INTERNATIONAL LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE
FREE MAGAZINE NR. 4 - JANUARY 2018
ROMANIA, WHERE NOW?
D ouglas W illiams
Hello, bună, and welcome to OZB your new lifestyle magazine all about Romania in English.
BEACON VERSUS CLICHE 2018 folks! Where did 2017 go? I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday Season and I hope you have not been too ambitious in your New Year’s Resolutions. Like January isn’t difficult enough. So I like to think of myself as an averagely intelligent person. People who know me would say that averagely intelligent is overly kind but I’ve read and I read, a lot, and I pay attention to what’s going on and it appears to me that the last few years have been particularly tumultuous. It’s hard not to worry about the future and perusing the current crop of leaders, some new, others less new, does nothing to assuage the fear. Seldom has it been more clear that for our kids sake we need adroit leadership and we need it now. The elephant in the room has got to be Climate Change with experts predicting that it will begin to seriously bite within the next decade. And yet our leaders are consumed with largely little picture stuff. Researching Romania before I arrived I was thrilled by the obvious potential of the place and, with a former Physics teacher as president, it was clear the country could do a lot worse. Soon after I got here the then prime minister was forced to stand down in the face of mass street protests clearing the way for a brainbox agronomist. What a top team! What potential! A sub 20 million population on a land mass of a similar size to the UK’s (which has three times the people). Large tracts of prime, arable farmland, thousands of self-sufficient peasant farmers, great forests with an abundance of apex predators, superb conditions for renewables and, most importantly, a smart, young, modern and hungry populace. The future looked so bright I had to wear sunglasses. Then there was an election and things went downhill. More mass protests stymied a patently crazy planned law reform introduced
under dubious conditions by the nascent government that was set to free convicted criminals! This by a party with a head who had been previously convicted of “electoral fraud”. You know there’s a problem when the head of the ruling party has a conviction (amongst others) for fudging elections. So it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise when the same party tries to remove a central tenet of a fully functioning democracy by compromising the independence of the judiciary. Next it will be freedom of the press… But, although it shouldn’t come as a surprise, neither should it be tolerated. Other countries in this region are in grave danger, dark arts are much in evidence, manipulations manifest. Progressive policies are being turned back and all the while Climate Change is ignored. One wonders what it will take - a summer of prolonged unusually high temperatures with associated deaths or sweeping forest fires, parks destroyed? Meantime, those Romanians who can, up sticks and go elsewhere piling on the strain to those remaining and in a cruel twist of ironic fate those multinationals queuing up to set up here can’t fill their offices cause all the brightest and best have cleared off. I think that God’s got a sick sense of humour… The protests across Romania last February and March were an example to the world: headline news, peaceful, colourful protests at clear injustices and, crucially, they achieved their goal. In 2018 we are better informed than we’ve ever been but the stakes are even higher. Romania has massive potential, even the potential to be a shining beacon or it could just be another cliche. Here’s hoping that in 2018 the people of this country turn their back on the latter and embrace the former.
FIT TO BURST
This issue feels a bit like how many of us feel trying to get into certain pairs of trousers after the Festive feasting. Our fourth OZB is a seriously packed issue with something for everyone and, dare I say it, our best yet. We have profiles, music, film, food, events, comment, business, education, property and health along with eco, books, poetry, travel and sublime photography. And all of our content is bespoke content created by some of the best writers, journalists, commentators all based here in Romania, all working professionally for both domestic and international publications and organisations, but also producing stories for OZB about this wonderful and fascinating country that we call home.
chairman of the British Romanian Chamber of Commerce appears not once but twice first in a profile and secondly with his own column explaining his take on the modern business landscape of Romania (Pg 16). Violetta Tudorache has been helping expats find properties since 2006, here she dishes her top tips (Pg 61). We have the fascinating Howard Dell story from Olympic bobsled medalist to Hollywood movies and on to coaching top athletes here in Bucharest by way of an organ transplant (Pg 57). And check out Paul White’s winter wonderland photo essay (Pg 18).
If you read a story relating to Romania in the New York Times, chances are it was written by Kit Gillet, this month contributing to OZB providing the backstory and forecasted future of the Romanian Royal Family (Pg 22). If you read about Romania in the Telegraph, Spectator or BBC there’s a good chance it was written by Stephen McGrath, this month giving OZB readers a guide to the beguiling Sighişoara where he currently resides (Pg 46). We have an excerpt from best selling author and former BBC producer Mike Ormsby’s latest book (Pg 39).
And that’s all before we’ve even mentioned the cover story about Melania Medeleanu who has massively helped establish MagicHOME and she coordinates MagiCAMP and is an all round good egg and amazing person with an inspiring story (Pg 25). We also have Greenitiative founder Felicia Ienculescu-Popovici with her vision for a low carbon future (Pg 34) and Giles Eldridge gives us the low down on Romanian cinema (Pg 42). Anca Botez explains the “Year of the Butterfly” (Pg 33) while Dean Edgar takes a look at Romania in the news last month (Pg 14). Finally Light into Europe has been doing great work helping the visually impaired of Romania, we find out the background, what this terrific NGO does and how you can get involved (Pg 62). As I said, there’s something for everyone.
