W W W . O Z B . R O INTERNATIONAL LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE
NÄ&#x201A;STASE NESPRESSO , WHAT ELSE ?
PROS AND CONS, LIFE IN MODERN ROMANIA TRANCE-YLVANIA, THE PAST BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE NR.2 NOVEMBER 2017 FREE MAGAZINE
D OUGLAS W ILLIAMS
Hello, bună, and welcome to OZB your new lifestyle magazine all about Romania in English.
KEEP SCHTUM! A very warm welcome to this, the official “launch” issue of OZB, which, by the way, stands for O Zi Buna the charming Romanian phrase that means “have a good day”. We are Romania’s newest English language media platform and we aim to inform, educate and entertain. We hope you will be engaged and get involved as OZB has been created for you and for people like you. This month our esteemed colleague Arabella McIntyre Brown asked some “expats” how they feel about living here in Romania, what they like and what they don’t like. So I’m going to leap upon her bandwagon and share my tuppence worth without further ado. Firstly I have to say, as someone who has lived in other countries, I am not a fan of newcomers whining about their host nation. Secondly I must add that my affection for Romania is growing exponentially and that, to the question: “so, what do you think of our country?” I have to reply with gusto: “I love it”. But first let’s get some of the things I’m less fond of out of the way because they’re fairly straightforward. It’s basically the three Cs cigarettes, carne and cars. The first clogs the lungs, the second clogs the arteries and the third clogs the cities. Now, although I’ve not been here very long, I have been here long enough to have experienced bars and restaurants before and after the smoking ban and I know which is better. Legislation can work wonders. Carne? Well being veggie aint easy in Romania, but it’s not a topic worth exploring here. Lastly, cars and this hardly needs explaining. The problems in Bucharest are manifest though hardly unique. At any given time there are approximately three parking spaces in the entire city. Let’s hope that the existing mass transit infrastructure is modernised so more people stick with it rather than buying a car upon their first pay rise. There’s also evidently some enthusiasm for bicycles and this needs nurturing, Bucharest’s pancake flat, and what about a public education programme to
encourage more gracious driving… Ok... gata.. So, enough of the gripes and I’d like to start my pros about Romania with a heartfelt appreciation of the nation’s teachers who are evidently doing a good job. And it’s clear to see the benefits of this with international companies flocking to set up regional centres here drawn by the bright, young, multilingual populace. Secondly, hailing from Scotland where the weather is unremittingly dismal I really appreciate the Romanian climate. In Scotland summer is our favourite day of the year while here it’s scorchio for months. Romanian winters are proper snowy and cold, and autumn is glorious, spring charming. Thirdly, the sheer physical beauty of the place: the mountains, forests, villages, even the cities, the flowers, parks, Christmas lights. Oh, and the people! Fourthly the Romanian peeps are wonderful and I’ve changed my tune on this one because my first impressions were of a fairly sullen lot. My experience more recently is of folks who couldn’t be more helpful or warm and hospitable given the slightest chance. And competent too. Blimey, consider it sorted! Ok, sometimes, not always... So lastly I refer to a comment made by the sagacious Johan Gabriels of Moneycorp deeper in this mag about how we ought to keep Romania’s myriad qualities to ourselves and I agree. Let’s stop posting glorious pictures of Romania and telling all our friends how great it is or we’ll be inundated. This place is incredible, we’ve lucked out, but let’s try to keep it hush hush, between ourselves. Enjoy the magazine and if you have any comments, constructive criticisms, suggestions, good jokes, events, products, places etc then email me at email@example.com.
O z b
So this is technically our second issue with the first OZB published in July. It was warmly received and we’d like to thank all those who took the time to write encouraging messages but neither Marcel nor I had quite grasped just how comprehensively Bucharest and Romania shuts down over the summer months. Hence we only really got up and running again, in terms of calls being answered and emails returned, mid September and here we are, finally. This is when we need to give thanks to all those partners who have continued to support us and allowed us to proceed with this project keeping it alive when many had presumed it dead, including me... Big thanks to Superbet, to Nespresso, to Lacerta Winery, to Moneycorp, to Stejarii Residential Park and to Coprint our wonderful and patient printers. And a big thanks from Marcel and I to our team for sticking with OZB to our writers, our designer and distribution. Now I’d like to invite your participation - yes you! We are seeking reader’s columns on any subject that might be relevant to the international community here in Bucharest. Each issue we will feature an NGO here in Romania and we will also have a photo-essay, submissions for potential inclusion are welcomed. We are seeking heads up about events taking place that you are hosting or going to around Bucharest and Romania, let us know and we’ll let our readers - both of this magazine and of our website - know. We’d like to have more school engagement so to all those international schools out there, get in touch and let us know what you’ve got going on - we’ve more than happy to come to you to talk about OZB and the media in general. Additionally we need more property, finance, food and music sweet music…
P14 - It’s never been easier to enjoy superb coffee at home and this is mostly down to Nespresso, OZB talks with Sonia Nãstase about gorgeous George’s favourite.
P32 - Taking the rough with the smooth OZB investigates what “expats” like about living in Romania along with those things they like less.
P21 - Walter Friedl makes some of Romania’s finest wine but he also publishes very funny books, we get his take on the country he now calls home.
P38 - Bucharest may seem like an architectural mish mash but there are gems aplenty, we take a look at the predominant styles.
P28 - The Mihai Eminescu Trust restores old properties in Transylvanian villages, turning them into very comfortable guesthouses.
P59 - Pegas was once the bike for Romania but by 2001 production had ceased, now a young team has breathed new life into this classic.
D o u g l a s W i l l i a m s Co-owner/Editorial Director, firstname.lastname@example.org M a r c e l d e R o o d e Co-owner/Commercial Director, 0768 971 647, email@example.com F u l v i a M e i r o s u Marketing Director and Website Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org A d a P o p e s c u Art Director A l e x a n d r u H a m u r a r u Distribution Manager
EVENTS by Ramona Ionescu
UrbanEye Film Festival When: November 1-5 Where: Bucharest, Cinema Elvira Popescu What: urban film and design festival UrbanEye is a platform for ideas based on the link between the city and cinema, opening up a dialogue about the places where we live. UrbanEye Film Festival is held annually, in November, and the festival offers its Bucharest audience many things: film screenings and nation-wide premieres; curated film selections based on current international topics; talks and workshops about the living environment; children’s workshops; special guests and speakers; the UrbanEye film award (at the second edition, the UrbanEye award will be given to the best picture inspired by the Romanian architectural reality).
Ara Malikian When: November 7th Where: Bucharest, Sala Palatului What: violin concert Ara Malikian is a Lebanese musician of Armenian origins. By 14 he was already a seriously good violinist and at 15 he began studying at Hannover University. Thenceforth he took to the road travelling the world performing and honing his inimitable style recording albums along the way. Now based predominantly in Madrid Malikian remains faithful to his Middle Eastern origins. He is fascinated by gipsy music, flamenco, tango, klezmer and Arabic music. Malikian also sings one of the most famous Romanian songs, Ciocârlia, his signature style.
Avishai Cohen When: November 9th Where: Bucharest, Sala Radio What: jazz concert Described by the New York Times as an “extravagant and gifted trumpeter, relaxed yet deeply sentimental” Avishai Cohen comes to Bucharest this month for a hotly anticipated recital of his distinctive and unique style of trumpet jazz. Real name Denis Jasarevic, Gramatik is a hip-hop and electronic music producer from Slovenia and he’s a frequent visitor to Romania playing festivals such as Untold and Electric Castel. Gramatik will come to Bucharest in November with new material that he’s produced under the monicker RE:COIL but he’s sure to play the songs that made him an international superstar.
Gramatik When: November 22, 9 pm Where: Bucharest, Arenele Romane What: electronic music
New Jersey Band When: November 3rd Where: Bucharest, Hard Rock Cafe What: rock concert New Jersey are an Italian Bon Jovi tribute band founded in 2007 now widely acknowledged as simply the best Bon Jovi tribute band in the world. So, dust off the denim and get along, close your eyes, imagine, sing along meaningfully and sway to all those rock classics.
The Red Army Choir When: November 17th Where: Bucharest, Sala Palatului What: orchestra and ballet concert The Red Army Choir or the Alexandrov Ensemble is returning to Bucharest with a new formula and a brand new repertoire called “The Great Revival” . This concert will be dedicated to the members of the choir who died last year in an aviation accident that took place in the Black Sea. On 25th December last year, a Russian military plane with 92 people on board crashed into the Black Sea while en route to Syria. No one on board survived. Among the passengers there were 64 members of The Red Army Choir - singers, dancers, orchestra members, the director and the conductor, Valeri Khalilov. The Red Army Choir represents the Russian spirit and if you choose to see this concert you will be amazed and mesmerised by the dances and the sumptuous costumes of the artists on stage. The concert will have 120 artists on stage and they will perform a 100% Russian repertoire.
Art and Hobby Workshops When: November, for detailed schedule of workshops check the website: http://artandhobbystudio.ro/ateliere/ Where: Bucharest, Art & Hobby Studio Art & Hobby is a company in Bucharest that offers a wide range of workshops and events for adults and children. In November there are several workshops that may be of interest for you like: November 18 and 19 - Contemporary Geometric art workshop; November 22 - Pottery Painting workshop; November 25 - drawing portraits; November 29 - painting on mirrors, Romanian traditional motifs. Art & Hobby is located in the center of Bucharest, close to Piata Victoriei. Check out their website for more details.
Asia Fest 2017
The Bad Plus
When: November 24-26 Where: Bucharest, Romexpo What: Asian culture festival The original festival dedicated culture is back in Bucharest this its fifth edition. The event involves dance, Asian cuisine, workshops other exotic surprises.
to Asian year with music and and many
When: November 27th, 8 pm Where: Bucharest, Club Control, Constantin Mille street, no. 4 What: jazz concert Achingly cool Minnesotan band The Bad Plus play arguably Bucharest’s hippest joint this month, Club Control. Their blending of indie, rock and avant garde styles defies easy pigeonholing but fans the world over are in no doubt as to their merit. Expect a mish mash of Pixies/ Nirvana/Interpol underscored with some Sabbath and Bowie and given a sprinkling of Coltrane.
SNAPSHOT: ALAIN SCHODTS, BEROBA Alain Schodts is the president of BEROBA (Belgian Chamber of Commerce) and he moved to Romania in 2007. How do you like your coffee? Espresso Lungo…. quite strong. What’s your favorite app? Stevie TV : Flemish television. Name 3 things you always carry with you. Marriage ring, business cards, digipass…:)) What’s your favorite place in Bucharest? Herastrau park. I live outside the city. How did you spend your last holiday? Bulgarian seaside….. just relaxing … What newspapers/magazines do you read? De Standaard/ZF/ Romania Insider What colour is your kitchen? White.
Name 3 favorite hobbies. Reading historical books, biking and music. The most important person in your life is…? My wife and my daughter. If you didn’t have your actual career/job, what would you like to do (as a career/job)? The same job. What do you like best about Romania? Biodiversity of the nature, a lot of space compared to Belgium.
SNAPSHOT: OLIMPIA PLEŞA BR ANDHUBER, OPiA Olimpia Plesa Brandhuber, certified with Level 3 Advanced Certificate in Wines and Spirits, is the owner of OPiA Celebrate Champagne which organizes delightful champagne tasting events. How do you like your coffee? In the morning, as a ritual. Strong espresso, creamed and softened with milk, without sugar. The first thing I do when I wake up is to take a coffee. I first inhale the flavor than I savor it. What’s your favorite app? The TPark in Cluj, it makes my life so easy. Pic Collage, it is easy to play with pictures and make postcards as presents for my family. Name 3 things you always carry with you. I never leave without my body, my mind, myself. I strive to always have them all. What’s your favorite place in Bucharest? I adore the residential area of Dorobanti in May when it smells intensely of linden tree flowers. This fragrance is so deep in my memory. The old linden trees are a jewel of Bucharest as are some of the houses of this area. How did you spend your last holiday? I am right now In the most mountainous Mediterranean island, Corsica, l’Ile de Beauté, to discover its celebrated sea scenery, spirit and natural beauty. What newspapers/magazines do you read? Decanter, as I want to be updated with what happens in the wine world. Glass of Bubbly, the home of Champagne and Sparkling wines. What color is your kitchen? My kitchen has natural hues of cream, to relax my mind and give me calm impressions to which I added some hints of gold for glamour and exuberance. Not at all 12
a classic kitchen. Name 3 favorite hobbies. Travelling. Extensive. Far. Different to my culture. Wines of the world and their origins, people, terroir. I travelled on all continents to visit their wine regions and I still have so much to discover! Sport I am doing since as long as can remember. Fitness is my drug or my meditation. No matter what, it has the same effect on me, joy. I have a passion for mono water ski many years ago and for yoga lately. The most important person in your life is…? My husband and my daughter. What is your favorite car? Please allow me to imagine another question: Roses, big and many. If you didn’t have your actual career/job, what would you like to do (as a career/job)? I wish I could be a famous piano player. What do you like best about Romania? In short, Romanian women. In detail, I like the best of what is my country, I have the feeling of belonging to a culture and a spirit, the Romanian one. I like the smell of the fields in the countryside. I like my friends. I like the big potential of this country.
SNAPSHOT: ROB BOUSIE, LIGHT INTO EUROPE CHARITY
Rob Bousie is Business Development Manager at Light Into Europe Charity. Since 2004, Light into Europe has focused its efforts on developing support for two Cinderella groups: the sight impaired and the hearing impaired. Light into Europe’s teamwork and dedication has resulted in 120 successful medical and social projects in Romania, involving more than 1000 volunteers and almost 3.4 million euros worth of donations in kind. How do you like your coffee? I’m British…I exclusively drink English Breakfast tea with milk. What’s your favorite app? Adobe Clip, lets me create short videos for Facebook in seconds! Name 3 things you always carry with you. My phone, poo bags (for when I have a dog) & metro pass. What’s your favourite place in Bucharest? Vacaresti Delta, love the unique species so close to the city. How did you spend your last holiday? Walking up mountains and down gorges in Montenegro!
