Monday, October 03, 2005


It never rains but it pours, is, I believe, the pithy saying of relevance right now. And I’m not referring to the weather, although it is apparently flooded in Bucharest again - much to my astonishment since it’s been a glorious Indian summer up here with nary a drop of rain for the last fortnight.

No, I am referring to the life of a freelance* worker. Having spent the last week doing an intensive course on intercultural communication (of which more later, when a moment can be spared), I am now preparing for a team building workshop this afternoon and then later tonight set off for Bucharest for the first leg of my ridiculous journey to Kyiv (via Amsterdam – see previous post on this subject). I’ll be home at about 4am on Monday, and then will start another intensive week-long course on educational management at about 10 that same day. For a workshy fop such as myself, it’s a daunting workload. Is this what fatherhood’s all about? Sacrificing the opportunity to arse about on the internet all day long in order to work one’s bollocks off in the name of financial security?

(Why “freelance”, by the way? Sounds like a campaign to liberate the winner of the last seven Tours-de-France. Or an offer to rid one of boils for no payment. Hmmm. I’ve looked it up in the excellent Online Etymology Dictionary and it seems like it came from a term for medieval mercenary, which I suppose I ought to have guessed.)

We took the opportunity of a free couple of days this weekend to bomb off to see the in-laws in Targu Mures, which was good. I was pressed into picking grapes (as opposed to being picked to press grapes), and found myself quite enjoying it. As a teenager I hated my occasional forays into paid fruit picking work, but maybe this was because I, a criminally under-oppressed middle class white lad who fancied himself as the Cesar Chavez of South Cambridgeshire, was working for the man. In this case I was working for the greater good of my community and family (or something) and so actually felt good about the whole enterprise. I suppose it wasn’t entirely altruistic as I do end up drinking a significant quantity of the wine that is produced from these grapes, but all the same, I feel it added to my sense that we’re all happier when doing work that contributes to something other than a pay packet for oneself and profits/share dividends for someone higher up the chain. I realise this is an old-fashioned viewpoint, but screw fashion.

After the grape and walnut picking activities were over (fresh walnuts, by the way, are gorgeous), we retired to a bar by the river where we met up with various cousins and had a beer or two. There were two blokes there who had clearly been drinking all day – seriously fucked up. I realised that I will probably never be like that again, and while I don’t exactly regret that fact (one day of drinking these days leaves me out of commission for a week), there is a certain pleasure to be had from just sitting down at lunchtime for a pint and ending up losing track of time and sanity.

The scenery right now is gorgeous. Driving to and fro across Transylvania through the multicoloured autumn leaves was frankly stunning. Having lived in Vermont for six years, I know stunning autumns when I see them, and believe me, I’m seeing one here. Hopefully all the leaves will still be on the trees when I get back from Ukraine. Transylvania must mean “beyond the woods” but I’m not sure which woods we’re beyond – seems to me like we’re in them.


Anonymous said...

Be careful in those woods, I read that Harghita has an excess of 250 bears.

Andy H said...

What's an excess of bears? Is there some quota that I don't know about? Is someone doing an audit of our bears? Is there a bear deficit in other counties?

Anonymous said...

'Transylvania' is a latin translation of 'Erdőelve', the archaic Hungarian name which is now 'Erdély', meaning '(the land) beyond the forest'. Where is the forest beyond which the land is? Well, the so-called 'Great Road' connecting the Great Hungarian Plain with Transylvania goes through the Királyerdő-mountains (=King's Forest, Romanian: Padurea Craiului or something like that, who cares, it's not authentic anyway). This was always the mayor acces route. So Transylvania is indeed the land beyond the forest. Seen from, guess where...?


Anonymous said...

'acces' is suppossed to be 'access'.
Should have previewed.

Anonymous said...

Who cares you think it's not authentic, anyway...

Anonymous said...

"What's an excess of bears?"

It's just what I read (I don't remember where)

Andy H said...

What's "authentic" in the context of a place name? Is New York not authentic? What about Jerusalem?

To put it another way would you rather Romanians just renamed things in thier own way or translate the Hungarian (when appropriate)? I've noticed here, for example that in more or less all cases the Romanian and Hungarian names for things are the same (translations of one another) whereas the German names are usually different. Which is more "authentic"?

It seems a strange thing to say, unless (as I suspect) you were trying to make a cheap nationalistic point.

Anonymous said...

Is this what fatherhood’s all about? Sacrificing the opportunity to arse about on the internet all day long in order to work one’s bollocks off in the name of financial security?


Doug M.

Anonymous said...

Little late, but I went fishin'.

Authentic is Marcel Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu. Non-authentic are it's English, German, Hungarian, Romanian, etc. translations.

The point is not that cheap. As you know, the Romanians invented their own storyline about the history of Transylvania, the Daco-Romanian Continuity Theory. In case of doubt, you might want to do a little research on the ethymology of Transylvanian geography, especially on rivernames, which is quite telling on the order populaces with various languages settled.
This would still be a cheap point had it not had grim consequences. Take the example of the Szeklers. Various mediaeval works of questionabe reliability, like Gesta Hungarorum claim that the Szeklers were in the Carpathian-basin when the Hungarians "came in"(It cannot be called a conquest because they actually fled a Pecheneg attack.), or thet they are even remnants of the Huns. Both are unlikely, nothing indicates that they spoke any language but Hungarian, so as far as it can be determined they are just a rather distinct group of Hungarians.
As Romanians know they were here before the Hungarians, and they take Gesta Hungarorum seriously because is also claims that Romanians and Szeklers were in Transylvania in the early 10th century when the Hungarians arrived (this is the main "evidence" for continuity), it was obvious that Szeklers were Hungarianized Romanians, so in the 1920's and 30's Romania launched varios "reRomanianization" initiatives, like family-lineage-analysis, and those found "Romanian" were prevented from attending Hungarian-language shcools, which were entirely confessional anyway, because in the interwar-period the state-run Hungarian school-system was shut down.

The debate over Romanian ethnogenesis is offen called politicized, Romanians claim it's a vehicule of Hungarian irredentism, but a lot of Romanian policies in the past 87 years stemmed from this basicly debunked theory.

Ion said...

To Ifi:

That Szeklers are Magyarised Romanians is not an official Romanian theory. You're just mixing facts in an insinuating post.

Anonymous said...

Bears are in excess in the Szeklers region because of Ceausescu.I can give you an example :in 1909 in the Zetea village forests area (sorry i don't know the name in magyar) according with a hunting book written by the an austrian forest engineer called Friedrich Goetz the bears were extinct since 1889(last year when a bear was shot there).In 1976 according with the Romanian Hunters association(harghita branch) in that region the bear census population reached 285 bears.Following the forest restitution and savage agression against the forests done my the members of the hungarian party after 1990(see Kerestoy Attila also know as God's chainsaw )the numbers of bears have been dramatically reduced because of severe habitats distruction. ..conclusion the bears are still numerous because of unsustainable forced growth during ceausescu time.They were fed by hunters for being shoot by ceausescu.