We have top tips on tackling the new year from acclaimed novelist Arabella McIntyre Brown (Pg 36) and sensational poetry from Tara Skurtu (Pg 38). Claire Nuttall is news editor at highly respected bne IntelliNews where she specialises in economics, she gives her business forecast for Romania for 2018 (Pg 14). One of Romania’s foremost music commentators Oana Vasiliu speaks with one of the nation’s best loved indy-rock bands byron Band (Pg 30). The Hilton’s Franz Conde explains his divine lamb stew (Pg 50); Colin Lovering,
DOUGLAS WILLIAMS MARCEL DE ROODE FULVIA MEIROŞU ADA POPESCU ALEXANDRU HĂMURARU
The question has been asked: What’s the point of OZB? I say, to celebrate living in modern Romania, to find out more about this amazing country and the people who live here be they local or foreign, and all in one convenient place - OZB. O zi bună and have a great 2018. Să aveţi un 2018 bun!
T E A M
Co-owner/Editorial Director, firstname.lastname@example.org Co-owner/Commercial Director, 0768 971 647, email@example.com Marketing Director and Website Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org Art Director Distribution Manager
18 Photo essay - wonder winter landscapes
25 Take a walk through SighiĹ&#x;oara, a Unesco World heritage site in Transylvania
byron Band talk music
Melania Medeleanu talks about MagicHOME and television in OZB's coverstory
Amoebas and family ties poetry by Tara Skurtu Romanian New Wave cinema
34 Living more sustainably with Greenitiative Light Into Europe provides medical and humanitarian relief
GOLAN When: January 12 Where: Berăria H, Bucharest What: electronic music concert Golan is a band based in 2013 in Bucharest, Romania. The band started as an electro musical project with Cuban and jazz rhythms. Alex, Mihai and Ernesto's different backgrounds and skills combine into a unique blend of eclectic harmonies. Using live instruments, sampling and DJing, the trio brings a much needed human touch to today's electronic music. Golan started as a project from the streets of Bucharest. The band members used to go to parties where they listened to electronic music and are now famous for talking this musical genre further with their work and composition. Golan is the energy of Bucharest, filtered through new senses. Their sounds melodic and dreamy while at the same time making you dance your shoes off. Get ready for the Golan experience! >>For more information visit the website: www.golansound.ro.
SUSHI WORKSHOP When: January 13 Where: Hiro Sushi, Bucharest What: practical workshop If you’re in for socializing, if you like food and learning something practical, this might be your kind of night. Hiro Sushi is organizing a sushi workshop to teach the art of preparing the delicious and versatile dish, both in raw-vegan and classical options. You don’t need to bring ingredients and there will also be a Gorgandin wine tasting hosted by Diana Pavelescu.
SWAN LAKE When: January 15 Where: Sala Palatului,Bucharest What: ballet on ice The very talented Russian ballet dancers from Sankt Petersburg will be performing in Bucharest the story of Odette, the princess that was transformed into a swan, on the sound of Piotr Ilici Ceaikovski's music. The Swan Lake is the most popular work written by the Russian composer Ceaikovski. Critiques are still discussing the origins and the source of this tale, some say that it based on a Russian tale, some say it is based on the composer' biography.
THE MONO JACKS When: January 17 Where: Expirat Halele Carol, Bucharest What: alternative rock concert The Romanian band was founded in 2008 by Doru Trascău and has significant live performance mileage through club concerts and festivals like Sziget, Exit Festival, Eurosonic Noorderslag, ARTMania. They released an album in autumn 2017 which was followed by a national tour that reveals the band at a height of inspiration and fervor. Melting Dice and Rockabella are the opening acts for the band on the 17th. >>More information on themonojacks.com
FLORENCE AND THE UFFIZI GALLERY 3D When: January 27 Where: Happy Cinema , Bucharest What: multidimensional art documentary “Florence and the Uffizi Gallery 3D” is more than a regular art documentary, it is indeed a multidimensional journey into the timeless beauty of Italian Renaissance with the help of 3D technology. This is the first time an art documentary is using 3D vision to explore the open air museum that is Florence, in an unprecedented immersive way.
CRAZY TOWN When: January 21 Where: Hard Rock Cafe, Bucharest What: rap rock concert Crazy Town is an American rap rock band, formed in 1995 by Bret Mazur and Seth Binzer. The band is best known for their 2000 hit single, "Butterfly", which reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and helped their debut album, The Gift of Game (1999) sell over 1.5 million units. Their most recent album is called "The Brimstone Sluggers" and it has been released in 2015 and the song "Born to Raise Hell" has been very appreciated by their fans around the world. Crazy Town has been in concerts recently with bands like Drowning Pool and Puddle Of Mudd in a tour named ”Epic”. Currently Crazy Town are working on a new album. For the concert they will have in Bucharest on January 21 st there will be two bands opening the show: For the Win (USA) and Confessions of a Traitor (UK).
ALEXANDRA UŞURELU When: January 29 Where: National Theater Bucharest What: pop music
”Lumea, cum ai vrea să fie”-“The World as You Would Want it to Be” is a new production worth mentioning by Alexandra Uşurelu and her band featuring flute, harp, strings ensemble and a vocal group. The new production will present new songs with a highly diversified sound, along with older ones the public appreciates. Uşurelu is one of the most successful Romanian artists, with over 400 national concerts to date, being the youngest artist to perform two original sold out concerts during the same day at the National Theater Bucharest.