What newspapers/magazines do you read? BBC website if that counts… What colour is your kitchen? Rented flat… so cream! Name 3 favourite hobbies. Watching any sport, playing ultimate frisbee & walking dogs! The most important person in your life is…? My wife, Naomi. What is your favorite car? Our Business Lease sponsored Dacia Duster they provides transport for our guide dogs, it’s has been on many adventures. If you didn’t have your actual career/job, what would you like to do (as a career/job)? Sports commentator – somewhere I could use all the random facts I’ve learned! What do you like best about Romania? The people, so welcoming….and the Retezat Mountains :)
SNAPSHOT: BOB DE MAN, R AIFFEISEN LEASING Bob de Man was recently appointed CEO of Raiffeisen Leasing Romania, after seven years of experience in Raiffeisen Bank. How do you like your coffee? I love to start my mornings with a tasteful venti soya cappuccino and share the moment with my colleagues in the office, talking business as usual, hearing their concerns and sharing ideas together to improve our day to day productivity. What’s your favorite app? One of the apps I like is Flipboard, where I can find plenty of news customized to what I enjoy reading. Name 3 things you always carry with you: I start every day with my mind clear and heart open. In addition, in order to always stay connected, my iPhone. What’s your favorite place in Bucharest? My favorite place is my warm and loving home, in Pipera, right near the forest, where I can feel the silence of nature. For me, nature has always been the best tonic and source of inspiration. How did you spend your last holiday? In Turkey. What newspapers/magazines do you read? Economic press in general. What colour is your kitchen? My kitchen is coloured in beige and white,because I like natural interior design and colours.
Name 3 favorite hobbies: My family is my favorite hobby. Also, in my spare time, I enjoy good wine and squash. The most important person in your life is…? My wife and my daughter. What is your favorite car? Porsche. If you didn’t have your actual career/job, what would you like to do (as a career/job)? Business professor, because I would love to have the opportunity to share knowledge with people and be able to improve business practice in society. I strongly believe that good teaching can have a significant effect on people’s future careers, can help companies be more efficient, innovative and profitable. To train for this, I am a volunteer at Junior Achievement Romania, training teenagers in finance and banking. What do you like best about Romania? I like very much the Romanian people, for their kindness, generosity, warmness and also their great sense of humor. 13
NESPRESSO – INNOVATION AND REVOLUTION, WHAT ELSE ? T HE COFFEE CAPSULE MARKET COULD BE NAMED THE “ ENFANT TERRIBLE ” OF THE COFFEE INDUSTRY , IT HAS EXPERIENCED SPECTACULAR GROWTH OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS . I T IS A DYNAMIC , DIVERSE MARKET AND IN THIS MARKET N ESPRESSO , THE MAIN PLAYER , COMMUNICATES MANY THINGS : QUALITY , EXPERIENCE AND EASY USABILITY , APPEALING TO A CONSUMER WHO IS VERY CAREFUL ABOUT HIS OR HER CHOICES , IS INFORMED AND PASSIONATE . I T HAS BEEN AN EFFICIENT AND SUCCESSFUL STRATEGY . W ITH A CAREER SPANNING OVER 20 YEARS IN THE HOTEL INDUSTRY , S ONIA N ĂSTASE WAS RECRUITED BY N ESTLE AS COUNTRY MANAGER FOR THEIR N ESPRESSO DIVISION AT THE END OF 2014. OZB TALKED TO S ONIA N ĂSTASE ABOUT INNOVATION AND REVOLUTION , ABOUT HOW A SIMPLE HABIT CAN BE TRANSFORMED INTO A LUXURY MOMENT . 14
consider it a great privilege to have had the opportunity to join this exceptional brand Nespresso and the associated team from its beginnings in Romania. I think this is a huge opportunity for any business professional and particularly for me it’s a great way to grow both professionally and personally. I feel deeply connected with the company’s purpose and values and, just like a parent who knows their child inside out, each joy and challenge, I am the same with Nespresso taking great care to provide vision, passion and motivation. I am in love with my team, and our way together, from zero to infinity, means not only enjoying the successes, but also taking on the difficulties and solving any emerging challenges,” says Nastase. Since she took over Nespresso, the company has grown significantly in the local market. The debut was quickly followed by the opening of Nespresso Boutique in the autumn of the same year. The development included a point of sales in Bãneasa Shopping City last year and this October the company is also opening one in AFI Cotroceni Shopping Mall along with launching an e-commerce website and a mobile application. Nespresso products are but a click or even a touch away. Of course, the first thing we all associate with Nespresso are the smart, funny and classy commercials featuring George Clooney. Clooney, who reputedly drinks four cups of coffee a day, is the perfect personification of the understated elegance and authenticity that make Nespresso what it is today and he has become synonymous with the values that the brand stands for. The partnership with George Clooney is among the longest in the history of luxury brands, lasting more than 10 years. With every commercial campaign, the actor effortlessly espouses brand values and messages with his smooth charm and not a small hint of his trademark humour. Nespresso coffee, according to these much talked about campaigns, urges the central Clooney character to go the extra mile for it, even when this means enduring some considerable discomfort. Clooney has been the brand’s face since 2006, and, according to British media, he received about 34 million euro during the first six years of the
contract. Few of us are aware that Nespresso is actually a young and vibrant brand, that has gone through a spectacular evolution. During the ‘70s a Nestle Research & Development team started developing a project to redefine the art of making espresso, consequently founding Nespresso S.A in 1986 with only five employees. In 2000 there were 300 employees already and the first Nespresso Boutique was opened as a concept store on the Champs Elysees in Paris. Today there are more than 600 Nespresso Boutiques and more than 12,000 Nespresso employees in 63 countries around the world and the company continues to grow. The genuine enthusiasm with which consumers across the world meet the brand owes much to the brand’s relentless quest to produce the highest quality coffee using the most sustainable sourcing methods. The 21st century consumer is very demanding, and rightly so, expecting honest, purposeful brands with a consistent set of values that resonate with his or her own. Today, Nespresso enjoys revenues of 2.5 billion euro and it has 10 million Nespresso Club members. “The Nespresso proposal was as simple as it was revolutionary – to enable everyone to create the perfect cup of coffee just like a skilled barista. Coffee lovers worldwide embraced this new concept openly, with genuine and contagious enthusiasm, and they are now able to enjoy, with only one touch of a button, exceptional coffee at their home or in their offices. In a world where we all have to deliver immediate perfection, Nespresso coffee was the perfect solution,” explains Nastase. The revolution started in 1988, when the company was managed by 33-year-old Swiss businessman Jean-Paul Gaillard, a former top manager with Philip Morris. It was his idea to shift the orientation of their products away from offices and on to the final consumers. With a marketing budget of 1,6 million Swiss francs, the Nespresso brand began to position itself as the most sophisticated and refined coffee that could be made at home. To highlight the flavour and aroma of the coffee capsule, Gaillard named the line of capsules Grand Cru – a term more normally used for fine
French wines. In 1989, he founded the Nespresso Club which is open to each and every owner of a Nespresso coffee machine. The biggest problem was simply getting customers to try the products. Taking the helm in 1997, CEO Henk Kwakman made this his priority. First, he switched from print advertising to TV: when the elegance of the Nespresso machine was demonstrated rather than merely described, demand increased several times. Next, he expanded a pilot programme offering Nespresso to first-class airline passengers. By 2000, some 1,100 planes flown by 20 different airlines were using the machines, and 3.5 million travellers a year had the chance to sample the product. But sipping espresso prepared by an attendant was not the same as preparing a cup yourself at home. So Nespresso worked diligently with retailers to encourage in-store testing. Retailer surveys revealed that stores providing customer trials of the machines and tasting the coffee generated six times as many sales as those merely demonstrating the machines. Inspired by the high-end cosmetics manufacturers, Nespresso marketers approached department stores with a proposition: “Give us 20 square meters and we’ll create a Nespresso store-within-a-store, with our own host and hostess.” The famous Galeries Lafayette in Paris was the first department store to accept the offer; sales of Nespresso machines at the store rose from 50 per year to 700. Soon major retail chains all over Europe were asking for Nespresso shops. Nespresso is now Nestle’s fastest-growing brand, with annual growth of more than 30% per annum from 2005-2010. Nespresso outsells rival Lavazza in Italy, “the cradle of espresso,” and sells more servings of coffee every year than Starbucks. One can only be extremely proud to work in such a company and Nãstase certainly is. Nespresso is involved in every aspect of the coffee value chain from the coffee tree to the coffee cup. This allows the company to guarantee unsurpassed, sustainable quality coffee. Nespresso goes directly to the world’s top coffee-growing regions to buy the world’s finest coffee crops on the spot. They create long-term relationships with farmers so that they are able to select individual crops by quality and aroma profile and bring this home to coffee lovers around the world. About 70 percent of the world’s 4,500 Nespresso employees are in direct contact with customers and the Nespresso Club has grown organically into a global community of some of the most discerning coffee connoisseurs in the world, playing a significant part in evolving the global coffee culture.
To market and sell the product, Nespresso also went in uncharted directions. Previously food retail distribution was almost the only way to distribute products. Nespresso is based on an entirely new concept: the Internet Sales (Nespresso club), exclusive retail boutiques and flagship stores. This provides them with direct customer contact, direct service, an exclusive brand image and ultimately higher margins. “Continuous innovation and our passion for perfection have been key drivers in our quest to consistently deliver the highest quality coffee to consumers worldwide for enjoyment at home and away from home. For us, innovation takes many forms, innovation runs through every facet of our business. We already have 24 coffee assortments in our range, practically one for every hour of the day, each with its own character and we are constantly innovating our coffee range, with new Grand Cru coffee introductions and the launch of multiple Limited Edition coffees annually,” Sonia Nãstase. Nespresso machines are specifically developed to complement and enhance the aroma, crema and flavour of Nespresso Grand Cru coffee capsules. The innovations and cutting-edge designs have continually reinvented the coffee machine and, quite appropriately, all espresso machines have been recognized with successive design awards. Only this year the newly launched connected machines Expert and Expert & Milk have won “If Design Award 2017” and “Red Dot Design Award 2017” while Creatista, the best in class model for latte art lovers, won “Red Dot Design Award, Best of the Best”. “‘Innovation’ is one of the buzzwords you hear a lot in the business world lately. We are living in times where the rapid turnover of ideas and products in the marketplace has reached a stage where it is no longer enough to be best in class. Instead, the pursuit of excellence is the hallmark of a truly successful and world class company and hence all companies must undertake efforts to drive innovation and change within and without,” says Nãstase. Henry Ford’s statement rings as true with coffee as it did with cars: “if I had asked people what they wanted they would have said faster horses,” since we tend to think of an innovation as a new product. But you can innovate with a new process, method, business model, partnership, route to market or marketing method. Every aspect of business operations is a candidate for innovation. If you can discover the fundamental needs of your customers then you can leverage for innovation, you will drive growth and ultimately be successful. Also, Nãstase believes that what sets the innovators apart
from the dreamers is the willingness to execute and make something happen. Although ideas are an important part of the process, giving substance to those ideas is the really important part. Without the hard work and the documented decisions, ideas remain merely concepts. Nespresso is not only about selling state-of-the-art coffee machines and flavoured coffee capsules, but also about delivering great service. “We call it the trilogy,” says Nastase, who brought this trilogy to the local market. “Romanians simply love coffee and the consumers here understood immediately the advantages of a coffee capsule. The future looks very bright for us.” The company managed to impress the coffee lovers of Romania right from the start and now it’s time to move to the next level: restaurants are about to be charmed by the revolutionary Nespresso coffee capsules and also by the country-manager. “I’m the type of person for whom the voyage is more important than the destination. One of the things I like most about my job at Nespresso is that the company doesn’t question my personal values. I am defined by my love for aesthetics and refinement, but also for simplicity, and I believe Nespresso is exactly the same: simple, but at the same time sophisticated, elegant, but not in excess. Passion is a key-word for me, so it is very important that I have the appropriate environment in order to use my passion for creating an exceptional business. I would like people to remember me as a team player. I learnt a business can’t be sustained without some (or many) dedicated employees. I’m very proud of my team and I’m grateful everyday for having them by my side,” concludes Nãstase.
A COFFEE FOR EACH MOMENT OF THE DAY WE
BELIEVE THERE IS NOT ONLY ONE SUITABLE MOMENT DURING THE DAY WHEN YOU CAN HAVE A COFFEE . T HAT ’ S WHY WE ASKED N ESPRESSO ’ S SPECIALISTS WHAT CAN YOU DRINK AND WHEN . The first cup of coffee of the day is the most important for the majority of us. Probably it is because the morning is the moment of the day when we need the impulse of energy given by a delicious coffee. Of course, in the morning we wish for a big cup that doesn’t end, a cup that we can drink at least until we get to office. Nespresso recommends one of the 5 Lungo capsules. Why Lungo ? Because when talking about coffee, big means more caffeine. If you prefer an intense coffee for the morning and you have it usually with milk, you must try Envivo Lungo, that offers a rich strong flavoured taste given by an intense roasting of the beans, enhanced by notes of caramel and gingerbread. If we are not in a hurry and we have a relaxing week-end morning, for example, we can choose for a cappuccino with or after breakfast, because milk is a regular drink for breakfast. After lunch, we need an intense Espresso that can give us a boost for the rest of the day and help us with digestion after a generous lunch. For this time of the day, any capsule will offer us the energy we need and any selection we make is great. Many people like to enjoy a cup of coffee also after dinner. Depending on the dinner, Ristretto is the regular choice: a small cup of coffee, with a strong taste, again beneficial for digestion. For the ones who want to avoid the stress of this additional portion of caffeine, Nespresso recommends one of the four decaf capsules, suitable even for the very late hours.
Shajjad Rizvi with his daughter Yasmin
Making a difference
by Douglas Williams Shajjad Rizvi arrived in Romania in 1990, an idealistic Londoner hoping to help, 27 years later it can be safely assumed that he has accomplished that mission. With his wife Katie he established Little People which helps young Romanians suffering from cancer and to date this has involved thousands upon thousands of children, 4,000 last year alone. OZB spoke with Shajjad about Little People, about Romania and about his adopted home city of Cluj: How was Little People established and what sort of numbers of children have benefited from Little People? Little People started in a warzone, I was working in the former Yugoslavia during the early 90s on the humanitarian relief effort. One key element missing from the humanitarian relief was the need for children to have some form of normality; they had lost everything: homes, schools, communities, and in some
People set out to develop and implement the best possible patient care services and support mechanisms geared towards children, teenagers and young adults who were being treated for cancer. At the helm of Little People is my wife, Katie. She is the heart and soul of the organisation. Today Little People works daily in every treatment and intervention centre in Romania. In 2016 we worked with over 2000 kids, and we have won countless awards nationally and internationally for our cancer care services. We host two camps every year for the teenagers and young adults and every Christmas we celebrate â&#x20AC;&#x153;Another Year Cancer Freeâ&#x20AC;? with over 400 survivors. Who are the people involved in delivering your services and care? We employ specialists to work within each hospital section, but we also recruit volunteers to provide an extra layer of activities. We select and interview volunteers and provide skills training to enhance their abilities to work with children. Katie and her team oversee every element of operations. The level of professionalism is remarkable; Katie and the team run a very tight ship, with daily communications and reports to each team, 11 hospitals nationwide, plus the Republic of Moldova. Can you give us an example of a child who has benefited from your care ? What is his or her story?
