If you ever decide that writing is for you, one of your passions, and you want to do it on a website and turn it into a job and make lots of money doing it, do not follow my example!
But if you write because you have to, because it is in your heart, then strange and wonderful things can happen. I began this little jimmy of a blog in an ordinary way, telling stories about my adventures here in Romania, tales that foreigners like because this is a strange and quirky country and it’s fun to read about another person’s impressions.
But along the way something interested happened, something that I never expected. I mostly wrote (and still write) in English and so I never thought a lot of Romanians would read these tales. But they did. And most of those Romanians were not here in this country with me but outside, somewhere abroad, somewhere in strainatatea, what we call the diaspora when we use our fancy Greek words.
And to my complete and utter surprise, I found myself giving them a gift, telling stories of their country, bringing them a little piece of home to comfort them on their long journeys so far away from where they grew up. My heart breaks every day thinking about them (you?), who are strangers in a strange land because the only good chance at a better life was to be found somewhere else.
Over the years I have discovered a number of songs in Romanian written for those in the diaspora, telling their stories of separation and being homesick for their native land. Despite what many might think, they are not all in the manele style, although of course most singers in the Romanian language are of this tradition.
Today’s song is by Nicolae Guta, a beautiful and moving piece, somewhat poorly acted out in the video but the heartbreak is expressed beautifully in the singing:
If the above video gets taken down (in the future), you can find it on YouTube here.
Lyrics are translated entirely by me. Each verse is repeated twice and the “chorus” is repeated four times at the end.
|Romanian||Literal English||Regular English|
|Am plecat si eu din tara||I left also I from the country||I too have left my country|
|cu gandul ca in viitor||with the thought that in future||with the thought that in the future|
|am sa fac bani multi afara||I have with what to make money much outside||I could make a lot of money working abroad|
|intr-un timp mult mai usor||in a time a lot more easy||somewhat easily|
|Strainatate, strainatate||Foreign land, foreign land||But living overseas|
|degeaba eu am aici de toate||useless have I here of all||everything I have here is in vain|
|of cat sufar Dumnezeu ma stie||oof how much I suffer God me he knows||only God knows how much I suffer|
|si n-am nici o bucurie||and no I have not a happiness||and nothing here brings me joy|
|Sunt plecat de aproape un an||I am departed of close to a year||I left about a year ago|
|am venit sa strang un ban||I came to save a coin||so I could save up a little money|
|nu-i asa cum credeam eu||it is not how me I thought||but it’s not how I thought it would be|
|banii se castiga greu||money is earned difficult||and it’s hard to make money|
But it’s not just because I personally find this song moving that I went through the trouble of coding an HTML table and translating the lyrics. I also wanted to share the comments left on this video on YouTube by ordinary people.
For the original text in Romanian, you can see them on the YouTube page. All the translations are mine, which are a provided here because some of them are not written in “school style” correct Romanian.
From “Adrian Bojan”:
I’ve spent yet another year living amongst foreigners. Yet another Christmas has passed by, yet one more year. I miss everyone so bad I can’t stand it. If I could, I’d return home tomorrow. But what the hell can I do? I’m incredibly homesick. I wish health and good luck to all Romanians who live in every corner of the planet!
From “giovani luca”:
I left for North America four years ago. I wish I could be closer to my home but so it goes. I worked like a hero at the beginning. I believe that the word SLAVE barely begins to cover what I’ve gone through as an immigrant. I managed to make a life here but like Cousin Guta says, “Everything I have here is in vain”.
That’s how it is, brother. Nobody in Romania knows how hard it is to live abroad. I’d give anything to be able to return but unfortunately it’s not that easy. Every time you remember your country, your family, your friends or listen to a song like this, you feel really bad. I don’t have the words to explain it! I wish health and good luck to all Romanians in this world and I hope that one day we can all return home.
From “Cristina Baciu”:
I’ve been in Greece for five years, time that I’ll never get back and I just can’t take it anymore. I want to be with my family. Romania, just how it is, is my country. People there aren’t racist and you can live your life how you want to there!! Everybody here looks down on you because you’re in their country. Excuse my language but I’m just here in your fucking country so that my folks back home can eat.
Brother, I was quite poor as a child. When I was 16 I went to Spain to work. I understand you very well and you expressed yourself very well. You mustn’t forget where you came from, that which 90% forget. I left my country on foot. I didn’t have a rose-colored life and only those who live abroad truly understand what it means to be in a foreign land.
I’ve been in Italy for 15 years. Now I am 20 years old. Starting when I was 15 I began to work in construction and even now I do this work but you know what? I’d give anything to be able to return to Romania and stay there. I’d give anything to be that boy that I was five years ago but I really don’t think this could ever be possible. I am sick of this life.
And dozens and dozens of more comments in this vein.
People often ask me why exactly I give a f*ck about this country beyond providing for my own comfort and I hope this explains why – I want all of these people to be able to return if they want to.
That millions of people are forced to live in a diaspora because Romania is plagued by greed, corruption and criminally mismanaged governance is a tragedy that truly breaks my heart.