Fara Numar

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  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.


6 thoughts on “Fara Numar

  1. favorite and an element inefsud into many diets. In Romania, I know, the derivative there is the sarmalute, cabbage leaves stuffed with a variety of fillings. Rice, other vegetables, even meats are used to


  2. I hate (actually love)to tell you this, but a lot of Europe is filled with csnotryuide and castles like this. As soon as one leaves the cities that one flies into.. Ka-pow.. castles, rolling csnotryuide, ancient monuments and ruins, quaint little towns and villages.. OK, and yes, slugs and some menus with crap on them ;-). So glad you had a fab time, and SO glad you’re back!


    1. I live in the Netherlands and I think it’s strange when you don’t have a bike! Everyone comes to sohcol on a bike! We think here that you’re lazy when you come to sohcol in a car of with the bus. But not on every road are cycling paths, in the middle of cities we don’t have, than we go walking.


  3. Well, Sam, don’t forget you’re Romanian now and we Romanians have an original approach on mundane things that could cast a dark shadow on our happy lives…
    I will give you an example of the administrative steps we took to make sure that elderly people are not bothered by the lack of the “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”. My mother in law is born in 1946. Her last ID Card was issued in 2004 and expires in…. 2064! When she will be 118yo or not needing an ID at all.
    {note: for those younger of us, the ID Card expires 10 years after issue date, sharp.}
    So why to spend so much money in retrofitting those buildings with escalators and stuff when changing just a digit on a computer template can keep all those elderly people happily in their homes?


  4. Sam, this is something I would be very interesting in learning. Though it is a bit of a pipe dream, I could see myself retiring in Romania and would like to stay on a permanent basis. My Romanian friends think I’m a bit nuts, but I have to say I fell in love with the country after seeing all it has to offer. Please keep us updated on your experience in this regard.




    1. Robert, please come, and stay if you like it or just leave if you do not. Nowhere on Earth you will find guarantees and personal experience is second to none. But if you manage to avoid associating with those who would take advantage from the gullible foreign, then at least you would find a warm welcoming by the common people.


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