BUCHAREST GAMING WEEK When: January 23-28 Where: Bucharest, Romexpo What: gaming industry festival Initially announced in December, Bucharest Gaming Week has been postponed due to the royal funerals and has been rescheduled for the second half of January BGW is an event meant to highligting the creativity of Romanian artists in the gaming industry with dedicated exhibitions and conferences, bringing to Bucharest the most notable developers from Romania and around the world. Along with pro tournaments, BGW offers a wide array of activities and experiences for gamers of all ages, from amateur tournaments and contests to hands-on sessions with the latest games and gadgets, Virtual Reality, mobile games, as well as meeting some of Romania’s well-known streamers and vloggers.>>More details on www.bucharestgamingeeek.ro or arcub.ro.
THE MIRRORS When: January 31 Where: Control Club, Bucharest What: experimental music concert The Mirrors is a band from Tucson Arizona that describe their music as Sonoran Trance Music. The musicians Nik Rayne, Grant Beyschau, Miguel Urbina, Kellen Fortier, Casey Hadland will perform in Control after the opening act of Romanian band Roadkill Soda, who describe their music as Rock'n'Roll with an attitude. For more information (and cool cover art) on The Mirrors visit their website themyrrors.bandcamp.com
ON GOING EVENTS MUSIC
POG JAZZY COLTS ...is the in-house band you can hear when at Madame Pogany - an artful place with savoury cuisine and soothing rhythms. They like to tell stories, suggest themes and rhythms that offer an homage to the great names in jazz, blues & soul history: from Louis Armstrong to George Gershwin and Miles Davis, with subtle modern story nuances. The player is the second composer. This is the main idea behind every group of players that work with consecrated tunes, approaching them in a new way.
ITALIAN CINEMA ON TUESDAYS Every Tuesday evening you can watch an Italian film at Pavesiana Book Shop and feel like you were watching it in your living room with an extended circle of friends. The selection is done by a group of Italians enjoying, living and working in Romania.
The biggest Instagram exhibition ever organized in Romania is open until the middle of January at the independent theater UnTeatru. The expo brings together 36 local Instagrammers, 72 wonderful photos of Bucharest and various perspectives on capturing this city, throughout all seasons.
RÓBERT KÖTELES SOLO SHOW Abstract compositions, color and engaging visual effects that make you think of the unseen structure of the world and fields of energy – all in the painting exhibition by Róbert Köteles at Arcub, until the 14 th of January.
THE INTERNATIONAL SALON OF NAÏVE ART The International Salon of Naïve Art (SIAN) is held every two years and is open until the 19 th of January at the National Theater Bucharest.
THE SOLDIER QUEEN The Soldier Queen was the nickname of Queen Mary of Romania due to her involvement with the helping campaigns of soldiers in the FWW. The photo exhibition presents 45 panels with the queen dressed as a nurse during the war, when she set up campaign hospitals, social canteens, shelter for the poor, food storage centers. She would also often go down to the trenches to provide encouragement for exhausted soldiers - actions she would later be decorated for, multiple times. The exhibition is open until the 15 th of January at the National Theater Bucharest.
UN RÊVE HABITÉ Un rêve habité is an art exhibition on the theme of architecture, part of the cooperation programme between Wallonia-Bruxelles and Romania. You can see it until January 28 th at The National Museum of Art (MNAR).
I AM AT MY MOST BEAUTIFUL WHEN I AM ALONE Mobius Gallery presents "I Am At My Most Beautiful When I Am Alone", a solo exhibition of works by Lea Rasovszky, opened through January 31 st. Curator Diana Marincu says Lea Rasovszky's art can be considered as a reflection on the seemingly endless births, metamorphoses, deaths, and ensuing resurrections of pop culture, “the sole myth system that unites us all” (Leslie Fiedler).
THE WORLD OF LÖVENDAL’S CHARACTERS „The world of Lövendal’s characters” aims to explore the diversity and exhuberance of Lövendal’s work with the help of 120 exhibits from the Lövendal Foundation. It can still be visited until January 31 st at the Museum of Art Collections, on Calea Victoriei.
FLORICA PREVENDA The art exhibition “Condensări” (Condensation) of artist Florica Prevenda, organized by "Palatele Brâncovenești de la Mogoșoaia" Cultural Center will be open in Mogoșoaia until January 31 st.
