Recently there have been many voices speaking of my criminal inactivity
regarding propaganda. Like, there has been no interesting pieces since
the New Year. Must admit, I don't feel good about this too. The more
days without writing pass the more grows the distance between me and the
ambitious aim to write something monumental. On the other hand, there is
nothing worse than being obliged to do something regularily. Life has
already got many obligatory things. As an example, consider the daily
"deja-vue" of the work day beginning. It's also cool to realize that if
you decide to renounce on some activity, you do so. Actually that is
what was happening these three months and a half. This is a
translation of the article I wrote back on the 19th April.
Today I'll tell you a fairy-tale, whose subject appeared itself, as
usual. Some time ago I was in the Moldavian captial. The visit lasted
only a couple of days, but despite of it, there were a lot of
impressions. So I'm going to tell you about them, since there is such a
tradition. The previous visit, longer in terms of time, was described by
me in details on the pages of our virtual edition. However, I never
translated it into English. Damn.
Train vs Bus
This time by recommendation of one lady who was going to Chisinau the
same day, I decided to try out the train. As usual, I wanted to go by
bus, but now I'm happy I didn't do that.
The Chisinau-Bucharest train is called Prietenia (Friendship). It
departes daily from the North railway-station of the Romanian capital at
20.55. To the capital of Moldova the "Friendship" arrives at 9 in the
morning. The thing I liked at most about the train was the fact that it
was that of the Soviet type. Romanian trains usually have only places
for sitting. There are also quite expensive sleeping cars, but they are
not attached to every train. So, the Moldovan train consists only of
usual sleeping-cars, it also has a restaurant and even some vagons of
improved comfort. I cannot tell you precisely how much a ticket costs,
since we did in the students way. We arranged with the conductor. So it
was 500.000 ROL ($15) per person.
The real meaning of the name "Friendship" showed up at the
railway-station in the town of Focsani where the train had a several
minutes stop. We were standing in the restaurant vagon drinking beer,
when several Moldovan guys noticed a Gypsy similing to us from outside
the window. The window was opened immediately and our fellow travellers
started screaming "you'll give head to me! no, not you, that guy near
you!". It was funny. The Gipsies started to object against such a
perspective, but when a little drunk Moldovans tried to get off the
train, the guys from the platform decided to make peace and shaked hands
through the open window.
The renewed railway-station in Chisinau surprised me. In the end of the
last year it suffered a major repair, so it looked really magnificent.
There was tile, awning above the platforms, the building with ticket
offices was equipped with automatically opening doors (sometimes their
reaction was rather slow, need to say) and flowers.
Directly from the railway-station the real bi-linguity of the city could
be noticed. For every inscription there usually is a translation into
Russian, and even on the entrance there are two words "Gara" and
"Vokzal" ("railway-station" in Romanian and in Russian respectively).
I hadn't thought about this thing before, or maybe just didn't notice
it. Despite the fact that the Russian language has no official status in
the Republic of Moldova, in Chisinau you can see everything translated
into it. Moreover, my observation is that in order to understand 100% of
what is said and written, it's desirable to understand the both
languages. Only knowledge of Romanian and Russian automatically will let
you understand Moldavian -- quite a funny mixture of the both. For
example, once I came to my friends' home and found a ticket from the
"Patria" cinema there. Although movies shown are usually dubbed in
Russian, everything on the ticket was in Romanian. Also there was a
phrase saying "Bronarea biletelor" and a phone number where one could
make reservations. The point is that there is no "a brona" verb in
Romanian. Instead people here say "to reserve" -- "a rezerva", while "a
brona" (bronirovat') comes straight from Russian. And you see such
linguistic things everywhere. That's what is actually called the
Moldavian language. The ticket was finished by the word "price", the
only word on the ticket written in Cyrillic letters for some reason.
Chisnau met us with fresh spring leaves and sunny weather. Moldavian
girls started to strike the eye from the first step on the land of
Basarabia. They actually were lauded a lot on the pages of our
periodical. But despite of that, their look still rejoices me each time
Among the very first impressions of Chisinau there were cookies that
were offered to me along with the morning tea. Nothing unusual about
them, besides the fact they looked exactly like mobile phones. The
cookies were made by one of the leading companies that make things of
such kind (cookies, not mobiles), called "Nefis". After the morning tea
there we paid a traditional visit to the "Ialoveni" wineshop where they
have a very interesting kind of wine called heres. During the first day
there also were attractions in "Aventura parc" and in the evening we
went to a great sauna somewhere in the Ciocana district.
Then, being a geek myself, I couldn't help visiting the "Cominfo"
exposition, the biggest annual IT event in Moldova.
