Sunday, January 31, 2010


It's a distinct lifestyle. It's an ideology. It's a Molotov cocktail of excesses. It's romantic rationality, it's reasonable romanticism, interchangeable and intermingling.

It's when rules are not respected, not internalized, not legitimized. It's when you buy a 10,000 euro car, but you drive it on a road with huge potholes. It's when you go to university and still talk like a cab driver. It's when you are a liberal intellectual yet pursue backward interests.It's when you fight for the sake of fighting. It's when women who are strong and independent look for the freedom to date rich men. It's when intelligent men care for trophy-women.

But it's also when you find similar meanings in languages beyond borders you thought were so different from one another. It's when you imagine the worst yet you experience the best. It's when you expect to find the Wild East, yet you find the West. It's when you stress difference and you find similarity. It's when you enforce globalization and you find nationality and ethnicity. It's when you think everything is bad and good pops up from somewhere.

It appears strange to the Westerners and the Easterners alike. It's not about location, time, ideas, it is about a state of things, a powerful characteristic. It's about uniformity in plurality and plurality in uniformity. It is the place where a new "middle ground" is born. It is about a new pure race. It is something by itself. For me, this it's simply...Balkanico.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fall 2005

Some people sing about the summer of 1968 or the generation 74-75. The Fall of 2005 was my 74-75 moment, and the summer of 2006 my summer of love (friends know why ;) ). I will not go into detail about the summer of 2006, you just have to know i was 20 and in love, one of the best contexts in which anyone could be.
But I would now like to talk about the fall of 2005.
It was the beginning of October...I was in a hall full of students, my colleagues in the FSPUB program. I only knew the guy sitting next to me on my right, Mihnea, a colleague from high-school. Outside it was starting to look like autumn and I was trying to look as smart as possible considering I was in college now. All the pre-fabricated images about Romanian college life (harsh conditions, stuck-up student nerds and tyrannical professors) were slowly fading away...
The crowd around me was very colourful. Distinctively "cool" people were hanging out around smart-looking techy guys with laptops in front of them, indy-dressed girls could be seen next to introverts, lonely fellows were waiting for the teacher and long-time friendships were resumed as people who used to live in the same city or learn in the same high school were reunited...A lot of noise, novelty, youth, sun, beauty, a feeling of a new stage in our lives and a positive emotion of the unknown were battling for supremacy in the souls of our generation.
As Prof. Avramescu got in, I was chewing gum in my seat in the middle of the hall. The prof started talking, listing the requirements the faculty had. After stopping for a minute to scold me for chewing gum (like! how embarassing!), he also listed our priorities and advantages. All things aside, I was glad to have him as our almost parental guide in what concerned classes, faculty policies, study potential...
During break, we all flocked in the yard. The sun was shining and 18-to-20-year-old voices filled the air. While I was drinking coke on a bench with some people from Transylvania, others were exchanging cigarettes or opening up bags of chips. Smiles were all over as class distinctions, high-school rivalries or simple obnoxiousness were slowly fading away. This was it ! We were like the Americans and the Indians on Thanksgiving: all different, all the same, all sharing, all willing to open our minds (and cigarette packs!) for something new.
Freshly out of high-school, in which the relation with the opposite sex was an affair of "coolness" and economic status and was filled with stupid American-fueled prejudice, I found myself in a world where girls were friendlier and more relaxed. If you wanted to talk to a girl, you would just go over to her and ask where she was from. If she was from Brasov or something you would ask her what's cool to see there, if she was from Bucharest, you would ask what high-school she went to and if she knew I-don't-know-who friend of yours. It was simple and friendly...
We soon started classes and started reading. Also we formed our own !Yahoo group and questions soon started popping, as well as ridiculous fights and idealistic rants on all sorts of topics. It seemed we were taking our political science students label seriously: whether staunch liberals or revolutionary leftists, we were all passionately abusing our freedom of speech and loving it all the way. Breaks were occasions to display our numerous theories about life, love, pop-culture or simply discussing that day's reading. Those discussions would go on in bars and pubs after (sometimes even during) classes; sometimes we even got passionately involved in political debates in a club with music banging in our years !
Oh yes, clubs ! Back then it was like a mandatory pastime. If you wanted to go to a club that night you would simply shout loudly during a break and instantly you would get adherents...This system of direct democracy (well, basically just shouting during breaks and writing on the group) used to bring us together much more often than it does nowadays. Pubs, clubs, fast-food places, conferences, parks: we would take all these places by storm and put our distinctive imprint on that place for the evening or afternoon. We were a colourful group, loud, idealistic, high ideas mixing with high-school minded die-hardism. For all it mattered, we were friends.
I found some really good friends that fall . Most of them are still my friends today. And hope we'll stay friends for the years to come. I took my one true friend from high-school (pretene, te stii cine esti!) and entered this new world of youth mistique.
We used to learn, credits and marks really mattered. Back then the important guys were Pierre Manent, Sartori, Machiavelli or Max Weber. The founding fathers. The seminal readings. The gurus. Even the teachers were labeled that way. We were all impressed about Mr.Avramescu's clarity, Mr.Barbu's inspirational insight, Mr.Rizescu's accent (Oh yeah! You know what I'm talking about!). Even though pieces of paper were flying during class at each other and practical jokes like stealing clothes or pens were at the order of the day, nevertheless classes meant something. With attendances around 75%, going to school was actually cool. Not only would you see your prank buddies, but you could actually learn something. And have a drink afterwards.
Soon the first love stories started to emerge. Happy stories, sad stories...
And then the junior prom. For those who don't know, the picture from above is taken at that prom. It was sheer fun, almost like in American movies. And I took part in the Prom King contest, and won third place (out of 6 contestants, not out of 2!!!) ! Yeey ! Me, 3rd place in something like this ! What ?!? I was good-looking back then and was even playing some sports, okay!?! Those were the days !

However, soon, all these started fading away. Gossip was eating through our freedom of association and soon there were small groups all around. People were getting jobs and started coming to school less and less. We all soon discovered our political science studies were not going to help us in our future careers. I myself, renouncing the bed of roses and pink clouds with which I surrounded my new experiences in college, started becoming a more critical person. I realized political scientists, women and some other people were not who they wanted me to believe they were. Soon, I was thinking not in terms of finding the best in everyone, but in terms of who is backing that guy to become the boss of i-don't-know-what at 21 years old. Not cool, I know.

Now my papers revolve around football, politics and rational choice, I tend to be a cynical hard-ass, life tells me I have to get a job, EBA is an MEP and Michael Jackson is dead. Romanian social life is full of slutty-like broads and ready-made millionaires with Lamborghinis and lower IQs than the size of their shoes. Bitterness is in high dosage...

But that's not important right now. What's important is for all of you who know what I am talking about and share with me at least some of my autumnatic excitement from 2005 remember those times when we were freshmen, when we were more optimistic, more idealistic, more in touch with one another, more prone to fun, more willing to drink a beer with semi-stranger colleagues, more lively in our pursuit to live then and there, more present in classes, more passionate in what we learned, when no job was there to eat away at our time and creativity, no bosses to say what we could or could not do, no shame in expressing metaphysical or idealist points of view.

The Fall of 2005...