OZB Magazine December 2017

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Hello, bună, and welcome to OZB your new lifestyle magazine all about Romania in English.

I CAN’T TRACE TIME So as I write we’re still only flirting with winter, autumn is still clinging on valiantly but winter’s definitely on the horizon, it’s a coming and by the time you read this it’ll probably have arrived. I was thinking how I felt about this recently and my feelings were decidedly mixed. Part of me longs for the crisp snow and the delicious cold, part of me can’t be bothered slip sliding around. It’s part of what makes Romania such an intriguing country though, not only is it continually changing but it’s also a land of extremes, climatically especially +40 to -20! Before coming to Romania I’d spent seven years in tropical Malaysia where I’d practically forgotten about winter altogether - Christmas was, along with the other 364 days a year, routinely 30+ and traditionally spent in the pool - it’s surprising just how quickly you get used to that. Romania has provided a vivid reminder.

In the UK it would be, and annually is, carnage. Two centimetres of snow and it’s a national emergency, schools close, roads close, trains are cancelled - shock horror it’s snowed! In Romania they announce snow days for schools before even a flake has fallen, so laid back, yeh yeh, it’s going to snow, so what... Conversely in a UK summer if there’s a week of temperatures of 25 and over there are water shortages and hosepipe bans, it’s news. How would that work here?

Change it is a coming, our flip flops, shorts and t-shirts have long gone, coats are de rigeur, boots are being dug out but Romanians are ready, they don’t even give it a second thought. Dealing with 40 degree heat? What about a half metre of snow and minus 15? No bother to capable and adaptable Romanians.

Still fairly freshly arrived late 2015 I was told that I must attend a Christmas market and so went along to the one behind the Peasant Museum. Great atmosphere, loads of good things to eat, drink, wear, all sorts of antiquey, crafty, artisan type things, which I must confess to having a penchant for, but I’d under-dressed. Chilled to the bone within minutes, first time in many, many years, not fun at all, I had to leave. Take heed any newbies out there - overdressed trumps underdressed every time. I did return properly dressed several times and will be going again this winter, those places rock. Leave the car, that vin fiert stuff is not to be missed and just the ticket when it’s 8 below.

Yesterday I had to de-ice the inside of my windscreen before I could drive the kids to school. This is an aspect of winter I can do without and no doubt it will be the norm before long but the Christmas lights are being set up, there are upsides, ski slopes are opening. I’m told that last winter was a hard one and it sure seemed it to me. It snowed early January and there was still snow late March. The novelty value was much shorter-lived, about as long as this conversation: “Hey it’s snowed, yeah! Great! Err, oh God! That’s a lot of snow…”

Romania is many things, she has many faces, many often contradictory sides: mountains-plains; cities-villages; palaces-shacks; forests-farms; skiing-beach; historic-modern. And most are available, accessible and highly enjoyable. As we move into this Festive season I’d like to wish all OZB readers a blessed, peaceful and happy Christmas, be safe and embrace the change not just of the seasons or even the year but all around us and all the time. After alI change is the only certainty.


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At the beginning of last month we hosted our “launch” event at the Novotel. It was an event that I’d been thinking about for a long time and then there it was and in the blink of an eye it was over. It was most enjoyable and a heartfelt thanks to all those who came out on a Wednesday night and attended and helped to make it such a good night - it was a party really more than an “event”. A special thank you to all our sponsors for contributing to the event and to our esteemed guests The Dutch Ambassador to Romania Stella Runner Grubacic and the UK Ambassador to Romania Paul Brummell and Sonia Năstase, head of Nespresso Romania. And yes I made a speech and yes it was lame and yes there were a ton of things I forgot to say. And no, I’m not going to go over all of them right here right now except that I’m not sure I conveyed quite how happy I was to have finally got to the position of being able to have a launch event. As has been said before, OZB was quite a while in the making… So in this, our fun and festive December issue, we have some pictures from our launch event/party-more event/parties to follow, watch this space, we like to party… (Pg. 30). I had the privilege to meet and interview the UK’s Ambassador to Romania, His Excellency Paul Brummell, for this issue (Pg. 24). As warm and intelligent an individual, as he appears on our cover, he provided clearly considered and insightful answers that I’m sure you’ll find interesting. We have a new regular feature by the name of “That Was the Month That Was” in which OZB’s friend Dean Edgar takes a look at the various mentions of Romania in the news over the past month (Pg. 16). The irrepressible Arabella McIntyre-Brown has canine tales and festive advice pertaining to man’s best friend along with a new book out (Pg. 40). Urbane Giles Eldridge brings us up to speed on the vibrant contemporary art scene (Pg. 44). Tis the Season to be jolly and Oana Vasiliu has the skinny on music and choirs performing nationwide this special month (Pg. 48). Provision is a school in north west Romania that teaches self-sufficiency skills for those seeking the good life, we hear from the founders (Pg. 50). Our colleague, Marcel makes an appearance with his take on the recent international between his beloved Netherlands and host nation Romania in the start of what we hope will be a regular “Sports” page (Pg. 23) - please take note sports enthusiasts, your contributions are welcomed. By the time you read this, who knows, it may have snowed, even if it hasn’t yet here in Bucharest, it almost certainly has up in them there mountains and that means it’s time to ski, we get the low-down on the various Romanian slopes from my good friend Dan Constantinescu, ski instructor extraordinaire (Pg. 57). Well I survived! Lastly, I spoke with a man called Marian Ursan who runs an organisation called Carusel which works hard to help those individuals who not only have nothing at all, the things they do have you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, TB, AIDS etc. And I say bless Ursan and all his colleagues and to all those bringing cheer to those less fortunate this Festive season (Pg. 70).

Douglas Williams Co-owner/Editorial Director, douglas@ozb.ro Marcel de Roode Co-owner/Commercial Director, 0768 971 647, marcel@ozb.ro Fulvia Meirosu Marketing Director and Website Manager, fulvia@ozb.ro Ada Popescu Art Director Alexandru Hamuraru Distribution Manager



SAINT PETERSBURG CLASSICAL BALLET The Nutcracker When: December 3 rd Where: Sala Palatului, Bucharest What: Ballet in two acts "St. Petersburg Classical Ballet of Andrey Batalov’’ is a young, dynamic company touring all over Europe, Japan and the US. It was created by Andrey Batalov, primo ballerino at Mariinski Theater, a dancer with a career spanning over more than 20 years. His extraordinary skill and style place him in a line of artists such as Vestris, Nijinsky, Baryshnikov and Julio Bocca. The body of dancers in the company are of

excellent artistry as well, having studied at some of the best schools in Russia and Ukraine – with star dancers such as Yevgeny Ivanchenko-Mariinsky Ballet, Leonid Sarafanov, Oksana Bondareva-Mihailovski Ballet, Alexandra Timofeeva, Evgheni Ivanchenko-Kremlin Ballet, Maria Poliudova, Vladimir Statnii and Andrey Batalov, who will also perform, aside from being the artistic director. A ballet with spectacular costumes and set design, not to be missed on the 3rd day of winter.

2CELLOS When: December 5 th Where: Sala Palatului, Bucharest What: Cello Concert; film music 2Cellos is a Croatian - Slovenian cellist duo, consisting of classically trained Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser. They come to Bucharest with their new album “Score”, released in March 2017, which was recorded together with London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Robin Smith. “Score” includes a wide array of television and film music – the tracklist consisting of soundtrack themes from Lord of The Rings, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Godfather, Schindler’s List, Gladiator, Love Story, Rain Man to name a few. The artists marked their album's release with the official YouTube video for Game of Thrones Medley, which garnered over 1 million views in two days. They played alongside Sir Elton John, George Michael, Zucchero, Steve Vai, Lang Lang, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Queens of the Stone Age, Andrea Bocelli, Zubin Mehta and T Bone Burnett. Sir Elton John recommends them as being amazing and says he hasn’t seen anything quite as thrilling since Jimi Hendrix performing in the ‘60s.



ELLE STYLE AWARDS When: December 6 th Where: Palace of the Parliament, Bucharest What: Event- Awards Gala ELLE STYLE AWARDS is the most prestigious event in the fashion and beauty industry in Romania. The Gala is held each December and reunites professionals, celebrities, friends and collaborators of the Romanian edition of Elle magazine. Significant designers, photographers, models,

ALICE IN WONDERLAND When: December 7 th Where: Sala Polivalentă, Bucharest What: Ice skating show-for kids

GALA FOLK "OM BUN" When: December 7 th Where: Sala Palatului, Bucharest What: Folk Music (in Romanian) If your knowledge of the Romanian language has somewhat improved lately and you like folk music, you might enjoy Gala Folk “Om Bun”, the most important and graceful folk event on the Romanian music scene. Romanians have long appreciated folk music because of the subtle way it combines strong

make-up artists and hairstylists will be celebrated this year for their work at the 6 th edition of the event. The Gala also marks a notable anniversary of Elle in Romania 20 years of existence. Sala Polivalentă becomes Wonderland for a 2 hour extraordinary ice skating show performed by top Russian athletes. The classical story is adapted for ice and the storytelling includes compelling 3D projections and surprising costumes. voices, poetry, message and melody. The public, consisting of people of the most varied of ages, participate in a very engaged way, making these concerts electric. Last years’ show was sold-out and was rated as “fabulous” by both public and critics. This year’s Gala shows no sign of being any lesser than last year’s, with well known and loved personalities that have shaped the folk scene for many years: Nicu Alifantis, Zoia Alecu, Mircea Baniciu, Ducu Bertzi, Emeric Imre, Vasile Șeicaru, Victor Socaciu, Mircea Vintilă, Dinu Olarasu, Cosmin Vaman &Alexandra Andrei.

THE ROYAL BALLET The Nutcracker When: December 10 th Where: Happy Cinema, Bucharest What: Ballet Screening If you missed the ballet show on December 3 rd by the Russian ballet company, you can still view the famous Christmas Eve story at the cinema this time, performed by The Royal

Ballet in London, choreographed by Peter Wright after Lev Ivanov, with the music of Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky. Tickets on eventim.ro



THE DIRE STRAITS EXPERIENCE When: December10 th, 11 th and 12 th Where: Filarmonica Banatul-Timișoara; Sala Palatului-Bucharest; Sala Polivalentă -Cluj-Napoc. What: Rock concert

Dire Straits celebrate their 40 th anniversary of the release of the “Sultans of Swing” album with three concerts in Romania, between the 10 th and 12 th of December. More than 20 years have past since the original members of Dire Straits have chosen to part ways, leaving behind many remarkable songs and live performances. Chris White & Chris Whitten, from the original members of the band, will be in Bucharest on the 11 th but it’s not their first time in Romania, having sold out two other concerts in the past in Bucharest and Timişoara. What made possible the coming together of some of the band’s members were the nostalgia of old fans, but also the demand of younger public to listen to their established rock hits. They have reunited under the original name, for a charitable concert held at Royal Albert Hall in 2011. Mark Knopfler’s place was filled in by Terence Reis who, says Chris White, is able to sing like Mark but at the same time maintain his own identity and integrity. Today the band plays under the name The Dire Strait Experience and the body of musicians it gathers contains artists that play alongside stars like Paul McCartney, Joe Cocker, Ray Charles, Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, Van Morrison and David Gilmour. It’s a must see for everyone who likes good music and has a taste for history.

JOHANN STRAUSS ENSEMBLE - BEST OF VIENNA When: December12 th Where: Sala Palatului, Bucharest What: Clssical music Johann Strauss Ensemble & Russell McGregor bring the Viennese Christmas mood to Romania. The concert in Bucharest marks the debut of a national tour throughout December, bringing the walz and polka music of the Strauss dynasty to the public.


McGregor is concertmaster and conductor for Schoenbrunn Palace Orchestra and the violin he’s playing was made in 1697 by Carlo Giuseppe Testore and is known to be "the little sister"- of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart famous viola. This year, Erich Buchman made his mark as artistic director on the production of the show, with dreamy, lush, wintery stage setting.


NATALE PER CASO: NERI PER CASO & GABRIEL COTABIŢĂ When: December14 th Where: Sala Radio, Bucharest What: Pop-rock, acappella If you’re having a hard time putting this band on your music map, let us remind you where you might have come across them. Neri Per Caso started singing in 1991, they have collaborated with Alicia Keys,

Dionne Warwick, Randy Crawford, Bobby McFerrin and have won 6 Platinum records. They are known for their acappella performances and on the 14 th they will perform together with Romanian pop-rock musician Gabriel Cotabiţă, the vocal of VH2 band, who was part of the nationally well known Holograf band in the ’80s.

CLASSICOMICSHOW When: December16 th Where: Sala Radio, Bucharest What: Classical music with a twist If classical music is not your first choice among the musical genres, but you want to get closer to it, this show is what you might be looking for. It combines musical technique, passion and an original comic subtlety, delivered in a dynamic way to a public aged between 19 to 90. Respecting the integrity of the classical music written by Strauss was also an important part of the agenda. So leave your frown at home and enjoy a show beyond music.