Beyonce and Katie Rizvi
instances family. So our team put together a simple but very effective program that provided multiple layers of help, from entertaining performances, school programmes, counselling and delivery of humanitarian aid. Replicating this, when Little People started working in hospitals, the situation was pretty dire in Romania, very little was focused on patient care besides medical treatment. So Little
I met Emanuel 6 years ago while he was being treated in the Bucharest Oncology Institute. He was just 17 and was being treated for a cancer type more common to older male adults. He took part in the daily Little People programmes and joined the Temerarii club, a support group set up by Little People which focuses on teenagers and young adults with cancer. After his final round of treatment Emanuel signed up to be a volunteer at Little People. When he started university, he would spend three days a week volunteering in the hospital helping other young people undergoing treatment. He chose to study Phycology with the intention of helping people with cancer. Emanuel now works full time at Little People; he has gone from daily hospital work to becoming a youth advocate, preaching the Little People gospel on European
forums and is a key member of Youth Cancer Europe. We have numerous cancer survivors who have returned to the hospital ward either as volunteers or as staff to help patients. And we have many who study medicine.Years ago I did a meet and greet in Cluj with a famous international football player and a cancer survivor who acted as the footballer’s translator. The kids loved the football player, however the parents were so moved by the survivor all they wanted to do is talk to him, the impact a survivor has on current patients and their families is massive! Can you give us an example of one of your volunteers, what is their story? How does your volunteering programme work. How can people get involved? If people would like to volunteer they need to send an email to email@example.com. We currently have 120 volunteers actively engaged within our programmes. I have to be honest we do turn people away and even discourage people from volunteering for us. It is hard work, and is extremely demanding. Most people have a rather romantic idea about volunteering that I guess is great if you’re involved in projects that don’t involve people and illness. Working within our environment takes a special kind of person, they go through an interview process, a training process and a trial period and if they pass all three they are asked to commit to a set amount of time per week. How do you raise funds and how effective has this been in the past and what are your plans for the future? We created a few different channels to raise funds, we do events, pub-crawls, poker tournaments, pub quizzes, we have a charity shop and donation box network, and we go after funding from companies. We are one of the few NGOs that has a nationwide reach. Frankly I don’t know of another NGO who does more and is more effective within the child healthcare domain. The big money is still from corporate donations and that’s a tough one to access as it is still very much relationship based. I personally feel a lot of CEOs and CSR officers are misinformed on the social need or they want a quick fix solution and end up giving to the NGOs that have a fab PR front, but are ultimately less effective or shallow in their delivery. Little People doesn’t fall into the trap of lying about the need nor do we inflate our numbers or us images of sick kids to raise money. I once read the headline 5,000 children are diagnosed with cancer every year in Romania, I called the press outlet to ask who provided this statistic and they mentioned an
NGO. I called that NGO and asked why would they provide such a statistic, the NGO said the press outlet gave them the figure. The real figure is approx. 470 – 500 new diagnoses each year. A lack of ethics and standards exists in Romania and the very NGOs who are meant to help fix such issues can in fact end up doing more harm. How do you think the situation with NGOs has changed in Romania, how do you think the Romanian mind-set has changed in the time you have been here? When we first came to Romania, it was so hard to make Romanian friends, as they would all leave! Thankfully now many have focused on making it work in Romania. It’s quite exciting actually. Every year I follow the Civil society awards in Romania and you see the quality of projects and the dedication from locals who are doing everything to make communities better – it’s inspiring. In 2013 Little People won five of the top prizes. On a more personal level how would you say Cluj compares with Bucharest? Cluj is great, and has changed so much over the years. It’s a city driven by the tech boom, the pubs and clubs are full and the summer months are packed full of festivals and events. To be honest it’s hard to keep up with everything that is happening. In 2015 Cluj was the European Youth Capital and I really believe that had a huge impact on the City. The UNTOLD festival was born from the 2015 project and it generated a whole new buzz around the city. UNTOLD gave Cluj festival clout on a European level and the nice thing about it was the bunch of young people who put the festival together. What I like about Cluj is its belief in youth: you really have so many projects driven by young people and the stuff they come up with is amazing. A volunteer with Alex Ferguson, former Manchester United manager
The Con usion Tax
by Clare Nuttall
omania’s tax rates aren’t especially high by international standards; it’s the confusing, cumbersome and frequently changing tax regime that troubles Romanians and foreign investors alike. In the last month, this situation took an abrupt turn for the worse when new Prime Minister Mihai Tudose’s announcement of dramatic changes to the tax system was followed by u-turns and internal squabbling within the government, leaving everyone in the dark over how much tax they will be paying in future. Tudose outlined the plans on June 29 when he presented his new ruling programme to the parliament shortly before being endorsed as Romania’s new prime minister. The changes were unexpected to say the least, since most observers had been expecting continuity rather than change from the new government. One of the reasons why the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) turned on Tudose's predecessor Sorin Grindeanu was that he had failed to carry out the promises made by the party before the December 2016 general election quickly enough. Tudose like Grindeanu - is seen as a proxy for the PSD’s leader Liviu Dragnea, who is barred from taking up the prime minister position himself but is very much the power behind the throne. As a result, no major changes were expected from the new prime minister. Instead, he shocked investors with a raft of drastic changes, in particular the replacement of the existing 16% profit tax with a turnover tax, a shifting of the burden of paying social security contributions to employees, and a “solidarity tax” for high earners. All this was a dramatic departure from the PSD’s pre-election manifesto. The American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) in Romania claimed on June 30 that the changes would “generate turmoil in business climate and severely affect the stability and confidence in the Romanian economy”. It also slammed the lack of consultations on any of the planned measures. Meanwhile, the Romanian-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AHK Romania) forecast the measures would make Romania a less attractive location for investors, most likely
leading to job losses in the medium term. Further adding to the confusion, once the reaction from the investors Bucharest wants to attract became apparent, officials started to backtrack, and there were rumours of divisions already emerging between Tudose and Dragnea. This negative reaction came despite the fact that the overall thrust of the new tax plans address one of the issues frequently raised by local economists and external observers like the International Monetary Fund, namely Romania’s growing budget deficit. The new package appears to be a departure from the earlier expansionary fiscal policy to a slightly tighter one - though probably not tight enough to avoid sending the deficit above the 3% threshold that will push Romania’s into the European Commission’s excessive deficit procedures. This does, however, depend on which measures are actually carried out. Currently the indications are that the turnover tax and a planned hike in the minimum wage will be scrapped, though it’s still an open question which other changes the government will forge ahead with and which will be quietly dropped. But there’s one tax being levied on everyone from employees waiting to find out if their employers will raise wages to cover social security contributions, to the multinationals wondering whether to locate their next factory in Romania or a competing country. This is the “confusion tax”, which is paid not in money but in the stress and inconvenience of not being able to make informed decisions based on future financial position.
Clare Nuttall is a Bucharest-based journalist specialising in Eastern Europe. Currently news editor at bne IntelliNews, she has been with the magazine since 2008, initially in Kazakhstan and more recently in Romania. Clare has also written for the Financial Times and the Economist Intelligence Unit.
STYLISH SURVIVAL EXPERT Walter Friedl is many things to many people but perhaps chief among them all currently is co-owner of one of Romania’s finest vineyards, Lacerta. The Austrian’s relationship with Romania goes back to pre-revolution times and recently he published his second book based upon his understanding of this country and it’s colourful phraseology - “How to Survive Romania Part 2”. Here he shares some insights. 1. Can you tell us about when you first set foot in Romania, why were you here and what did you think? I came in June 1989 the first time for a period of 3 years to Romania – “Absurdistan” – was how we called it at that time. The country’s leader was a man who believed he was “the titans under the titans”, “the sweet kiss of the soil of his homeland” and the “first thinker of the planet”. I came to Bucharest directly from wonderful Colombia, a paradise compared to what I saw here. I had been sent by the Austrian government as Commercial Attache. 2. What were your perceptions of Romania before you got here, what was it that shaped these perceptions and how do you view those perceptions you had now? The first 6 months from July till December 1989 was a nightmare. I saw a country which was completely KOed. Like George Foreman after the fight in Kinshasa against Muhammad Ali. Thank God the Romanian people stood up against this system and started a revolution in December 1989. What came afterwards was unique. To the surprise of the whole world including me of course – today Romania has become a very attractive and prosperous country. The rate of development, especially after 2002, surprised everybody.
La Pashtele cailor
3. What's keeping you busy now? The grape harvest and thousands of visitors at our winery in Dealu Mare… a wonderful time! 4. What do you see as Romania's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats? Romania is a very rich country in many aspects. The location is both politically and economically very important for the orient and for the occident. The Romanians are very motivated, talented and eager to improve their lives. The infrastructure in Romania is still partly like in the Third World including sewage systems, hospitals, public transport etc… it will take decades to bring this up to EU standards. The biggest threat to Romania’s future is the lack of people who are willing and able to contribute to the GDP and the still continuing “brain drain”. 5. What was it about the wine business that attracted you? The market. It is very rewarding to produce products for wine-lovers. 6. Describe the work involved in ensuring the continued excellence of Lacerta wines. We study very carefully, we work very hard, we listen to what our clients want and tell us, we try to fulfill the wishes of our clients as much as we can. 7. How did your books come about? Tell us about putting them together. Thomas W. Lizard wrote down what many expats and visitors should know in Romania. He tried to describe this as briefly and with as much humour as possible. Oana Gheorghiu is a genius. Her illustrations actually don’t even need explanations. 8. What is your favourite/most valuable piece of advice you can offer on “surviving” Romania? Stay cool. In Romania there is always a solution for everything.
Cai verzi pe pereti
Events that shall happen "at horses Easter" (when horses celebrate Easter) will happen in a very distant point in time or more likely never. It has the same meaning as the English expression "when pigs fly". If someone mentions this to you don't get any high hopes of ever taking part in that event.
God only knows why horses are so often infiltrated in metaphores in Romania..... "To dream of green horses" means to dream of something that will never happen.....why they are green and appearing on walls is also an age long mystery.
Intre doua nu te ploua, dar nici bine nu iti este To clarify: in the dating world, juggling girlfiends may keep you from being lonely-out of the rain-yet if they find out about each other you are in serious trouble. Works in business life too.
"How to Survive Romania Part 2" is available at Cãrturesti Book Stores, Press One @ Henry Coandã Airport, BlueAir flights, at Lacerta Winery in Fintesti, Buzãu, at Diverta Bookstores and online at http://www.howtosurviveromania.ro 21
Eat your heart out Peter Stanley: In 1987, in Papua New Guinea, my middle school photography class shot with film and we produced black and white pictures in the darkroom. The internet didn’t exist and neither did cell phones. With 24 frames per roll of film, a lot of thought went into each image and it forced us to take our time. Unfortunately, learning this way was usually a painful experience as we developed the film with great ambition only to find fatal flaws of over-exposure, missed timing, and blurred subjects. However, when it did work, it was addictive. These moments were everywhere and we just needed to know where to look. As the late Dorothea Lange put it: “A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.” Using film seems like a lifetime away yet it’s remarkable to think that the first iPhone only came out 10 years ago. While the advent of digital has completely changed the business of photography, the elements of photography have pretty much stayed the same. It’s all about composition, light, and subject. If you get those three right, you are likely to have an image that hooks people. As my freelance work expanded, I decided to go back to school to pursue an MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography. As a science teacher for 15 years, I wasn’t looking for a career shift but rather I was looking to challenge myself by entering the arena of those that I’d studied and respected most within this field. As my final MA project approached, I experimented with ways to weave my background in teaching with my lifelong passion for photography. As one mentor said: “Focus on your strengths and what makes you unique.” So rather than produce a documentary piece for the final exhibition, I decided to write a book titled: Speaking with Photographs: How to Engage and Inspire an Audience with your Photographic Voice . In the meantime, we had a child, we moved to Bucharest from Tanzania, and I started a new job. What a year! In November 2016, the book was published and I was excited to learn that the book has been sold in countries around the world and many photo educators have even adapted it as a part of their teaching curriculum. The book uses a range of activities that beginners and advanced photographers can enjoy with any camera. It starts with a set of composition lessons. If we know the basics of composition, we can lead people through our images. Holding the eye means time and time is needed for a story to develop. The next section gives step by step activities on how to find engaging subjects. Jim Richardson does well with his summary: “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.” The final section of the book shares ideas for making photo essays that will engage and inspire an audience. My next goal is to use my camera to support organizations working in wildlife, environment and/or cultural conservation. Visual stories can change the way people think and I would be honoured to support these kinds of efforts.
For more information on Peter, his book, his photography etc visit http://www.photopoa.com/
GLOBAL BUSINESS NETWORKING EVENT This month the British-Romanian Chamber of Commerce will host the second edition of the Back2Business Event. Reuniting some of the most important Chambers of Commerce in Romania, national and international companies and representative figures from industry. The event will take place on the 9th of November at the Crowne Plaza, Bucharest. This event provides a unique platform for the business community to engage in meaningful and productive dialogue, exploring potential business opportunities, including both inward and outward investment in Romania. This annual event is expected to draw upon nearly 17 Bilateral Chambers of Commerce for an evening of business mingling.
“We are delighted to announce that the second edition of the Back2Business Event will take place this year on the 9th of November. With impressive results, the event held last year brought together nearly 500 European business professionals, creating the largest networking opportunity in Romania to date. This was achieved by hosting an international business audience represented by nearly every international Chamber of Commerce and / or Embassies situated within Romania. We are looking forward for this year’s edition and hope to reach even higher results in terms of attendance and success,” said Charlie Crocker, CEO of the BRCC. The participation on this event is free of charge, based on a first come, first served basis. See http://brcconline.eu/ for more information.
SUPPORTING WOMEN AND CHILDREN EXPERIENCING DOMESTIC ABUSE AND FAMILY HOMELESSNESS.
