From Vienna For Bucharest

A native of Constanta born under the sign of Cancer, therefore dependent on the sea, the sun, the sand and the seagulls, a couple of months ago I moved to Vienna (no sight of the sea), after having spent four years in Bucharest (no sight of the sea) during my years of college in the infernal 1990s. I wish all my friends of all ages should know just how much I miss them all. Leaving everyone you know is both an act of suicide and of rebirth, of cowardice and bravery, of love and indifference, of selfishness and altruism, of adventure and abandonment. But I don't mean to write about them and my affectionate relationship with them. I intend to write about my relationship with this bewildering and impossible town, Bucharest. I want to write about what it had offered me during these four years of my existence.How should I start? Maybe I should start with the daily walk to work, through the streets of the neighborhood bearing names of capitals and countries. The unusual silence, the few and discrete pedestrians, the wonderful architectural gems (those houses which harbor stories about ambassadors and their wives, about activists and Securitate people, about old time boyars). I would pass by the same streets during my jogging mornings, saying hi and smiling to the small Fiat 500 which had a generic license number (XXS), and it's again there that I would stop before the poster board of the Romanian Cultural Institute.Let's walk further, through the temples of live jazz, among the smoke-filled underground cathedrals of so many nights of happy auditions, I want to remember how I met Adi Andries at ArtJazz club behind Orizont gallery and the nights of endless, cheerful chatter around all that jazz, descending on the narrow staircase towards the twisted chords, the paintings on the walls, and the drinks served by Miki and Nico.Although I jog here between Schönbrunn and the Prater, I miss my lope around the Herastrau lake, leaving the car facing the lake and slipping some money into the hand of the old beggar who resembles my father in his final years.As for the Carturesti bookstore, one should write an entire novel about it or better yet, a series of ten novels or a monograph. So many types of fine tea, so many types of too fine music! And how many superfine books, sniffled, browsed in the tea-shop, finally bought and taken home like precious porcelain trophies. On Friday mornings, while cheerfully exiting my apartment building, straight onto Calea Dorobantilor, in the midst of a new agitated day, I would buy Dilema veche and other such publications like Photo magazine, Cotidianul, Dilemateca or Idei in dialog.The live nights at the Music Club, Danteotax's anniversaries at the Coyote Ugly, and the first live audition of Ten by Chilian, the clubs in general and the pleasure of living intensely and free of stress, surrounded by friends as well as by unknown, but beautiful and seductive women. No matter that once arrived home, I would take off my clothes and put them to wash and then go in for a shower – oh, this nation loves to smoke!And not in the least, the comfort of watching TV because of dream shows like Otherwise, Guaranteed 100%, Ideas in Freedom, Back to Arguments, Faultfinders' Chronicle, etc. Plus undubbed movies! (Well, yes, that's quite a big thing, you should know that!) You will say this doesn't happen only in Bucharest. I agree, but what about the theatres, the actors, the good stage directors, well, this never ends. Radio Guerilla, there you have it!Beyond the imperfections and the one thousand disorders, beyond the broken, the hopeless Bucharest with its complex fauna, I lived in it as if I were living in a loft filled with singular details, enlightened by playful candles, imbued with jazz, aromas and perfumes, bathed in some sort of an accomplice clandestinity, in some form of provisional state, as if your index were browsing through a promising book. The aroma of a timely cup of coffee and of an eternal smile.
Dilema veche
, March 27-April 2, 2008
Translated by Oana-Laura Pancu

by Sorin Petrescu