NEW YEAR'S EVE CONCERTSIBIU PHILARMONICA When: December 31 st Where: Sala Thalia, Sibiu What: Classical music The Icon Arts Orchestra together with eight dancers from the Ballet Theater in Sibiu will perform on the last day of this year and also on the

first day of the next, in the concert named “Serenade”. The Orchestra will be conducted by Werner Dickel (Germany) and the choreography of the ballet was created by Aleisha Sibhoun Prodea (New Zealand). The program features music by P.I. Ceaikovski, Antonín Dvořák, Franz Schubert, Edward Elgar and you should hurry to get tickets as it usually is a sell-out Christmas concert. Happy New Year!

Tickets on eventim.ro 11


ALT.Crăciun by ARCUB


Gabroveni Passageway Lipscani 84-90


The latest in Romanian design–product design, fashion, traditional gifts + delicious food, wine and live concerts at ALT.Crăciun 2017. Starting December 12 th ARCUB opens the gates of the Gabroveni passageway on Lipscani 84-90 for the 3 rd edition of the alternative fair ALT.Crăciun. This year’s fair adds variety to traditional Christmas fairs, with an extended duration to 11 days, consisting of live concerts, season decorations, accesories and other creations imagined by Romanian designers. Between December 12 th and December 22 nd, from 12.00 to 10PM you are welcome to roam the minimal, brick walled spaces of the former Inn on Lipscani, in search of presents.You can choose between designer clothes and jewelry, handcrafted creations,

gourmet food and other goodies, but also rest your feet and decide what present goes to whom while sipping at a cup of hot, cinnamon wine or chocolate, in the best winter tradition. Each night the ALT.Crăciun scene will come to life with musicians: AC Leonte, The Mono Jacks, Jurjak, We Singing Colors, Corul de Copii Radio, The Corns, Mihai Mărgineanu, The Kryptonite Sparks, Florin Chilian to name a few. You can find a more extensive programme on the website of the Cultural Center of the Municipality of Bucharest arcub.ro.




REIMAGINING MIGRATION JOHN EDWARDS / MARK SANDERS / When: December 7 th Where: ARCUB, Bucharest What: Instrumental music The Reimagining Migration project is inspired by the Romanian guitarist Sian Brie and Poland trumpet player Dawid Frydryk experience as emigrants in the UK. “Adapting to the new environment involves a shifting in mentality, a need to use time more efficiently, in practicable, functional purposes, as well as spending the days on building sites, and the nights waiting at restaurant tables. We faced both negative and positive discrimination to eventually realize that we have developed a behavior in perfect conformity with the label we have been designated with, thus the << live up to your discrimination standards>> attitude being born.” - Sian Brie


Reimagining Migration, the post-modernist project devised by guitarist Sian Brie, has its starting point in improvised music, to which are added schematic compositions serving as a frame for the artists to manifest spontaneous ideas. After attending the Conservatory in Bucharest, where he studies jazz and free jazz with pianist Mircea Tiberian, Sian Brie moves to Berlin. Here he meets and collaborates with important musicians of the Berlin jazz scene, such as Christian Lillinger, Horst Nonnenmacher or Manuel Miethe. Sian spends a year in Berlin, leaving afterwards for London, where he meets trumpet player Dawid Frydryk. They soon discover that the migrant experience that they both share, coming from the Eastern block, can overcome the language barrier.

BUCHAREST GAMING When: December 12 th-17 th Where: Bucharest, Romexpo What: Gaming industry festival BGW is an event dedicated to highligting the creativity of Romanian artists in the gaming industry with dedicated exhibitions and conferences, between December 12 th and December 17 th. The event is organised by the city hall through ARCUB and brings to Bucharest the most notable developers from Romania and around the world, esports aficionados and comitted gamers. The main even will be held at Romexpo on December 16 th and 17 th when the finals of the Electronic Sports League (ESL) Southeast Europe Championship will take place for the ultra popular games Counter Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends and Hearthstone, as well as the final game of Season 3 of the


National Tournament of League of Legends. Along with the pro tournaments, BGW offers a wide array of activities and experiences for gamers of all ages, from amateur tournaments and contests to hands-on sessions with the latest games and gadgets, Virtual Reality, mobile games, as well as meeting some of Romania’s well-known streamers and vloggers. For more details see www.bucharestgamingeeek.ro or arcub.ro




Cătălin Milea

One of Romania’s most creative and active sax players, Cătălin Milea is known for his versatility in the musical genres he approaches (jazz, funk, soul, hip-hop, rock, electro), and for his diverse collaborations (Carlo de Rosa, Eric Revis, Urma, Big Band Radio, the National Radio Orchestra, Dick Oatts). The recipient of numerous international awards, Cătălin Milea has been applauded both for his quality as a multi-instrument performer, as well as for being a composer. The sax player is the founder of the Imagination Orchestra ensemble, of Romanian Jazz Collective group, he initiated Romania’s first jazz magazine, Jazz Compas, and currently holds numerous improvement workshops for musicians.

Albert Tajti started studying piano at 7 and then, guided by Mircea Tiberian, he acquired an education in jazz music at the National University of Music in Bucharest. After winning the Grand Prize for the Best Jazz Band at Târgu Mureş International Student Festival, he was invited to play on the stage of many festivals in Bucharest and Budapest, where he performed with names such as Luiza Zan, Ana Cristina Leonte, Teodora Spînu, Nicolas Simion, Cristian Soleanu, Mihai Iordache, Sorin Romanescu, Alex Man, Gyárfás István, or alongside the Bucharest Jazz Orchestra. Răzvan Cojanu was admitted at the National University of Music Bucharest in

When: December 21 st Where: ARCUB, Bucharest What: Instrumental music 2003, and in two year time became one of the most demanded jazz bassists in the country, collaborating with Cristian Soleanu, Nicolas Simion, Rick Condit, Tom Smith, Alan Jones, Alex Harding. He came to the fore on the stages of Romanian and international festivals – Jazz Fest Wien, Beijing Jazz Festival, Sibiu Jazz Festival, George Enescu Festival – and in the most prestigious foreign clubs in the field – Pizza Express Jazz Club, Vortex Jazz Club in London and Porgy & Bess from Vienna. Young percussionist Iulian Nicolau studied violin and piano at the George Enescu National Music College, and is currently attending the “Classic Percussion” section at the National University of Music in Bucharest. As part of Viorica Pintilie Quartet, he received the “Special Jury Prize” at Sibiu Jazz Festival in 2016. Iulian has collaborated with notable artists from the local and international jazz scene, such as Nicolas Simion, Mircea Tiberian, Cătălin Milea, Alex Man, Marius Vernescu, Emil Bizga, Candice Hoys, Cedric Henriot. Named “The Young Lion” of the saxophone in Romania by the international magazine Jazz Forum, Garbis Dedeian made his debut in 1977, at 18 years old, playing in the Bucharest jazz clubs of the time, such as Mihai Eminescu club and Ateneul Tineretului. Two years later he performed for the first time at Sibiu Jazz Festival, alongside the Big Band of Bucharest University Center. In 1981 he came back on the same stage with Jazz Club 303 band. His second prize obtained at the Sibiu Jazz Festival in 1982 braught national recognition to saxophonist Garbis Dedeian, thus starting his collaboration with Vilmani band, and his recordings for radio, TV and Electrecord alongside Alexandru Andrieș, Mihai Stepan and Metropol.

Tickets available on arcub.ro 15



ROMANIA’S NOVEMBER BY DEAN EDGAR I have always had a soft spot for Royal Families, I do realise though, that these families have many detractors. Anyway, Romania’s Royal Family is in the news. The last king, King Michael I is currently in Switzerland, and by all accounts doesn’t have long to live, and his estranged grandson Nicolae seems to be creating a scene. He was unceremoniously dumped from the Royal roster last year, and nobody's really sure why, and now he wants to say goodbye to his grandfather, and is being denied access to him. I feel that this is not only a shame for him but also Romania.

King Michael I and grandson Nicolae

Washing one’s dirty laundry in public is never a good thing.

Liviu Dragnea, can't stay out of the headlines, and the latest headline grabber has him being investigated for his third alleged criminal offence, that of stealing EU funds to the amount

of €27,000,000 and abuse of office in his time as President of Teleorman County Council. Of course he blames the over zealous witch hunters in the DNA, anti corruption agency and also the parallel state (a similar statement was made by President Erdogan of Turkey this week, they could be brothers) headed by his arch enemy, Klaus Iohannis. What has always puzzled me with the PSD and its leadership is how they seem to escape prosecution, and more importantly remain in power. I, for one, would welcome a change, I do realise that the other parties don’t add up to much, but surely they would be better than what we have now.

Earlier this month, several hundred prisoners were released early from Romanian prisons, due to an EU ruling that stated that a 6-day sentence reduction is given for each 30 days a detainee spends in improper conditions. Among them were a rapist, a human trafficker and bank robber. These three were released by accident, 2 were recaptured, one is still missing. 3,300 prisoners are eligible for early release. I am sure Romanian prisons are not the nicest places in the world, but surely releasing a few

thousand offenders early can’t be a good idea. The Justice minister Tudorel Toader, hoped that the crime rate will not increase the crime rate in Romania. Hoped!! There have already been reports of crimes committed by early released prisoners. At the same time it was announced that prison sentences will be given for repeat offenders who break the law whilst driving. Offenses include talking on the phone, not wearing a seat belt and drink driving. Well, there will be enough room now.



One of the "strengths" of the incumbent leadership, is it inability to listen to the electorate and business leaders, as this month, a new tax regime has been announced, which sounds as though people will all be worse off. Tax in Romania has always been reasonable in my opinion, but this new tinkering doesn’t seem to make much sense, as the ability to balance books doesn’t seem possible.

Romanians yet again came out to protest, but to no avail. Government rides roughshod over any protest and goes ahead anyway. I feel that the worse is yet to come.

On a much lighter note, it was announced earlier this month, that the Anthony Frost book shop is reopening. It was an oasis of Englishness in the city and I am pleased that Vlad Niculeascu and Carturesti have joined forces to bring it back. The new shop is close to Pta Universtate, situated on Edgar Quintet Nr 9, and will have a coffee bar along with a micro gallery. I wish them every success! For those of us that have been living in Romania for a while, we know about the quality of Romanian wine, it seems that the Guardian newspaper in the UK, has also come to that realisation. Grape harvests are down this year, and wine merchants and the big supermarkets are looking to Romania to satisfy the UK need for wine. Prince Stirbey and Cremala Recas get a mention, along with others. It is always good to highlight these types of Romanian exports.

Romania has benefited a lot from charities and the expats that run some of them. Most are well known, such as Casa Ioana headed by Ian Tilling and Light into Europe headed by Stan Platt, both superb charities. However there is a little known gentleman by the name of Brian Douglas, who has lived and worked in Northern Romania for the last 25 years, helping the poor

and needy. He has tirelessly campaigned for better TB prevention and helped those made homeless by the flooding in Dorohoi in 2010. The reason for the mention is that he has been nominated for an award by the The British News Agency News247WorldPress award for people and organisations that have had a positive impact in Romania. I wish him every success!

Dean Edgar has been living the expat dream here in Romania for 11 years. He is General Manager of Moorcroft Services, a company dedicated to assisting foreigners to settle in Romania. They can help with visas, permits, company set-ups, car registration, house hunting, insurance, orientation tours and basically anything that a newcomer to Romania might need see www.moorcroft.ro for further details. 17


Gladys Abankwa-Meier-Klodt grew up in North America and Ghana the child of two career diplomats. A graduate with two degrees, Microbiology and Immunology from McGill University, she nominally defected from the natural sciences some 20 years ago and has been writing, designing, and training others to communicate across cultures ever since. Her work includes the first architectural history of New Delhi's purpose-built diplomatic enclave and a series of workshops to prepare Federal Foreign Office (Berlin) families for ex- and repatriation. The mother of two adult children and spouse of a German career diplomat, with life-enriching stays in Russia, the US, the UK and India, she arrived in Bucharest with her husband, now Germany's ambassador to Romania, in January, 2017. OZB Magazine talked to Gladys Abankwa-Meier-Klodt about the annual IWA Charity Christmas Bazaar, that will take place on Sunday 10 th of December at Romexpo, but also about life as an expat. Founded in 1978, the International Women’s Association (IWA) is an independent charitable organization. How different is this Christmas Bazaar from the last ones ? For one thing, we have the highest number of participating countries in recent years, and quite possibly the highest ever rate of participation. This is, of course, something to celebrate! There will be several countries taking part for the first time, and visitors will have the opportunity to pay a virtual visit to countries to which they may never otherwise travel. Otherwise, as in previous years, one can expect a wide range of merchandise, appetizing international cuisine and a vibrant cultural program - it will be a bold and beautiful multicultural extravaganza! How important are charitable activities to you? Charity really did begin at home, as the adage goes. My grandmother took in and raised other people's children, despite having 11 of her own, and my parents have both contributed generously to educational charity work; my mother went as far as building a


secondary school for disadvantaged girls, so I suppose you could say I imbibed it with my mother's milk. Away from home, I was first introduced to fundraising and charity activities during my primary school days, when money was raised to fund the building of an extension to our school library or to renovate our church. I came to realize with time, that the effort that was put into raising money for one's own benefit could also be used to improve the lives of others who lacked the same opportunities. We live in an unequal world, of that there is no doubt, but each individual has it in his or her power to effect a change, however small, in the life of another, with what some might call a "sacrifice" of time and disposable resources. I am not actively involved in any organized charity work at the moment, but I support a few individuals with regular stipends. How easy/difficult is it to raise funds here ? I have been pleasantly surprised at the generosity and spontaneous magnanimity of many of the corporate sponsors that I have approached in the run up to the IWA Bazaar. I have no inhibitions about asking, because the worst that can happen is getting “no” for an answer. I generally find that once one has made the effort to ask, the person on the other end will reciprocate with an attempt to be helpful.