Preserving Precious Pasts Building Hopeful Futures by Cristian Radu Transylvania is by far the most famous tourist destination in Romania. This area has such a reputation that people sometimes think of it as being an independent, mysterious land, and for good reason. Transylvania is a cosmopolitan region that combines the Byzantine and Latin cultures and this is partly why things are so special in this fascinating region. Following Lonely Planet’s nomination of Transylvania as “Most Attractive 10 places to Visit in 2016”, it has become even more desirable as a holiday destination. The region now features on short lists the world over. There are a many factors that make Transylvania so beguiling, but perhaps the most obvious is its unique cultural heritage. The South-East part holds something not found anywhere else in Europe: here lie the many Saxon villages with their bold, well preserved fortified churches. They continue to dominate the surroundings and once supported thriving local communities. Once you’ve travelled up to Transylvania, there are many places worth visiting, but Mãlâncrav is among the best for spending the night or preferably many nights. It is a good place to establish a base from which to explore the area by foot. Upon arriving there is the impression of having entered another world. Mãlâncrav (Malmkrog is the German name for it and Almakerék is the Hungarian one), dates back to 1305 and it’s a village with "solid houses, which gives you the sensation of comfortable prosperity", as the British writer Charles Boner described it in his work “Transylvania; its products and its people” (1865). The Mihai Eminescu Trust (MET) has 15 years of experience in restoring Saxon villages and it continues to offer constant support to local communities. The trust has implemented a variety of projects in this part of Romania. Together with the villagers, MET has renovated traditional buildings and has relentlessly promoted local crafts and traditions. The Apafi Manor is a good example of MET’s work, it has been renovated with a lot of care. Spending the night under this roof one would be forgiven for feeling a little strange since you’d be beneath the same roof that the rulers of this area once slept many centuries ago. Behind the manor, up the hill, is the famous apple orchard brought back to life recently; the
noble fruits collected here result in the juice produced by the factory built in 2014. Because apples here are one of the highlights, visitors must try the local, natural juice which is famous throughout the country, but they must also try the Saxon apple soup, which is a delicacy proudly prepared by the local ladies following ancient, inherited recipes. The rolling hills around the village make for super, long walks perfect for spending quiet, quality time amidst glorious nature. MET has also implemented a project here that focuses on sustainable development. Visitors benefit as their stay is well organized with a list of tempting to-do options. In M찾l창ncrav you can check out important historical buildings like the Fortified Evangelical Church from the 14th century, decorated with unique paintings, the Orthodox Church build in the late 1600's from bricks and stones, and the Roman Catholic Church erected in 1865. These churches are testimony to the religious tolerance and the cultural mix that is a landmark of Transylvania. After a stroll around the village, passing by the impressive walls of all these old churches and Saxon architecture, the visitors can spend the night at one of the fine guest houses in M찾l창ncrav. Reservations can be made here, at www.experiencetransylvania.ro. In getting to know the place, visitors will encounter the many local traditions. They will learn the meaning of the symbols manually embroidered on different traditional textiles and will be able to see how tiles and bricks are made. They will be able to watch how wood is crafted by gifted people and will take part in the process of preparing and then baking local, tasty bread in a traditional oven; they will of course also get to try some of the bread. They will be invited to try local home-made sweets and, if interested, will be able to identify which wild plants that grow around the village can cure which diseases. Visitors will be able to grasp the traditional spirit of this culture when meeting with locals. MET has worked hard with the people and the fabric of Malancrav to create a very special place that offers a unique experience for visitors. For more information about Mihai Eminescu Trust visit http://www.mihaieminescutrust.org/home
For the last 15 years the Mihai Eminescu Trust has been buying a few old houses which were on the verge of collapse and in danger of being lost. At the moment the MET has 15 houses in 6 villages and the Apafi Manor in Malancrav. The houses have been restored with local craftsmen, using traditional materials and techniques. The guesthouses are managed as a separate business, called Experience Transylvania, and it follows a social economy model. Our cultural tourism activities are part of the Whole Village Project, an integrated concept of sustainable development for rural communities in Transylvania, centred on the va-lue of the local cultural and natural heritage. (http://www.mihaieminescutrust.ro/en/whole-village-project/) In short, here is how the Whole Village Project works: Most important, MET works closely with the local community. They start by identifying the local heritage then they train locals in traditional restoration techniques and crafts and support them in opening small businesses. MET works with the trained locals for the restoration of heritage buildings and promotes the local craftsmen. MET promotes the villages as cultural tourism destinations and opens traditional guesthouses to serve as an example for MET principles in tourism and to be proof that anyone can make a good living by preserving the houses in their original state. Moreover, all MET guesthouses are managed by local families, also trained to be guesthouse managers, and all revenues return to the village. MET doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t employ people, all collaborators have their own small companies. This way they share the responsibi-lity for the work and they regard the houses as their own business and are therefore more motivated to improve their services and consequently increase their revenues. In order to better promote all villages and for a better management of the guesthouses, four years ago MET decided to create an online booking website. Guesthouses can now be found and booked on: www.experiencetransylvania.ro . This website also promotes other guesthouses that follow the MET principles of heritage conservation for free.
Passions And Pet Peeves
by Arabella McIntyre-Brown “Do you like it here?” This is usually the first question I get asked by Romanians I meet for the first time. Or maybe the third, after “Are you married?” and “Do you have children?” British, French, Americans would never ask such a question of foreigners in their countries – they would assume the answer ‘yes’. But Romanians are not so confident. To me, it always seem a daft question, since I bought a house and moved here in 2010 without a shotgun to my head. But to many Romanians, it still seems bizarre that a British woman would want to live in Romania of her own free will. I love it here. I live in one of the country’s most beautiful villages, a thousand metres up in the mountains, forty-five minutes from Brasov and with a reasonable internet signal. I’m incredibly lucky, with a book full of things I love about this place. There are things about Romania that drive me nuts, of course. Some pettyfogging, some critically important. My pet peeve is the unwritten law that steps have to be of unequal height. The risers of the steps outside Profi in my local town, for instance, vary between 10cm and 20cm, and I have to concentrate to avoid an undignified lurch up or a bone-crunching fall down them. When I asked other expats to tell me what they most love and hate about life in Romania, the subject of unequal steps didn’t arise. So that’s just me, then. Danielle Maillefer, a Swiss writer who has been a part-time resident in Bucharest for many years, has written a book about her friendship with the Romanian royal family over several decades; she knows something about courtesy. “I am always very impressed by a country that says ‘Sarut mana’. Such elegance in their relations with others,” she says. “But then in the city, the drivers use their horns and are so rude. Can these be the same people?” The paradox of inbuilt courtesy and urban rudeness is often mentioned. In the countryside – at least in my village – the men
not only greet me with a ‘Sarut mana’, but they then follow up with an actual kiss of my hand. In the UK this would be a corny affectation at best, creepy at worst. But here in the Carpathians, the courtesy of my neighbours is unaffected and impossibly charming. Carpathian winters are another challenge for soft expats not used to the mercury dropping down to -25C or below. But the difference between, say, British weather and Romanian is not as big a leap as it is for a Caribbean-bred expat. Mode Peralta is a medical doctor and works in Brasov at a clinic researching into nutrition. She’s been here for four years, having met her Romanian husband while they were both living in New York. Mode is from the Dominican Republic, which shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with Haiti. “It’s impossible to compare life there with life here. They are two different worlds, and I love them both. Everything is different: people, food, weather – everything. Winter… yes, I find that very difficult; in fact all year round it’s cold for me! But humans adapt, and I find ways to cope. “I’m happy, because my husband loves me and respects me, and I like the people here in Brasov. People are curious, they like to help, and are generally very nice – even though they don’t understand about being punctual for appointments!” Mode mentions the apparent rudeness, too. “People don’t let you off buses and train, they never hold a door open for you, or say good morning in the elevator. But this is a cultural difference, nothing personal.” She loves the landscapes around Brasov. “Romania has many beautiful places – but why do people leave rubbish everywhere? It’s such a shame to see so much trash spoiling beautiful landscapes – bottles of beer and soda, plastic bags, and so on.” Sarah Grant, who is English but has lived in France and Romania for more than twenty years, is charmed and infuriated by turns;
but even the infuriations charm her. “There is Like Sarah, Shajjad Rizvi is passionatesuch a mountain of things that I love about ly in love with Romania. Born and bred in this place I can’t choose one. I love the London, he has family there, but his own people – even the dreadful ones. I love family is in Transylvania – his kids were making eye-contact on the tram: after a born here. Shajjad came to Romania in April five-second glare, I get a smile back,” she 1990 and 27 years later is deeply rooted in says. “I love walking through the city at two Cluj. “What do I love about the country? The in the morning, when I can’t sleep. I feel people. From Moldova to Constanta, the absolutely safe, and the city is entirely mine. people. Romanians are very open and friendly, “I love the blossom in spring, magnolias open to ideas and to discussion, easy to talk showing off. The smell of lime trees after to, good at conversation.” rain I’ve never known anywhere else; it’s He laughs as he admits to loving traditional enormously emotional and when I’m not in Romanian food. “I’m a fat man. Cheese, Bucharest I miss that more than anything else.” wine, slanina…” Coming from a Muslim She is driven to distraction by culture, he knows his mother would be drivers’ parking habits. Cars slewed across horrified at her son’s craving for smoked pork pavements and roads at careless angles fat, but he’s unrepentant. “And soup! This is a and to hell with anyone else. “There is zero nation of soup makers. I love a good ciorba.” civic awareness,’ she says, snarling. The In 1996 Shajjad and his wife Katie founded parking thing is a perfect analogy for the way the charity Little People, based in Cluj. “We people think in this city. Not those born here – provide soft care for kids who stay in hosthey care. But most pital long term, people have no usually with cancer. respect and couldn’t From renovating care less. playrooms to psy“I love the crumbling chosocial support, facades of beautiful Little People works buildings, but hate to give the kids as the corruption and good a quality of lack of respect life as possible.” that lets them rot.” Social care is an Sarah’s on a issue here he roll. She ticks off says; funding is a writers, artists, muconstant struggle, sicians she loves. of course, and it’s “Most Romanians often about politics don’t know what as much as medithey’ve got, and it’s cine. But, he stresssad that foreigners es, “Romanians have generous hearts,and have to show them once they are contheir own treavinced, they give.” sures. It’s not just One emotion that communism that expats share with has given the counRomanians is try such low selfdespair over the esteem; it goes current State of back to Ottoman Chaos, aka governtimes. Five hunShajjad Rizvi, wife Katie and ment. So close are dred years of subdaughter Yasmin the opinions that the jugation has caused single word ‘politics’ needs no elaboration. There this awful blindness to anything are some hollow laughs at the farcical goings-on other than what affects them personally.” that would be highly entertaining if the conseShe switches back to her mountain of quences weren’t so dire; if the expat comes blessings. “I love the little museums everyfrom Britain or America, there is the double where, the memorial houses; gems. Each one irony of home-grown political farce, too, so an oasis, tiny havens where you just walk in Romanians shouldn’t feel alone in having and sit for a while. Magnificent Radu Voda politicians from Absurdistan. monastery, and little Bucur church, run by nuns, marking the place where the city was founded. Mary Estes only arrived in Romania at “This is a city of miracles if you have an eye, the start of June, so she’s new to everytime and energy,” she says, full of emotion for thing and still absorbing first impressions. her chosen home.
Growing up in a small town in Florida, she found attitude of ‘civil’ servants. If there is a training Bucharest something of a culture shock, but school for public officials, the first and most not as you might expect. “On the metro, on the important skill to be acquired is “Jobsworthistreet, people look unfriendly,’ she says. ‘But ness” with a side helping of truculence. if I ask for directions they’re always kind. The other day on my way to work I stopped abruptly to take a Cuthbert, an expat who photo, and a guy in his 20s said – in wanted to notify the local English – ‘Do you need help?’ I authority of his change of loved that.” address like the good She showed me a photo of citizen he is, tells a tragic tale of a mulberry tree. “I saw two uncivil non-service that will send men pulling down a branch of a shiver of recognition down the this tree and picking berries, spines of many other migrants. which they offered to a woman Here’s just a small extract from walking past. Such kindness in the saga. the middle of the city.” “I went armed with all Even people begging in the documents listed online. The street were on a different guy behind Guichet 3 told level, she said. “So many people me I needed something addiasking for money in tional. Could he write it down? He Romanian, and then in English. One handed over a printed text with the Mary Estes middle-aged guy was sucking a requirement encircled. Text was lollipop and asked me for one gobbledygook: two lines of words leu. ‘Sorry,’ I said as I had no cash with me. with no spaces. Or the longest word in the ‘Okay. Where are you from?’ he asked, and Romanian language. A lovely lady in our accounts we started a quiet conversation. department at work took one look and said that “If you refuse a request for money in New this didn’t apply; in fact it didn’t exist.” York City they would not be pleased with a Cuthbert gathered more papers and went back. refusal and would get angry. Here people are not “I have originals, copies, dispensation from aggressive. They ask, but accept a No. I feel the Pope, and a tuft of fur from the Queen's safe in this city.” favourite corgi. ‘Where's the xxx?’ asks the Mary shares Sarah Grant’s disdain for woman behind the counter, demanding a drivers in Bucharest: ‘They have no patience. document no one had mentioned before. "The Constant honking and lack of any interest in xxxx?!" I ask in disbelief. ‘You are missing a what pedestrians might be doing. And I have DhcjvkvjfhsTgcjvkhohig. Come back with it in a keen sense of smell, so the petrol and the morning,’ says the official.” diesel fumes are pretty noxious.” Cuthbert went back with the DhcjvkvjfhsSo what brought her to Romania? ‘I was Tgcjvkhohig. “The new face behind the guichet newly divorced, between jobs, 44, no kids. looked through the pile of papers and said I’m very close to my family but I felt that everything was in order. ‘Grozav!’ says my life was small. I wanted adventures.’ me, and I ask when I can pick up the new But Romania? Was a 5,000 mile journey permit. ‘Oh,’ says woman. ‘You can’t leave the necessary? “My sister had been working in dosar today. This guichet is closed.’ I feel my Romania for two years, and while visiting her brain boiling. ‘How come, when you’re in it and last Christmas, I met a British expat here. I you have my file?’ She handed it back through made the decision to move pretty quickly.” the window. ‘Come back in the morning.’” And has Romania lived up to expectations? “I None of us has escaped this game. But it’s didn’t know what to expect. Americans aren’t a universal thing. Migrant or Romanian, it’s educated about other countries, so Romania inevitable. was a blank slate. The move was more of an This is a civil service problem. The private emotional challenge but I’ve been continually sector is very different. My favourite shop, surprised. Every time I turn a corner I’ll find where I’ve spent a fortune over the years, is something amazing.” German-owned DIY store Hornbach. Staff are Mary is lucky, as her new partner is delightful, eager to help. ‘Vorbiti engleza?’ I ask something of an expert at Romanian when my Romanian deserts me in my search bureaucracy. For most of us, the for tile grouting or plasterboard fittings. The loathing of anything to do with the public orange-clad employee often switches to sector is a common factor, and it never gets any English, but if not, they’ll rush off to find a easier however long you live here. Not just colleague who can. A request for blood, fish & bone the sheer amount of paperwork demanded fertiliser resulted in a huddle of orange as by the least regulation, even those carrying a they conferred before offering alternatives. pointless tax of two or three lei, but the Romanians love to help, so the uncivil non-
service is a matter of culture and long training rather than personality. Nonetheless, it’s mind-numbingly infuriating.
was blocked by the city mayor. It’s mostly because the country isn’t used to diversity; they haven’t met difference, so they feel threatened by what they don’t yet know. It will change, in time.”
