As the world turns, I spread like germs
Indeed. As the days turn here in Romania to strange ways of going from clear sun to devastating hail and downpouring rain on a sometimes hourly basis, so my life here continues to get more surreal.
I’m sure many of you are curious how the filming is going and I will tell you it is going extremely well! We have the “trailer” already shot and once it’s finished being edited and polished to perfection, it will be posted in all its glory (on YouTube, and no it will not be blocked in your country :P).
We’ve got some rather ambitious ideas we’re trying to capture on this film and so it’s realistically going to be a couple of months before the entire thing is done. I’m literally vibrating with excitement at the thought of releasing the final project out into the public sphere, and seeing and hearing all of your reactions. I think it’s going to be educational, hilarious, moving and inspirational all at once.
In other events, I’ve been spending a lot more time “in the streets” rather than just behind the keyboard, and meeting a lot of people. One of them was the brother-in-law of one of the speakers at TEDx Cluj back in May, Dan Calinescu. Apparently an entire clan of ethnic Romanians had decamped to Canada decades ago and have now returned en masse to their homeland.
Again, the surreal part is that in many ways, I speak Romanian better than they do. How’s that for weird? Nor are they the only ones. During one of my recent peregrinations into Cluj’s nightlife around 2:30 am I serendipitously ran into (a completely unrelated) group of ethnic Romanians who were all here from Australia. LIke Mr. Calinescu and his family, they had been gone a long, long time and clearly were more comfortable in English (assuming you count what Australians speak as “English” :P) than Romanian, despite being “100%” Romanians in name and ethnic heritage.
And on the other end of the spectrum, I keep meeting more and more “foreigners” who have knuckled down and actually learned Romanian, with a wide medley of accents and grammatical perfectionism. I think my favorite surreal moment of the past week had to be hearing my new American friend speak grammatically accurate Romanian with an East Coast accent…to an ethnic Hungarian waitress who speaks English :)
Speaking of the Romanian language, I’m going to put in a heavy plug for Radio Romania Actualitati, which you can hear online or on your house radio (assuming you’re in Romania). It is easily my favorite radio station now because they regularly broadcast dramas (in Romanian of course).
Probably the single best use of the radio (in any language) is the broadcasting of stories or dramatic theater. Without the distraction of visuals, the actors have to use their voices to convey the story and many of the actors I’ve heard on RRA have been top notch professionals. It’s really been quite a treat to lie on the sofa with the rain steadily falling outside and listen to a play on RRA, which cannot be paused, interrupted or hurried along, letting myself get swept up in the story. Highly recommended! And it’s also a great way to improve your language skills as well.
As you might have noticed, I’ve done some minor tinkering with the blog here. At the end of every post you now have the possibility to “+1” (Google Plus) as well as the more familiar Facebook “like” with a single click of the button. Although I haven’t really gotten the hang of Google Plus yet, my account can be found here if you’d like to merge your circles with me. Yeah baby, let’s merge circles! :P
The sidebar of the blog now has this website’s Facebook page, which is different than my “personal” account on Facebook. Right now the “page” part is mostly empty but soon I will have it customized the way I like, with a lot of photos and other links and articles to be going there in the near future. If you use Facebook, be sure to give it a “like” and then you’ll be plugged into all the goodness coming that way soon!
And last but not least, the title of this blog post comes from what might easily be the most surreal moment of the month. I was at a small cafe with some friends and colleagues that happened to be right next door to an extremely loud wedding party, which had a (rather untalented, I’m afraid) group of musicians singing “party” songs while the guests drank and danced. Even despite the singer’s lack of obvious talent, I was shocked and pleased to realize that I knew the words to many of the songs, all of which were in Romanian. I guess the surreal part was that seemingly none of the other people at the cafe knew these songs very well.
One of the songs was Bea finu si cu nanasu, sung much better at the link, which has an “introduction” by the incomparable Raba, the only Romanian comedian who has ever made me truly laugh. In it, he uses an extremely Transylvanian variant of the verb “vorbi” (to speak) which is vorovi. I’ve been told by several people in authority that the (Romanian) Moldovan equivalent is “vorghi”.
Once I heard these variants, lightning struck in my eyes and I realized a very old mystery had been solved. I had long wondered what the origin of the Romanian verb “to speak” was because it was so evidently not Latin. It was only when I saw that “vorbi” was a contraction of “vorovi” that I realized it was simply a modified version of a verb I knew quite well, to wit in Russian: govorit, Ukrainian: govorite, Serbian: govorim, etc, etc. Slightly alter the way the consonants are pronounced and you can see it’s a perfect match.
Ahh…so nice when a mystery is solved, at least for me. Interestingly, I’ve asked several Romanians (here in Cluj) if they knew this verb variant, vorovi, and many of them did not.
So now you can understand Raba when he says (in his comically super Ardelean accent):
Ase-i mi place sa beau si vorovesc cu tine di numa numa no! Yes! :)
And for those of you who love my food blog, be sure to join me for Rawgust!