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[03.08.04] Danube tales
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19 Apr 2001 :: Nice picture I found at the site today. Would be a great logo for RedCat Linux distribution :).. [ more.. ]

15 May 2001 :: Today I've made a small upgrade to my home computer. I bought a 128Mb DIMM and I still can't stop exciting how fast my Linux became. Note: I had only 32 Mbs at home before... [ more.. ]

24 Mar 2003 :: Damn it. Damn, damn and damn again. This evening I encountered quite a standard problem which appears every time I write texts for the site. So maybe I had to get used to such a thing. Thus, I give you an advice for free... [ more.. ]

[ 3rd Jun 2004 ] spring in Moldova | 14 comments | leave a comment |

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 Railway-Station

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.

The City

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 I come.

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 were for.

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 virus".

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 286 computer.

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..

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