Romanians in 1948… and now?

Donald Dunham, an American diplomat stationed in Bucharest, said this about Romanians in 1948:
IMG_0430“The Romanians are a social phenomenon. As a nation among nations, they are westerners evolved in the East. They are Latins surrounded by Slavs. They are Romans two thousand years away from Rome. They are contemporaries re-produced on Trajan’s Column.
“They are peasants with the utmost in sophistication. They farm instinctively, but are suspicious of machinery. They speak a language like Italian but the majority of their words are Slavonic. They are superstitious but religious at the same time. They are astutely intelligent, but refuse to be intellectual. They submit to invasion but preserve their identity. They support great wealth and extreme poverty. They produce striking beauty yet can live in filth.
“As a collective personality, the Romanians are Oriental in their souls although Latin on the surface. Their patience is almost unending but they are quick to explode in argument; they are peace-loving yet would disintegrate without controversy. They are passive but strong in their resistance; spontaneously adaptable, still difficult to influence. They are romantic but never escape from reality.
“They are charming yet cruel in their ridicule, warmly emotional but calculating, generous yet concentrate on the ‘main chance.’ They are opportunistic but lose interest after they have gained the advantage; they seize the moment, still adopt the long view.
“The Romanians are a people of colorful contrasts and extreme extremes, born in classic times, ravaged by barbarians, indentured to the Turks, dominated by the Byzantines, the Greeks, dictated to by the Hungarians, Poles, Austrians and others, seduced by the French and not recognized as a country until 1878. Yet they emerge with a character that defies this confusion, that is definitely, emphatically, unmistakably Romanian.”

What do you think? Is this still fair to Romanians of today? 

Tourist sight is my neighbours’ life

Charming short article in The Guardian, by Rena Effendi, about the living tradition of haymaking as part of the still-extant peasant lifestyle of Transylvania. This picture (also by Effendi) was taken in Maramures, where the haystacks are tall and thin.

Maramures haystacks

Here where I live, in southern Transylvania, the haystacks are fat and stable to withstand tougher winds.

Magura132-1

Another article, this time in the Financial Times, suggests that Transylvania is the new Tuscany. An Italian living in the Saxon villages is extolling the ancient ways of Saxon Transylvania as being reminiscent of the old Tuscan lifestyle.

By bat or magic carpet

Another jolly interview, thanks to Transylvania Beyond – lots of photos in this one.

Transylvania Beyond headline & intro

What a day! Bookfest 2019

On the first day of Bookfest 2019 in Bucharest, I had an audience to talk about my book A Stake in Transylvania. This is how much I enjoyed it.

Abbs at BOOKFEST

Thanks to Bookfest’s clever photographer…

And at the very end of the day, as a very unexpected bonus, the British Ambassador introduced me to one Klaus Iohannis, President of Romania. And to my great surprise, he recognised me… “Is it possible that I’ve seen you in a documentary?” he asked. “It’s possible,” I replied. Here’s the evidence (the Prez is the tallest in the line-up)

61418808_2257084057713678_340276527851634688_n

Book world in the spotlight

Following on from Bucharest’s spring fair Bookfest, I wrote the cover feature for OZB magazine.

I plan to write more, to give an airing to various aspects of Romania’s book world – not just to give readers a better idea of how much value they get for their 40 lei, but to spot opportunities in the publishing world and to highlight good practice and book world stars. What do you think of the article? I’d love to read your candid comments.

 

 

Help me save a dog for Christmas!

Floss cover 2I’m donating royalties from my new book, Floss the lost puppy, to two fabulous animal charities here in Romania.

Every book you buy will help save a dog (or a cat) that is homeless, sick or injured.

Romania Animal Rescue is an amazing group of vets at the Centre of Hope in Bucharest – see what they do every day to save dogs and cats.

Eli Pet Transport is a Romanian-British charity that rescues dogs from all over Romania, socialises them till they’re ready for a new home, then takes them to the UK to their new families.

All the people involved are stellar human beings who have devoted their lives, their homes, their careers to the welfare of cats and dogs.

If you love animals, buy a book, donate direct to their websites, spread the word about what they do, teach kids about the value of pets and how to care for them – help in any way you can…

Thank you!!!

PS: You can find out more about Floss on his website, and read reviews of the book here.

Romania: passions and pet peeves

260x70px-logo

In my piece in the second issue of OZB (O Zi Buna) magazine, expats (aka migrants) tell me what they love and hate about their chosen home. Food, traffic, music, steps, bureaucracy, architecture, people, people and people…  Includes contributions from Shajjad Rizvi (left) and Karam Alsaty.

‘Gem-like story contains vital lesson’

Iulia Benze sent us a wonderful review. Obviously a great dog lover, Iulia sees the book as a way of teaching a vital lesson: why compassion and care for animals is important. 

“I believe Floss The Lost Puppy is extremely practical and it should be the beginning of a series which humanizes stray animals, creating heartfelt stories, educating people to be more compassionate towards nature and fellow creatures sharing their environment.

“Overwhelmingly the book brought back memories of animals in distress. I read it on a stormy dark Sunday morning and after that I immediately went out and started searching for homeless dogs to feed and to soothe. I found 5, managed to help 3 – the ones who didn’t run away from me.”

But Iulia also remarked on the emotional journey that the heroine goes through.

“I loved her journey in that magical rural mountainous place: from being afraid of dogs to absolutely loving them. She became a brave little girl, sacrificing her own comfort and selfishness. I think it is a very important lesson to learn: generosity, friendship and conquering your fear. This story contains a deep challenging lesson, making the narration not only for children, but also for adults.”

Transylvanian kittens need a home

Two kittens meet adult cat
Two tiny kittens meet big ginger George Cat. Some soft hissing and growling from George, but kits are fascinated by their new uncle

Can you give the two little kits a loving home? They’ve been with me for three weeks, and are now tame (they were feral when we rescued them) and promise to be beautiful, healthy, affectionate and playful cats. Mango (girl) and Fig (boy) are very different characters, but both sweet and both have Ferrari motor purrs.

I will take them to the vet for a complete check-up and neutering, so you’ll have no costs apart from transport and future care – if you’ll take them both.

I live near Brasov so can bring the cats to you if you’re local, or meet you somewhere convenient if not.

If you’d like to give them a happy future with you, please drop me an email – abbspepper@gmail.com