“Come back tomorrow.” This chorus is echoed by Karam Alsati, a Syrian student studying English at Romanians who Transilvania Univerhear criticism about sity in Brasov. “They their country from don’t care. Even foreigners can take the person at the offence and tell the international office critics to shove off at the police station back home if they will only speak Rodon’t like it here. manian. International But they miss the office… it’s crazy,” he point. We love it here says. despite the naff bits. Karam has EU Sometimes even refugee status and because of the is treated legally as naff bits. No couna Romanian citizen. try gets 100% on Being a migrant in its feedback form, Brasov has a great not even Bhutan or advantage, he says. Iceland, held up Karam Alsati The city’s Migrant to the world as Centre is run by Astrid Hamberger. “She’s shining examples of nationhood. Like a beautia really lovely person,” he says. “She really fully eccentric aunt, we love this country for all its knows her job, knows the law, and knows facets and enjoy reminding its native citizens everyone here. I can text her with any problem how glorious it still is, and how much potential and she’ll solve it.” it has. We feel the romance and see not just Karam has been in Romania for almost three years; the grubby top layer, but the natural lustre of his mother and sister are in the Netherlands, his the pearl. father and grandmother are still in Syria. The thing he loves most about Romania is the peace of life here. “It’s so peaceful. No fighting in the streets, no worries about being out at night,” he says with feeling. “And there’s no racism. I’ve never been treated as a foreigner. And I’m Muslim, but they accept me as just one of them.” Manele music, he says, is worse than awful, especially in the student dorms; food is a minor challenge, being so porky. But the thing that really bugs him is how much Romanians moan about Romania. “They complain that they don’t have enough money. That’s not enough reason to hate your country. It’s a really lovely country, and it’s cheap to live here; education is really cheap.” Karam got a grant of €120 a month for his first year and his mother sends him some money, too. “This isn’t London or Reykjavik; €200 a month is okay.” Shajjad Rizvi’s experience doesn’t match Karam’s, in one instance. “I grew up in London where diversity is the norm. Not here. I’m brown, and some people don’t know how to treat me. There is a streak of racism in Romania, for gypsies, for colour, for Hunga-rians. And a level of homophobia. The Gay Pride march in Cluj last month
Arabella is a writer who moved to Mãgura, a village 1,000 metres up in the Carpathians, seven years ago. She has published two books in Romania with a third out recently. arabellamcintyrebrown.com
Double Paean to Rural Romania Looking for a good read? We have good news. Romania-based British author Mike Ormsby has two new books of short stories. We’ve read some and approve big time. A paean to rural Romania, humorous affection dusts every finely-honed phrase in these wry, utterly-charming tales that reveal a Transylvania even more beguiling than we suspected. We caught up with The British Caragiale - as Romania’s literati dubbed Domnul Ormsby back in 2008 - for the backstory. OZB: HOW DID YOUR NEW BOOKS COME ABOUT, MIKE? I live in a mountain village in Transylvania, full of fascinating Romanian characters and stories. Almost ten years have passed since I wrote ‘Never Mind the Balkans, Here’s Romania’ and many readers have been asking about a follow-up. I moved here to write, in summer 2014, but didn't realise until 2016 that I’d come to write about our village. I have enough for two books. ‘Never Mind the Vampires, Here’s Romania’ sets the scene, but ‘Palincashire: Tales of Transylvania’ can be read without it. OZB: PALINCASHIRE? Italy has Tuscany, France the Loire, and Romania has Palincashire. It’s in Transylvania, south of fact and east of fiction. In Palincashire, all your guidebooks come true, and if you believe that you’ll believe anything. OZB: THESE NEW STORIES ARE FUNNY YET NOT, IN THE SAME STYLE AS YOUR 2008 COLLECTION ‘NEVER MIND THE BALKANS, HERE’S ROMANIA’. TO PLAY DEVIL’S ADVOCATE, IS THIS A CONSCIOUS EFFORT? Not at all. Any successful style is a spell whose first victim is the wizard. Clive James said that. I just do what I do and never know what I've got, until I get deep into my editing trance. To be honest, I found it hard, this time, to concentrate when writing the early drafts, because life in an alpine village can be a full-time job: fences blow down, you’re snowed in, with no water for a month, and that’s just during summer. Seriously, I was convinced
I was writing a turkey, or at best a fluffy sheep, but when my trusty team of advance readers sent me positive feedback, I was like, Oh, really? OZB: ARE YOUR CHARACTERS BASED ON REAL PEOPLE? Of course. I change names and so on to protect their privacy and my safety. In his editorial review, the inimitable Craig Turp says, ‘Not even Domnul Mike could make this stuff up.’ I found that hilarious. OZB: HOW DO YOU FIND YOUR STORIES? They find me. Our village is intriguing. My wife Angela and I get out and about, picking up litter with local kids; we teach them English, and ukulele. I ask a lot of questions, spend time with shepherds and the old folks. I’m not looking for stories but characters collide and events twist. Only connect, as Forster might say. OZB: IDEALLY, WHAT’S OUR TAKEAWAY FROM YOUR NEW STORIES? The intriguing, challenging complexity of life in this wondrous land, as experienced by outsiders in a mountain village. I just hope my readers will smile, laugh, and even weep, but also try to understand, as I do. OZB: WHAT’S THE WORST THING ABOUT BEING AN AUTHOR? When folks assume that something easy to read must have been easy to write. OZB: AND THE BEST THING? Hearing from kindred spirits. Finding out that young Romanian students are writing about your work, for their Masters theses! OZB: WHICH WRITERS DO YOU ENJOY? William Blacker and Nick Hunt, on Romania. Naomi Klein on global socio-economics. The first hundred pages of any Elmore Leonard. Blog-wise, The Dark Mountain Project. OZB: WHAT’S NEXT? I’m recording an album of songs I've written: jazz, country, bossanova, punk, all sorts. Tinem pumnii , as our hosts say. OZB: WHO’S IN YOUR EARBUDS? Alison Krauss, Thelonious Monk, Coltrane, Beethoven, James Bay, Bowie, early Dylan, mid-period Beatles. And some git who says, Battery low.
Red in Tooth and Claw Radu has a farmer's tan, a lazy smile, and forearms that could throw me over his fence. He stands in his courtyard, sharpening a knife with a six-inch blade. He thanks me for coming. I ask him how he feels about killing animals. He shrugs, glancing at mountains shrouded in grey mist. “Did my first pig when I was ten. Difficult, but not anymore. Come, you can help." He walks to a gloomy shed and murmurs to a beautiful brown calf inside it. He nudges the timid animal into the sunny yard, wrestles it to the ground, ties its hind legs and opens its neck with his blade. He stands back. Job done. The calf makes no sound. Blood flows and hooves kick. An inquisitive white cat prowls nearby. The calf stares at the cat with eyes that acquire a milky glaze as minutes pass. My neighbour’s expertise is impressive, if that’s the right word, but questions remain. “Radu, why didn’t you stun the calf?” “A stun gun is expensive, and anyway, how would you like a whack in the head with a hammer? Grab a leg.” We drag the dead calf across the grass, leaving a slimy, scarlet trail. Radu slings the rope around a crossbeam and we hoist the calf upside down. Using a Swiss Army penknife, he makes careful incisions in the carcass. Cut and tug. The hide gapes and drapes. The curious cat crouches below the carcass, lapping at dark blood; its white head is soon spattered with red, as if painted by Pollock. Vampire Puss. Radu hacks at the hide. “You like meat, Mike? Oh, sorry, vegetarian. Since when?” “1982.” “I wasn’t even born.” He stands back, breathing hard. “Need a rest. Want to try?” “OK.” “Don’t puncture the hide.” “What if I do?” “I’ll string you up by your ankles.” Radu gives me a gap-toothed smile, and his bloody penknife. The carcass sways gently on its rope, like a punch bag. The sight of the bloodied beast reminds me of that line by Tennyson: Nature, red in tooth and claw. Here goes. I cut and tug. The exposed flesh is grey and warm. I’m wondering what I'm doing here. Radu folds his arms and watches me, as if wondering the same. The answer is that we all need help sometimes, and today is my turn to help him, if that’s what I’m doing. Because I owe him a favour or three. His bubbly wife Raluca often brings us eggs and cheese. That's how it is up here. We’re friends, close to the land. Or trying to be, in my case. But why did Radu ask me to help slaughter his calf? Perhaps he’s testing me, with this rite de passage. I lean closer, working the blade left to right, across and down. Don’t puncture the hide. Hard to believe that this poor creature was alive and well, a short while ago. What a way to die. Then again, a flashing knife to the jugular vein is perhaps more humane and less stressful than a bumpy ride to some clanking abattoir reeking of stale blood. And Radu’s probably right about that hammer. Nu, mulţumesc. I do my best, but after ten minutes, I let Radu take over. He works quickly to remove the rest of the hide, then uses a bigger knife to butcher the carcass. His impromptu biology lesson is grimly illuminating. I learn the location of internal organs and how his wife will cook them. He shoves a forearm into the guts, extracts a translucent pouch, and cuts it open to reveal a chalky deposit. “We add this white stuff to our cheese.” It’s rennet, probably. It’s certainly time for me to leave this warm and musty barn, which smells sickly sweet. The dead calf’s head is in a bucket of crimson water and mine is in need of fresh air.
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' He lives in a mountain village in Transylvania with his wife, three dogs, five cats, and the occasional bear.
ANALYSING AN ARCHITECTURAL CONUNDRUM by Giles Eldridge
For me Bucharest’s identity is clearly expressed through the physical fabric of the city, its architecture. There are of course the well lauded, famous and infamous buildings; the area of Centrul Civic around Piaa Unirii and the Casa Poporului, the churches, the Atheneum, the bank of Romania, The CEC bank or the housing blocs of the second wave of communism etc. All of these are often referred to in guides to Bucharest, the same guides will talk about Centrul Vechi, The Old Town (c.1850’s) area too but in fact Bucharest is not really an old city at all, what we see is mostly 20th Cent with some late 19th Cent. There are several reasons for this. In 1847 a Great Fire destroyed around a third of the wooden constructed central area and of course the Communist demolitions cleared huge areas to make way for grandiose projects such as the afore mentioned Centrul Civic and unfinished schemes such as the Vãcãre ş ti Dam project, which is now a nature reserve. Not all damage has been manmade and any mention of buildings in the city cannot overlook the devastation done and indeed present threat of earthquakes to buildings and their inhabitants. Bucharest is probably the most earthquake damage prone capital in Europe, both in terms of construction alongside its geological and geographical prospect. During the boom of the wealthy interwar period much of the building was undertaken with German engineering methods, that is to say from a country that does not suffer from earthquakes. Nearly all of the pre 19th century buildings in Bucharest are churches many of which are reconstructions. Some 13 churches were literally moved on rails, with some verve and engineering panache, to accommodate the 1980’s designs for a new Bucharest. Of course many more places of worship were demolished and this indicates yet again the contradictions of those times; preservation in the presence of destruction. What I would like to posit here is a more positive view, to stress and underline the shear visual wealth and utter eclecticism of the housing stock in the city. It simply cannot be compared with anywhere else in Europe. Stand at the cross roads anywhere in the area between Pia ţ a Unirii and Pia ţ a Romanã and you can see a cacophony of architectural styles and references. In fact it may be impossible to give even a cursory overview of this situation without launching into an extended essay of several thousand words. By necessity therefore this is a simplified and compressed outline of some of the types of buildings you can find here. I hope to evoke a need for further enquiry by anyone who lives here and is intrigued by their surroundings. It’s true to say that at first sight Bucharest might seem like an architectural conundrum; this is not Paris with its singular ethos of urban design or London with its constant reinventions yet Bucharest’s unplanned diversity has its own energy and individuality that makes it hard to tire of. Each street is made of a thousand details, not here the monotonous Victorian terrace. With a bit of a way in you will find a rich visual landscape. As a point of departure and sticking to essentially domestic buildings I will say that Bucharest contains 3 main design references; French // Deco // Neo-Romanian.
ART DECO - MODERNIST I confess that this is the style that I select as my favourite, for a myriad of reasons, but it is, I think, the emblem of Bucharest’s urban design and therefore merits particular celebration. A 2016 article in the Guardian newspaper suggested that there are ‘many’ Art Deco buildings in Bucharest. ‘Many’? In terms of domestic buildings, that is to say buildings that people live in and use everyday, Bucharest must be a contender for the World capital of Art Deco dwellings. In Bucharest, Deco indicates the wealth experienced during this time from oil production, food exports and the engineering industries. There must be around 1000 of these elegant and often small buildings in Bucharest yet, to my knowledge, no official audit exists. There are particularly fine examples in Cotroceni and Doroban ţ i but actually any street in the central area contains several of these gems. The style of Art Deco could be seen as a way of summing up a wide range of early to mid 20th Century art and design influences such as cubism and constructivism whilst also including notions of travel and a new fascination with other cultures. The interwar period was, for an increasing number of the middle-class world-wide, a time of tourism and discovery. Two fundamental references that reflect this in Deco buildings are Egyptology and the features of the ocean liner. It was undertaken with a confident ease as opposed to the famous display of the style in Miami, which is to my mind garish and self-conscious.
The key design characteristics are porthole round windows, flag poles, curved balconies and elegant glazed stairwells where each pane of glass is like an individual abstract painting. The name of the architect can sometimes been seen inscribed on the building with an appropriate modernist font. Simple graphic motifs are repeated 3 times to reflect the Egyptian regard for the daily solar phases: sunrise/midday/sunset. I imagine that many of these buildings are lived in by people who simply like the architecture and enjoy the simple use of beautifully articulated materials. They may be unaware of the often famous architects who designed them, such as Jean Monda or Marcel Janco.
French Art Nouveau French architecture was built during a time when Bucharest was considered a ’little Paris’, a Belle Epoch time corresponding to the building spree of the Victorians and Edwardians in the UK. Some of it was produced by French architects whilst other examples display a pastiche by way of a sort of francophile homage.The Art Nouveau aspects are often seen in Bucharest in the form of details and decorations incorporated within other types of architecture, such that it is often the case that an essentially Art Deco building with its clean lines will be pleasingly interrupted by the floral and organic forms from a Nouveau influence. Think of the original Metro entrances in Paris and you have an idea of the organic forms employed.
