Reality is an interesting thing. Probably the most interesting one I'm fond of since the very childhood. Objective reality (even if it's all just a Matrix) doesn't leave any chance to illusions of any kind. That's why when you feel that you just have to.. and you'll have everything you want, and the only thing to stop you is lazyness, absence of the need or any other trifle, remember that The Reality will kick your ass for your illusions.
Illusions and Realities
Working at an international company with offices in four counties worldwide for a year and a half, which was hiring programmers in the middle of the IT crisys, which didn't have problems paying salaries that were quite decent, made me think that: 1) the crisys won't get us, and 2) there are other places where they wait for me with my experience and personal capabilities with open arms, ready to give interesting projects for good money. Admit it, you can start believing in it if almost every day users of one of your programs which, accordingly to some of the recent ratings (at redhat?) takes the third place by popularity in the world among IM clients, saying "kudos! all the UNIX related companies must want to get specialists like you, and also your actual employer must pay you damn a lot of money".
Programs, users, kudos.. Cool, huh? The only problem is that all the mentioned stuff are just illusions that don't have anything in common with the reality. That's why when problems with salaries began smoothly transforming into the company's death with all of those promises and requests to "wait for another two weeks for the issues to be solved permanently", the shadow of doubt covered a part of the bright picture. The rest was shadowed soon as well, since the serios crisys in the area does exist.
It had no sense to wait something from the WebSci after the first month of oath promises from the Mr. Big Boss. Since I already encountered similar situations before, I don't have any hopes for receiving the whole debt of good several thousand dollars anymore. The funniest thing is that the guy is still promising something to the ones who didn't leave.
Renounced to the first illusion as anyone whould do in such a situation, I started looking for a new job. It took me about two months during which I was coming to the office to watch DivX movies or develop some of my Open Source programs. This period had a positive effect on centericq, also kripp was created. The second illusion disappeared rather quickly too: many of potential employers were interested, some of them were inviting to Bucharest without paying the travel (already doesn't sound serious), and when it came to salary negotiations were scared by my conditions, like it happened with GeCAD, the biggest antivirus company in Romania. There also were potential employers from Moscow who, following the old good tradition wanted me to have Moscow residence and Russian citizenship.
Such a ping-pong was lasting till I had to leave for Kharkov urgently. The reality is also should be respected for flukes. About a week before the planned travel a fellow from Bucharest (who I met thanks to this site) knowing about my job troubles sent me an e-mail marked "urgent". In it, he was telling about a friend who was opening an office of a Canadian company he worked for in a small city in Transilvania. In several days I already was in Baia Mare (the city name) to discuss the details personally. In spite of existance of the modern ways of communcation like phone and internet, personal talk is the best way to settle up something fast and with success. So was it. Then I visited my native city which I have already described in the Russian version of the site (gotta translate it soon).
Why Romania again? Dunno. When the problems began I wanted to leave for Kharkov very much, for I missed it. At the other had, there was a desire to continue the adventures, because sitting on the same place all the time isn't too good either. Also, the year and a half didn't seem to be enough to see all the beauty of this really amazing country.
About Baia Mare
A small city unique for me due to several aspects of its. First, I have never lived in such a small one before -- the population here is only about 150 000 people. After Kharkov which has a million and a half I was difficult to get used to Iasi population of which was about 400 000. Now I don't have problems of such kind. Aside from it, the city landscape is amazingly decorated by mountains with forests on their slopes. On the peaks of the highest of them there is snow. That near to mountains I've never lived, and now I can see them from my balcony. The views along with shots of interior of my new appartment can be seen here. Having a great history of about 680 years Baia Mare is an administrative center of the Maramures district -- an unique region of green reserves, ski stations, lakes and massive lots of forest untoched by the human. The district is a part of the Transilvania region.
Romanians rarely use the "Transilvania" name preferring another synonymic one "Ardeal". Just like about people from other regions of the country, there are jokes about Adelians that describe them. The main trait here is slowness. And the typical joke is the following. A competition on snail hunt was declared. Start given, and the participants -- Moldovan (from East), Oltean (Oltenia is the South of Romania, where Bucharest is) and Adelian went to garden. When the time allocated for the competition was over, they gathered in a defined place: the one from the South brought a sack of snails, the Moldovan came with a more modest bag and the Ardelian came empty. "Why didn't you catch any?" - the public asked him, and the answer was "I only stretched hand and they ran away from me".
I managed to find an appartment quite quickly and it didn't cost a lot. Having price of 50 EUR per month it's a one room, bathroom and kitchen equipped with a autonomous heating and water warming installations. The city citizens are proud of the fact that there were among the first renounced to the centralized heating which really cost too much. For example, in Iasi the pay for utilities can reach $70/mo. With the autonomous system it's about 3-4 times smaller. The only bad thing about the appartment is lack of Internet connection. Also there was no phone initially, thus I'll have to install it for my own name on the base of the rent contract. Usually it doesn't cost a lot, but you need to go to the phone service and it takes some time. I also plan to get a cable connection, but the initial fee is higher there, since you also have to buy some weird modem of the DOCSYS standard.
Another thing local citizens are proud of is the existance of a great number of non-stop shops. Really, it's quite strange for Romania, since people from the services are doesn't seem to like working too much. And if there are, God forbid, Christmas or New Year holidays, then in the first day of them you cannot find even bread, not speaking about taxi and other luxury -- everything's closed. At least, that's how it was in Iasi.
Situation about places for hanging out is not bad at all. I was really glad to see several very decent clubs with really original interiors. The favourite place is called "The Club", inside it's decorated with various Chinese symbolics: on the walls there are hieroglyphs, a picture of Buddah and on the ceiling there are big pieces of red material. Half-dark and wide couches of leather make the place even cosier.
They say some time ago, in Ceausescu's times, Baia Mare was the most polluted city in Europe. Even the name suggests there are mines in the region ("baia" means not only "bathroom" but also "mine"). Lead is also extracted here. Due to this fact, about 10-15 years ago in some days it was possible to breathe only through a rag. Then the most of the industry went down and the factory was equipped with a very high chimney-stalk with filters. But till now there is a monitor in the center showing the level of pollution.
Among the biggest differences between the region and Moldova (the Eastern part, where Iasi is) are pronunciation formed under influence of Hungarians (Transilvania during a long time was a part of the Austrian-Hungarian empire) and also roads. Now I'll say something pleasant for a Russian ear. It turned out to be not our problem. I already mentioned in the trip to Brasov description my impressions of the road on the entrance into the city. But only now I realised that it wasn't only Brasov's phenomenon, all Transilvania is like that. In Romania only Moldova is asphalted well. The rest looks rather sad with exception of international roads. However, having in mind that in Moldova it was asphalted not a long ago, the continuation of the process can be expected here soon.
Of course, apart from driving the roads, going out, taking photos and writing different stuff for the site, I have to work. My new employer is called iSee Media, and here we're involved into development of images processing software. The thing that scared me from the very beginning was the need to program in Windows. But having thought a little, I decided it would be even cool, since now I have to learn something new and useful even for a UNIX guy. Also I wouldn't try to get a clue with Visual C++ on my own. Frankly speaking, I was expecting more from the widely advertised "flagship" product. During the week of working with it I collected a lot of impressions. Some things just make me mad, and one of the following notes will certainly be about Windows programming. A real OS for dummies, including dummies in C++ too.