Monday, November 15, 2004

Contexts Pt 3

So, enough of my righteous indignation at that scum Bush and his mates from the Southern Fascist Convention inflicting four more years of their bigotry and hate on the world. If you want to read something good (and don't mind a bit of swearing), I recommend the rant at www.fuckthesouth.com

It snowed here last night, which reminds me of my need to continue with my Contexts series. So here it is ..part III

Contexts Pt III: Csikszereda

Csikszereda lies in the "Ciuc Depression", which is a geographical feature in the Carpathians, rather than a psychological condition medicated with Prozac. Essentially it means we are quite high up, 600-800 metres to be vague, and yet surrounded by hills. It's quite a climb to get out of this area in any direction, and from there onwards usually a descent. One consequence of this is that Csikszereda is widely considered to be the coldest town in Romania (although I have also heard the same claim about Gheorgheni, another town about 60km north of us). Today it is a relatively mild 3 degrees C, but I'm assuming last night's snowfall has heralded the onset of winter, and five months of freezing my butt off. Still, I spent the last six winters in Vermont and it doesn't sound like it will be that different. One advantage of the depression is that there isn't much wind, so even though I've been warned to expect occasional temperature dips to -35, there at least be any of that vicious wind that really rubs it in. (I should point out that -35 is a very unusual event, and what I really have to look forward to are a couple of weeks of -15. This is no worse than Vermont, and possibly better).

What else is interesting about the area? Well it's full of springs. Every town it seems has a tap in the middle of it from which you can draw mineral water for free. None of your fancy evian or perrier here, you just fill your bottles and go on with your life. This ready access to good water probably explains why one of Romania's most famous beers "Ciuc" comes from here too. (Ciuc, like most Romanian companies has been recently bought. In this case by Heineken).

It's also notable for being the centre of the remaining Hungarian community. Csikszereda is the county town of Harghita County, which along with Covasna county are the majority Hungarian communities left in Romania. As a result of which the Romanian media presents them as being the root of all evil in the country. The population of Csikszereda is 90% Hungarian, and the next closest town, Szekelyudvarhely (Odorhui Secuiesc in Romanian) is 98% Hungarian. Other towns round here are similar in ethnic makeup. The rest of Transylvania is now predominantly Romanian.

So, it's cold, has good beer, is mostly Hungarian, and errm, well that's it mostly. There really isn't much else to say about it. It's nice though. Beautiful scenery, mountains, forests, lakes, the whole works.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

In this post you are a little bit biased towards a certain hungarian nationalistic view of the things. Probable this is the version you hear most of the time. Romanians were majority in Transylavnia in 1918 (indeed minority in most urban areas, but that because of previous discrimination). The denationalization of the ethnic hungarians, while attempted in the late years of Ceausecu's rule was not as intense and effective as sometimes it is claimed, and quickly reversed after 1989. The majority romanian population suffered equally with hungarians because of the idiotic communist rule. The difference is that hungarians could easily blame the romanians for their hardships. Comparisons with similar situations in the world (former Yugoslavia or USSR, Northern Ireland, etc) are rather positive for the ethnical tolerance displayed in Transylvania. Let's keep it this way by being cautious when dealing with sensitive subjects.

Andy H said...

Hmm, anonymous, I don't see it. Can you point me in the direction of a sentence I used which you found Hungarian nationalistic? I really can't find one and I've gone back over it a couple of times. I have no desire to be seen as having a nationalistic take on things, and I believe, for the most part I'm pretty even-handed.

And I don' disagree with anything in your comment (and I have said more or less the same on numerous occasions through this blog).

(Although, I think you'll find that a LOT of Hungarians left Romania after 1989. 95% of my girlfriend's classmates -in Targu Mures- now live in Hungary)

Anonymous said...

There is one common theme one hear from the radical nationalists about what big oppression the hungarians in Romania had to endure, like the romanians were forming a class of privileged people.
You are echoing it from time to time, together with some inaccurate historical statements. I don't want to insist on this because things are not so simple. Anyway the reality is that all the time was assured education in the mother languages (elementary schools, high schools and up to special sections at the university level) and while the communist were preaching the materialist-atheist doctrine no forced religious conversions were attempted. Just try to compare this with what the romanians had to endure before 1918.