Neo-Romanian This style can be considered the National style and appears in a matured form during the same time as Deco during the interwar period but started in the late 19th Cent. In some way these buildings could be seen as the most important since they can only be found here in Romania. It is a complex and multilayered architecture and one that often presents a challenging visual impact. It fuses many architectural references from countryside vernacular, Brancovan, Byzantine and Ottoman decoration and even sometimes with the addition of northern Italian Renaissance elements. These aspects are all held together by a central fortified structure based on a construction called a Cula , a physical response to attacks during the Ottoman-Habsburg wars. As with Deco buildings the number 3 is evident in various forms but in this context it refers to the Holy Trinity rather than the Sun. Depending on the particular distribution of these disparate elements the overal impression can sometimes seem a little heavy and austere but if one starts to compare differing examples it becomes possible to appreciate how distinctive these buildings are, like mini castles spread throughout Bucharest they really do represent some of the diverse history of the country. As indicated earlier this is a concise sketch and there are scores of other architectural stories and styles including merchant’s houses, inns, churches, public buildings and many perspectives that would be best understood by attending an architectural tour or by reading the Blog of Valentin Mandache who is, without a shadow of a doubt, The expert in this field. I cannot stress enough how much of an understanding you would get from one of his themed weekend walks through various parts of Bucharest as the architecture is put into historical context. For more info see www.casedeepoca.com With some insight into the architecture of Bucharest it is possible to literally see the city differently and gain a purchase on more of Romania’s history and culture.
PIPERA DINING by Douglas Williams Ok so you’ve rocked up in Bucharest, Romania, and your rather splendid new abode is in Pipera somewhere ever so slightly to the north or south of Strada Iancu Nicolae, nice area, super handy for the schools, very international. But you’re hungry and it’s midweek and you don’t fancy experiencing Bucharest’s notorious rush hour quite yet but you do fancy a restaurant meal and there’s got to be restaurants around, yes? Well yes, there are several in fact, and right here, right now we’ll take a quick peak at your options. So starting at the western end of Iancu Nicolae by the zoo roundabout are two very strong contenders. Green Garlic is old school Italian with reliably excellent pizzas and solid pastas and salads. It’s unpretentious and informal and the smoking ban introduced earlier this year has transformed the dining inside experience but that said, weather permitting, the terrace with balcony make for a very pleasant dining environ outside. Service doesn’t qualify as slick but it’s certainly functional. The bill is usually a pleasant surprise, good draft weis-beer. Kid friendly-ish. Across the way, and two death-defying zebra-crossings, is Studio 80, a quite different proposition but equally satisfying. As the name might suggest this is a modern place, elegant and slick and with just the merest whiff of pretence but pleasantly relaxed nonetheless. On a summer evening the sprawling outside area is rather lovely. Service is exceedingly attentive, professional and friendly. Those guys are good. There’s a forward to back and back to forward menu, European one way, Asian the other with a price differential – some dishes quite reasonable, others erring towards the eye-watering but the food is consistently excellent. The bill very much depends, good draft weis-beer and totally kid friendly, especially in summer when outside. A short walk, 10 minutes max, from both of these places, east along Drumul Potocavei is a place called Phill and particularly for those with kids in the 3-7 age range this could be the answer to your prayers. Downstairs is a supervised soft play area that little ones love, upstairs is a pretty classy restaurant with great food, super-slick service and they even have sultry, live jazz fairly regularly. The makings of pretty sophisticated date night without the need for a babysitter is at Phill! Futher east along Iancu Nicolae and part of Hotel Tecadra there’s a German bar/restaurant called Bierhous 67 with hearty, meaty food and lashings of good beer. This is another place completelytransformed by the smoking ban and it’s another place with a kiddy play area just through the hotel a bit from the restaurant area. If Starbucks is at the very front of the Strip Mall then our next recommendation is Atelier Gourmanderie which is right at the back. Modern, independent, European and these guys can really cook, the food is superb. And upstairs… yes, you’ve guessed it, there’s another play area, supervised. Bonito, next door to Starbucks, does super pizzas and it also has good Lebanese food – kebabs, salads, breads etc and when you visit be sure to grab a take-away menu because they have a very efficient delivery service. There’s a fourth in the Strip Mall, next door to Gourmanderie but as yet OZB hasn’t experienced this establishment.
Last but by no means least Casa Elfi, actually on Pipera just to the south of the Iancu Nicolae junction, is another traditional Italian restaurant with reliable stalwarts including pizza and lasagne and charming service and a meal there can conveniently combined with a Carrefour shop across the road though for heaven’s sake take care crossing the road. So there you go - an establishment for each day of the week and all within a five minute drive of Jolie Ville. Poftã bunã!
Be Proactive, not reactive by The Entrepreneur Network (collaboration of mind-sets) Many businesses ignore their weaknesses. To FAIL is part of an overall growing process. Don’t stop! Pick yourself up, regroup, discuss the pros and cons, take a decision and move forward. Be assured, it won’t be the last time! It is simply just a ‘first attempt in learning’. Having overcome the preliminary hurdles and teething problems, your business seems somewhat established but don’t make the next common mistake, waiting till the proverbial-hits-the-fan before actually addressing, what are really blazingly obvious problems on the horizon. If you think you are already an entrepreneur sizeup and be one! Though really to do this, you need to consider completely changing your mind-set, to start thinking proactively. It is simple! Solve the issue before the problem even arises. Put yourself in your supplier’s shoes; put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Work out what possible issues either of these business associates could have, with you or your team and the company. What happens if they don’t supply on time; what if your customers fail to pay on time; what if there is a complaint. Ask yourself, really, what could go wrong? Moreover, figure out what your company can do to correct or eliminate these problems. Now you are on the right path, working out what your customers want, putting them before your bank account! If you only react to problems, as they occur, your business will likely remain average. However to really excel, you need to get away from fighting fires. Planning is everything. Take two minutes in your day, clear your mind, relax, escape from the dayto-day monotony and make a plan; even if at the beginning this is only a plan for the rest of that day (it is better than nothing). Fail to plan you plan to fail. So, here are two thoughts: (A) Customer Loyalty and Retention Customers are the most important part of any business. Fail to engage or meet customers expectations and you’ve quite possibly lost their custom. This means any efforts you put in to attract them to your business in the first place has to be done all over again (and spend further marketing budget) just to find the next or new customers. Wouldn’t it be great if you could sell to a smalldefined niche of customers, who just simply kept coming back and back for more. Think about it, anyone new would then become a bonus. Hey presto, this is where you make profits and your business strides forward to further successes. It is a common mistake thinking that your business doesn’t need a loyalty program or that such a program is going to be the answer to all your needs but without a marketing budget it simply isn’t an option.
With a loyalty program comes a digital punch card, increased client retention, increased sales and increased brand awareness. This can boost foot traffic, reactivate lost customers and even offer push notifications. In 2017 to simply not know who your customers are, is not good enough. Think proactively engage with your customers, for loyalty and retention. Just be careful, they might actually recommend you! (B) Take care of your staff, their health and wellbeing In this world, we live, where technology connects us all to each other but not to ourselves; we rely on our mobile devices to keep track of our finances, our friendships, our customers, even our light and heat settings at home; but nothing really looks out for ourselves. Many wristband solutions exist with some continuously monitoring a multitude of vital statistics like taking blood pressure, performing ECG or an EKG; none that send notifications to your chosen health-care providers and guardians; some that send SOS alerts when you are in trouble. Other features, coming soon, include blood oxygen and blood glucose levels (non-intrusive, without having to draw blood). These wristbands are here to improve and maintain your quality of life and are well worth the investment. Other products include a chip, protecting you from the invisible killer, reducing the harmful effects of electrosmog. Everything with a power source or a battery is omitting electrosmog (mobile phones, televisions, computers, laptops, printers, wifi routers etc..). An example for better understanding: Think of standing outside and having a 1000 chunks of hail hit you. Now add this static and extreme low frequency magnetic field protection chip inline and it turns those chunks of ice into droplets of water. Still the same amount of water just a lot less damaging to your body. So would you rather get showered with ice chunks everyday or nice smooth droplets of water? Hail/Rain you’re getting hit either way. You’re still going to be exposed to the EMF just a lot less damaging to your body. Protect yourself before you wreck yourself! Be proactive; take care of your customers, look after your staff, their health and wellbeing. Moreover, retain loyal customers and loyal staff. Smiley Staff = Happy Customers = (more) Business! For more information on these solutions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Automotive Heaven by Fulvia Meirosu
A paradise for kids and adults, the Tiriac Collection is the only private car collection in Romania and one of the few in Europe open to the public. Reopened in 2015, the museum includes over 160 cars and motorcycles, all in perfect functioning condition and all belonging to Ion Tiriac. The collection is exhibited on a surface of 4,300 sqm, in a huge showroom just across from Henri Coanda International Airport. The oldest car in the museum is a Hurtu model Exceptionally rare, this particular example reportedly 1995 and it had been converted to be horse-drawn, replacement Benz engine dating from circa 1900 was in existence.
from 1899, the newest models recent. resided at a French chateau until around presumably following an engine failure. A installed in 2007. It is the oldest Hurtu still
1899 Hurtu 3 ½ Quadricycle The jewels of the collection are the Rolls-Royce models –Tiriac’s favourite marque. The Tiriac Collection is the only place in the world where you can see all six models of the Rolls-Royce Phantom series. The total number of cars in the collection is around 400 units, but only 165 are exhibited, due to a lack of space. All of the cars have been restored by the special team and this is a complex process that can take from two months to one year or more. Former tennis player and successful businessman, Tiriac loves cars and frequently goes to specialized auctions and classic car “beauty contests”. A Concours d’Elégance (the name means a ‘competition of elegance’, referring to the gathering of prestigious cars) dates back to 17th-century French aristocracy, who paraded horse-drawn carriages in the parks of Paris during summer weekends and holidays. Over time, carriages became horseless and the gatherings became a competition among car owners for who had the best looking car.
Rolls-Royce Phantom II & Messerschmitt If you are curious to see some of the oldest Ford, Mercedes and BMW models (from 1914, 1937 and 1928 respectively), this is the place where you have to come. You can also see a taxi from 1932, a popcorn wagon Cretors from 1926, American, of course - that cost 2,200 USD in those times - a firetruck (also American) and a Trabant signed by the famous tennis player Simona Halep, this is the place. Basically, all the fantastic cars that you have only seen in movies are in the Tiriac Collection: gangster movie cars, cars used by Kennedy family, cars used by US police and even the cars used in Fast & Furious, everything automotive is here. To be precise: not the actual cars, but identical models. Many items of the collection have had success in well known national and international classic car contests like the Concours d’Elégance, Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, Concorso d’Eleganza Alla Corte dei Medici or Concours d’Elegance Sinaia, where cars from the collection received awards earlier this year. For example, the Duesenberg J Berline Convertible from 1930, a unique model in the world, was the winner of first place at “Travel in style: Around the world in 40 years” at Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2017 edition in Italy, the car was the winner of first place in the category Antebelic cars at Concours d’Elegance Alla Corte dei Medici in Florence last year. The car was owned by American actor Tyrone Power, famous in the ’50s.
1930 Duesenberg Model J Torpedo Convertible
The Tiriac Collection is open for visits from Friday to Sunday, and a ticket costs 15 lei for adults and 7.5 lei for kids. For groups of kids and schools there is a special program, which includes a free bus and free tours, available during the week. The program started in 2015 and since then tens of thousands of kids have visited the collection.
M OV ING M ONEY
There’s an oft-touted urban myth that moving house is similarly stressful to getting divorced but this is usually understood to apply to moving house within ones own country. So how stressful then is moving house when that involves not only changing country but often also changing continent and moving many time zones away? Being part of the international community has many wonderful aspects but the moving is tough. The hard practical aspects of getting stuff from one place to the other are as nothing compared to the saying good byes but there’s one aspect that often receives a lot less attention than it should: shifting currency from one country to another and this is where moneycorp can help. There are significant percentage gains and losses to be made but, with a little planning, moneycorp can help ensure these are in your favour whether you are an individual moving a few hundred euros or a company transferring millions each month. moneycorp is a UK-based international payment and foreign exchange company, which turned over a whopping 24.6bn euro in 2016 involving seven million customers and 80 currencies. Specialising in just these two key areas and doing such a volume of business allows moneycorp to deal with the really big “Global banks” and this means the best rates that moneycorp can then pass on to its clients. Additionally, differing from most banks, there are no annoying fees and moneycorp operate a very lean, highly skilled, highly specialised outfit and these factors result in still greater gains for the client. So whether you are transferring euros to dollars to pay for your student son’s termly rent or you are transferring Ron to Rupiah to make payment for a shipment from India a call to moneycorp is well worthwhile.
COULD WE DO TO PROTECT OUR BUSINES S AGAINST EXCHANGE RATE VOLATILITIES ?
If you are maintaining trading relationships in foreign jurisdictions your foreign exchange (FX) exposures will require continual monitoring. A company like moneycorp is able to give you advice and access to economic data, calendars and exchange rate information. At moneycorp , we know how thousands of companies who don’t hedge or risk-manage their financial positions. This can have many resulting consequences ranging from the possibility of selling products at a loss, financial restatements, and profit warnings.
current (end June) USD/RON exchange rate of 4.0 means a RON outflow 1.0M RON. But if the exchange rate moves back to the value from the early part of 2017 your inventory cost in RON will increase by 95K, which could mean a hit of over 9% to your bottom line. To avoid this exchange rate risk, you could enter into a forward contract to buy $250K in 3 months at today's exchange rate.
Another example is that the Renminbi (Chinese Yuan) has declined 10% versus the US$ in recent months so we now encourage our importers trading with China to settle CNY mitigating this impact. This is a FX hedging, involving currency risk mitigating solution that works for forward contracts, is at the heart of FX most of those exporting countries that risk management strategies for many invoice their clients in US$. Our clients businesses. Currency forward con- also told us that some of their Chinese tracts "lock in" the exchange rate of suppliers gave them an important a future payment in a foreign currency. discount if they were paying in local currency. For example, suppose you are a However the devil is in the Romanian importer of IPhones from the USA and have just ordered next detail. That’s why we always propose quarter’s inventory. Payment of $250K a foreign exchange health-check on is due in 3 months, which at the the company. 48
OZB spoke with
JOHAN GABRIELS CEO
1. Please outline the core business of moneycorp, what if offers customers. International payments and foreign exchange transactions.