Turning down the heat BY CLARE NUTTALL Romania’s economy has accelerated dramatically this year, with the growth rate burning through even the most optimistic of forecasts towards the end of 2017, on the back of booming consumption. The signs are, however, that the driving forces behind this rampant growth — Romania is on track to be the EU’s fastest growing economy this year — are about to cool off in 2018. The increase in wages especially in the public sector, which in turn has sent consumer spending soaring, is about to be checked. In fact, growth probably peaked in the third quarter of 2017, when it reached a stunning 8.8% compared to July-September 2016, Romania output-gap catching economists off guard as they scrambled to raise their forecasts for the full year. Part of this was due to the bumper harvest this summer; while Romania’s regional peers such as Serbia were hit by drought, the conditions in Romania were just right for agriculture. Still, the latest data from the Romanian statistics office shows that the main contributor to the rise continued to be consumption. Rapid wage growth is a phenomenon seen across the CEE region, with the likes of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic all reporting record low unemployment, while businesses struggle to find workers with the skills they need. It’s a similar story in Romania, where unemployment has also dropped recently, and as the labour market tightens there is strong upward pressure on wages, especially in sectors such as IT and outsourcing where skills are at a premium. More importantly, though, a series of wage hikes for public sector workers both before and after the December 2016 general election have been a significant contributor to the growth in disposable incomes. But as the New Year approaches, there’s not much festive cheer for civil servants, doctors, teachers or other public sector employees. Promised a 25% pay hike in January 2018, workers were dismayed when the government announced it was rejigging the social security contributions system to shift
the entire burden onto employees. This has all but wiped out the anticipated pay rise, with analysts forecasting take home pay will rise by a measly 2%. To a large extent, this is expected to spell the end to the feel-good factor that has stimulated spending recently. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Increased consumer spending has triggered a hike in imports as local manufacturers have failed to keep pace with the hike in demand; for example Eurostat data recently revealed that imports of toys alone soared to €50mn in 2016, seven times more than the country exported. More moderate growth could give a realistic chance for local businesses and international investors to boost capacity to meet demand — provided the government can provide a stable enough regulatory regime for investors to put their money to work with confidence. There’s no expectation of a hard landing in Romania; forecasts for next year are still among the highest in the EU, with the Romanian finance ministry anticipating growth of 5.5% in 2018, while both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Commission have somewhat less optimistic projections of 4.4%. But economic performance is also going to depend on policy coming out of Bucharest, both from the government and the central bank. Associations representing foreign investors have already warned their members put new projects on hold in 2017 due to the regulatory uncertainty in the country, especially concerning the tax regime. If the government doesn’t manage EU-GDP growth to restore confidence, this could continue to inhibit investment next year. Meanwhile, the central bank has indicated that now inflation has started to rise again it is mulling a tightening of monetary policy, with a rate increase likely in the first quarter of next year.
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.
TAX OBLIGATIONS FOR EXPATS LIVING IN ROMANIA BY RUXANDRA VIŞOIU – Senior lawyer AND REMUS POPOVICI – Legal adviser Is it mandatory to establish your tax residency? Yes, this new obligation was imposed by the 2015 Romanian Tax Code. Any expat who has a long stay in Romania or any Romanian who leaves the country for a long period of time has to declare their prolonged stay or leave. How do I know if I have to establish my tax residency in Romania? According to the Tax Code, you need to submit your personal file to the Romanian tax authorities if you meet either one of the following conditions: • you have your legal domicile in Romania; • you spend more than 183 days within 12 consecutive months inside/outside Romanian borders; • your vital living interests has been ‘transferred’ to Romania (for expats) or to a foreign state (for Romanians); What is a person’s vital interests? The Tax Code sees a person’s vital interest as a mixture between your ‘financial relationships’ and your ‘personal relationships’: • Financial relations: your statute as a Romanian employee, property you own (shares or real estate), bank accounts, debit or credit cards. • Personal relations: having a spouse, a child or a person you take care of in Romania, membership in a Romanian association, foundation or church. Basically, the Tax Authorities make an audit report of your life, in order to deduct if you have many ties to Romania and, therefore, if you can be considered a Romanian tax resident. What happens if I meet one of the above conditions? We advise you to discuss your situation with to a tax lawyer, in order to evaluate the consequences of moving your residency to Romania. A pre-analysis of an expert can save you thousands of euros in taxes. Moreover, it is a lot easier to prevent a taxation problem than to fix it. If you fulfill any of the above conditions, you have to submit a personal file to the Tax Authorities and a questionnaire through which you present your economical and personal ties to Romania. What happens if I become a Romanian tax resident? After you become a Romanian tax resident, all the income you receive from different countries will be taxed in those countries and thereafter
transferred to Romania, abiding the applicable conventions for avoiding double taxation. Also, being a Romanian tax resident is useful if you receive income from abroad and you wish to become a Romanian citizen. By becoming a tax resident in Romania, all the income you received from abroad will be considered as gained in Romania and taxed here. Therefore, you will be able to easily prove your means of living should that be the case. What happens if I do not submit the tax statement? If you do not declare your tax residency after meeting one of the above criteria, the Tax Authority will issue a tax fine as soon as they notice your long stay or long leave from the country. The authorities will issue a tax decision, through which they will establish the tax obligations and penalties that you have to pay. What happens if I do not obtain my Romanian tax residency? If you do not obtain the tax residency, you will remain a foreign tax resident and the Romanian authorities will not impose tax on any income that you gain in other states. However, you will still have to pay taxes for all the income gained in Romania to the Romanian state. Is it better to become a Romanian tax resident or remain a foreign tax resident? This depends from case to case, taking into consideration how high the foreign taxes on income are in your case, what international conventions are applicable etc. We advise you to consult a tax lawyer or financial consultant in this respect, to assess your situation appropriately. I was declared a Romanian tax resident and now I have to pay more taxes. Can I do something about this? The tax notification can be appealed at the Romanian courts of justice within 45 days from receiving it. You have to notify your lawyer or legal advisor as soon as you receive this notice.
R&R Partners Bucarest is a Romanian boutique law firm specialized in litigation, business law, tax matters and civil statute (residency, citizenship). www.rrpb.ro | email@example.com
THAT WAS THE MONTH THAT WAS:
ROMANIA’S DECEMBER BY DEAN EDGAR
Tributes have been flooding in since his death, his funeral was attended by members of the remaining European royal families and, whilst many do not agree with royalty, it seems that Romanians have been missing it. Over 5 millions viewers watched his funeral on television, part of Herăstrău park and part of Kiseleff park will be renamed in his honour.
