East Side Story: Tales of Romanian recession
August 23, 2010Posted by on
Romanians have outstanding records. While cell biology, the Coanda effect, cybernetics, the Procopiu magneton or the discovery of insulin do not generally ring a bell, any respectable gentleman/lady would agree that Count Dracula the bloodsucker would do the trick. Same goes for John Dillinger, the beloved bank robber of the 1930s, whose reputable half, Ana Cumpănaş, fingered him to the FBI. These days however people tend to overlook this fascinating country as a “just another dull eastern European nation”, and for no good reason.
Take this summer, for example. We`ve witnessed black magic performed live against the presidential candidate, wages cut off by a quarter, sedition acts that would put John Adams to shame, flooded orphans on high heels and tyrants exhumed for a role call.
We`ve been having a blast. Yet it makes me wonder why is this Piccadilly Circus so obscure in terms of advertising. Perhaps I should promote it myself, so you`ll see what you have been and still are missing.
Just as dainty rays of sun announced the middle of May and you were all discussing the presence of Sarkozy and Medvev at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (what a bore!), we on the other hand were analyzing the occult forces of incumbent president Traian Băsescu`s purple ties and socks which attacked social democrat Mircea Geoană with negative energy during the televised presidential debates. Conclusively, he lost.
But as you will see, it was no wonder that genies, pixies, people with paranormal abilities and Lord Voldemort all fought together in the front line of Basescu`s reelection as president, for soon, in a matter of days, the newly reinstated president announced that pensions will be cut by 15% and wages by 25%. 150 euro was the average pension before the cut.
The magic of the moment competed with that of the purple sock, particularly as all throughout the election campaign Basescu had repeated over and over again that there were no problems with the economy, that those who maintain such a thing are by the media moguls and that, conversely, we were on the verge of cornucopia.
Out of the blue (or should I say purple), the GDP fell by 7.7%. The government literally went to bed contemplating economic growth and woke up in the middle of recession.
Journalists went wild.
Now worried about terrorists, bombs and attacks of other envious nations, Traian Basescu swiftly edited the national Defense Strategy, where the root of all evil was finally identified: the press. The Supreme Defense Council agreed that ”media campaigns that denigrate state institutions” are a threat to national security and therefore oppose the law.
As the ”transgressors” from France 24 observed, one can no longer accurately speak of freedom of press in Romania. Personally, I absolutelly loved the way the French portrayed Basescu in the middle of a military parade. No image could be fuller in meaning.
Perhaps it would be time to move on with the summer story.
When the great deluge came to visit last month, the one that greats us every year, one thousand eight hundred seventy homes and one thousand nine hundred hectares of forest and pasture were destroyed. Four hundred twenty four wells were clogged and twenty people died.
We hit the Euronews as part of the ”No comment” section and one can even stumble upon a Wikipedia article on the subject.
But no fear! Help was on its way. The best way to summarize this at the time was, perhaps, a headline in The Telegraph:”Flood victims given high-heeled shoes”.
Are you getting this? No? Allow me to explain. This particular jollity involved Elena Udrea. She is one of the very few prominent female figures in Romanian politics – perhaps the sole such figure since back in the 1980s when comrade Elena (Ceausescu) had blessed the people with her much envied and – need I mention – uncontested administrative skills.
The new Elena is blonde and has posed in bikinis for a magazine shoot. Did I mention she is the minister of tourism? Well, she is.
And this time her administrative skills impeled her to act, with the floods and all. Mrs Elena Udrea called her driver to get the Jeep limousine and hurried up to see the hard-hits with a bag of chocolates and one filled with high heeled shoes, ”very good for a party”, as liberal democrat deputy Mihai Banu observed.
One might suppose that these events suffice to keep us busy. Mind you, I did not even narrate the president`s trip to the flooded victims of the destroyed villages, where he snapped their heads off for not bleaching the walls of their (former) houses.
So here I am, July 2010, switching the TV on to see what`s next. Former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, shot 21 years ago, have been exhumed for identity tests. Their daughter, Zoia, requested for this to happen 15 years ago, but it took some time until the court decided to approve her request.
Conclusively, to paraphrase Will Rogers who spoke like a true Romanian albeit he was not, we feel the same when the Parliament is in session ”as when a baby gets hold of a hammer”.