What is your impression about Romania ? Which are the best & worst things about Romania? Romania is culturally diverse, blessed with natural beauty and bounty, and wonderfully welcoming people. I have come up with a slogan for my friends who live outside of the country: Romania - NOT WHAT YOU THINK! There is not much I can think of that I don't like, but I would welcome very much the introduction of a few highways to get to some of the marvellous places in this country faster. In how many countries have you lived? How does it feel to move from one country to another? At last count, the number was 10. Mine has been a peripatetic lifestyle since infancy, for me, it is normalcy. I have never lived for more than six years in a single place, and it is only recently that I have begun to feel the need to have a place for my things to call home. It is the moving around of things that takes more of a toll on me than personal relocation, but I now have a home for some of my things that they will never have to leave. Moving every 3-4 years has given me the opportunity to reinvent myself - I have never tired of that - to discover new cultures; often, to learn a new language, and in general, to engage in a calibre of contact with people in a manner that might not be possible for someone rooted in a single place. It doesn't mean I live episodically; I have made an

effort to keep in touch with people I have met over the years. This spring, I reunited with five of my high school classmates after over three decades, and I still maintain meaningful contact with some of my kindergarten and primary school mates. I have often been asked what or where my home is. In the end, home is not just a place, it is a feeling, of being able to commune with people, regardless of nationality, people who speak the language of shared or similar experiences and who require no interpreter. An open heart and mind go a long way. What do you do for Christmas? What is your favorite Christmas tradition? When our children were younger, living in a bicultural household, we alternated our Christmas celebration traditions from year to year, so they could enjoy the best of both worlds. Christmas, for me, is celebrated on December 25th; for my husband, the evening of December 24th is most important. I have managed to prevail in recent years. I love a white Christmas, with lots of atmospheric candle light, carols, a real evergreen tree lit by candles, sumptuously decked halls, festive meals featuring turkey, goose, and game, and gatherings with friends and family. Listening to a performance of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker - or going to see a performance of the ballet makes the celebration complete.

Photos: Mihai Constantineanu

Christmas Bazaar 2016 was a big success


SUPERBET IS GAMBLING ON EUROPEAN EXPANSION In the 21st century, gambling is more likely to be an IT business, and the winners of the biggest market shares are the regional companies. Today Europe is the largest market for online gambling worldwide: of the €34.6bn of online gaming gross win (stakes minus winnings) generated globally in 2015, more than 47.6% per cent was attributable to the EU market. The online gambling sector in Europe is still developing, albeit slower due to the increasing regulatory pressure. But online gambling’s Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR – stakes minus winnings) is expected to rise from €16.5 billion in 2015 to €24.9 billion in 2020. Betting is the most popular product at 37% of the market, whilst online poker and casinos make up respectively 24% and 12%. In this context, OZB talked to Vlad Ardeleanu, CEO of Superbet Romania, about the past and the future of the company, but also about the ambition of becoming a European player and the strategic steps done in this direction.

WHAT IS SUPERBET HOLDING ROMANIA TODAY, AFTER 9 YEARS OF ACTIVITY? Superbet is currently one of the largest gambling operators in Romania, with a retail network of almost 1,000 agencies across the country and with a turnover that doubles at least yearly. The national business is now consolidated under Superbet Holding Romania, which operates four retail brands - Superbet, with 630 agencies, BetArena, with over 200 agencies, GoBet, our franchise arm with 120 agencies, and Magic Jackpot, the slots brand. If Superbet is the premium brand, already consolidated on the local sports betting market, BetArena is a start-up built around a totally different concept from what is now on the Romanian market - and I especially think of those entertainment areas where we put the focus on live sports events. At the same time, we created the BetArena applications for live draws at the most important lotteries. Moving the discussion to online operations, the picture looks like this: superbet.ro is the locomotive of the business at the moment, with the most accelerated growth and competing


Vlad Ardeleanu, CEO Superbet Romania with the volumes made by the over 600 retail agencies under the Superbet brand. It is also a massive investment that we have directed to the online platform, and we will continue to drive much of our future investment. I want to tell you that, at the current technological level, an online sports betting business is today more like an IT business than a service business. Built on a different platform concept, which we still work on and which we want to launch in the coming months, betarena.ro will be the mirror of BetArena retail business, a start-up that is already exceeding expectations in the 200 operating locations. Currently, the Superbet Group employs more than 2,500 people in Romanian offices, with 1,800 of them working for the Superbet brand. I want to emphasize that the Superbet Group is the largest taxpayer in our industry and among the largest contributors to the national budget


with over 35 million euros paid this year, and 26 million euros paid last year.

Superbet do not stop at Poland. Through next year, we will also be entering the markets of Slovakia and Serbia, which I announce for the first time in the pages of your magazine. To sum up, the goal of The Superbet Group Superbet, my goal, is to employs more than 2,500 export to Central and Eastern Europe this Romanian people in Romanian entrepreneurial success.


offices, with 1,800 of them working for the Superbet brand


WHICH ARE THE MAIN DIRECTIONS OF DEVELOPMENT? The first one is regional. Since the beginning of the year we have started to build teams for regional expansion. We have recruited leading global gambling industry managers both to strengthen the team in Romania, and to prepare for the next steps of development. We just launched the retail operations in Poland, where Superbet already received its offline license earlier this month. The main cities where the Romanian brand will be present are Varșovia, Katowice, Cracovia, Wroclaw, Poznan și Gdansk. The ambassador of Superbet brand in Poland is the football player Jerzy Dudek, ex-star of Liverpool Football Team where he was part of the UEFA Champions League winning team and former-member of the Polish national football team. We hope to open about 50 agencies by the end of the year, and we’ll have 100 locations opened by the 2018 World Championship. In the early part of 2018, we will probably get the license to go online and we will launch superbet.pl. The Polish market has a huge potential – it’s the biggest in Central and Eastern Europe - and that’s why it is very important to us. And the regional ambitions of


I think that for this kind of business, if it's a well-built and a financially sound business, the goal of turning Superbet into a global company is a legitimate and realistic one. The company is in advanced discussions to get the online gambling license in Gibraltar. With this license, Superbet will become the first business in Central and Eastern Europe to enter the select club of the licensed Gibraltar operators, alongside renowned names such as Bet365, William Hill or Ladbrokes. I have to tell you that Gibraltar market operators are subject to the most stringent online gambling legislation in the world and that is why we are talking about an extremely select club in this industry. In this context, Superbet has already opened an office in Gibraltar, and the next step will be to increase the team there from 20 people this year, to 50 by the end of 2018. At the same time, we have opened an office this year in Leeds, UK, which is already working in tandem with the one in Gibraltar.

WHAT WILL BE TARGETED FOR BUDGETED INVESTMENTS ON MEDIUM TERM? As you have learned from the press, we’ve decided to attract capital through being listed on the AeRO stock exchange, an alternative trading system. The bonds which are non-guaranteed, RON denominated, issued in January 2017, maturing in 2020, with a fixed interest rate of 12% per annum, have a total value of approximately RON 9.7 million. Superbet succeeds by this second placement



to attract money from Romanian investors, money that will remain in Romania because they will be used to develop operations in Romania. The money will be invested both in expanding the retail business - new betting agencies and in boosting the online business that has just begun. In the online environment, the money is being directed, as I have already told you, first and foremost to develop advanced technology.



sports betting segment has the most dynamic and growing potential. Soccer and tennis are the sports with the biggest number of bets. Speaking of development, the Romanian betting market is still below the ones in Spain, Italy or the UK. In mature markets, betting or gambling is one of the main opportunities of entertainment. Obviously, we can talk more about responsible gambling. Superbet, together with other members of the Rombet Association and other professional associations, insists to explain that betting should be seen as a way of spending time and having fun and not as a source of money. As in any industry, there is a minority of consumers who make excesses and to whom we need to be careful and provide support. inception,

For 2017, I estimate that we’ll again have a solid growth in terms Since its of turnover. Since its inception, Superbet Superbet Holding Romania Holding Romania has has been growing steadily been growing steadily and we can say that our and we can say that our turnover has at least turnover has at least doubled each year. For doubled each year 2018, I wish to keep up the pace, even if it's getting harder, given the growing business size and the volumes.


WHAT ARE THE MAIN OBSTACLES TO THE COMPANY'S DEVELOPMENT? I think the biggest brake at this moment is the shortage of labour force. All the sectors face it, but for us it’s even harder. Young people are not always attracted to work in a sports betting agency because of the poor image this type of activity still has in Romania. But we try to attract them by being more flexible and offering them better opportunities when compared to the other sectors.

WHAT IS THE PROFILE OF SPORTS BETTING CONSUMERS? Referring to the behaviour of players, most of them bet in both retail and online agencies. From the figures I have, about 15% of the players use both channels, while the others use either online, or retail. From the whole gambling industry level,



Compared to other economic sectors, the gambling industry is one of the most regulated and transparent in Romania. In this moment we have strict and fair regulations which have eliminated those operators who tried to avoid the rules of the game. There have been three important contributions to this, and I am referring to the adoption of OUG 77/2009, the first important milestone for the regulation of the field, the creation of the National Gambling Office (ONJN) in 2013, and finally the summer of 2015, when ONJN regulated the online betting market. A leverage that ensures the full transparency of the sports betting business is that each betting company must establish a terminal at the ONJN headquarters. This terminal is basically a mirror of the bookmaker's betting server, so absolutely all the financial transactions related to betting can be monitored by ONJN. From this point of view we are proud that Romania is a good example of fair, functional and attractive gambling, and I don’t know if we can feel the same when we talk about other industries.


GO HOLLAND, GO! BY MARCEL DE ROODE A big welcome to everyone reading our first sports page, OZB’ s “Matchday”. What better way to start off this section for me as a Dutchman, than to report on the friendly football match between Romania and Holland on November 13. I was invited by my fellow countryman Isfahan Doekhie, thanks again Isfahan, and we had a great football evening with a group of diehard fans. Most were my compatriots by the way, how often do you get the opportunity to see your national team abroad? And yes in our case, this was one of the last chances to see the Dutch national team for a long time since we didn‘t qualify for the world championship football in Russia next year. I won’t bother you with the whys and wherefores, it’s a long and heartbreaking story. Our opponents and the hosts were of course Romania, another team who will be watching rather than participating in the Russian World Cup next summer. They say that friendly matches don’t exist anymore, there is always something at stake. Both teams in this case were eager to demonstrate to the rest of the world that they really should be going to Moscow in June, but it quickly became clear that the gap between the two teams, quality-wise, was rather large. The Romanians tried, but they couldn’t really impress the Dutch defense. And I have to say

all credit to the big Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk, impressive both physically and tactically. Yes, Holland won 0-3. But to be honest, this was not the most important part of the evening. Spending a night with some fellow countrymen, talking about football and business, beers included, good food, brilliant seats in the stadium, some would refer to it as “ Heaven”. I can highly recommend these kind of trips, nothing to do at the weekend or during some weekday evenings, take your kids and/or wife to the stadium, it’s a comfortable stadium, easy accessed and in bad weather the roof is closed. One point of criticism, dear Arena Naţională, only alcohol free beer, really? So each month OZB will report on a significant sports event taking place around Bucharest and Romania, in this section “ Matchday”. If you are participating in, or participated or watched or know of any sports events going on, let us know, send us your stories and your pictures and we will feature your sports event. Proost, Cheers, Noroc !




Senior diplomat on Romania’s many USPs, the Prince of Wales’ preferences and the highlights of an enriching tenure as UK ambassador BY DOUGLAS WILLIAMS


he British Ambassador to Romania Paul Brummell spent last Christmas deep in Transylvania partaking of a very traditional Romanian Festive and enjoyed it immensely but this year he may just stick with the British roast stalwarts including an obligatory mince pie or three. The ambassador’s sojourn in Romania is in its final furlong, he will leave in August, but his love for this country will endure. “I first arrived in Romania in 1982 on an epic school bus trip en route from the UK to what was then the Soviet Union. We had three days in Romania, in Oradea, Târgu Mureş and Iaşi and I can tell you Romania was a very different country back then,” regales the ambassador, 52. He was to subsequently visit another two times with 10 years in between in various official capacities before being officially posted here in August 2014.


on the context. “To His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales it’s the sustainable farming practices found in Transylvania and the high value natural grasslands along with the traditional architecture. If, however, you ask an IT company invested here it’s the dynamic, educated, English speaking workforce that can be hired at a significantly lower cost than elsewhere in the EU. This country has many unique selling points.” He cites rapid internet speeds, steep GDP growth rates along with simple geographic location as further strengths for Romania before countering that there are also, of course, weaknesses. Brummell outlines these as a crucial lack of predictability within the business environment and the, at times, woefully inadequate infrastructure.

This country has many unique selling points.

