If you speak Romanian, I heartily urge you to watch this video, probably my last appearance ever on Transilvania Live! because the network has been sold to the Digi Group and will likely be rebranded as Digi Cluj here in the very near future.
If you’ve seen my dozens of other TV appearances, there’s nothing too new here as it’s me yet again pounding out the message that I believe in, that things can be better in Romania with the right attitude and a little hard work. There’s always the dichotomy that for the most part my work, whether films, books or the writings on this very website, is done in English and targeted at the whole (English-speaking) world while most of my TV stuff is meant for Romanians alone, but so it is. Watch and enjoy!
In other news, I am very happy to say that today I successfully helped Ileana, the woman I’ve adopted, get her buletin or Romanian ID card today after a marathon session down at the Communist-named Directia de Evidenta a Persoanelor, literally the “The Evidence of Persons Directorate” or basically the local branch of City Hall which maintains all of the records on the births, deaths and identification of citizens.
I’ve certainly had worse experiences with bureaucracy here in Romania as well as back in the United States and other countries but of course I’ve also had better experiences. Some of the people working there today were hatchet-faced stone cold clerks who didn’t give a shit about anything except that the forms were filled out correctly in all capital letters (once again, I filled out the paperwork myself hee hee!)
On a side note here, I spoke to two irresolute bitches (women) who were on duty as members of the Politia Locala, neither one of whom would admit to understanding even a single word of English. We really didn’t even need anything from them and I was otherwise speaking Romanian with people but if you remember my last story about the police, you will know that there is a huge problem with many of them not understanding English.
It’s not for my sake that I wish they would speak and read English but for the betterment of the entire community. Over 85% of the internet is in English and ideas and attitudes and specialized training is in English too and it can only be of use to everyone if a more international, cosmopolitan outlook on things could be attained. Too many high-level Romanians are stuck inside a prison of old ways of thinking because they are restricted to only a Romanian way of thinking and doing things!
Other workers today, however, were a little bit more humane and with a little patience we got everything sorted out, so that’s good. With some identification and other basic paperwork (like a birth certificate) now Iliana can begin to exist as person inside the system, which among other things will mean she can now be hired as a proper employee, something I expect to see happen next week. So that’s going splendidly, I am happy to report.
I took the photo that you see above today during our pilgrimage to the Directa de Evidenta a Persoanelor because it is such a study in contrasts. On one hand you’ve got a very modern digital queuing system where everyone gets fairly routed in sequence to the right window. On the other hand, not a goddamn thing on that big board is actually spelled correctly.
Cluj-Napoca is the second largest city in this country and is the “capital” of the wealthiest region and yet everything is written in the “broken printshop” style, where the T’s and S’s with a little tail are mostly missing, A “with a hat” or Â is also missing and “A with a bowl” has a squiggly line over it instead of the correct ă.
Of course, if you’re Romanian and can read well (as the two homeless people I’ve adopted cannot, by the way) then the spelling oddities on the sign don’t matter. If on the other hand you’re a foreigner or a Hungarian or somehow otherwise not inherently fluent in the language, it’s a mindfuck for sure, especially when other signage in the building DOES follow the correct orthography. Have a little pride, Jesus! Write it correctly already.
Furthermore, there’s not the slightest attempt at handicapped or disability access to either the building for identity paperwork OR to the building across the street where you’ve got to pay all the requisite fees. There are lots of steep stairs and I shudder to think how many elderly folks and people who have difficulty walking make it in and around these buildings on a daily basis, something virtually mandatory for every citizen at some point in their lives here.
Romania sure has a long way to go to understanding access and what this means for a democratic government that’s allegedly mandated with serving the people. That being said, it was a fun adventure for me, both in getting yet another taste of what life is really like for Romanians as well as preparing me for my journey into citizenship myself, which is scheduled to happen quite soon (in 2013). Therefore soon it will be me running through these gauntlets for myself.