ham and meat. A round of local toasts was made every table. First cogniac was drunk and after that was gone people started drinking wine which Shtefan bought. He got 200 liters of the wine at the church where the religious ceremony took place earlier the same day. After the lyrical digression and toasting, a kind of metamorphose happened to the people and the DANCES! began. Yeah, dances, and then I immediately realized what it was all about. I realized why there wasn't much food on the tables and why there was no vodka at all. In fact, the whole celebration comes down to a night filled with dancing. Once, a week or two after I first arrived in Romania, I was invited to a birthday where almost the same thing happened. The young and old danced without a break in the traditional music. It was the uniting power of folk music.

Actually the fact that there were no tables full of fried sucking pigs, game and mashed potatoes wasn't suprising anymore. Nor was it strange that no one got drunk enough to puke in the corner. Compared to our way of celebrating something the absence of drunk people was really amazing. People 50 and 60 years old were dancing the waltz and the traditional "hora moldoveneasca" extraordinary. Among over 100 of the invited ones there were about 20% in such an age, and the rest were middle aged people and youngsters. You know, it was a real art. Obviously I myself was not standing still there. It would not be a big exaggeration to say that I danced with all the nice ladies between 24 and 40 years old.

Of course like everywhere nowdays, the national traditions were affected a lot by modern technology. A conversation between the fiance and a man who stole away the bride via cellular phone was funny - "alo, hotzul?" (hello, thief? :) As a result the guards earned something like 4 or 6 bottles of champagne.

At all Romanian weddings a special respect is usually paid to the so called "nash". This word here means a guy, usually a close friend of the young family who pays for everything at the ceremony. The DJ played a lot of songs dedicated to this character, though the man himself in flesh and blood didn't mind dancing.

Besides folklore songs about the "nash", and about love and life in general, there was another extremely popular song here "Nas ne dogonyat". I thought the old people would sit down to have some rest, but even this house-styled piece of music didn't get them down. Wishing to thank the DJ for the song I told him "molodets" (bravo, cool). He looked like he studied Russian at school, because after that he kept on saying "molodets" to in me passing every time he was near the dance floor.

My colleagues and I went home when it was a daybreak already, about 7am. Up until then the dances were interrupted only once to give gifts. As it was explained to me, the tradition wasn't originally Romanian and came here somehow from the West. Several days before the wedding I was eager to find out what kind of gifts were given here, and what would be a good thing to present. It sounded trivial, but money is usually given as a gift here. Moreover, the Romanian leis are better for this aim, since the sum itself looks bigger in comparisong with its dollars equivalent. Because of the local currency's stability it is no big deal, but the numbers sound better in leis indeed, since the exchange rate is about 33.000 lei for $1. Now, about the tradition. During the giving of the gifts there was a guy going up and down the room gathering envelopes. He took the money from people and said in a loud voice: "the Popescu family - one million and a half! mister Porumbescu - one million leis", etc. No wonder, the cheap people don't like this approach.

Despite the fact that I was still tired two days after the wedding, I liked the party very much. Once again I want to congratulate Stefan and Anca on the great event, now here on the site, and to wish them a house of stone (the most popular wedding wish here, "casa de piatra" in Romanian). It definitely differs from our traditional ways and I think it's extremely interesting to find out as much as possible about each nationality I deal with. Probably there is a great ethnographist who died inside me when I chose programming, but even I have no idea where his grave is..

P.S. Tried searching for the traditional music through the Romanian Internet. It appeared like digital audio is not really popular among the common people here ;) However, there was something I found. Take a look here: 1, 2, 3. Just listen to it and you'll realize why it's impossible to sit at a table when you hear it.

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