“Upon arriving in 2014 I was immediately struck by just how welcoming the people were and especially so when I expressed an interest in their country’s history and culture,” said the ambassador. Following his intensive Foreign Service language training in London, he underwent a full immersion course living with a family in Iasi. Upon expressing his interest in the poet Mihai Eminescu he was promptly, and to his great delight, whisked up to the great bard’s birthplace Botoşani. To the question of Romania’s unique selling point the ambassador says that it depends

There are four areas that are key to the relationship between Romania and the UK according to Her Majesty’s highest official here: continuing the warm welcome of Romanian nationals to the UK where they contribute a great deal generally, as the UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson outlined during his visit to Romania in September, is “numărul unu”. Then there is the not insignificant issue of the post-Brexit depletion of the EU coffers which bolster the Romanian economy. Thirdly this past year has seen an awesome array of defence related partnerships between the UK and Romania with troops, fighter jets and destroyers from the UK all visiting Romania. This partnership is solid and set to continue regardless of Brexit. Lastly but by no means least there is the €4bn worth of UK-Romania trade, the bulk of which is in Romania’s favour, and which both sides




wish to see continue and ideally expand still further. On the subject of Brexit the ambassador is pragmatic: “It was a democratic vote, with a high turnout and the vote was to leave the EU. We must now work towards ensuring the best relationships possible with our European neighbours that ensure free and frictionless trade across the board.”


Regarding the current political situation here in Romania, the consummate diplomat says: “The future of Romania is in the hands of the Romanian people and it is up to them to decide, I can’t offer any fail safe recipes. I’d only say that it is important that any changes to be made are discussed as widely and openly as possible and that justice and the rule of law are put at the heart of any decisions.”

I was delighted to be able to promote the important work of the Casa Ioana NGO. Events like this help throw a spotlight on the huge problem of homelessness that afflicts Bucharest along with most other major cities.” Prior to Romania Brummell was Her Majesty’s High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean and prior to that he worked for the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office in Turkmenistan and in Kazakhstan. His next posting will be somewhat less exotic and a lot more familiar, London. So we’ll begin with what he will miss the least when he says “la revedere” in August? “Well the driving in Bucharest, it’s … exciting to say the least… And I’ll miss the phrase ‘immediate’ which can mean anything from ‘shortly’ to ‘forget about it’ or ‘never’.” And, what he will miss the most: “The warmth of the people, their enthusiasm and the stunningly beautiful countryside. I love this country and will most definitely be back to visit, probably not officially but most certainly privately.”

We must now work towards ensuring the best relationships possible with our European neighbours that ensure free and frictionless trade...

Through February and March of this year Romania was in the international news as thousands took to the streets nightly and nationally in anti-government protests, this demonstrates, according to the ambassador, a lively democracy and a strong belief in the freedom of expression. “It was almost entirely peaceful, there were huge numbers despite the weather conditions and they even cleaned up after themselves!” The past three and a half years have seen Brummell involved in myriad projects but the one that springs foremost to his mind involves the tragic events of October 2015 and the nightclub fire at Colectiv. Nine of the casualties of the fire were treated by UK doctors and UK medical support took a small but important part of the strain off their Romanian counterparts. More recently, and for the second year in a row, the ambassador has been actively involved in a “sleep out” to raise awareness about the problems of homelessness in Bucharest. “This year was warmer and drier than last year thankfully.



Bradt Travel Guides have published a newly updated guide to the region of Transylvania.Romania: Transylvania, authored by the British Ambassador to Romania Paul Brummell and travel-writer Lucy Mallows, remains the only standalone English language guide to this legendary and enchanting region. Comprehensive chapter-per-county coverage is offered, including details to cater for the diverse range of travellers to the region, from city breaks to rural escapes, ski enthusiasts to charity volunteers. The guidebook is available from bradtguides.com, and OZB readers can claim a special 20% discount when they quote "OZB20" at checkout.


So You Wanna Be a Diplomat?

Think of careers and in no particular: order pilot, doctor, veterinarian, pharmacist, teacher, dentist, engineer perhaps even journalist or maybe even, at a push, banker. There are lots of good career aspirations out there but how, in all honesty, do they measure up against “diplomat”? Navigating tricky international waters with the delicacy of a velvet slipper yet the steel of a nuclear submarine, one minute it’s pyramids of divine


chocolates at exquisite dinner parties dressed in white, the next it’s trade deals at dawn and “incidents” at stake. Diplomacy is an art form and only those of the very highest calibre meet the grade. OZB made some investigations to see what sort of skills a career diplomat needs and here we present them – courtesy of the US Department of State - in ascending order:

QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS To identify, compile, analyse and draw correct conclusions from relevant data.



To write well organised, grammatically correct, effective and persuasive English in a limited amount of time.


WORKING WITH OTHERS To interact in a constructive, cooperative and harmonious manner.



To formulate creative alternatives or solutions to resolve problems.




PLANNING AND ORGANIZING As prioritizing and ordering tasks effectively, to employ a systematic approach to achieving objectives, to make appropriate use of limited resources.



By speaking fluently in a concise, grammatically correct, organized, precise and persuasive manner; to convey nuances of meaning accurately; to use appropriate styles of communication to fit the audience and purpose.


OBJECTIVITY/INTEGRITY To be fair and honest; to avoid deceit, favoritism and discrimination; to present issues frankly and fully, without injecting subjective bias; to work without letting personal bias prejudice actions.



To discern what is appropriate, practical and realistic in a given situation; to weigh relative merits of competing demands.


INITIATIVE & LEADERSHIP To recognize and assume responsibility for work that needs to be done; to persist in the completion of a task; to influence significantly a group’s activity, direction, or opinion; to motivate others to participate in the activity one is leading.



By absorbing and retaining complex information from a variety of sources; to draw reasoned conclusion from analysis and synthesis of available information; to evaluate the importance and reliability and usefulness of information; to remember details of a meeting or event without the benefit of notes.


EXPERIENCE AND MOTIVATION To demonstrate knowledge, skills or other attributes gained from previous experience of relevance to the Foreign Service; to articulate appropriate motivation for joining the Foreign Service.



To work and communicate effectively and harmoniously with persons of other cultures, value systems, political beliefs, and economic circumstances; to recognize and respect differences in new and different cultural environments.


COMPOSURE To stay calm, poised and effective in stressful or difficult situations; to think on one’s feet, adjusting quickly to changing situations; to maintain self-control.






Her Excellency Stella Ronner-Grubacic, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Romania, His Excellency Paul Brummell Ambassador of United Kingdom to Romania, Sonia Năstase-Nespresso Romania, Marcel de Roode-OZB.


Reception room-Novotel Hotel, Bucharest

Sonia Năstase-Nespresso Romania, Fulvia Meiroşu, Mădălina Uceanu.

OZB's Douglas Williams with His Excellency Paul Brummell Ambassador of United Kingdom to Romania.

Charlie Crocker (BRCC), Alain Schodts (BEROBA), Toby Eve, Oana Vişoiu

Last month, OZB Media officially launched OZB Magazine, a monthly lifestyle magazine for the international community. If you missed our great event, don’t worry, we have lots more coming up in 2018!! Events where you can enjoy Art & Design, OZB’s Cool Pool Party and lots more. Oh yes, at the end of 2018 we will have our “Gala of the year”, this will be quite different from what you are used to. But that’s of course something that you can expect of OZB, we like to do things in a different way! Besides great articles, readers can expect

something new from us next year: we will have four specials in our magazine, our “SEASONS”. In each “SEASON” we look ahead. There will be Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter specials with cool stuff for each season, it’s all about Fashion, Travel, Gadgets, Trends, Food and Drink. In 2018, OZB Media wants to be your source of Information, Inspiration and we want you to get Involved. We can only do this with the help of some great partners, people who believed in OZB and see the benefit of our platform.


HE Ambassador of United Kingdom to Romania Paul Brummell, Mirela Burlacu (right).

Raluca Sidere, Răzvan Răduţ

Alan O'Brien, Jakub Malecki

Carmen Andrei, Alexandra Enuţa, Andreea Pistriţu

Anca Donişan Botez and husband, Ruth Rusby, Douglas Williams


Alina Galeriu (center), Daniela PaladeTeodorescu (right).

Georgiana Stavarache, Fulvia Meiroşu

Marck Persival

Fulvia Meiroşu, Anca Petrescu Popa

Dana Chiriac, Roxana Şunică, Sonia Năstase

Marcel de Roode, HE Paul Brummell, Ian Tillings, Alain Schodts, Charlie Crocker

Sorin Bărariu şi Anne-Marie Blăjan

A big thanks to: Embassy of the Netherlands, Embassy of the United Kingdom, Superbet, Nespresso, Stejarii Residential Club, Chivas, Lacerta Wines, Arthur Murray Dance Studio, MoneyCorp, Leonidas, GolfRoom, Kiosque des Douceurs, Renaissance Art Gallery, BEROBA, BRCC, NRCC.

HE Stella Ronner-Grubacic, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Romania





Chef Franz Conde is Executive Chef at the Athénée Palace Hilton following nine years at Hilton Amsterdam. In the Netherlands he developed and launched the menu and the concept of Roberto's Amsterdam restaurant and his cookbook Roberto's Pura Cucina Italiana was published. Here, for OZB, Chef Franz explains how to make his favourite Risotto: BY FULVIA MEIROŞU

CHEF FRANZ’S RISOTTO WITH ALASKAN KING CRAB There are three main varieties of rice used for risotto: Arborio, Vialone Nano and Carnaroli. The first, although very commercial, overcooks easily and does not cream as well as the other varieties. Vialone Nano is a delicate, low-starch grain favoured in the Veneto for light fish and seafood risottos. Carnaroli is loved by professional chefs because it has a longer "al dente" latitude and gives out lots of starch that produce silky risottos.


The recipe for risotto has remained roughly the same for centuries, until Chef Gualtiero Marchesi introduced a technical development in the late 1980's: he argued that while the rice needed to be toasted at high temperature, the onion needed to be cooked at low temperature, without any colouring, in a process similar to the making of beurre blanc. Therefore, he proposed the separation of the two processes of toasting the rice and cooking the onion or shallot, creating a big controversy at the time. My tutor, Aimo Moroni, told me that during the time of this controversy he was invited by a very wealthy gastronome, together with Marchesi and other top chefs at the time, to prepare their own version of Risotto alla Milanese. The conclusion of this tasting is still shrouded in mystery and belongs in the tradition of Italian culinary myths, with each chef claiming to have won the contest... I genuinely prefer the traditional version to Marchesi's, nevertheless I think that properly toasting the rice is absolutely fundamental in terms of taste and texture!


PREPARATION TIME: 30 minutes QUANTITY: 4 people INGREDIENTS: 300 gr of Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice 1 chopped shallot 40 gr of butter (to fry the shallot) 200 ml of Prosecco 1.5 lt of crab stock (made by simmering the crab carcass with one onion, one stick of celery and half a tomato) 100 gr of cream 50 gr of butter (to cream the risotto) a pinch of grated Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)...see note on "Seafood and cheese" 320 gr of Red King Crab from Alaska

Originally from Venezuela Chef Franz Conde’s professional development was helped greatly by gastronomic giants such as Patrick Dwyer and Armando Scannone, who he had the privilege of working with.



eafood, fish and cheese: should you combine fish or seafood and cheese, either in pasta or Risotto? The purist's answer is an unequivocal: NO! ...However, I have seen many top Michelin chefs do it! Why? The answer is "umami", the satisfying "give-me-more" flavour that most people adore! Parmesan cheese has lots of it, therefore giving a definite flavour edge to seafood preparations, as long as it’s used delicately enough not to obscure the delicate iodine taste of fresh seafood. The French are not afraid of this combination at all! In fact, think of the various great dishes that exploit this flavour pairing: Lobster Thermidor, Coquilles St. Jacques, Provencal fish soup, served with a crouton with Gruyère... I do think that crab and cheese go well together, perhaps tasting better during the winter, but if you want to fully appreciate the sweet delicate taste of Red King Crab, I recommend you to replace the cheese with a few spoons of salmon caviar!

INSTRUCTIONS: • Toast the rice extensively, on a dry pot for about 7 to 10 minutes (it must make a cracking sound). • Add the butter, the shallot, a bit of salt and cook slowly for a couple of minutes. • Add the Prosecco and evaporate completely. • Add the hot crab stock, only enough to cover the rice and cook at medium heat, stirring constantly. • Keep this process going until the rice is "al dente", about another 12 minutes, depending on the size of the grain, how long it has been cellared, or how much humidity it initially had. • Take the pot off the fire, add half of the crab (and keep the rest for decoration), the butter, the cream and the pinch of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (optional), stir well, cover the pot and let rest for 5 minutes. • Open the pot, check for fluidity and add a little more crab stock if necessary. • Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. • Serve with the rest of the crab meat on top and with some salmon37caviar.