Well, in December there was sad news and bad news and then some more bad news. First the sad news, King Mihai I died this month at his home in Switzerland at the ripe old age of 96. He was king twice in his lifetime, the first time at the age of 5 after his father King Carol was forced to abdicate due to a frowned upon liaison with Magda Lupescu. A council was created to assist the King in making the royal decisions, but after 3 years this proved to be chaotic at best and Carol returned to reassume the throne. 10 years later Carol was deposed and Michael took over again for the second time (a right royal soap opera). The leader of the government at the time, Ion Antonescu joined sides with the Nazis, and in 1944 Mihai joined a coup to overthrow Antonescu, ripped up the deal with Hitler and joined the Allies. Well we all know what happened after World War II and the communist takeover of Eastern Europe, Mihai was forced to abdicate by the Communists, his title, and citizenship were taken away and he was forced into exile. Finally, in 1997 he was given back his citizenship, but for me that was too little too late. He was a true Romanian, loved his country and the people, worked tirelessly on behalf of the post revolution country, a great shame that this statesman wasn't given the recognition he deserved when he was alive.
But this is the start of the bad news. There has been a call for a referendum to see if the public would accept going back to a constitutional monarchy, rather than remain a republic. I, for one, like that idea, that governments should be voted in and a cabinet formed and then this cabinet runs the country, as with the UK. But the people calling for the referendum are the PSD/ALDE coalition and this is a transparent move to remove the role of president, and therefore getting rid of their nemesis, Klaus Iohannis.
It seems that the incumbent government don't know when to stop - last month it was the introduction of new salary taxation, this month two new statutes have been passed by the ruling party using questionable practices. There has been a lot of comment and pressure from various ambassadors in Bucharest for Romania to become more open to eradicate
those accusations of cover ups and corruption. The previous technocratic government lead by Dacian Cioloş managed to keep Romania on an even keel, and it seemed that Romania was heading in the right direction, but since the PSD came to power - with the help of Tăriceanu, ALDE and the USMR Hungarian party - Romania seems headed in a rather different direction.
The first statute, voted in by 50 to 0, was to bring the independent judiciary under government control. There are claims that this is merely to protect those members of the party who have committed crimes including fraud and misappropriation of funds. Indeed, the party president himself has been charged with electoral fraud, awarding government contracts to family members and misappropriating EU funds. One significant factor in the 50 to 0 vote was that the PSD ignored the published timetable for parliamentary process and held the vote when the opposition went out to debate another topic and certain USR deputies were also stopped from entering the chamber by security staff. The law has been passed despite magistrates holding a silent demonstration outside the Supreme court, the DNA anti corruption agency saying it will be effectively toothless, the EU expressing major concerns... the list goes on. The next debacle is the passing of a law that states that video evidence is not permissible, and, I quote: “no other recordings will represent evidence in a trial except for the ones that refer to the defendant's’ own talks with third parties”! Any further prosecutions relating to the Revolution could now be severely hindered. The Police Chief, Radu Gavriş, has reacted strongly stating quite unequivocally that it will now be much more difficult to prosecute criminals. Not only has video evidence been stopped, accused suspects can attend the victim’s hearing. No chance, the rapist is there, the child molester
is there, the victims have no chance. Allegedly when this law change was being debated the opposition parties’ microphones were switched off. Iohannis is being urged by several organisations and opposition parties to step in and try and sort out this mess, but there seems little he can do. All I can hope for is that the opposition parties, including the new one that has been created by Cioloş and along with the electorate, open their eyes and see what is happening to their country...1989-2017 degeaba?!
DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION In other news, UBER has just been declared a transport company by the European Court of Justice and we will see how that affects their operations across Europe and in particular here. UBER themselves don't see any problem, but I am sure that things won't be quite the same. Along with that, the beloved Queen of Kitsch, the Mayor of Bucharest, Gabriela Firea has introduced new rules for Bucharest taxi drivers, these being that taxi drivers won’t be allowed to “refuse rides or charge more than the legal fare and will have to offer clients the possibility to pay by card. They will also have to dress decently, keep their cars clean, and won’t be allowed to talk on the phone or send text messages while driving.” Well, good luck with that one, who on earth is going to police that?
Dean Edgar has been living the expat dream here in Romania for 11 years. He is General Manager of Moorcroft Services, a company dedicated to assisting foreigners to settle in Romania. They can help with visas, permits, company set-ups, car registration, house hunting, insurance, orientation tours and basically anything that a newcomer to Romania might need see www.moorcroft.ro for further details. 15
C OL I N LOV ER I N G -
THE MAN WHO CAN
Colin Lovering is a debonair gentleman passionate about many things, but few more so than Romania. His passion for this country is clear and infectious and it’s also refreshingly sincere. A frequent speaker at events big and small it’s no surprise that when OZB catches up with him he’s in the midst of composing his next speech due to be delivered in London the following week, at a British Romania Chamber of Commerce UK event. “Sometimes when I talk about Romania, Romanians come up to me after and thank me for being so positive about their country. I can’t help it, I just really like Romania and I find it an easy sell.” BY DOUGLAS WILLIAMS
We meet in the brand new Commons shared office space in Unirii, un uber cool setting where small companies, entrepreneurs and solo operators can come and work 24/7 utilising the excellent facilities and comfortable surroundings. See www.commons.ro for more information. Lovering is many things to many people but chiefly he is Chairman of the British Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Senior Vice President of Avison Young Romania. And now, after nine years living here, Lovering is happy to call Romania his home. “I’d spent many years living internationally and thinking ‘is this my last year here?’ but now I’ve decided that Romania is my home. Over the last couple of years I’ve really began to put down roots and this is where I’m going to be staying and, I’ll tell you, it’s a huge relief.”