Second you tend to present the romanians as a bunch of nationalists. It is highly inaccurate, you really should learn some Romanian language and read more Romanian social and political commentaries. The romanians did a rather good job in keeping in check their extremists and so did the UDMR so far. Lets stay the course.

Concerning the emigration. Most of my Romanian friends, and myself, left Romania too. That is because the botched economical transitions policies. With another few years of economical growth some of these tendencies can be reversed.

Andy H said...

Well, anonymous (do you feel like giving me a name?), I still am not sure what uyou are talking about. Perhaps if you could give me some examples of something I've written which is nationalistic or inaccurate. I really want to know what I've written that is bothering you, so I can look at it and decide for myself if I agree with you. I'm very happy to make corrections, or to retract something if you think it is inaccurate, for example. But I need an example!

And as for your other complaint, that I present Romanians as a bunch of nationalists. That I refute. Where have I done that? I have presented Vdim Tudor and his Mare party as a bunch of horrible nationalists, this I agree with. And I still believe it. Vadim Tudor is a low scum extreme right-wing nationalist. But I haven't presented Romanians as being so. Where?

I need some evidence here. I'm extremely willing to take on board criticism and to make corrections/retractions/edits, but telling me that I tend to do X, or sometimes echo Y, is not helpful, as I hope you can see. Let me know where, when, in what words I have done what you claim and we can talk about it.

andy

Andy H said...

Since you haven't responded I'll assume that you can't actually find any evidence for this alleged bias.

Anonymous said...

I do not have time to do a text analysis of your blog entries and show each place where you are not well informed or you present unbalanced accounts of the historical facts. In general it is obvious that you haven't come across to a Romanian pertinent point of view (you may have heard some nationalistic excesses which are easily to dismiss). I have pointed out several issues in my comments and somebody in good faith would spend more time thinking at it.

Andy H said...

You know what, that's not good enough. I watch Romanian news, I follow current events here, and, it will obviously surprise you to learn, I have some Romanian friends . I spend a lot of time thinking about what I'm writing especially when I know I'm walking the fine line between ethnic sensibilities, and I have looked back over a number of posts to try and work out where you believe I have erred. So, don't tell me I'm the one not acting in good faith.

Furthermore, I'm not asking you to "show each place where [I am] not well informed or [I] present unbalanced accounts of the historical facts.". I'm asking you to show me one. One would be a start.

But what I see is someone who hides behind anonymity, who makes accusations of bias, pro-Hungarian nationalism, and anti Romanian racism, and who, when asked to provide concrete examples (or even one concrete example) merely continues to make the same assertions. Give me one good reason why I should take anything you have said seriously.

Either start debating like a normal person or take your vicious accusations elsewhere.

MS said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MS said...

You want an example, here it is one:
result of which the Romanian media presents them as being the root of all evil in the country

Andy H said...

You see! You can do it when you put your mind to it. I don't know if you (Soare) are the same person as the anonymous critic above, but I'll assume for now that you are.

Yes. When I have read and re-read this and other posts trying to locate the problems that you are talking about this was the one line that I felt could be interpreted that way, and I agree wih you. It was a throwaway line, but since I do try to be careful around this issue, that's not an excuse. I retract it and apologise for it here. What would you like me to do about it? Edit it out? Provide a footnote referencing this chat? Provide a different kind of footnote? I'm happy to do anything along those lines to correct it.

However this does not yet, inm my mind, constitute me "echoing [Hungarian nationalism] from time to time" or neither does it show me making any "inaccurate historical statements". If you could find the time to locate one or two more of these I'd be happy to look at them too. In the meantime however, let me know how I can best correct the line you mention.

Andy

Andy H said...

And I'd like you to retract this one, unless you can find some eveidence to back it up (which I don't believe you can):

you tend to present the romanians as a bunch of nationalists