The Friend From The Provinces

Carturesti bookstore, National Museum of Contemporary Art.
Your cousin from Timisoara is coming to the city. People from Banat and those from Bucharest don’t seem to see eye to eye, that is a known fact, but your duty is to make him feel at home. For him, home means very little commotion, a Western style inherited from Germans, warm and easy-going conduct towards strangers, but also great general knowledge about what is happening beyond the Danube. You can find such things in Bucharest as well, can’t you? All you need is to know where to look. You couldn’t talk him into coming by plane, but at least advise him to take the night train. The railway station is much more colorful in the morning, unlike the night, when it is less than friendly, we have to admit.You have left his luggage at home, you have already thought of a route without traffic jams, you have almost convinced him that Bucharest is a city with a light traffic, he is more and more impressed, and all you have to do is to keep amazing him. You avoid contact with interlocutors who have verbal tics specific to Bucharest, such as “bro’” and you introduce him to your well-bred friends. As most museums in the country display the classical style of halls for painting, sculpture or historic artifact exhibitions, you think he would fancy a visit to the National Museum of Contemporary Art. There is an animation performance, some installations and an exhibition with a political message. The cousin cannot believe that the museum is hidden inside the Parliament Palace, which he will surely label as “a genuine communist monument”. He has only admiring words for the museum, though. You cannot take him to a café, he does not like commotion and coffee is for him “a steroid for corporate people”. You suggest a tea and a book, he is surprised by this cultural package, and you feel free to take him to Cărtureşti bookstore. After he has chosen a book about Woody Allen and a DVD from the Fruit Chan movie series, he is glad to have a rest and a cup of tea. He is already softened and you can introduce him to society, at the terrace La Motoare (Engines), the most crowded place where you can go unnoticed and equally be seen by everybody when you gulp three pints of beer, or you can at least invite him to have a chit-chat in Lăptarie (Milk shop), in case it is windy and rainy. But the weather is fine and warm, there is a nice breeze and you choose the terrace Green Hours, full of good mood, interesting people, and girls with necklaces and purses knitted by themselves. Theatre Monday at Green Hours opens in a few moments with a theatre play. “In Frankfurt, there is a bar where there are also theatre plays, the place is as small as this one, I haven’t seen such a spot in our country, it is cool,” confesses the cousin. You take two places in front of the stage while you order two beers and you are convinced that your favorite relative feels fine and your mission is accomplished. Where to take him to dinnerRomanians may have seen many things abroad or even at home, but there is hardly anything similar to Hard Rock Café. The Americans are “to be blamed” for it, all we can do is enjoy it and eat. Your friend from the provinces will not make a wry face when he sees the juicy special burger and he will enjoy the noisy, energetic atmosphere.

Time Out, April 18-24, 2008
Translated by Fabiola Popa

by Mădălina Preda