2. What are the origins of moneycorp and where do you operate now? UK financial institution started in 1979. Acquired by Bridgepoint during 2013, since then, rapid expansion internationally. Apart from Romania also present in Spain, Ireland, US. Acquisition early this year in the US and Brazil. Partnership with CNN (SUA), The Telegraph (UK)
3. What is the status of moneycorp here in Romania, how is it placed currently? What are the opportunities here, what are the difficulties? Branch of moneycorp UK. Positioning as a 'Fintech with a human touch'. Companies and private individuals are paying still too much for their international payments. We can drive a democratisation in the financial sector by increased competition. The difficulties are the reluctance to change, suspicions towards a new way of working and organising meetings with decision takers.
4. What is your background, where do you come from personally and professionally, how did you get involved with Moneycorp and what was the attraction? My background is FMCG. I worked for Mars and PepsiCo in Belgium, Netherlands, France and Russia. It was only after I moved to work in the US for Capital One that I started working in the financial industry. After Capital One I moved to MasterCard and RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland). After spending six years in Romania, first three years as CEO RBS Romania and later three years as CEO BCC that I became aware of the need and potential of a disrupter, a fin-tech company like moneycorp RO. Thus we convinced moneycorp to open a branch in RO employing some of the best people in the market.
5. How long have you been in Romania and what are your impressions of the country? Almost 8 years (since 09/2009). Never a dull moment, highs and lows every day (as long as number of highs are more frequent than the lows, you gonna love it). Great people!
6. How is your life outside of work, what do you enjoy doing here in Bucharest and Romania? I like meeting Romania.
and hanging out with people ... and visiting other cities and regions in
7. If you could offer a newly arrived person one piece of advice about living here in Romania what would that be? The country and its people are much better than the perception held abroad. Keep this to yourself otherwise too many might follow our example. See https://global.moneycorp.com/romania or call +40 316 305 111
”Shake-up Or Be Shaken“ by Dean Edgar, Britons in Romania your
or your organisation to update emergency plans, moreover replenish supplies.
It is quite likely in your lifetime, either locally or whilst travelling overseas, you will face some form of disaster. These can strike anytime and anywhere; whilst you are at home, at work, at school or even on vacation.
Don’t forget! You will need to give special attention to looking after the young, the elderly or anyone with hearing, visually or physically impaired. Then there are all your pets. Remember any medicine or special food requirements, like nut allergies or for diabetics.
There is no ‘right’ time to consider surroundings and become better prepared.
Just consider for a moment natural disasters: floods, tsunami, heavy snowfall, ice storms, avalanches, strong winds, storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, heat waves, droughts, earthquakes, landslides, sink holes, volcanoes, fires, wildfires. Before mentioning roaming wild animals or any type of man-made hazards. This article is not aiming to scare you into becoming a recluse, nor is it trying to suggest you have to rush out buying protective equipment to secure you and your family against the next zombie invasion or Halloween’s Trick or Treaters! Though with disasters around the globe on the increase, shouldn’t we all take a course in “awareness for responsible adults” (love thy neighbour and all that) plan, prepare and practice? It won’t hurt to make a plan.. but where to start, what to include? Get an understanding; it is all about managing risk, preparedness, recovery and response. Make a plan, be informed and build a survival kit. Personal and Family Awareness: identify the risks, create an emergency plan, establish a communications plan, build an emergency kit, learn how to use the content, prepare your family and home. Business Preparation: include software and data back-ups and things to make your workplace safer. Take care digitally; make a communications plan (write down any critical numbers, when your phone battery is depleted you’ll wish you had), take soft copies of all-important documents; it is no good having these in a safe under 20tons of rubble or gone up in smoke, put them in the cloud. Financially; have back-up solutions, cash when there is ATM outage or cards for overseas and ensure an additional plan during recovery. Consider advanced training in survival or first aid. Set-up drills, practice how to be safer during a disaster, encourage your community, your school,
For those glib young Romanians who too often tell me “it will never happen”, when referring to an earthquake on the scale of March 4th 1977.. I say “Shake-up or be Shaken”, get yourself the LASTQUAKE App by CSEM EMSC and see just how many there are around the globe each day. We owe it to the memories of all those who so tragically died, two years ago, in the Colectiv nightclub fire; to stand-up and take responsibility for ourselves, each and every time when visiting a venue, whether familiar or not, check the location of the exits and extinguishers; make sure these exits are not blocked or the hydrants not locked. Being prepared, being informed should become second nature and it is this peace of mind, which might one day become invaluable to you, your families, your friends, your colleagues and your neighbours, for more information see: shakeup.aspace.ro
S u s ta i n a b l e U t o p i a by Stephen McGrath On a hot spring day in Saschiz, a picturesque Transylvanian village in Mureş county, Scottish Jim Turnbull is gesticulating to a group of men precariously moving a large metal tank with a tractor. Turnbull is a self-starter, so rather than sit back and bemoan the contractor’s slipshod emptying of the waste that his food processing facility produces — Turnbull has invested heavily in his own waste treatment plant on site. “It should take around one to two years to pay for itself,” Turnbull muses, standing next to a large earthen pit where the tank will sit, adjacent to his factory, situated in the grounds of his renovated Saxon home. For more than three decades Turnbull worked as an international agribusiness consultant, and before that as a farmer in Zambia. However, a chance assignment in 2002 at the Black Sea port of Constanţa led him years later to set up a food production facility in this UNESCO World Heritage village in the heart of Transylvania. “People I was working with in Constanţa suggested I visit Transylvania because of the amazing wildflowers, they were putting together a conservation project there,” says Turnbull. “I commented that conservation is not going to impress local people unless there are some economic benefits for them.” Turnbull was indeed won over by Transylvania’s wild meadows and its flavoursome produce, particularly the “amazing taste of the tomatoes”. He began looking at various social enterprise developments that could turn a commercial profit and bring real value to a local community. “Back then there were very few tourists coming to Transylvania, but those who did come rarely stopped in the Saxon villages,” says Turnbull. “The very first tourists that we had were asking for gifts to take home, and there wasn’t anything other than a Dracula mug or tea towel — so we got involved making jams and bottling honey in nice jars with nice labels.”
It was the start of a concept that led to Turnbull's much larger project of making preserves and foodstuffs on a commercial scale - into what can now be viewed as a true success story. Since 2011, Turnbull’s turnover has grown more than tenfold. His array of Pivniţa Bunicii (Grandma’s Cellar) products — from jams, chutneys, honey and cordials — can now be found on the shelves of local supermarket chains such as Mega Image and Auchan, and various specialist food shops. However, a globally-minded Turnbull has also made waves trading his wares on the UK market. Last year he supplied six articulated lorries of elderflower syrup to the UK, and his locally-sourced acacia honey can be found on the high-end retail shelves of London’s Fortnum & Mason, under the royal Highgrove label. But measuring success for Turnbull is not all about the bottom line. Hanging in the stairwell of Turnbull’s Saxon home, on the same plot of land next to his processing facility, is a chart tracking his businesses yearly social impact. The chart’s upward trajectory is clear and impressive. Last year, Turnbull bought around of 90 tonnes of produce directly from locals in Saschiz and the surrounding areas: fruits, berries, vegetables, flowers, all paid for in cash — totalling around $90,000. It’s no small sum in a village with a population of around just 2,000. “One old lady who collects elderflower for us says that she earns enough from collecting once a year to pay for her medication for the rest of the year,” Turnbull says matter-offactly. For Turnbull, a man who went from working globally to locally, environmental sustainability is also a key part of his mission, never to be taken lightly.
“We’ve made a huge effort to educate our collectors on sustainable wild harvesting,” says Turnbull. “People have learned that we are not a project for just one or two years, we are growing and we are still buying produce.” Turnbull doesn’t stop, he is currently in the process of developing a Transylvanian gin, an operation that will only employ more locals, further increasing his positive social impact, while bringing more great products to market.
Stephen McGrath is a British journa-list living in Romania. His work appears regularly in the international press, for publications including The Times, BBC, The Guardian, and others.
THROUGH THE LENSES OF EXPAT WOMEN by Ruth I. Rusby
The charitable photography project “Romania Through the Lenses of Expat Women” first started back in 2009, when a bunch of keen, amateur, international, female photographers decided to nurture their photographic skills and explore Romania with cameras and lenses in hand. What resulted was a delightful photographic exhibition, through which they were able to express their views of the beauty and traditions of this remarkable land. The success of this first exhibition (which took place in three venues) led to the first book being published in May 2010, encompassing the varied visions that these 23 expat women, from 16 cultures, had of Romania. An intense curiosity was aroused – a need to photograph Romania not in a touristic way, but really in the way it was revealed to the fresh eyes and lenses of outsiders coming to live here. Proceeds from the sales of the books and the prints from the exhibition allowed donations to be made to various charities. These charities were often actively supported by volunteer work carried out by the exhibitors themselves. Additional support was sought by sponsorship from corporate companies. The exhibition and book have now been going for eight years. Many of the founder members have gone, and new enthusiastic expat women have joined the group. Guidelines have been set down, venues for exhibitions have changed, but overall the project has remained much the same. Each autumn, as the kids go back to school and the expats settle down after the summer, the project is kicked off anew. Women are encouraged to go out and see something new with their lenses and to broaden their technical skills and artistry. Members are asked to contribute their skills to the project in other ways – in seeking sponsorship, writing text, organizing exhibitions, finance, communications, translating – and most importantly in the layout and printing of the book. The photographers are each invited to nominate a charity every year, and a final selection is made based on an online survey or vote. This year the charities that were chosen were Atelier Fara Frontiere, Te Aud Romania, Nightingales Children’s Project and Asociatia “Ana si Copii”. In the past, up to twelve different charities have been supported in one year. At the start of spring, the women submit their five favourite photographs from their portfolios. These are drawn from the following six subjects: portrait, people, landscape, architecture, details & objects and animals. In addition to these photographs, the exhibitors can submit one potential cover photo, the final choice of which is voted for via Facebook or email. The selection of the photographs to be used in the exhibition and the book is made by a special jury panel, comprising (male) professional photographers residing in Romania. One of the jury panel members who has been actively involved with the project since its inception is Mihai Constantineanu. He has seen the project grow over the years, gain in confidence and momentum. Subjects have diversified as new areas of hidden beauty in Romania are revealed.
Some of the founder members of the project, who have since left Romania, have gone on to replicate the project in their new host countries. Thus we see similar charitable exhibitions and books generated by expat women in places as far afield as Poland and India. Romania has changed much since the start of this project eight years ago. We have less stray dogs and better roads, brighter malls and more choice of food in the shops. But the staggering beauty of this awakening country remains and we are ready to discover and explore further.
Pegas, a Romanian communist bike brand reborn by Kit Gillet
In the 1970s and 80s almost every kid in Romania with a bike had a Pegas but the state-owned company shut its last bicycle production lines in 2001. In 2012, with the idea of recreating the bikes of their childhood, four 30-something-year-old Romanians bought the lapsed trademark to the brand and set about updating the designs for the 21st century. “After the revolution no one valued Romanian products but now that's changing,” says Andrei Botescu, one of the co-founders and the company’s general manager. “These bikes now resemble memories from childhood. Partly it’s about going back to find our roots,” he says. The team brought back some of the iconic touches from the bikes of the 60s and 70s, including elongated ‘banana’ seats and chopper-style handlebars, and decided to alter the colour schemes each year so that people would know which generation you rode. Then they marketed them to 30- and 40-somethings like themselves who wanted to reconnect to the bikes of their youths. “We have lots of clients in their 30s, 40s, 50s, who once had a Pegas, but we also have young customers who want a cool Romanian brand to make a statement,” Botescu adds. The Pegas relaunch began tentatively, with 500 bikes sold in 2012, largely due to the limited
cash reserves of the founders and their backers. However, the newly issued bikes struck a nerve in Romania, and numbers doubled each year. Last year they sold 10,000 bikes. This was helped by the CEO of eMAG, Romania's version of Amazon, buying a majority stake in the company in late 2015, giving Pegas the funds to grow more rapidly. They are targeting 20,000 bikes sold this year, and many more in the years to come. The brand’s reappearance has timed with the growth of a bike culture in Romania, as well as a desire from many young Romanians to have local products they can feel proud of. “After joining the EU, along with increased globalisation, people realised they’d lost a bit of national identity,” says Alexandru Manda, Pegas’ marketing manager. “People with our bikes are reconnecting with their history and a beloved old brand.” Not only that. Increasingly, older generation Romanians are digging out their long-forgotten, communist-era bikes and getting them restored. “Some people love their old Pegas bikes, they have an emotional value and don’t care if they have to pay more to repair one than it would cost for a new bike,” says Botescu. The Pegas headquarters, down a rundown, non-descript street in the Romanian capital, is half shop, half workshop. New bikes and accessories hang on racks out front, while in the back employees fix up or refurbish new and old bikes. The company now has 23 staff, including four designers. “To work here you have to have had a Pegas as a child,” jokes Manda. “We have some young blood working here who weren’t born in the 1980s, but their first bikes were the new Pegas bikes,” he adds. Pegas bikes were once churned out at a factory in the heart of Romania, one that also produced armaments (one popular joke at the time: a factory worker was stealing parts to build a bike for his son, only to find that no matter how he assembled them he made a gun). After relying to date on foreign manufacturers for parts, the new Pegas team are now working on establishing a production facility in the same city the bikes were once produced. “We want to build it where Pegas was before – in the city of Zarnesti. It will be symbolic,” says Botescu. It may be a symbol of the past, but Pegas is also a sign of a new and hip Romania emerging once more onto the streets.
E D U C AT I O N
Teaching in Romania by Simon Parker There are now more opportunities than ever for foreign teachers to find employment in the rapidly expanding education sector in Romania. The right position for you will depend on your qualifications, teaching experience and personal targets for your salary and work-life balance.
Finding vacancies Speculative applications supported by a strong, well-written CV can often be effective, especially if they are sent early in the new year when most schools are beginning to identify their staffing requirements for the next academic year. However, networking, using groups such Bucharest International Teachers (Facebook) or InterNations, can help you find out which schools are likely to have vacancies.
Where can I teach? The international curriculum schools These only offer an international curriculum: the British Cambridge International Examinations scheme or the International Baccalaureate. Their student body is also international with some setting limits on the number of Romania nationals. Foreign teachers make up roughly 4080% of the academic staff. The established players such as the American International School of Bucharest, the International School of Bucharest, the two British schools (BSB and IBSB), Cambridge, Transylvania College (Cluj) the French, German and Japanese schools have now been joined by the still growing King’s Oak, Verita and the Royal School (Cluj). Experienced and qualified teachers are nearly always preferred although some will support you during your Newly Qualified Teacher period or, while studying for a distance-learning PGCE. By and large, these schools offer foreign professional career teachers an enjoyable working experience combined with an active but often school-centered social life.
