Proposal: To Rename Bucharest As Sadrest

Go take a walk down the boulevards of Bucharest these days and breathe deeply. With your nostrils widely open. What a wonderful scent of spring! Without feeling it, in this package made up of the perfume of snowdrops and violets, you have just breathed in some sulfur oxides, a few nitrogen oxides, some substances that include fluorine and chorine, carbon hydrates, and fresh dust. Right in the boulevards of Bucharest, in the rosy light of spring, cancer stabs you and coughing strangles you. The City Halls are accessories to this mass murder, as they have allowed over 20 million square meters of greenery to be destroyed. No Greenery at the Time of the Green Shirts, Either Speaking of Bucharest's greenery: I found an article published in 1939 by Gazeta Municipiului, in which the author asked the then authorities to urgently increase the number of parks, because people were suffocating in the street. You realize that, back then, the air in Bucharest was polluted by vehicles with 1-2 HP. Toxic gases went out through the exhaust pipes of the engines that ate oats. But, despite the fact that in the small, rural Bucharest of the 1930s the air was like the fragrance of a rose, the inhabitants made strong demands for more parks. This is an excerpt out of the public petition of 1939: "The issue of Bucharest's green areas, like that of boots, is a seasonal preoccupation. We realize we need greenery and boots now, when it is stiflingly hot, when no wind is being felt from anywhere. "In this respect, a great change has occurred in the climate of Bucharest, and that change is mostly felt by the Bucharesters who were born and who live in this city. It was warm before the war as well, but not as bad as now. In the past 10 years, the number of swimming pools has increased, but the Bucharest hell has worsened above any and all expectations. "The explanation is simple. Constructors have been allowed to build apartment buildings without yards, which are downright ovens in summer time, so the entire climate of the city has changed. And anyone may check to see whether we are telling the truth here. All they have to do is go to the Botanical Garden, entering it in the evening from the Cotroceni neighborhood. Before reaching the bridge over the Dambovita River, it is still stifling hot, but, as soon as you approach the park, the climate difference is felt from 100 meters away. "The Botanical Garden is completely special, because it is close to the park of the Cotroceni Palace, which, although not open for public access, plays the same role in bringing fresh air to the city. "But the situation is different in the case of the Cismigiu Park. Closed among streets full of apartment buildings and having many buildings on one of its sides, the oldest park in Bucharest is useful, but not to the necessary extent. "All of the above leads to the conclusion that a policy for parks is needed. The city urgently needs green areas, but they have to be created wisely, to fulfill the purpose for which they are made." La Vie en Grey In the 70 years that have gone by since this petition was filed, years swallowed by dark eternity, the number of green areas in Bucharest has decreased in direct proportion to the emergence of other hundreds of thousands of "oven buildings." The tree-cutting saw gave the green light for pollution to travel freely without speed limits through the boulevards of socialism, and, most of all, through those of our "transitional" capitalism. There are also advantages to this, though. Rheumatism will be eradicated in the capital of Romania. Because the inhabitants will die young. And the next generations may be made up only of saints, having a holy anatomy because the bodies of the dead will remain intact for ever. Not even the worms will touch such dinner food, because the stench of toxic substances will be too strong. You can read the full text of the 1939 petition on Here is an excerpt: "The issue of the green areas of Bucharest and that of ice are seasonal preoccupations. "In this respect, Bucharesters are like the dog in the fairy tale, who thought about a winter abode, but forgot to build it in summer, when he relaxed in the shade." Academia Catavencu March 19-25, 2008 * Translator's note: The name Bucharest (Bucuresti in Romanian), begins with an element that may be defined as a prefix, "Bucur," which is also the beginning of the word "bucurie," namely joy. Alexandru Căutiş proposes a pun to include a word meaning sadness in the name of the city, hence "Sadrest," or rest in sadness.   Translated by Monica Voiculescu

by Alexandru Căutiş