Thursday, May 2, 2019

Art, Food, and New Friends in a Not So Strange Land: Bucharest Day Three

Rob the virgin and child.
Dead babies were everywhere. 

Traistan Alina at General constantin coanda 15A.
The majestic couch at 15A Bucharest.

New friends at General constantin coanda 15A!

“I, with whatever I bring new,  come from  a very distant past,” Branchusi

The couch looks like  it popped out of a  Salvador Dali painting.
We walk in and ordered drinks.
Do you mind me asking what  you are doing here? asks Traistan Alina,
Our  amicable waiter,
Chatting away with us,
Looking  askance,
And  then  cracking up.
You mean how did  we find this place?
We reply.
Come on in.
Inside the restaurant was a yard sale.
Jazz was scheduled for later  that night.
Rob and I park  there,  chatting  away about Andrei Cordrescu
And Fred Sontag, the everyman philosopher we’d  known  at  Pomona college.
“I saw you last night at Wed night,” he joked with students, who’d been out late the night before his classes.
He looked  out for them,  bailed them out of jail,  mentored, forgave, and asked questions.
Leaving memories and clues for Rob and I to figure out.
Over international cuisine of wine, salmon tartar, bruschetta, and salad, we  eat.
Drinking  beer and then more  wine.
Traistan brings us more.

Everyone here has an opinion.
“They’ve been through a lot. 
“4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
is one of the saddest movies I’ve ever seen,” I  chime in.
“They put the women through a lot.  No contraceptives, no abortions, lots of graft.”
“The saddest country I went to was Romania, years ago, during Ceausescu's rule,” Christopher Lee commented.
“Under communism we wanted to go but we could not go anywhere,” notes the woman at the other table, chatting with us. “Under capitalism, we still  want to  go places, but we cannot afford it.”

Its the question  of the day, what was better: capitalism or communism.
Many, including Traistan, suggest there was more to living under communism.
She loves Bucharest and can’t  imagine leaving it.
From Chicago USA, her  husband works at another restaurant down the road.
Every family is unhappy in its own ways.
She shares a few tales.
Its never easy losing someone.
I share a few. 
We’ve all got a lot  in common.
All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way
Tolstoy begins Anna Karenina, with stories  for us all  to share,
Common ground expanding.
Part of our family were  said to originate  from here,
Only further East,  space and time blurring.  
Pretty soon, we’re all best friends. 
“Come  back  and I’ll reserve  a whole table for your family,” she smiles  as  we leave,
After our second meal there.
Sometimes food  makes a trip.
This was certainly the case.

And our conversation continues, 
Walking in the rain,
Looking at the old buildings,
East and West  influences intermingling.
What destroys cities?
The privatization  of the commons under capitalism.
Or  the wrecking balls of Ceausescu?
“We can’t afford to preserve the old  buildings,” note a few architects we  meet  later   on at  Gradina Eden.   It took a lot of  walking and  asking for directions to  find the beer hall. “Enter the gates to the stately mansion at No. 107 and follow the path to the right to find a woodsy space festooned with lights and bars serving cocktails, smoothies and imported beers,” noted the guide book.
Past barking dogs and  Easter parties, we wander.
Not much was open, but Gradina Eden is popping when we arrive, a dj spinning records.
Rob and I chat about our stroll through the old city.
Gorgeous people everywhere.

“Its great to hear English.  We’re glad you are here,” notes  one of the  docents at the the National Museum of Art of Romania as we  walk  through the European Art Gallery.
Our  favorite work was in the Romanian Medieval Art Gallery and the Romanian Modern Art Gallery.
Lots of dead babies James!”
“Lots of boys and mothers.”
“You’re just like a baby.”
“Next year Israel,” Rob gushed.
“There  is more  to life than  just getting drunk and girls.”
“Did I hear what I thought I heard?”
“Morocco the  following  year.”
“And Moldova after that,” James chimes  in, before he leaves.
Back to his life. 
I’ll join  him  later  in the week.
Rob and I wind our way through the city on the way back  to the Intercontinental,  making  friends at  the hotel  bar,  where we   have a few more cold ones before calling  it a  day.
I have to fly out a few hours.
Its sad leaving.
Somehow it all felt familiar,

A little like home. 

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