Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sign of the times

Over the course of the now 8 years since I've been here (8 years!  Lumme), the state of the economy has been visible from observing the new businesses that have opened in the town centre and around.  Around the time of Romania's accession to the EU, the town hosted an explosion  of banks.  Every building that became free was quickly snapped up and turned into the branch of a bank.  They even started opening branches in an area of the town which is not exactly the centre, just in case people couldn't be bothered to walk 5 minutes to cash their cheques or make their wire transfers.  On one street alone (the one I;m currently on) there are absolutely dozens of them, and even though it's not that long a road, there are actually some which have two branches on the same street.  This for a town of less than 40,000 residents.

Now after a while, this bank building craze plateau-ed out a bit and the new thing was cafes.  Now, obviously, thanks to the growing economy and the fact that presumably now everybody had loans or whatever from the preponderance of banks, we could all live a life of leisure, sitting around drinking coffee and eating elaborate cakes and pastries, while our money just made money or whatever it is that the idle rich do.

Then the crisis hit.  We were no longer hicks-of-leisure, and the cafes dried up. One or two banks closed, but most are surprisingly still here (despite the fact that many of them these days are Greek-owned). The new craze was for the turkáló.  I've mentioned these places a couple of times before - they are basically second hand clothes shops which get their stock (it is claimed) mostly from the UK (where I think people are duped into believing they are giving them to charity). Picture a sort of permanent jumble sale and you get the picture. There are loads of these places now, on every corner. The other thing which appears to be on the rise is the replacement of the sitting around-sitting-espresso-cafe with the stand-around-bet-and-watch-sport-on-TV-cafes.  Desperation chic. Get your second hand t-shirts and socks by the kilo and then with the tiny amount of money you have left go and try and double it through gambling.

What's next, I wonder? Either they will all just be boarded up in silent testimony to the collapse of capitalism, or they will start selling guns so we can all start arming ourselves against the gangs of semi-feral victims of the credit crisis.

Or something happier I suppose.   

1 comment:

FV said...

Wow! I've discovered your blog not too long ago and I'd just like to say I enjoy reading it very much. I'm from Bucharest originally, now living in the States. In my childhood, I spent many a summer vacation in Ciceu (where mom's from) and Miercurea Ciuc.

I would like to suggest that, every now and then, you include some pictures of the town, especially when you write about it, like in the above post. Thank you and keep up the good work.