Fermented Comedy Gold BY DOUGLAS WILLIAMS So this here will be OZB’s first bar review, the first of many it is hoped, by me. Today we take a look at a bar which I feel ticks at least three very suitable, relevant boxes for OZB’s December issue: it’s British themed, thereby fitting with this month’s cover story, tick; it’s underground, in a basement with long benches, dark and warm and “banquety”, ideal for winter as the temperature drops and the nights draw in, tick; and lastly it has a medieval feel akin to a “Game of Thrones” or “Outlander” set which is part thrilling and part hilarious and I’m sure you, dear reader, could do with a laugh, tick. So this bar is called Excalibur and it’s just off Revolution Square, appropriately, on Strada Academiei and it’s huge and hugely popular


and with good reason and for that reason you simply must book, especially at weekends through autumn/winter. Be sure you do, book a big table and take your friends, and they will be heartily slapping you on the back for doing so. To call it a bar is to over simplify things, tavern might be the more appropriate nomenclature. Ok, so “hilarious” is an odd adjective to describe a pub/tavern isn’t it? But the thing is the server dudes in Excalibur, and they are very good by the way, wear velvet robes. Maroon velvet robes! They look the business and they are effective but it’s kind of hard not to have a little chuckle just not in their immediate presence ok! Ok, but first things first - you go down a red-carpeted passageway


as if you are some laird or duke attending a clan gathering, into the bowels past coats of arms and Excalibur the legendary sword buried in a boulder whereupon you are greeted by aforementioned, robed server who will show you to your seat. Don’t chuckle at this point if you value quality service. The night I visited moody, Celtic music played, all bagpipes and fiddles with the rumble of the bodhran drum, background music, not intrusive but uber effective in terms of the mood. Great tables of brethren and pals toast each other, slapping backs before diving into pork hocks, legs of chicken, sausages and other sundry meaty delights, their faces flushed and shiny. But I’m getting ahead of myself again, there’s the menu and again, this is very funny indeed. You can chose to go for “King Arthur’s Favourite” (Chipolatas, smoked leg of pork, oranges, fruit cocktail, banana, tomato, cucumber, cabbage - an odd combo as I suspect you’ll agree) or “Sir Lancelot’s Dinner” (Neck, grilled rib, pork

chop, cheese, golden royal potatoes, olives, tomato, corn, peas, green salad) or you can go for “Dinner for Milady” (Golden royal potatoes with cheese, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, mixed vegetables). There’s a “For Milady With Love” (?) and a “Mega Vegetarian” and even a “Sorcerer Merlin Salad” amidst a plethora of other interestingly named and sounding dishes mostly served in herculean-sized portions upon wooden platters. Then there are the similarly interesting sounding cocktails some of them unrepeatable in a family magazine. And how about a litre of unfiltered, foaming beer for 16.5 lei!? The ceiling’s low and there are archways to navigate en route to the facilities, thick wooden beams above, bare open stone walls and flagstone flooring underfoot, swords aplenty, a steamy squash and an agreeable hubbub of revolutionary ferment that brings powder kegs to mind. A hugely enjoyable experience on many levels.


BY ARABELLA MCINTYRE-BROWN keep. A village dog is a tool, tolerated for its territorial instincts, a cheap alarm against strangers and predators. It’s a tool that eats, but gets survival rations, often no more nutritious than bread, maybe some leftover soup and scraps. Kept all day on a two-metre chain, let off the chain at night if they’re lucky, it’s no wonder they get vicious. Bored, lonely and frustrated, very often with no shelter from So why are there so many unloved, the weather, you’d get pretty murderous, too. unwanted dogs abandoned in Sergiu gave the starving Carpathian puppy a Romania? home, and now Ayra weighs 45kg and is a formidable protector, although soft as butter Unfair question, of course. Those who adore with friends. dogs can’t fathom why everyone doesn’t adore Bucharest’s stray dog problem is infamous. dogs. Those who don’t, see a hairy, dirty, noisy Five years ago, the city was overrun; statistics beast with too many teeth at one end, too are unreliable, ranging from 10,000 to more much by-product at the other end, and too than 50,000 street dogs just in Bucharest. much trouble altogether. Two people died from dog bites, and then People’s attitudes in Romania to animals in a small child was killed by general, and particularly to a pack of strays, and the dogs and cats, tends to split government’s reaction was to along the boundary between and kill the whole lot. town and country. Many of my Children and students capture Over 20,000 were killed in a city friends, even those living often bring injured matter of months (euthanised in apartments, have cats, dogs is too kind a word), but or both. They are devoted to animals that they find another 20,000 adopted by their pets, and lavish good to our clinics as they people appalled by the threat food and veterinary care on them for no reason other than learn about our free care of death. The cull created a huge scandal, and although that their pets are worth it. for these animals. It's there are markedly fewer Sergiu Stănescu and his on Bucharest’s streets, wife Gabriela are two such wonderful that they have strays Romania still has a huge people. Already having a large German Brach in their a place to turn to who will problem. are specific reasons one-bedroom apartment in set the right example of There for the high number of Bucharest, Sergiu found a stray dogs here, and huge but skeletal Carpathian compassion. there are scandals about Shepherd puppy in the fraud and cruelty in the mountains, desperate for help. dog-capture-rehoming-euthanasia industry, but “She weighed 17 kilos when she should be this is Christmas, and I’m limiting the bleak 40kg,” says Sergiu. “She had been thrown stories. out like garbage by the shepherds, and had survived for several months till she found us.” The heartwarming numbers of people Shepherd dogs in Romania are kept to guard dedicated to helping dogs goes some way against bears and wolves, not for herding the to counter the onslaught of dark news about sheep. The dogs are large and powerful, and animals, in Romania, UK, US and elsewhere. must have strong pack instincts. Disobedience Local shelters run by big-hearted Romanian is punished with a big stick or abandonment; individuals, desperately short of money, forced any weakness can result in severe injury or to use premises that are less than ideal (vast death for dog or livestock when wild predators understatement); devoted foreigners working attack the flocks. with Romanians to get homeless dogs adopted; In rural Romania dogs have to earn their There’s nothing so faithful, or as happy, loyal and loving as a dog – a human’s best friend for millennia. Lapdogs or working dogs, huge hounds or tiny terriers, pure breeds or mongrels, dogs are probably the best return on investment of any pet in terms of blatant love, protectiveness, and entertainment.




Photo Arabella McIntyre-Brown © Matei Buta-fairylights




L ui z a Pe t e r

cross-border teams working to raise funds for animal welfare, rescue, rehoming and education, and tireless people scooping up dogs from the roadside to house and feed in their own homes. Luiza Peter is a vet working with the American-run charity Romania Animal Rescue. “I fell in love with what Aurelian Stefan and his team were doing at RAR, when I visited the Centre of Hope in Bucharest. It’s a big hospital for animals in need, where they treat illnesses and injuries for free. I joined RAR in April 2017.” People bring animals to the Centre of Hope for emergency treatment, and for neutering. Spaying and neutering animals is a priority for RAR, being the best way to cut down on strays and feral animals on the streets. “We collaborate with shelters, and on average we neuter ten dogs each day. This year alone we have sterilised 10,000 animals, and 60,000 in total,” says Luiza. RAR also takes in homeless animals and rehomes as many as possible. “This week we have sent two dogs to new homes in the USA,” Luiza says. RAR was founded by Nancy Janes, and is part of the international charity based in California; many Americans take dogs from Romania. “Nancy is the big boss,” says Luiza. “A great lady with a good heart.” RAR’s education campaigns focus on children, of course. “We give out free worming treatments for animals, and free leashes,” says Luiza. Nancy Janes says: “Children and students often bring injured animals that they find to our clinics as they learn about our free care for these animals. It's wonderful that they have a place to turn to who will set the right example of compassion.” All donations are hugely appreciated, from tiny amounts to major sponsorships. The big fundraising campaign at the moment is aimed at buying new medical equipment: an endoscopic device and an ultrasound machine. Transport costs for rehoming, day-to-day care for dogs in the shelter, and sterilising operations all need funding. I’m donating royalties from my new book, Floss the lost puppy, to RAR and to Eli Pet Transport, but if you can help beyond buying the book, that would put smiles on even more dogs’ faces. Romania Animal Rescue (RAR) www.romaniaanimalrescue.org Eli Pet Transport www.facebook.com/EliPetTransport

“My house

is in the mountains near Braşov, at the edge of a village. Next-door’s dog Papi spends much of his time chez moi because I feed him and don’t hit him. He is fiercely protective, and knows the difference between friendly strangers (canine and and human) and those with bad intentions. Papi’s lucky to be free-range – many village dogs are on chains. Strange dogs pass by, some needing a meal; but they eat and go. When a small black scruffball turned up on my doorstep two years ago, and wouldn’t leave, I couldn’t ignore him, no matter how much my cat Buster screamed and spat in outrage. It was a golden, warm November when the black scruff arrived, and I had no problems leaving him outside, feeding him in the sunshine. But the snow came early, and the puppy’s fur trapped snow so that his paws and face were weighed down by balls of ice. I let him move in, to the cats’ utter disgust, and leapt straight on to the sofa. He was discouraged from the furniture, but took possession of the hearth rug. But it showed that he’d been someone’s house pet. I reckoned that he was a city-dweller’s pet as he was relaxed in the house, didn’t bother the cats, was fine with a collar and lead in town, and happy in the car. He wasn’t microchipped, though, so we couldn’t trace his owner. So the challenge was to find him a new home. I have the wrong lifestyle to keep a dog, so despite his charms he wasn’t destined to stay here. He got a name: Pita (acronym for Pain In The Arse), and settled in; he was a sweet character, unaggressive, cute and clever.. I badgered friends in Romania to help, with no success; but my cousin Vicki saw his photo on Facebook and claimed him as her own. Slight problem – Vicki lives in London. Air travel and professional pet transport people were hideously expensive, but a friend put me in touch with Eli Pet Transport, a Romanian/UK charity that takes a vanload of strays every week to be rehomed in the UK. Brilliant. Pita was snipped, chipped, vaccinated, boosted and passported by my vet, Cosmin Dobaş, and was booked in with Eli Pet Transport for 5th Pap i... January. We all had a jolly festive time chasing snowballs and frolicking; but on 1 st January, Pita vanished. Despite the best efforts of my friends Sergiu and Gabriela to help me find Pita, it was like he’d never existed. I gave the grim news to Vicki, and told Claudia at Eli. A bleak start to 2016. It was between -15°C and -20°C in January – surely Pita couldn’t survive out there alone… (cue cliffhanger music). I’ve now turned Pita’s story into a children’s book. I’ve made myself a Romanian family with fictional neighbours, but fictional Floss is 100% real-life 41 It’s a Pita – and yes, there is a happy ending. Christmas story.”

Papi . . .


PUPPY POWER BY DOUGLAS WILLIAMS Our colleague Arabella’s latest book - “Floss the Lost Puppy” - is a heartwarming festive tale that is by turn sad, touching, uproariously funny and wise. It’s also very Romanian but with a distinctive British touch as one might expect from one of Romania’s leading writers of children’s fiction who happens to hail originally from the UK. They say to write about what you know and Arabella has adhered to this, taking her neighbours as the characters for her latest book and where she lives way up high amidst the breathtaking mountains of Transylvania as the setting. The book has at its centre two key themes one international, the other quite personal. The narrator, a girl of 10, has had an unpleasant experience with a dog not so long ago and, when faced with a stray puppy mutt isn’t quite sure how to react. Winter is just round the corner and the mutt’s future isn’t looking too great. There’s an enthusiastic brother with an allergy, a Welsh artist who lives along the way flush with pearls of wisdom and a parallel family in London, grieving for the loss of their old pooch. In the best children’s entertainment traditions there is a good sprinkling of laughs that are pitched just slightly out of reach of the young ones, but much appreciated by us more mature, big kids. The voice of the narrator combined with the easy diary format will have your kids hanging off every word and as things aren’t straightforward -is life ever?- there are a couple of key, cliffhanger moments. These are points when parents can try to call it a night only to have cries of “a bit more”. I’d say it’s


about a four night, 15-20 minute a night read, very roughly. “Floss the Lost Puppy” has the added advantage that it is bilingual, the book, that is, not the dog character in the book. Each page is divided in two, half English and half Romanian, making it very good for both learners of Romanian and of English and it’s surprisingly effective. How do we deal with our fears, where do allergies fit into life, what about when someone or something we love moves far away, single parents, rural living, many areas are handled deftly and sensitively in this funny and wise book that your kids will enjoy at least twice. Just ensure you’ve either got a dog or reasons for not having one that will stand up to your kids’, no doubt, intense scrutiny.

"Floss the Lost Puppy” is available now in all good bookstores and also at Booklet Fiction. The number is 021 430 30 95. Arabella is donating royalties from the sale of “Floss the Lost Puppy” to RAR and to Eli Pet Transport mentioned in article over.


