Garbage Fire

Lately, I’ve had my mind on my neighbor down the road, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten about good old Unicorn City. Ah yes, my pet name for dear, sweet Cluj-Napoca, a charming city that is, unfortunately, a little too full of its own shit. How many times have I written about this before,…

We Don’t Need No Water

You know, I’ve met Emil Boc several times, the (apparently) permanent mayor of Cluj-Napoca. He’s a nice guy and quite charming. But he’s an old Communist bootlick and one of the most racist anti-Gypsy politicians in the country, and that’s saying something. Yesterday, I couldn’t help but note that the Pata Rat garbage dump, described…

Fahrenheit 451

If you’ve been a fan of this site for a long time, you know that I call my former town of Cluj-Napoca Unicorn City. Here is yet more proof of why it keeps on deserving that nickname: Cluj-Napoca’s Avram Iancu International Airport is the first airport in Romania that hosts a free library. The library,…

Volte-face

I wrote about it in 2012, in 2013, in 2014 and countless other times, but it’s finally good to hear that longtime expat Rupert Wolfe Murray finally gets it too: For many years I thought I knew the answer to the problems faced by the Romani Gypsies: education. If we could just make school more…

Gypsy Palaces in Huedin

Few places in Romania have a higher concentration of garish gypsy palaces than the little town of Huedin, located just west of Cluj.  The palaces have always struck me as the architectural equivalent of gold grillz and raised trucks—flashy emblems for American proles who want to project a moneyed lifestyle despite earning $30,000 a year. Most people…

Gypsies 2, Journalists 0

I wasn’t even going to write about this until I nearly fell out of my chair laughing as I saw that it’s now an international story. If you prefer video, click here for the Euronews report (in English) or click here for the TVR report (in Romanian). If you prefer print, here’s Mediafax, here’s Adevarul,…

Benefits Street

Right now the number one show in Britain is Channel 4’s “Benefits Street”, which allegedly focuses on people receiving “benefits” or government money. Episode 2 heavily featured immigrant Romanians (often pronounced Rumanians on the show), one a gypsy family from Romania and the second a group of 14 agricultural workers from Romania. Despite the fact…

Gypsies aren’t normal

Last night was a wonderfully democratic exercise when the pan-European channel “Euro News” hosted a discussion with EU Commission Vice President Viviane Reding in which she answered questions from ordinary people. Please don’t misunderstand me, Ms. Reding did an excellent job last night, especially considering that English is not her first language, and she showed…

The White Billionaire’s Burden

About 100 years ago, a famous British man wrote a poem about poor and uneducated little brown people (of the Phillipine Islands) and how it was the white man’s “burden” to help them. I was reminded of that sentiment once again this morning after reading an open letter from billionaire George Soros in the Guardian…

Told Ya So (Redux)

After all these years of “covering” Romania-related issues, it really doesn’t give me a whole lot of satisfaction to find out, once again, that I was right. In the domestic media (here in Romania) for some reason there is never any coverage about Nigel Farage, the UKIP or all of the fearsomely waged internal politics…

Gypsies 2 Europe 0

Last week the police in Greece snatched this girl away from her gypsy family solely because she was blonde and had blue eyes. Later they were forced to release this girl back to her parents when DNA tests proved she was their child. Oh snap, the police in Ireland did the exact same thing. Guess…