Growing up in quintessential and picturesque rural England - Herefordshire - where dinner was always taken round the table Lovering appreciates the traditions and the strength of family still present within Romanian society. “The McDonaldisation, the TV dinners approach now so prevalent through much of the world, is still not the norm here in Romania, yet, and I like this. This is especially the case if you get even just a short way out of Bucharest. It reminds me of my childhood and I like it and I think it’s to be valued and cherished.” Lovering’s anecdotes range from tales of childhood kick abouts with the vicar after church to trips in private jets to that fateful day he decided he was going to take a punt on Romania. “I was walking from Piata Victoriei down here to Unirii and over the course of that walk I decided I was going to move here,
set up my business and make a go of it.” The business in question was Achieve International, a consulting and training organisation, and it would be fair to say Lovering didn’t just make a go of it, Achieve has been a huge success. “Things just get better and better here in Romania in almost every way and that’s in stark contrast to much of Western Europe. It’s a very exciting country to be in and I think Romania greatly exceeds the expectations of most people who come to live here, she certainly did with me,” says Lovering, impeccably yet casually attired. He counters: “There are a couple of exceptions to that statement - whilst the level of driving has improved, the traffic has gotten much, much worse. And, it saddens me to say, nobody seems to have any sort of plan for how to fix that. Additionally the government or perhaps the governance also seems to be getting worse. Decisions are being made - be it on taxation or justice issues - that have far reaching and largely negative ramifications, particularly on inward investment, we see it all the time. And this is frustrating and saddening.”
being more obvious among the fairer sex. “People are much more tolerant of disability and orientation these days though, in place of the class system that we still see in the UK for example, I feel that here there is still too much emphasis attached to status with some people determined to drive a fancy car even while they live in a tiny apartment.” Lovering also somewhat despairs at the irony of the brain drain with bright young Romanians leaving to seek their fortune elsewhere while international corporations are flocking to the country only to find recruitment and retention a major issue. “I’d like to see more being done to encourage those Romanians living and working abroad to return,” says Lovering, a keen fan of both Spurs and Hereford FC. Retention of staff is one of the quintessential English gentleman’s bugbears and something he has clear ideas for improving. “Disloyalty” plays a big part in this and one of the solutions to this, according to Lovering, is to create office spaces that foster community. “When the place where you work is also the place where you have your friendships it’s much harder to just walk away for an extra 50 euros per month. More open plan and more and better quality community spaces, within offices, where colleagues can mingle along with the bosses help engender a sense of community and therefore loyalty which really helps with holding onto good staff.”
On Brexit the Chairman of the BRCC is sagely diplomatic likening the situation to driving: “Where before, within the EU, it was like we were driving with a friend who was helping us to navigate and find our way but post-Brexit, we will be on our own and we’ll need to figure Everyone’s a out exactly where we’re More “wishy washy” is going by ourselves.” how Lovering describes his psychologist here, The trouble just now, manner prior to Romania. they have deep according to Lovering, is “I was very British, more conversations and I concerned with being polite the uncertainty. “This is hugely damaging, once than with saying exactly like this. we have the facts we what I mean. To begin with can work with them but I found Romanians to be a just now no one really little abrupt, even rude, but knows,” and this from I’ve since learned that it’s someone whose friends and colleagues have not really rude - just honest and more direct. identified as an “Obsessive Optimist”. Something else I’ve noticed is that Romanians also enjoy sarcasm, it’s just that theirs is way Another thing Lovering likes about Romania darker than us Brits’.” is the way that, in contrast to the UK where, when people gather, they tend to joke Finally Lovering, a big supporter of both Casa about and “have a laugh”, Romanians enjoy Ioana and Light Into Europe, urges all us philosophical conversations. “Everyone’s non-Romanians to contribute. “I always like to a psychologist here, they have deep challenge people who are enjoying living here, conversations and I like this.” He observes I say what are you giving back? There are in the younger generation of Romanians a plenty of good NGOs out there crying out for far more progressive approach but with this help. Make yourself useful.”
WINTER WONDERLAND My name is Paul White, I am a British citizen and I was first introduced to Romania in 1993 when I was invited to join an aid convoy delivering medical equipment to a hospital situated in the town of TĂ˘rgu Secuiesc in the county of Covasna. I only visited for one week but I immediately knew that this was a place that I wanted to return to and get to know better. A combination of factors brought me to this decision, but the local people and their unique, sustainable relationship with the environment was the main attraction. This part of Europe is a truly unique place and it is this uniqueness that I have been trying to portray to the rest of the world for more than twenty years. The wildlife, environment, rural economy and culture are a rich source of stories which I have documented on my website www. wildtransylvania.com. My special interest at the moment is the life and work of traditional Transhumance shepherds, protecting their sheep from wolf and bear depredation, using the loyal support of their Livestock Guardian Dogs.