Yes uke can Christmas Day, just before noon, we assemble outside our little village church, all dressed in our best. Twelve kids hand me their ukuleles, one by one, for tuning. My hands are cold and so are the strings. Tricky . Still, the Lord is with us, I hope. Elderly parishioners dodder up the stone steps into the porch, giving us mystified looks. The kids mooch around in their skirts and bonnets, suits and bowties, chatting and giggling. Moş Crăciun brought me a new phone, look! Our instruments tuned, we follow my wife Angela into the church, single file. I’m carrying my music stand, too. It’s awkward but essential, made of black steel and matches the parishioners’ black clothes. In the porch, I catch a whiff of mothballs. And of livestock, because these farming folks tend their cows and sheep every day - the milk flows and so life goes. The church is packed and we spend five minutes slithering through the narthex and into the nave. A woman in a headscarf turns and spots us. It’s Miruna, the councillor’s wife. She smiles and beckons. We inch forward, all fourteen of us, through the tight crowd, whispering apologies. Scuzaţi-mă, mulţumesc . “Glad you could make it,” whispers Miruna, as we edge up. “Thank you for inviting us,” murmurs Angela. “These kids are thrilled,” I add, quietly. An elderly man in a baggy suit gives us the eye. Hush . The bearded young priest is chanting away and the faithful are blessing themselves, ten to the dozen. A grim-faced fellow swings a brass pot to release puffs of incense. The kids clutch their ukuleles and gawp up at the painted dome where angels soar and podgy-faced cherubs pluck lyres. The youngest of our troupe, little Dragoş stands beside me muttering numbers over and over, One, two, three . Perhaps he’s counting the strings on the lyres. He’s a bit of a cherub himself, actually: big eyes, button

nose, and pursed lips. Comes to church every Sunday, it seems. Impeccable manners with Angela and me, but foul-mouthed when he's out and about, or so the other kids tell us. For the moment, Dragoş just stares in wonder at the elaborately-painted ceiling. He’s as good as gold leaf. One, two, three . Perhaps he’s practising the intro to our finale - Jingle Bells . A choir pipes up, teenagers all. They’re dressed in traditional peasant attire embroidered smocks and dark skirts for the girls, white shirts and black waistcoats for the boys. They sing better than we will but their song is a dirge, and I can't help wonder. Orthodox services seem unrelentingly solemn, how come? I think back to Africa; attending church on the so-called Dark Continent was a bright, happy, thumping affair. Praise the Lord and whack that drum. Not that we went very often, only when we were invited. Like today. Nice to be asked, of course, but something doesn't seem right. Eventually, I realise: the choir is looking towards the front; all we see are their backs. Why don't they face the people, instead? In fact, the only faces we see in here - apart from the priest's - are those of miserable-looking saints painted on cracked wooden alcoves. I suppose those cherubs look happy, overhead, but they’re in paradise. Down here, I feel like I’m on Death Row and so would Father Christmas. I whisper to Angela. “When it’s our turn to sing, we should face the audience.” “The congregation.” “Whatever, they should see our choir and vice versa.” “But in an Orthodox church, only the priest faces the people.” “Let’s be unorthodox.” This story is an exclusive extract from Mike Ormsby's new book 'Never Mind the Vampires, Here's Transylvania', published recently. Mike is the author of bestseller 'Never Mind the Balkans, Here's Romania.' Literary critics dubbed him 'The British Caragiale'.


Geta Brătescu, Self-Portrait–Mrs. Oliver in her Travelling Costume, (1980-2012)–Venice Biennale 2017

ART MATTERS The contemporary art scene in Romania is in rumbustious good shape both creatively and commercially, the northern city of Cluj currently leads the way but there’s no shortage of cool galleries displaying exciting, edgy art in the capital either.



f someone, who knows about contemporary art, in London or New York is asked what they could say about today’s Romanian art scene it is likely that they would cite Geta Brătescu and Adrian Ghenie, two internationally recognised artists from different generations.


There is current interest around these two names for very different reasons. Countless other artists could be mentioned if one is thinking in international terms but the stories behind Brătescu and Ghenie are particularly intriguing and they say something about some


aspects of contemporary Romanian art. Brătescu, now 91, represented Romania in Venice this year, as Ghenie did for the 56th Venice Biennale two years ago. This accolade is a sort of International contemporary art Olympiad Gold medal. Artists who occupy their country’s pavilion attract the attention of galleries at the very sharp end of the international contemporary art system, both in terms of critical and commercial acclaim. From this point of view it is certainly success. For Brătescu it has been a long, long time in the making. Born in Ploiești in 1926 she has been an artist for seven decades funding her practice by being employed as the artistic director of the art and literary magazine, Secolul20 (now Secolul21). Her work ranges from a modernist approach to line and drawing to performances and films using the notion of The Studio as an identifying factor; with the expressive and commercial limitations of communism the studio space had more subjective possibilities than the exhibition space. Her widespread recognition outside of Romania has been relatively recent. She is now represented by the renowned Swiss gallery Hauser and Wirth and, with works in major collections and museums throughout the world, she can be considered the mother of Romanian contemporary art, having worked through two waves of endless communist years and she is still currently maintaining a daily studio practice. Ghenie’s story is a very different one. Born up north in Baia Mare in 1977, he is 50 years junior to Brătescu. The references in his paintings range from ‘copies’ of Rothko or Van Gogh pictures to depictions of events around the fall of communism, such as Nicolae and Elena firmly trapped behind the L-shaped table during their military trial. These paintings are all done with a vaguely Francis Bacon like handling of paint, producing a sense of things shifting in and out of focus. At any event they have proved to be extremely commercially successful on the international art market with a painting selling for £6.2 million at auction just last year. The story starts in 2005 when Ghenie set up a gallery space with curator Mihai Pop in Cluj. Called Galeria Plan B - it was just that, a plan B to the situation they found themselves in. Motivated by the lack of contemporary art galleries in the city the duo decided to do it themselves; an idea not rare in the field of Fine Art but few examples are as notable as this one. The gamble

Romanian Pavillion, Venice Biennale, 2015

seriously paid off, due to a series of events that were both fortuitous and strategic. The English freelance curator and art writer, Jane Neal was invited to travel to Cluj to see an exhibition by the painter Victor Man, whom she had met in Prague. The exhibition was the first to take place at Galeria Plan B in 2005. She was so impressed by the show and the whole Plan B enterprise that she went on to curate a show for the prestigious Haunch of Venison gallery in its Zurich outpost. Entitled Cluj Connections , it showcased seven artists from the city. Ghenie’s paintings sold well and

Adrian Ghenie, Persian Miniature, 2013



he was offered a solo exhibition, Shadows of a Daydream , at the gallery in 2007. In the same year the editor of the eminent international Italian art magazine, Flash Art , referred to what he called the School of Cluj and the myth was born; nothing wrong in that, all of art history is made of myths. This name tag resonated with what had happened in Germany some years previously - namely The Leipzig and Dresden Schools. The School of Cluj was therefore produced for an ever hungry art market looking for the next East European exotic big thing and this group of artists fitted the bill; having been apparently left out in the cold in a country where, for obvious historical reasons, there was no art market or sustained gallery system. They cheerfully allowed themselves to be exoticised by the West. After 2007 things just got better for a number of artists from Cluj and Galeria Plan B , which relocated to another huge Cluj success story - Fabrica de Pensule ; in 2009 a former paintbrush factory had been transformed to house galleries, studios and performance spaces under the fastidious and talented care of art manager Corina Bucea. Plan B launched a second gallery in Berlin during 2008. More recently the ever developing Paintbrush Factory has fractured with a faction of artists and galleries setting up a second Factory elsewhere in the city. Whilst looking like an initial breakdown of internal communication the expansion can surely only be seen as another success, opening up further possibilities and developing a broader base beyond the idea of the School of Cluj . So, you might be thinking, what was happening in the capital during this time? Well, I would say a very different kind of success, more complex and less commercially orientated whilst being international more in

terms of import rather than export. There is no Paintbrush Factory or School of Bucharest myth. It is more a case of individuals working independently within a loose network. The first commercial gallery to open in Bucharest was H’art gallery in 2002. Around the same time, not for profit Galeria Nouă opened to show artists working mainly with photography and video. Gradually things have developed in a

National Museum of Modern Art Bucharest

less centralised way than Cluj. The National Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC) opened in 2004. Located at the back of the Palatul Parlamentului, it is an extraordinary setting for a museum of any kind. Requiring airport style security to get inside it establishes a somewhat difficult environment for experiencing art and can seem a little austere, no bookshop, no cafe or bar, there is little reason to stay after seeing the exhibitions. It does host some good and important exhibitions but it is the other excellent and idiosyncratic art spaces that exist throughout the city of Bucharest that I think are where the art scene really exists; many seemingly reinventing the idea of an art gallery rather than looking West for a model. I will mention just a few of the very best here.

Gallery Tranzit

Yuri Leiderman, Auto-portret cu valeriană, Gallery Tranzit


This is part of a group of spaces funded by the Austrian Erste foundation and presents a broad range of exhibitions and activities. Situated in a former light industrial building just two tram stops from Piaţa Unirii at 44 Str. Gazelei, it looks anything but conventional. There is both a gallery and an event space plus a vegetable garden tended to by the artists! The curator Raluca Voinea maintains a fastidious programme of exhibitions, talks and garden parties. >>www.tranzit.org


ODD Returning to Bucharest in 2014 from her studies in London the writer and curator Cristina Bogdan immediately set to work on this project space with boundless energy and integrity. ODD stands alone in terms of its ethos and the participation of artists, writers and thinkers from all over Europe and beyond. Expect to see exhibitions, talks, presentations, reading groups and music events. It’s home is a former Artists’ union gallery space, which has now incongruously found itself placed in the heart of Lipscani at 13 Str. Șelari, surrounded by bars and restaurants. www.oddweb.org

Group exhibition, The Disappearance of Technology, ODD

Anca Poterașu Gallery

Olivia Mihălţianu, The Visit, Anca Poterașu Gallery

Anca Poterașu established her gallery in 2011. Anca shows mainly young Romanian’s paintings, videos, installations and photography and is set in a lovely 19 th century building at 56 Str. Plantelor. Around six solo and group exhibitions are held each year and there is an international artist residency programme accommodating an artist for several weeks once a year. >> www.ancapoteraşu.com

Ivan Gallery With Marian Ivan at the helm, it is like an art space that you might find in London or Berlin in terms of the scope and quality of exhibitions. Often to be found at international art fairs, Marian works mainly with Romanian artists from differing generations, although he also shows international art. This is the gallery that represents Geta Brătescu. Now 10 years old Ivan Gallery operates from a very approachable town house space in Cotroceni at 13 Str. D. Grecescu. www.ivangallery.com

Mădălina Zaharia, The Staging Of An Exhibition, Ivan Gallery

There are all sorts of other aspects to art in Romania that could be discussed at length and a long list of artists and gallery spaces but visiting any of the above mentioned places would be a good start to understanding contemporary art in Romania. All of the spaces have extensive online information and as with any art gallery it is always best to contact them directly to confirm exhibition opening times etc.



IT’S BEGINNING TO SOUND A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS BY OANA VASILIU Arguably the most wonderful time of the year, this Christmas in Romania there’s an abundance of special flavours that have a distinctly historic nuance. Compared with what we see and experience in other parts of the world, this Christmas Romania provides something of a blast from the past.

RICH TRADITION The carolling tradition is strong and healthy in Romania. Most of the carols are traditional songs that are usually sung by groups of boys and girls, who go round visiting houses between Christmas Eve and the New Year, door to door, spreading the good word of Jesus. Traditionally, the singers are usually rewarded with sweets and money from their well-wishing audience. Nobody knows the exact place or moment when carols first appeared, but many historians trace them back to the 4 th century Rome. Same historians consider Romanian Christmas carols as some of the oldest in the world, with tunes and themes varying according to their region of origin. Some of the carols tell the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, some are blessings to those that open their doors to the carol singers, to their families, future crops, and some are wishes of good luck, health, and love in the new year.

SOLID SOUND The Romanian carols are quite different in tone and sound from the English carols we are all used to. Their charm is related to their origins and their age with many dating back hundreds of years. Many of the Romanian carols


sound a bit sad, but they transmit so much warmth to the listeners. Despite the variety of Romanian carols, the most beloved are the ones glorifying the birth of Jesus. Most of them describe the biblical scene in detail, and the emotional lyrics focus on the conditions Virgin Mary had to endure to give birth to baby Jesus. The long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the cold winter night, the stable, the messenger star and the arrival of the Magi are all mentioned in rhymed lyrics. The carols plead for harmony, peace and happiness among all people. One of the most famous and best known traditional Romanian carols is the “Star Carol”. The star is beautifully decorated with coloured paper, tinsel, silver foil and sometimes bells, and put on a pole. In the middle of the star is a picture of baby Jesus. Carol singers take the star with them when they go carol singing. The words of the Star Carol are: "The star has appeared on high, Like a big secret in the sky, The star is bright, May all your wishes turn out right."

A NOTE FROM RECENT HISTORY For several decades the Communist dictatorship banned all works with a religious character and especially those based on sacred texts. However, an exception was made for the Christmas carols of Madrigal Choir. The Madrigal Choir explained to the “ministry” how their Christmas music had reached into the Romanian public soul and they were subsequently granted authorisation to release a CD of their music, but only under the condition that it would be distributed exclusively abroad


in order to prevent the "contamination" of the Romanian population with the religiosity of their songs.

THIS CHRISTMAS Bucharest is offering a great selection of Christmas concerts that will cater for all tastes. Traditionally, Romania have several folk musicians who perform Christmas concerts and these are highly anticipated by their public. Stefan Hruşcă, Tudor Gheorghe, Grigore Leşe and Fuego are among the Romanian artists whose concerts are statements for the Romanian Christmas. Some artists bring Romanian carols in new arrangements each year, in an attempt to bring to life the authentic character and flavour of an ancient tradition that everyone knows, understands and loves. One of those not to be missed is the concert offered by the Madrigal Choir in the Romanian Athenaeum, on December 18 th-19 th. Tickets cost between RON 50-250 and they are worth every bani, especially taking into consideration that this choir has been delivering Christmas magic for 54 years to present.

