All of our intellectual and creative activity, as well as our
emotional state, usually depend on our physical condition. It's like
when you're tired you're not able to do anything no matter how
many ideas you've got. It is another thing to be rejuvenated... With
hectic activity comes progress as long as your energy is flowing in
the creative way.
I'm not just making excuses. Sure, this note is quite late and my
state of mind, described above, is to blame. I spent several days
feeling like this, and now you're probably curious why. My answer is
to share with you a story about the many impressions I have from
visiting a Romanian wedding.
Along my other compatriots here I was invited to the great event by a
guy whose name was Shtefan, he's a system administrator in our
company. He was single until just recently and he decided to take a
major step in his life. Obviously I had to accept the invitation to
his wedding for the following reasons: 1) I like interesting parties;
2) It was an honour to be invited; and 3) It sounded like an
opportunity to gather new impressions -- even if just to share it with
the readers of my almost weekly creativity - the notes you see now on
Romanians are a far cry from Germans when it comes to being punctual.
Well, they are just like our people. Especially when it comes to
celebrations. Despite the fact that the guests were invited to come to
the wedding at 7pm, all of them failed to make it until 9pm. It was
quite easy to find out about someone's arrival by the same
(traditional?) melody that was played by the DJ. So, my first
observation - the absence of live music. Man, I was glad to see it
that way! Often, when I hear live musicians my hand itself starts
looking for a machine-gun, napalm, a "Stinger" rocket-launcher or at
the very least a nuclear bomb. Well, this sounds like an idiosyncrasy
of mine but I really can't do anything about it. There also was no
toast-master, by the way.
My second impression - the tables. There were no tables full of
salads, aperitives, sliced meat, mushrooms, salted fish, vegetables,
pancakes, patties, jellies, i.e. nothing a typical Russian eye is used
to seeing at a celebration. To my deep disappointment, all of the
tables were arranged with only dishes of various cookies! Keep in mind
that I intentionally didn't eat dinner that day -- I wasn't too glad
to see the cookie selection. In addition to biscuit industry products
there were glasses of cognac - one glass per head. There was also some
fruit-drink and finally wine. Though that was a bit later.
At a given moment we took our places in the room and watched the
guests arrive. The people came well-dressed, men in suits and ladies
in smart dresses, fancy hair and make-up. They stuck white bows on the
chest of every new arrival.
Now, a few words about the place - It was called Casa Armatei (the
army's house) and judging from the name it was a relic from the
communist period. It was situated not far away from the center of the
city, on the slope of an hill in the Copou district was. It is a
special place for various ceremonies, as far as I understood. Not
really a delux place or anything, but it had all the needed stuff. The
only thing that confused me was the toilet's location. It was behind
the DJ. There was a curtain that you had to push aside in order to see
the door. I had to ask for directions there twice - just in case.
All of this took some time. Then apperitives were brought out first:
dishes with sliced cheese, ham and meat. A round of local toasts was
made every table. First cogniac was drunk and after that was gone
people started drinking wine which Shtefan bought. He got 200 liters
of the wine at the church where the religious ceremony took place
earlier the same day. After the lyrical digression and toasting, a
kind of metamorphose happened to the people and the DANCES! began.
Yeah, dances, and then I immediately realized what it was all about. I
realized why there wasn't much food on the tables and why there was no
vodka at all. In fact, the whole celebration comes down to a
night filled with dancing. Once, a week or two after I first arrived
in Romania, I was invited to a birthday where almost the same
thing happened. The young and old danced without a break in the
traditional music. It was the uniting power of folk music.
Actually the fact that there were no tables full of fried sucking pigs,
game and mashed potatoes wasn't suprising anymore. Nor was it strange
that no one got drunk enough to puke in the corner. Compared to our way
of celebrating something the absence of drunk people was really amazing.
People 50 and 60 years old were dancing the waltz and the traditional
"hora moldoveneasca" extraordinary. Among over 100 of the invited ones
there were about 20% in such an age, and the rest were middle aged
people and youngsters. You know, it was a real art. Obviously I myself
was not standing still there. It would not be a big exaggeration to say
that I danced with all the nice ladies between 24 and 40 years old.
Of course like everywhere nowdays, the national traditions were affected
a lot by modern technology. A conversation between the fiance and a man
who stole away the bride via cellular phone was funny - "alo, hotzul?"
(hello, thief? :) As a result the guards earned something like 4 or 6
bottles of champagne.
At all Romanian weddings a special respect is usually paid to the so
called "nash". This word here means a guy, usually a close friend of
the young family who pays for everything at the ceremony. The
DJ played a lot of songs dedicated to this character, though the man
himself in flesh and blood didn't mind dancing.
Besides folklore songs about the "nash", and about love and life in
general, there was another extremely popular song here "Nas ne
dogonyat". I thought the old people would sit down to have some rest,
but even this house-styled piece of music didn't get them down.
Wishing to thank the DJ for the song I told him "molodets" (bravo,
cool). He looked like he studied Russian at school, because after that
he kept on saying "molodets" to in me passing every time he was near
the dance floor.
My colleagues and I went home when it was a daybreak already, about
7am. Up until then the dances were interrupted only once to give
gifts. As it was explained to me, the tradition wasn't originally
Romanian and came here somehow from the West. Several days before the
wedding I was eager to find out what kind of gifts were given here,
and what would be a good thing to present. It sounded trivial, but
money is usually given as a gift here. Moreover, the Romanian leis are
better for this aim, since the sum itself looks bigger in comparisong
with its dollars equivalent. Because of the local currency's stability
it is no big deal, but the numbers sound better in leis indeed, since
the exchange rate is about 33.000 lei for $1. Now, about the
tradition. During the giving of the gifts there was a guy going up and
down the room gathering envelopes. He took the money from people and
said in a loud voice: "the Popescu family - one million and a half!
mister Porumbescu - one million leis", etc. No wonder, the cheap
people don't like this approach.
Despite the fact that I was still tired two days after the wedding, I
liked the party very much. Once again I want to congratulate Stefan
and Anca on the great event, now here on the site, and to wish them a
house of stone (the most popular wedding wish here, "casa de piatra"
in Romanian). It definitely differs from our traditional ways and I
think it's extremely interesting to find out as much as possible about
each nationality I deal with. Probably there is a great ethnographist
who died inside me when I chose programming, but even I have no idea
where his grave is..
Tried searching for the traditional music through the Romanian
Internet. It appeared like digital audio is not really popular among
the common people here ;) However, there was something I found. Take a
look here: 1
Just listen to it and you'll realize why it's impossible to sit at a
table when you hear it.