King Michael I and Queen Ana - 2013
ROMANIAN ROYALTY Past, Present and Future
King Ferdinand I
King Michael I and his father Carol II
King Michael I
BY KIT GILLET
The death of King Michael I on December 5 brought about an outpouring of emotion seemingly across all levels of Romanian society. Tens of thousands braved the cold to line up for hours in order to pay their respects at his coffin as it lay in state in what is now the National Museum of Art of Romania (formerly the royal palace). Millions more watched the funeral live on television. For many, it felt like the end of an era, and perhaps also the end of any lingering connection with the former royal family. Despite Michael I’s seven-decade absence from daily life in Romania – he was forced to abdicate in 1947 by the communist regime that took over in the aftermath of World War Two – he has been a presence throughout much of Romania’s modern history.
other contributions. In between he was variously working as a chicken farmer, stockbroker and commercial pilot, spending much of his life in the United Kingdom and also Switzerland, where he died at the age of 96. Some see the former king’s life as a microcosm of Romania’s history. “I believe his history represents the history of Romania,” says Diana Mandache, a Romanian historian who has written several books on the royal family. Romania’s royal line is relatively new, with Michael I being just the third, and then fifth, king in the country’s recent past (in between, his father, Carol II, who had passed up the crown rather than give up his mistress, decided he did indeed want to rule). Yet, despite the royal line only being established in 1881, and effectively ended in 1947, Michael was widely admired and respected in Romania. The king-in-exile, and then the former king of a republic, but a king nonetheless.
Born during the interwar period, he came of age as Romania fought on the side Writing in the book of of the Germans in the Second World War, before, in 1944 King Michael's funerals, December 2017 condolences, President Klaus Iohannis said that Michael “put at the age of 22, playing an his entire life in the service of the Romanian integral role in the ousting of the pro-Nazi nation and served with self-denial, dignity and regime and helping the country switch sides. responsibility the country in which he was In his later years, after the 1989 revolution, he born…I am convinced that he will remain in actively pushed for Romania’s inclusion in both collective memory as a symbol of the struggle NATO and the European Union, among many
of the Romanian people for freedom.” After a funeral befitting a king, complete with the remnants of royalty past and present from across Europe and beyond, eyes now naturally turn to the future of the Romanian monarchy.
and, after 1990, the Princess Margareta of Romania Foundation – inherits the crown, though she has already said she won’t use the title Queen but rather Custodian of the Crown, given that Romania is a republic. King Michael I and daughter Princess Margareta
In recent years, beyond the ageing dignity of Michael, the royal family was more likely to be in the news for scandals rather than acts tying them more deeply with Romanian society. Michael’s third daughter, Irina, was caught up in a cockfighting scandal in the US in 2013, while his grandson, Nicholas Medforth-Mills, was removed from the line of succession in 2015, supposedly for fathering a child with a young Romanian woman (paternity is still being contested). Prince Paul, Michael’s nephew, meanwhile, is under investigation for his involvement in illegal land restitutions related to real estate around Băneasa. These incidents have probably not endeared the family to many in Romania, though it is unfair to tarnish the whole family for the actions of a few. Michael’s eldest daughter, Princess Margareta, who has dedicated much of her life to social causes – including work for the WHO, UN,
Michael made only occasional visits to the country since 1992. This was no doubt in part due to his age and life abroad, but it was also in large part the result of initial resistance from the political leaders in the early 90s, who made it difficult for him to return, fearing his potential influence on society. He was only given back his Romanian citizenship in 1997. Going forward, his successors are likely to be far more of a physical presence in the country. Even so, they will struggle to replicate Michael I’s overall appeal and connection with the nation. Only time will tell whether the royal line will continue to have a relevance in Romania, or whether it was a brief moment in history. In short, will Michael truly be the last monarchy of Romania? “I don’t believe he will be our last king,” says Mandache.
Photo credit: Sorin Stana
MELANIA In December last year, Melania Medeleanu succeeded in raising a staggering 200,000 euro through an SMS campaign. Over the course of 23 days the MagicHOME campaign brought 636 people in to Galateca art gallery and they all sat on a very special chair through every minute of every hour of every day and night for those 23 days. Artists, entrepreneurs, medical doctors, students, clerics of all religions, CEOs, young people, old people (Mr. Mihail Ĺžora was seated on the chair a day before his 101 st birthday!), former or current patients, parents who have lost children, Colectiv fire survivors. All gathered around to support this good cause. One of them left behind the huge purple teddy bear you can see on the cover. OZB Magazine talked to Melania Medeleanu about MagicHOME, television, children, fund-raising and much more. BY FULVIA MEIROĹžU 25
How did you start working in television? And how did you then get to be doing what you do now? It was an unexpectedly smooth path - I was extremely lucky. I had the advantage of knowing right from the start the direction I wanted to follow and I didn’t waste too much time searching. I was already practicing for what was to become my career for 22 years when I was just a little girl. I would cut up a cardboard box, I would paint it, I would make it into a television set and get inside it. Later, when it became reality and I got into that box through which you reach millions of people into their homes, I felt like a fish in the water. I started with TV shows for teenagers, then entertainment shows and then, when I felt more drawn to the serious side of things, I changed direction. I was a news anchor for 15 years, I have moderated social and political shows, I have reported live from important events, I have learned to ask questions through which I could either draw attention to injustices or to emphasize someone’s value. All these years have helped me prepare for what I’m doing now: the diction classes or public speaking classes, the media training I provide are all aimed at helping people to bring out the best in themselves and to let themselves be seen in their best version. What are your parents like? Were they encouraging towards your interests? I was a good kid but at the same time I had a very definite need for independence. It was not often that I would set myself a goal and not follow it. I was sometimes more and sometimes less open about this.
