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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A taxi in Bucharest

by Ariel (editor), Venice, CA, September 06, 2006

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After a 10 hour flight from LA to Paris, a missed connection, and another 3 hour flight from Paris to Bucharest, here I am now in the capital of Romania. Unfortunately, my luggage decided not to come with me and stayed in Paris. Probably hanging out on the Champs Elysees drinking wine, I thought. How shallow.

Anyways, they told me at the airport that it would be brought to my hotel the day after, which of course didn't happen. I therefore decided to go get it myself.

The taxi appointed by my hotel to drive me to the airport and get my luggage back arrived in less than 5 minutes. I quickly befriended with the taxi driver. After a little while and a nice chat in a very approximative English, he turned to me and said "Oh by the way, here is my postcard". That's how I met Virgil, and slipped his business card in my pocket. I laughed and felt like Jonathan in Foer's book Everything is Illuminated.

We drove through Bucharest which gave me a chance to witness the very unique architecture of this city. Aweful buildings of the communist days seem to be in the brink of crumbling down. A couple of blocks further, you can see beautiful pieces of architecture from the post war era. This very strange mix is the result of the very agitated past of Romania. The people now. A very similar mix to the architecture: half miserable, half beautiful. It is quite disturbing to see the huge gap between the rich and the poor. The middle-class seems almost inexistent.

When we got to the airport, Virgil offered to park and help me get the luggage back. The Otepeni airport is not quite a model of good organization and I therefore accepted. We walked to the hall of the airport and zigzagged through the numerous fake taxis trying to attract foreigners in their cab. Their goal is to trick you into thinking that it's going to be cheaper than the official taxis waiting right oustide the airport. Some Romanian friends told me that their counters are actually modified to tick much faster than the normal. I finally got my luggage back thanks to Virgil as even in the airport not everyone speaks English.

On the way back, he told me about the gypsy problem and how badly they were tainting the image of Romania by stealing and spreading terror everywhere in Europe. He even told me that he one day got refused service in a restaurant because he was a little tanned and speaking Romanian. The owners thought he was a gyspy and told him to leave. He felt very ashamed by this story and had very harsh words against the gypsies.
He went on telling me how people were mistakingly associating gypsies with Romania. They are actually coming mostly from India and do not even speak Romanian but Romani, an Indo-Aryan language.

Like all the Romanians I had a chance to exchange a couple of words with, Virgil seemed very cultivated, lucid about the problems of Romania, but still very much in love with his country. He kept on telling me how beautiful some regions, especially the mountains, are and how I had to visit them. This week end will could be a good time for me to listen to his advice and go on a trip outside of Bucharest.

That should be it for this first article reporting live from Bucharest. I still have to recover from the jetlag due to the 10 hour time difference with Los Angeles. So as Alex would say in Everything is Illuminated, I'm going to bed and "manufacture some Zzzzz" now.

La Revedere!



About the Writer

Ariel is an editor for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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1 comments on A taxi in Bucharest

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By A. A. Abrahami on September 12, 2006 at 12:54 pm
Ariel...GREAT article! Everything you wrote about describes the country much in the same way that my family would...it's very true about the gupsy problem, and I notice that when I travel through Europe with my family we are discriminated against because we look/speak Romanian. I'm in Prague right now as I type this from an internet cafe, and the streets are swarming with gypsies...but Prague, just like any town in Romania, is a magnificent city with stunningly beautiful architecture that tells a story beyond the destruction and ruinous consequences of the cold war. I am happy that you could see past the negative reputation associated with a turbulent history, and that you could come back from Romania with fond memories of the beauty that the counrty has to offer. I also noticed you picked up a few phrases while you were there..lol..la revedere!
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