For some years now the Johann Strauss Ensemble has been performing Christmas concerts for the Romanian public. This year catch them in Bucharest, Braşov and Cluj-Napoca. The tickets prices vary from RON 20 to 200. Schöenbrunn Palace Orchestra Vienna will once again enchant the Romanian public, on December 23 rd, in a concert featuring soprano Simona Eisinger. The compositions of Johann Strauss, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn and Franz Schubert will be presented for the audience. In the Radio Hall, several Christmas concerts are taking place, from those organised with the Children’s Choir - currently three concerts announced, to traditional ones made in association with religious choirs and folk music tones sung by Paula Seling accompanied by the Radio Hall Choir. Unfortunately, at The Romanian Opera, the Christmas concert is already sold out, so we can only imagine how wonderful can be the dozens of sopranos and baritones.

Madrigal Choir 49


PROVIDING PRODUCE WITH FLAVOURS TO SAVOUR BY ROBYN VERAART "Iţi place aici?" This was, basically, one of the few questions that our new neighbours asked us in the first two years that we (Robyn Veraart, born in the US, and Lars Veraart, born in Holland) came and lived in a small village of 100 inhabitants in Transylvania. They seemed confused as to why we were there and, later, we even learned that some people in the village wondered if we were running from the law! Otherwise, it seemed unfathomable that a veterinarian and a psychotherapist who could make "good money" in their own countries would come to such a place, and for what reasons? When we answered that we valued the clean water running from the mountains that we could drink and the clean air and the fertile soil, this seemed to spark a glimmer of understanding: "Da, Da, aer este curat aici, şi apa e bună, da...". This they could understand, yet surely we had another house


in Holland and would come here for vacations. And, indeed, for the first years, we did leave in the winters so that Lars could work and we could have some money to come back with. But we never owned another house anywhere else together. We chose to make our home in Romania. Gradually our neighbours got used to us being around. They saw us making a garden and pruning our fruit trees. They saw us gathering fruit or painting our house with lime. We helped them with their harvests and began trading food items and favours. We got other comments like "Harnic." And, perhaps a bit more often, "Nu e bun!" when they saw us doing something unusual, like making piles of compost. But mostly, over time, we just learned to live side by side. Eventually, because we had no land outside the village ("teren

extravilan") in the beginning, some of our new friends, Vlad and Oana, a pair of twins who were raised by their grandparents in the village, offered us the possibility to use one of their fields to grow more food. They seemed alarmed by the fact that we were not growing our own potatoes and so, for some years, before they got too busy with university and jobs, we shared their field and became more self-sustaining as far as our food production was concerned. We also began sharing a pig with them and this is a "family" tradition that continues now almost 10 years later... It has taken us some time to realize how the village functions. Being from the West, where the system of neighbourly interdependence has, generally, been severely disrupted, we needed some time to really feel how deep the village systems of communication, favours and kinship go. The village seems to me now as a long and many-tentacled octopus, like one organism, one family (that is sometimes more and sometimes less functional!) Some parts of the organism choose to speak less with others, but generally, we are too small to ignore one another completely. The village is comprised of Hungarians and Romanians and a smattering

of internationals in between. We need each other, so we have to get along. This is what everyone says. We attend funerals together, we eat together, we attend church services together and we celebrate together, especially out on the streets on a warm summer evening to wait for the few cows that are left to come home. We have grown to love this place, and what began, for us, as a "3-5 year experiment" in which we wanted to live a lifestyle as close as we could to the previous owners of our house (who only bought lamp oil, salt and sugar) and learn all that we could from people in the village who still knew how to be food self-sufficient, has continued long past its original intended due date.... What we found is a lifestyle that offers us some solace in this world. We found a community that is still quite intact and alive. And we found a way to feel like we are making a contribution not only to the quality of our own lives but also to the world by living a relatively low-impact lifestyle and we take responsibility for producing our own food. This means that we use less of the Earth's precious, limited and threatened resources. This helps us to feel like we are



doing something for the multiple predicaments our human society is creating, however humble. One of the main inspirations for our decision to do this was a growing understanding of the serious threats that small farmers and peasants are under. All over the world, people are being channeled off of their family lands where they could do "bread labor" (all work that leads directly to the production of one's own food, clothing and shelter) and into cities where the only possibility is working for money to buy the necessities of life. We decided, consciously, to go against this ever growing stream. We believe that there are many who, like us, would make this same decision if they had more of a chance, financially, to make it work. This is why we are lending our efforts to setting up a new NGO in Romania called ALPA: Access la Pământ Pentru AgroEcologie. The purpose of ALPA is to generate funds to help young people to come back to the villages and to farm with small and sustainable, agroecological, techniques. This is happening through the help of the European Access to Land Network and many other people and organizations including EcoRuralis in Cluj.


Romania is in a special position to help to save the beauty of the countryside which is maintained by the agricultural practices of its peasants/small farmers that still exist. Amazingly, Romania is home to 50% of Europe's still-existing peasants. Peasants who know the land and how to work it in ways that make it more beautiful. Unfortunately, much land has been and is still being "lost" to large agri-businesses which, because of their enormity, tend to produce goods that are of lower quality, less taste and are more chemically dependent. The dependence on chemical "inputs" in agribusiness is not really good for anybody, not the land and its creatures, not the consumer and not even the producer (they are expensive and you continue to need more and more of them over time). I wonder why we are still doing agriculture this way and who, if anybody, believes that they are profiting from it.

I wonder why we are still doing agriculture this way and who, if anybody, believes that they are profiting from it.

Robyn and Lars Veraart



We at Provision are hopeful for Romania because everybody here knows what good food tastes like. I know that in America, there has been no tasty food produced in the last 30 years (unless it comes from someone's garden or from a small cooperative farm). We know from our travels that, even in Western Europe,

Their home



the food is getting worse and worse tasting. I am a chef and I like to eat! When I go to Holland, I can not make a good tomato sauce to save my life because the tomatoes there have no flavor. They are beautiful to look at, so lovely, small and perfectly round on their little hydroponically-grown vines, but they don't taste like tomatoes. They don't taste like anything. Unbelievably, they don't have any taste at all! Romania has a chance to reverse some of the damage done to its food production and to save a good part of what is left of peasant culture and the wonderful flavours and

biodiversity that it maintains. Who does not want that? Ironically, the people in our village who thought that we were refugees were right; we came from lands where the food has no flavour left in it, to where it still tastes deeply, radically wonderful. And not just from the basic ingredients grown in real soil, but from the company it is taken in: a living community with tradition and ritual still in existence. This is where the real nourishment comes from, as it turns out. This is the deeper inspiration for Provision: the possibility to both Save and Savour life both as it was and how it is. This is what keeps us here.

Playing with the livestock

VISION OF PROVISION Inspired by the skills of their neighbors, Robyn and Lars founded "Provision: The Transylvania School of Self-Sufficient Living." Provision is designed to attract people who are interested to learn self-sufficiency skills in a traditional setting. They consider the village as a living school where everyone can keep learning about living systems and lifestyle choices. The villagers are our teachers and we are conduits of their wisdom. Lars' training as a vet helps him every day with his work with horses and a herd of goats. Robyn's training as a therapist helps her facilitate group process and her expertise with all things culinary also contributes to the happiness and well-being of family, friends and their many other guests. www.provisiontransylvania.com








Whether you’re looking for a full vacation or just a skiing weekend, Romania has plenty to offer. Our resorts and slopes might not be as developed as the ski resorts of Austria, Italy or France but you can still find good quality ski slopes, breathtaking landscapes, quality accommodation and restaurants and great entertainment. BY DAN CONSTANTINESCU

Dorului and Valea Soarelui. These have steeper portions that are absolutely not recommended for beginners. The steep part descends from 2000m to 1400m and you can find four black slopes here, one red and a lot of areas perfect for freeride, making this area heaven for those who prefer to ski through the powder or off-piste. Being at such a high altitude can be disadvantageous however, strong winds drifting the snow and dumping it in the valley sometimes, making the ski area impracticable, especially in the heavier winter months. But for the spring months (March, April and May), Sinaia can be a veritable skiing paradise. Another drawback for Sinaia is the fact that cable transport installations are owned by two companies and, somewhat inconveniently, two skipasses have to be purchased in order to use them.


Dan Constantinescu, ski instructor

The closest slopes to Bucharest are those in Valea Prahovei and this is the most ski-centric area of Romania with a rich tradition in the sport. In recent years, there has been remarkable progress made in this area with regards to the infrastructure of both the slopes and the services so that the future looks promising for tourists.

SINAIA The first ski resort going north from Bucharest is Sinaia, considered the cradle of Romanian winter sports. Having the highest ski peak in the country (2103 m Furnica Peak), it has a complex area of ski slopes for experienced skiers. In the alpine area there are seven slopes served by two chairlifts in Valea


The second resort on the Prahova Valley is BuĹ&#x;teni. It has an average difficulty ski piste at the foot of the Caraiman Mountain with a total length of 1.5 km, served by a chair lift. Advanced skiers, freeride enthusiasts and those who enjoy off-piste have the opportunity to play on the other side of the mountain after they reach the top with a cable car at Babele. As in Sinaia, the chances of skiing on the Bucegi plateau depend on the whims of the weather and in particular the wind speed.

AZUGA The next resort on the Prahova Valley is Azuga. The resort is cheaper and less crowded than other Prahova Valley resorts, and the slopes are maintained with great care. There are two ski slopes of medium difficulty - but there are also steep portions - Cazacu and Sorica, served by a gondola and a ski lift. At the base of the mountain there are few small slopes and facilities for beginners and kids. Probably not to be recommended for a skiing holiday in itself, but for one or two days of fun when the rest of the ski resorts are crowded or closed-Azuga is a lot of fun!



Predeal is another tourist center of interest on the Prahova Valley. The resort benefits from perfect temperatures and a thick layer of snow for more than 3 months each year, which is why anyone can enjoy a skiing vacation here, even outside the Festive holidays. The snow lasts for a long time, due to the natural setting because the resort is sheltered by the Bucegi, Postăvarul and Piatra Mare Mountains. And even if it happens to be a poor snow winter (rare), the resort has artificial snow facilities, so the skiing can continue. Depending on level, skiers can choose from six slopes, one black, four red and two blue, amounting to about 8km and served by a chair lift and a ski lift. One of the slopes owns a light installation so that skiers can ski until late at night. Those who want to learn to ski have to sign to ski schools or recommended instructor courses, under no circumstances start skiing classes with instructors who cannot prove their accreditation. In Predeal, at the weekend or on holidays, the slopes are quite crowded, so, if you want to enjoy the skiing and the extraordinary landscape, you have to get to the ski piste very early in the morning (the facilities open at 08.30), or to go at another time of the week or month.

Poiana Braşov is at the foot of Postăvarul mountain at an altitude of 1 030 meters-the highest point reaching 1799 meters- and is the largest and the most modern ski resort in Romania. It has the largest ski area, totaling over 24km of black, red and blue slopes, so every skier can find their right route. The slopes are served by two cable cars, one gondola, five ski lifts, one chair lift and although smaller than in Predeal, there is a nocturnal lights installation. The snow cover can be guaranteed from mid-December to late March and is about 50cm thick in Poiana and approximately 100cm on the mountain. The most difficult slopes in Poiana Braşov are Lupului, Subteleferic and Kanzel slopes, the Sulinar slope is considered medium difficulty, Drumul Roşu - medium difficulty, and Bradul and Stadion are considered easy slopes. The fact that it has the largest ski area in Romania comes with disadvantages and one of them is the extreme overcrowding. The huge gondola lines, cable cars, chairlift etc. can spoil a day of skiing for which you pay substantial sums because Poiana Braşov is also our most expensive resort. That is why it is recommended to venture there outside the holiday seasons. There are areas further from Bucharest such as Straja, Rânca, Semenic, Arieşeni, etc., but these are tricky to access, much less developed with shorter runs. Still, you could be rewarded for your efforts with extraordinary scenery.






BY DOUGLAS WILLIAMS Carusel is an NGO that has been operating in Romania since 2011 when it was established by three college colleagues Marian Ursan, Sorin Briceag and Alexandra Alboiu. The organisation works with marginalised people and those suffering from serious vulnerabilities, often multiple vulnerabilities. “We work with the people who, basically, no one else will work with,” says Marian Ursan, president of Carusel. “One of the cruel things about the vulnerabilities that we work with is that they tend to lead to further vulnerabilities, there’s a sort of snowball effect.” He defines Carusel as a Human Rights Harm Reduction organisation.

at the University of Bucharest. “Many of our clients, in their thinking, they live hour to hour possibly a half day at a time. We work to get them to think beyond, to think about their lives in terms of months and even years.” The vast bulk of Carusel’s efforts go into direct medical, social and psychological services. Much of these are delivered by way of a special mobile unit that goes into the areas where vulnerable people live and it provides medical check-ups, HIV testing and general care of the many wounds vulnerable people are prone to.

