This morning I had the pleasure to speak at yet another high school, this time to a group of all Hungarian kids here in Unicorn City (Koloszvar in their language) and it made me truly appreciate the story of the blind men and the elephant. The original story came from India but you can read a Romanian version with a Christian interpretation aici.
Over the years of writing about Romania, I’ve come to realize that this country is “the elephant” and the various people who live or visit here are the “blind men”, each with their own narrow interpretation.
Romanians – This country is bitterly poor and a horrible, horrible, miserable, worthless place to live, other countries being much better. But it is our home and so we are queerly proud of it, defending it against criticisms from others but when we’re by ourselves we spend most of our time denouncing it.
Hungarians (from Transylvania) – We love “our” land which was historically ours and when God gets around to fixing things, will be ours again. In the meantime however we are unfairly persecuted and trampled upon by the dimwitted Romanian oafs who inexplicably are in charge at the moment. Despite just about zero inter-ethnic violence and having our own schools, newspapers, radio channels, television channels, clubs, bookstores, restaurants, web sites, universities and opera houses, we feel we are a downtrodden and repressed people.
Hungarian visitors from Hungary – We’re here to support you and rescue you, our country bumpkin Hungarian brothers, who are so sweet with your archaic lifestyles and cornball accents. One day we will liberate you and make you once again our redneck cousins in arms as we rise up to fulfill our destiny as rulers of the entire planet.
Szekeler Hungarians (in Romania) – Wait, huh, what? What do you mean we’re “in” Romania? Never heard of that country!
Germans – Oh Hans, ja I am going to cry in my beer stein, och, the memories, the sweet, sweet memories. Das ist so gut to visit the old country and the little willage where Großvater came from, which in our language we call Kronkruschastingenreichbahn, a short word which means “Sausage Making Lederhosen Factory with Church”.
Italians – Ecco li qua! Rumenia e molto buona and the girls, Dio, molto molto bellissima, mwah I kiss-a you all! Un bacio per tutti!
Spanish – Ehhh… Rumanya is a good country. I like ehhh… very much – como se dice – ah yes, es a very nice people, very nice.
French – Ah, merci, yes is a nice country this Roumanie but is a tragedie how only zee old people speak our beautiful language. Also, zee wine is good but the food, eh, she is not so good.
British – Cheers, mate, have you seen the birds here? Incredibly fit. And the best part is you can get pissed on good lagers for just three quid! Brilliant.
Americans – Oh my God Becky, like did you SEE that guy driving that horse and a cart? I’ve GOT to take a picture of that and put it on Facebook, like totally. Thank God they have McDonald’s here or I would just COMPLETELY DIE.
Australians – I’ll say it more slowly. YES I AM SPEAKING ENGLISH. I just speak it in a way that absolutely nobody can understand so I mostly survive here by grunting and using hand gestures.
Arabs – La ilahaha haqwa ushamanah filaqwah pakwa. Okay, for your women I will stay more time this country. But excuse me as I have to begin another loud conversation on the telephone in my language. Hishallah taq wuqfakrwah bin akwah…
Polish, Lithuanian, Estonian, Latvian, Czech, Slovak – Is just like our country only the prices a little cheaper and everything a little shittier. But we like!
Serbians, Ukrainians, Bulgarians – Wow this country is awesome! Expensive but awesome. It’s just like home and you eat almost all the same foods but it’s so modern and advanced. Wow!
Japanese – The land of the hairy gaijin barbarians lacks the harmony of the Seven Cherry Blossom Ancestors but with our cameras we take many, many, many, many photographs, hai!