Qualifications & experience: a degree in an appropriate subject, postgraduate teaching degree (or a undergraduate teaching degree) and usually school teaching experience Advantages
The highest teaching salaries in Romania Professional development and promotion opportunities
Some rarely recruit in Romania and many have a large number of applicants competing for each position Danger of living in an expat bubble
Likely net salary range: your teaching experience.
€1500 – €4500. Depends on both the school and
E D U C AT I O N
Dual-curriculum schools This diverse group includes Mark Twain, Scoala Europeanã and Avenor who all offer both the Romanian and an international curriculum. Their clientele is predominantly Romanian but the number of international teachers they employ varies considerably: from just one to over 40% of the professional body. Staff satisfaction varies hugely too but some accept less qualified and less experienced teachers than the international curriculum schools. It’s well worth doing some preliminary research, which should include speaking to current and, if possible, former teachers at these schools before accepting a job offer.
Qualifications & experience: usually postgraduate experience
a degree in an appropriate subject, degree and usually school teaching
Salaries can be higher than in Romanian curriculum schools Professional development available in English
Salaries can be lower than in international curriculum schools Diversity in the quality of the teacher experience…..
Likely net salary range:
€700 – (roughly) €2000
Romanian curriculum schools There are over seven private schools in Bucharest which only offer the Romanian national curriculum. Foreign teachers generally given optional classes such as history, business studies, British/American culture and civilisation etc. in English which often have a focus on developing students speaking skills. They are usually keen to recruit expat teachers, especially native speakers, and the best can provide very enjoyable long-term employment with at least one has promoted a non-Romanian to a management position. Others, however, have proved to be veritable graveyards for some excellent teachers who have been ground down by very disruptive students. As with dual curriculum schools, preliminary research is absolutely vital before accepting a position.
Qualifications & experience:
usually a degree + any teaching qualification (including TEFL) + some teaching experience
The easiest way to get a salaried teaching position in Romania National spread: these schools exist in more cities in Romania including Brasov, Constantia, Iasi, Ploiesti, Cluj, Calarasi and Timisoara
You are out of the loop for gaining experience of teaching an international curriculum (you might end up trapped in this type of school) You’ll often be the only foreign teacher at the school
Likely net salary range:
€800 - €1600
61 Photo by Tim Gouw
E D U C AT I O N
State schools Currently two state schools, one in Bucharest and one in Timisoara, offer positions for native speaker English teachers though a long-standing partnership between the British NGO ‘Sharing One Language’ and the Romanian Ministry of Education. These schools are ‘bilingual’ in the sense that high school students have 5-7 hours of classes per week in English with native speakers teaching 18 hours of optional classes. Popular topics, which teachers can at least some extent negotiate with the school include human rights, business English, British and/or American history. These schools tend to attract a certain type of teacher: either mature individuals looking for a complete career change or, young, newly qualified teachers wanting a cultural emersion experience in Romania for a few years before progressing onto more lucrative positions.
Qualifications & experience:
degree + any teaching qualification (including
TEFL) + some teaching experience
Often highly enjoyable teaching Less lesson preparation and less classes compared with other schools
Low salary (although private classes top this up a lot) You are out of the loop for gaining experience of teaching international curriculum (you might end up trapped in this type of school)
Likely salary range:
€350 - €450 + accommodation + utilities
Language schools / private classes Found in every Romanian city, private language schools can offer hourly paid (and occasionally salaried) employment for both experienced Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) teachers as well as those wanting to try teaching for the first time. Most offer classes for students of all ages but teachers with a desire to work with children and especially young learners are most likely to find employment quickly. After a while, most teachers have no problem in finding private students to teach in the students’ homes. A mixture of language school and private classes can provide an able teacher with an income of over €1200 per month for around 30 hours of teaching week. Professional development can come through British Council courses and the CELTA/Cert TEFL programs offered by language schools in Bucharest and Cluj.
Qualifications & experience: usually a TEFL teaching qualification (including on-line courses) + some teaching experience. Advantages
• Flexible • Independence
• A fluctuating income (less work during the long summer holiday) and it takes a few months to build up enough private classes • You are responsible for making your own tax arrangements
70-150 RON (€15-€35 per 1.5 hour class).
Simon Parker is the director of Albion International counselling organisation for UK universitz applications
E D U C AT I O N
School Myths Debunked Although the sign on my virtual door clearly says “university advisor” I’m getting more and more Romanian and expat parents coming to me to help them find the right school for their child. Nearly all are thinking ahead to maximize their child’s chance of progressing on to international higher education while facing an ever expanding and improving education market in Romania. At most meetings, at least one of the following three myths usually surfaces:
BOARDING SCHOOLS (OUTSIDE ROMANIA) ARE THE BEST Nearly every year I meet a family who has regretted their decision to educate their child outside Romania. Why? Just because a private school is located in the UK, Switzerland, France doesn’t necessarily make it better. Parents face the problem of trying to choose a school, probably on the other side of Europe, with little objective data or opinions of other parents to go on. You might choose a brilliant school but on the other hand you might not. If your child has problems with one or more subjects at private school in Romania it can be resolved by: (a) a face-to-face meeting with the director (b) arranging extra private classes yourself or, as a last resort, (c) change school. These options are, to say the least, limited if you kid is stuck in a boarding school in Kent.
MORE NATIVE SPEAKER TEACHERS = A BETTER SCHOOL This myth also surfaces quite regularly in the various Bucharest expat forums. Let’s make this very clear: there is no correlation whatsoever between the percentage of expat teachers a school employs and their academic attainment and number of students entering elite global universities. In fact, there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that the reverse is true. Expat teachers tend to spend 2-4 years in one school and then flit off to another exotic location – therefore there’s a strong possibility that you’re child will lose a beloved teacher before the start of a critical year (Year 10 or 13 for example). The best A level biology, maths and economics teachers I’ve encountered in Romania have all been Romanian nationals – yes, the same ones which well-heeled Romanian and expat parents are using to privately tutor their children. If you are shopping for a private school for you child, it’s the quality of the teachers that count, not their nationality.
ROMANIAN CURRICULUM SCHOOLS ARE UNIFORMLY BAD Two years ago I started working with a client who was a joint US-Romanian citizen and bilingual. After trying American schools, his parents chose to educate him in a small town near Timisoara because they believed the rigour of the curriculum was so much greater than that in the States. They were right, and their child will be heading off to Oxford to read Computer Science this autumn. This is not an isolated case. If you child is bilingual and can do well enough in the Teza Nationala to get into one of the best state high schools, then, (for any subject other than medicine), they are likely to have a better chance of getting into a top UK or US university. Why? Firstly, Olympiads and the plethora of other contests, DO matter: two Oxbridge admissions tutors told me that any student good enough to reach the national finals in any subject should be strongly encouraged to apply to them. For ANY university they are both an indicator of academic ability and, more importantly, the passion to explore a subject well beyond the curriculum. Secondly, your child will, to at least some extent, be taught with students with a similar level of motivation and intellect – they are unlikely to be held back by others. Yes, you don’t get after-school (unless they are at the private ICHB), modern teaching methods and you’ll need to invest in a lot of private classes - it just depends what your priorities are. Just to state the obvious, it’s how happy a child feels in a particular school that will/should be the deciding factor in choosing the right one. The growing number of private schools in Romania, should, if anything, make it easier to find one that meets your individual criteria for an ideal school.
The inner voice by Anca Botez We, the parents, are the inner voice of our pure children and this comes with a high level of responsibility. From birth, we have the freedom to choose directly or indirectly, how to influence our newborn’s behaviour, their thoughts and most important, the way they speak with themselves and other people, when that moment comes. As parents, our intention is always positive, because we have their best interest at heart. We want to raise our children to become kind and assertive adults, with high levels of emotional intelligence, accomplished and compassionate individuals that think for themselves, make their own choices and are socially responsible, right? The thing is, every decision we make regarding our children, is filtered through our own system of values and beliefs, through our personal life experiences (positive or negative), and not through theirs. This is our “personal map” that reveals how we perceive ourselves and how we see this world, not our “children’s map”. The main question here is, how do we encourage our children to discover who they truly are without us projecting on them an image about who we think they are? At the beginning I mentioned that we, the parents, are the inner voice of our children; we choose what we grow and bloom into their hearts, if we expand light or if we grow darkness. Indeed, we can give wings to our children by focusing on their strengths and accomplishments, by loving and accepting them unconditionally just the way they are. Or we can cut their wings by focusing on their weaknesses and failures because it is easier to be dissatisfied and to address only what is not working well. If parents have a positive mindset, then it is easier for children to focus their attention on the good things, people and events in their life and this will boost their wellbeing and their happiness. For example, I teach “Mindfulness and Wellbeing” in schools and social centres and at the beginning of every class we practice the state of “being grateful”. Every child has to identify three good things that happened to them during the previous week. It could be something small like receiving a good grade, but we also emphasize the importance of being grateful for the people we have in our life (family, teachers, friends) and appreciating services (I payed the internet bill so I can do my homework online). At the end of the day, maybe during dinner, we can practice together with our children this simple exercise. This way, we are creating a healthy habit of being aware and acknowledging the positive things in life that often go unappreciated. This state of “being grateful” is also the solution for times when we feel upset, frustrated,
of our children
or fearful. Sometimes in life we are so focused on the big things that we completely forget that this beautiful life is made up of millions of little, simple things. When was the last time when you noticed and appreciated your child coming out of the blue just to give you an innocent smile, a good cup of tea or the sound of the ocean on a sunny day? We take all of this for granted and our children are noticing this and they do exactly the same. How? Our daughters and sons are not following our advice but they copy the way we speak with ourselves and others, how we behave, how we think and our approach on life. As a parent, ask yourself: Do I react or do I respond based on the context? Am I a problem solver, do I focus on finding solutions or on blaming others? What it is my attitude towards mistakes, do I look at it as feedback or as personal failure? Am I a flexible person or do I build resilience? Well, yes, everything is acceptable depending on the context. For example, the voice. We use a lower voice when we speak with our children at home and a higher voice (tonality, tempo and volume) when we speak with them at the park. The context is different at the park, because the environment is noisier, maybe cars are passing by and we have to raise the tonality of our voice in order to be heard. As per the problem solving, I must say children are very receptive, as I often use Problem Solving Techniques in schools as a mediation tool between students and teachers. By addressing specific questions (NLP clean language techniques) we can focus on a Solution frame and find common grounds together with our children, rather than concentrating on the Problem Frame and on creating a power struggle. To sum it up, the most important skill we can teach our children is flexibility. Especially In the expat context, being flexible in terms of thinking and behaviour, will help them to adapt easier to a new country, to a new school and to a new pier. Flexibility is about creating choices and opportunities, it’s about going out of our comfort zone and facing the unknown. Like gratitude and mindfulness, we can transform flexibility into a habit that eventually can become an everyday practice through repetition. So, this evening before putting your head on your pillow, remember to count your blessings and to say to yourself: “ I love and I accept my child just the way he/ she is. I see only the light in him/her and I focus only on his/her strengths. I am grateful for being a parent and for all the challenging situations that allow me and my child to grow together.”
Start with the airport Craig Turp is the editor of Bucharest In Your Pocket (inyourpocket.com/romania). He blogs about life in the Romanian capital at: bucharestlife.net Whisper it, but Bucharest is welcoming more foreign visitors than ever before, with more than 1.05 million overnight international visitors staying in the city in 2016, spending over €300 million. MasterCard’s annual Global Destinations Report (which we can point you towards if you want to take a look in more detail: just drop us a line) placed Bucharest eighth amongst Europe’s fastest growing destination cities, above Sofia. Annual average growth in visitor numbers for the past five years has been over seven per cent. While the majority of those visitors were on business (just over 60 per cent), the Bucharest visitor business/leisure mix is shifting fast. By 2020 the majority of visitors to the Romanian capital will be leisure travellers. During the summer months, they already are. What we do not know - at least in any real depth - is what these people find when they are here. What do they actually think of the city? How well are they treated? How likely are they to return? What impressed them about Bucharest? What could the city do better? Our day job, Bucharest In Your Pocket - for almost two decades the city’s most trusted supplier of urban information - recently began carrying out what we believe to be the largest ever survey of the Romanian capital’s capacity to welcome visitors. We are working with hotels, hostels, restaurants, cafes, bars and many other visitor attractions in order to take the pulse of Bucharest as a destination, in order to find out as best we can what visitors to the city love and – perhaps more importantly – hate. What the city gets right, and what the city gets wrong. We are talking not just to visitors, but to travel industry professionals who live and work in Bucharest. This group is often even better placed to gauge both the city’s strong points and its shortcomings. We are also interested in talking to foreign residents in the city, particularly those who have guests come to town: Where do you take them? What are you keen to show them? What are you embarrassed by? Early indicators are that there are more than a few things in Bucharest which need fixing. It probably comes as no surprise that the sorry state of Bucharest’s taxis - subject of our rant last issue - have been mentioned by just about everyone, while Bucharest’s only airport, Otopeni, has also come under much fire. One Brit we spoke to used that rather quaint English phrase ‘Not fit for purpose’.
As an introduction for the city Otopeni is indeed rather a poor show, although it does tend to depend on what time you arrive (or depart). A gaggle of flights arrives late at night, between 23:30 and 00:30. If you are unfortunate to find yourself on one of these you can spend half an hour at passport control, and then at least the same again - often longer - trying to find a taxi. An American we spoke to said that the whole experience of getting into the city from Otopeni had put him off ever coming back, not least as he later informed us that he had been within a whisker of missing his departing flight due to the long queues at security and passport control. For when it comes to departing from Otopeni, arriving looks like a doddle. So busy is the airport between 05:00 and 08:00 that we now try and avoid booking flights that leave during those times if at all possible. We advise you to do the same: small and provincial Otopeni cannot cope with the volume of people using it early at the morning. So bad have things come that there is talk of reopening Baneasa airport in order to share the load. That would be welcome were Baneasa not one of very few European airports that makes Otopeni look efficient. The good news however is that there is, well, good news. The vast majority of people we have interviewed so far have gushed with praise for the standard of English in this city. It is something we perhaps take for granted, but in comparison with Budapest and a number of other European capitals, on this count at least Bucharest currently comes out on top. From waiters to bar staff, English is very much spoken in this town. Customer service may not always be impressive, but it will at least be multi-lingual. This endeavour of ours is not designed to denigrate Bucharest. Nor is the intention to promote Bucharest. What we are aiming to do is produce an objective report – which we will present during October and make available to all interested parties – that will provide stakeholders with an accurate appraisal of Bucharest’s current status as a visitor destination. The need to create a Bucharest Destination Profile for 2018 and beyond is pressing. It is long overdue. If you have visited or lived in Bucharest at any time over the past year and would like to take part, please get in touch with us at the email address: email@example.com