“We try to build up relationships with these people, a lot of what we do is about building A fairly typical Carusel “client” would be an trust. We do an evaluation, we figure out individual who is a drug addict, is HIV positive, exactly what their situation is and what has hepatitis, they need and we tuberculosis, is a build what we call sex worker, has no an ‘intensive case official papers, no management’. Then, medical insurance, in conjunction with is Roma and is the client, we build homeless. an ‘Intervention Plan’. We try to “Our biggest battle, ensure we work with our toughest job, the individuals, not is to expand these communities as such.” people’s horizons,” The Carusel team says Ursan, 39, who, sorts out identification besides his role with papers and insurance Carusel, is also an and they liaise with associate professor hospitals to ensure ONG Fest 60

their clients get the treatment they require. They also chase what funds these people may be eligible for and they help them in hospital to ensure they know how to behave, since it’s often their first time in such an institution, and they also provide hygiene products, toothpaste, shampoo etc. Carusel works across metropolitan Bucharest in areas such as Ferentari, Pantelimon and Colentina and each year roughly another 2,000 clients are added to their list.


right direction and it means they have to contemplate their future,” says Ursan. Such is the nature of the people they are dealing with Carusel also has to deal with their deaths. They organise the funerals and coffins and even the graves. “That’s the thing with many of these vulnerabilities, they are extremely serious. Often our clients are so numb they don’t even realise how serious their situations is. Often we are the first people to have really listened to them in their lives, nobody has ever paid any meaningful attention to them. They have no hope. So we try to fix that, one step at a time.”

Often we are the first people to have “Recently we met a large really listened to them family who were living in a derelict property in downtown Bucharest,” recounts Ursan. in their lives... “The father was incarcerated, so absent, and the mother was struggling. The older children were already addicted to drugs and it later transpired they all had HIV. The younger siblings were malnourished and there was a real danger the family would be separated and the children taken into local authority care. Carusel intervened and ensured the older children got the proper medical treatment they needed and that they received the government allowances they were entitled to, we organised a residential property for the mother complete with furniture and equipment like fridge etc and we got the younger children into a community centre where they could get an informal education along with some proper meals.” Carusel is keen to maintain its independence so doesn’t take any public funds. It has an army of around 70 volunteers. Last winter Carusel ran a shelter which housed over 50 people per night but this winter funding won’t stretch to cover this unfortunately. Instead the mobile unit and the volunteers will be collecting materials such as sleeping bags, warm clothing and food to take to their clients to try to help. “Many of these people, they are just so tired, they just think in the immediate. We try to get them back on their feet physically and emotionally and to get them to think seriously about their future. We help them put together a CV and we help them find work. Often their first job isn’t ideal but it’s a step in the


See Carusel’s Facebook page for how to get involved or how to donate.

Marian Ursan (second from right to left) and collaborators

December 2014, La Mama Restaurant, Alba Iulia Square

Sleeping bags for the homeless



STARTING A COMPANY IN ROMANIA BY RUXANDRA VIŞOIU – Senior lawyer AND REMUS POPOVICI – Legal adviser Romania is a country that offers numerous business opportunities in all fields of practice and taxation levels are low compared to most European states! With a corporate tax of just 1% on company income, who wouldn’t want to grow a business here? Not to mention all the benefits of doing business in a European Union state, such as free movement of goods, services, persons and capital. That’s why Romania is currently the best option for opening a branch of your international business, as many corporations have already done, especially within the last few years, or even an entirely new company, in the form of a start-up and even an individual business, if you prefer going solo.

associates and the taxes can go as high as one third of your profits. But you can develop project-based collaborations or even have employees of your own, if your business develops well. That’s why a PFA is the best option for web developers, graphic designers and freelancers, in general. Compared to a Limited Liability Company, where company revenue can only be accessed at the end of the year by dividends, if you are a Registered Sole Trader you practically identify with your company. So you can have a sole bank account for you and your PFA, spend the money you earn as soon as you get it, without paying dividends to yourself and you can generally have a more flexible approach to business.

WHAT TYPE OF COMPANY CAN I CHOOSE? The main types of companies are as follows: Joint-stock company/corporation (in Ro: societate pe acţiuni , SA): this is the most “serious” type of company, chosen mainly by entrepreneurs who want to be listed on the capital market at some point. However, the SA has its downsides: a joint-stock company must have two or more shareholders (sole ownership is not an option) and the minimum investment is RON 90.000 (approx. EUR 19.000). Limited liability company (in Ro: societate cu răspundere limitată , SRL): it is often referred to as microenterprise (in Ro: microîntreprindere), a title which is somewhat misleading, as it has nothing to do with how big the company is, but rather with the way its taxes are collected. The minimum investment for a SRL is just 200 lei (approx. EUR 44). In this case, sole ownership is a viable option, compared to the SA. But compared to a registered sole trader (PFA), which we will discuss next, having a SRL is more difficult. For keeping company records and accessing company profits, you will require the assistance of a certified accountant. Registered sole trader (in Ro: Persoană fizică autorizată , PFA): if you are a freelancer, who needs to access company money at all times and spend it also in personal purposes, even at the risk of higher taxes, a PFA is the best choice for you. The downside is that you cannot have company

HOW DO I SET UP A COMPANY? The process of setting up a company involves submitting a complete company incorporation file with the Trade Registry, which contains a series of documents in Romanian (applications, notary statements, bank excerpt etc.). Our advice is to get professional help in this respect, given that the Romanian authorities’ representatives usually do not speak English and do not offer assistance in the process. The file can either be submitted personally at the Trade Registry or online, by authorized persons. We at R&R Partners offer the latter option, which is faster and less expensive. The entire process takes just a few days in total and our lawyers can easily keep track of the file online, so that the process goes as smoothly as possible. Whatever road you take, we wish you the best of luck with your entrepreneurship plans! And remember – If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs :) R&R Partners Bucharest | www.rrpb.ro | office@rrpb.ro





Since 2006 active in finding homes for expats Violetta Tudorache Owner-0729 005 624 www.bliss-residences.ro



Hello Inner Child BY ANCA BOTEZ Last night, I was sitting in front of my laptop, with my chamomile cup of tea deciding what on Earth am I going to write about. Why? Because it’s December, the most magical month of all! For me, December is a very special month because my son Mark was born three days after Christmas. Therefore, during every Festive Season we celebrate Life, Love, the birth of Jesus and also bonding and connecting with our families and friends. I am wondering how many of us focus on self-care and self-love during this busy month, do we do something for ourselves? The last few weeks I have lived through some deep spiritual experiences and my energy today was definitely not anchored in Neuro-linguistic Programing techniques, but in my heart I was ready to radiate some magic and to connect us with our inner child. This question is for you, beautiful Soul, my dear reader: are you connected with your inner child? Well, let’s go together on a self-discovery journey and find out! Get your cup of tea first, put your Santa socks and get cozy under your fluffy blanket. In the November issue, I wrote about us parents being the inner voice of our children, but this month’s article is about us. It’s about reconnecting with yourself and getting back the parts of your soul you’ve left behind in your adult life, during your adolescence when you faced disappointment or traumas or maybe during your childhood when you felt insecure and vulnerable. Inside each of us lives this inner child and she or he influences the decisions we make, the quality of our lives and how we talk to ourselves. Most of the times we want to avoid situations that bring us emotional suffering or discomfort, so we ignore or we reject this wounded child. Your inner child is the child you once were. During our adult life, the inner child needs our nurturing, attention, moral support and of course to be treated with compassion,

unconditional acceptance and love. So how do you know if your inner child is wounded? First of all this is reflected in low self-esteem, you adopt a “victim” attitude or you are always in competition with others, you don't trust yourself or the people around you, you are emotionally dependent on your partner or you have commitment issues, you struggle with addictions like alcohol or drugs. Now, how can we heal our inner child? The inner child always whispers to ourselves that it is time to come home, and when we have an open heart, we can hear the message with clarity. In a present and mindful state, we are like an open channel ready to hear the inner child who asks for help. This young soul needs to be acknowledged, so talk to her or him: “My dear inner child, until now I neglected you and I ignored you. Starting today I am here to protect you, to take care of you with love and compassion.” I also love to add the Ho’oponopono mantra: “I love you/I am sorry/ Please forgive me/Thank you.” This is how the healing process is initiated and it will unfold naturally at your own pace and in your own time. Love is the most powerful healing tool and working with our inner child helps us to unblock painful memories from childhood and adolescence related to anger, fear, suffering, sorrow or physical or emotional trauma. Reconnecting with pictures, songs, games and books from your childhood also helps. So bring back all those things that brought you joy, fun and laughter as a child, especially during holiday and birthday celebrations. This December, as you enjoy time with your loved ones, remember how lucky you are to be alive, to be present, to be in good health, surrounded by family and showered with care and love. Yes, you are your inner child... Have a Mindfulness Christmas, dear all! Merry Christmas!

Anca Botez is a U.S. certified NPL trainer, interested in personal and business training, founder of mameinafaceri.ro project 64


Is Your Offspring Oxbridge Material? BY SIMON PARKER Five years ago I had a meal with the family of one of our first successful Oxbridge applicants. After a few glasses of particularly fine wine, the father looked straight at me and said: “I wish you could know what it feels like when one of your children is accepted by Cambridge.” A few months earlier when his wife heard the news, her employers sent her home from work because she couldn’t stop crying, and I don’t think he was in a much better state himself. I’m not a parent and I’m very unlikely to ever become one, but I’ve had the privilege of being included in what must be a truly unforgettable moment for many of the families we have supported. So, how do you know if your child has a chance of entering one of the world’s two greatest universities? I think there are two signs to watch for: A genuinely passionate interest for a subject which might possibly border on obsession. I’ve worked with students who have been pretty much addicted to international computer science and maths contests and others who have travelled across Europe, with their supportive parents in tow, to successfully compete in debating contests. They lose all track of time when they are focused on it and would rarely, if ever, see the time they spent exploring their subject as “work”. A very strong record in public examinations/contests – although sometimes this success comes later in some students than others. Generally, but not

always, this would mean a string of A*s at IGCSE or a top 10 ranking in the Evaluare Naţională at city or county level. We’ve found Olympiad success a strong indicator of a student’s chance of a place: basically reaching the national finals for ANY subject – even if it doesn’t appear to have any connection with what they want to study at university almost guarantees an interview. All bar one of our international level clients were accepted. Two Oxford and Cambridge admission tutors, who seemed to know a surprisingly large amount about the Romanian education system, once told me that they would strongly encourage any student to apply to them if they had reached national level of ANY academic contest even if it’s not related in anyway to their chosen degree. At this point, I suppose I need to add a warning. Studying at these 800+ year old universities is incredibly hard work. Teaching usually takes places in groups of two students and a professor. These “supervisions” as they call them at Cambridge, are a very intense way of learning and mean that students cover the course content much faster than they would anywhere else. The study almost never stops. As one former client put it “vacations only mean vacating your room”. Then again, if your child meets the above two criteria, spending four years in these cultured academic powerhouses would be a dream come true for them – a place where they could be with intellectual equals, and maybe for the first time in their lives, truly educationally at home.

Simon Parker is the director of Albion International Study, a Bucharest-based counselling organisation for UK university applications. 65


Of Drains, Markets and Kitsch Figurines BY DEAN EDGAR Romania, for all its ups and downs, is the place I have called home for the last 11 years. When telling this to the students I teach conversational English to, at a local state college, they look at me as though I am a complete loony. Most want to travel and leave the country at the first chance, they don't see a future here, hopefully they will return after making their fortunes. I am concerned about the “Brain Drain” and the consequences for Romania, especially the doctors and nurses leaving for Western Europe. Having had two major operations here, whilst the facilities do leave a lot to be desired, the medical staff were exceptional and to lose highly qualified staff basically due to lack of a decent salary is harming this country grievously. Romania has many positives and many negatives, some of the negatives I have used to my advantage by creating a business that helps newcomers to the country with the bureaucratic nightmares of setting up a company, registering a car, applying for a residence permit or work permit. Business and investment would grow much faster if the petty rules and regulations were scrapped and a more transparent tax system was introduced and maintained. The positives are why I am here, the beautiful countryside, the traditional way of life, nowhere near as much “health and safety” as there is in much of Western Europe, where everyone is wrapped up in cotton wool and of course, cheap beer!


I am seeing a lot more foreigners coming here that are not here due to a company relocation. More and more entrepreneurs, teachers, retirees, all moving here to have a better life, or at least a different life. Many are choosing to live in the centre of town, and not the gated communities of Pipera and Baneasa, and that is also a good thing. Despite the best actions of the mayor, Gabriela Firea, Bucharest city centre is improving. There is still lots to do regarding cars and parking, public transport, renovation of buildings in the Old Town, a general “tarting up” as someone once said. Restaurants are improving, service is getting better, by and large, change is happening, albeit slowly. Christmas is coming and Romania fully embraces this time of the year. If you are new to town, Christmas markets in Bucharest, opposite the People’s Palace, Sibiu and Brasov add to the fun of the season. The Old Town will be full of Christmas parties, all in all, a great deal of fun will be had. I am waiting to see how kitsch the mayor will make the Bucharest market this year. I read that she visited a factory in Mizil that makes the figures and decorations that were used at Easter time, which were hilarious. Unfortunately she didn’t see the joke. I wish you all a Happy Christmas and a great New Year. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, have fun whatever you are doing.

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