It was the first time I went to the Moldavian exposition center. On the
entrance we were saluted by a banner saying "Moldexpo". There also was a
schedule of current events. The territory wasn't too large. A little of
walking down the alley led us to an intersection. Going to the right
would lead us to Cominfo, and on the left there was.. you won't believe
me. That was a real communist reservation with statues of the Soviet
leaders. Just like in Moscow behind the House of Artist budiling. The
only difference was that they were not heaped, but stood like they were
alive. The current government of Moldova are communists, and they
arrange all their celebrations and meetings rigth there. That's what I
used to ask myself about, where they moved the Lenin monument from the
Hose of the Government. Finally I had the answer.
Actually I don't like computer expositions too much. It also needs to
mention that I had never been to any really serious event either. Thus,
I'm not too enthusiastic about various public events related to the
domain of knowledge that interests me at most. Nevertheless, "Cominfo"
appeared to be very entertaining. The following things I liked the best.
There was a guy selling some super-cases for computers. The front panel
was black, there also were blinking lights in a circle just like you can
see at discos. The main point was that there were indicators from
temperature sensors taken out on the panel. The sensors could be
connected to any internal piece of hardware in the computer, like HDD or
video card. As an example he described to me a situation when some
serious graphics designer in a need to process video clips puts his
hardware on to its limits. So he has to watch the HDD that constantly
transfers a lot of data and the video card that processes the data.
Like, when the end is near, he could turn off the computer to let it
cool down a bit and go smoke a cigarette. As far as I remember, besides
that in the same case there was one more device like anti-hijacking
alarm for cars, so that one couldn't turn on the computer without
permission. The only thing I couldn't understand what the disco-lights
In my opinion, the ones who had the most creative approach to the ads
were guys from the Kaspersky laboratory. On their stand there were two
people. The first was a man dressed with a suit who was handing promos
to pass-byers. After he gave an ad he said one word: "Kaspersky". His
moves were pretty similar to those of the R2-D2 robot from the "Star
wars". While visiting the exposition we passed twice near him. As a
result, we had four promos.
The second guy who presented "Kaspersky" that day was in a cage. He was
dressed like King-Kong and had his face painted. Next to him there were
many motherboards and other hardware that he was beating with all his
might. On the cage there was an inscription saying "Beware! A dangerous
The Way Back
Before the Easter holidays all trains going from Moldova to Romania were
almost empty. However, in the same compartment with me there was an old
Romanian lady who appeared to be a teacher in the prestigious "Prometeu"
lycee in Chisinau. He had been working there for 12 years already. When
I asked her why he liked Chisinau, she answered that at most he liked
the fact there were no Gypsies. Indeed, compared to Bucharest and
Romania in general, there are not much of them in Moldova.
Recently more and more often I meet people who regret the times of
Ceausescu's rule. My fellow traveller remembered the words of the
dictator's son Nicu who addressed the new leaders after his parents were
shot. He said "You won't be able even to paint in time what my father
built". I heared many people say that in those times there were no
vagabonds digging in trash collectors, the youth had guaranteed
workplaces, and so on. At the other hand, a good friend of the same age
like I am, was surprised a lot when I told her that in the Soviet Union
in 1987 many citizens had color TV-sets and that in 1989 I first saw a
The Moldavian language remind of itself again. This time in the train.
The teacher was reading some news-paper and from time to time she asked
me what different words meant in Russian. The point is that words taken
from Russian apprear in official publications in Romanian. That's a kind
of a dialect. For example, there was a saying by the president Voronin.
He said "hands in the jacket" (that obviously referred to pockets), but
used the Russian "pidjac" word instead of the Romanian "geaca".
Completing declarations is a stupid practice that was borrowed by the
Moldovan customs police most likely from their Ukrainian colleagues.
Everyone knows that on the whole former ex-USSR space the Ukrainian
border guys are the most faultfinding and captious. On the
Moldovan-Romanian border it was funny, starting with those forms that
were written in Romanian with grammar mistakes. The first line of them
said that the traveller should keep the form with him, and I was refused
to keep it. When I asked for explanations, the customs worker explained
that in Moldova by the customs declaration they meant something
completely different than in the rest of the world. It appeared it
wasn't actually a form, but just a kind of an oral declaration according
to which the real existance (or lack) of the declared goods was
verified. The line that said the form is kept by the traveller was there
"just because the form was made after the old Soviet example". My next
question was on how I was supposed to bring some valuable goods with me
and then still be able to take them when leaving the country. The guys
replied rather evasively on this one. He said something about importing
one computer and taking away two, which didn't make anything clear.
Conductor woke me up at 6am when the train was already on the North
railway-station of Bucharest. That's how much I overslept after the
Chisinau adventures. In 10 minutes I was at home finding out from an
e-mail message waiting for me in the inbox that we didn't work that
Friday. I came back exactly because of the remaining work day. There
were four more days of Easter in Bucharest. But that was another story..