My parents understood this about me and from then on they always told me what they really felt about things I was doing, but at the same time gave me the freedom and confidence to follow my dreams. What was the first TV show you presented like? How about the last one? The first one was called “A crazy, crazy world” on Amerom TV. I was in highschool at the time and my colleagues kept asking me if I had a sister who worked in television - there was a huge difference between the chatty person on TV and the introvert along the school halls. Fast forward 22 years, while on my last news journal on Prima TV, I had the courage to express myself publicly, to say what I meant and, more importantly, to be not only a voice for my beliefs but also a voice for other people when necessary. How did you start supporting social projects for children? I had a peaceful life, a predictable professional trajectory and just about everything that a person could wish for within reasonable limits. But there was something missing and I didn’t know how to define it. I did recognize this hard to define factor when we crossed paths though. I wasn’t aware of it, but I knew how to make a child laugh and bring comfort. And when a child did smile to me open heartedly and held my hand it was clear to me this was the new direction I was seeking. So I first started going to a children’s institution and then I went back to school - I completed a Masters in speech therapy so that I could teach kids how to speak. I built a social
afterschool that is still functioning, 7 years later - 100 children are enrolled and in 2014 MagiCAMP came to life. It started as a camp for children with cancer related conditions and developed from 32 kids in the first year to 220 currently. Nowadays, apart from children with cancer, kids who’ve suffered bad burns also come to the camp – Connectiv CAMP– and kids who have lost someone – Blue CAMP. And MagiCAMP is not anymore just about “Joaca la greu” (“Playing hard”) our motto, but also about the individualized social aid that we can offer to children and their families: medication, access to second opinion, aid packages, and, most recently, MagicHOME, the refuge for parents. How did you get the idea for the MagicHOME campaign? It is brilliant! The success of this campaign was a consequence of the fact that the idea was very simple and easy to understand. We owe this idea to our friends from Jazz Communication. After we told them about the conditions and lack of facilities in hospitals for the parents of children diagnosed with cancer they decided to put this image at the center of the campaign the parent basically lives on a chair during the entire medical treatment of their child. How do these parents sleep, where do they eat, where do they wash, where do they cry? Anyone who has sat on a hospital chair next to someone dear to them immediately understands what this is about. And it’s because of this familiarity of the situation that so many people supported the cause for a temporary living space like MagicHOME to be built, near the hospital for the parents. We placed a chair and a hospital bed in Galateca art gallery and we promised we’d not get up until we brought together 100,000 people who would donate a monthly 2€ through sms. 23 days later we completed the strongest and most touching social campaign we’ve ever seen in Romania. Artists, entrepreneurs, medical doctors, students, clerics of all religions, CEOs, young people, old people (Mr. Mihail Şora was seated on the chair a day before his 101 st birthday!), former or current patients, parents who have lost children, Colectiv fire survivors, 636
people sat on that chair through every minute, of every night of every day, and further 1,185 were on a waiting list to continue sitting on the chair as long as it took for us to keep our promise. The money we raised was used to start the renovation project for MagicHOME and we hope that by spring the first parents will be able to be accommodated there. People who want to continue supporting the project can still send a text message with “MAGIC” at 8844. Or they can find other ways of getting involved on www.pentrumagichome.ro. What is the project that you are most proud of? I am most proud not of projects but of people. I am really happy when my students in Public Speaking can present eloquent ideas in public and then send me recordings with their speeches. I am proud of our team and of the hundreds of volunteers that have joined us in MagiCAMP, good people, dedicated, valuable. I am proud of the children that succeed in overcoming their fears and leave the camp much stronger and more confident in themselves. How hard/easy is fund-raising in Romania? And how much/little has it helped you being a public person? The most that the public person status can do is open a door. But there are far more important aspects to fund-raising than this. What matters is the trust that people grant you: the cause that you’re supporting, the relevance of this cause and, most importantly, the way you demonstrate your good will and competence. What do you think is missing in Romanian television? What do you think is lacking in social/charity projects in Romania? I think the NGO sector is lacking greater support from society at large and many of them lack the capacity to organize things so that they reach the next level. And the two are connected. Many NGOs can’t afford to hire professional people with relevant experience because there is still this mentality among the
people who support NGOs that every penny should go exclusively to the beneficiaries – there is even sometimes a clause of not investing anything in human resources. But in order for the NGO’s work to be reflected in the results for beneficiaries it is essential to have a team that builds things. I hope there will be changes in time and the companies that support NGOs will regard them in the same way they do their own companies – to get results the first investment must be in its people. Fortunately, for MagiCAMP we were lucky enough to find partners who understand that, so that starting with just a few volunteers, we are now up to 6 permanent members of the team. As for television…I’ll just say “honesty”. That’s what I think is missing from some companies. And, unfortunately, this lack of honesty is doing great harm to the entire society. Individuals are not the only ones affected, but general public are affected.
company is involved in social causes. What are your professional and personal plans for 2018? I kept postponing a lot of projects for a long time. Both professional and personal. So I don’t dare say that 2018 will be THAT year. But I know for sure 2018 will be the year that I will learn to take more time to spend with the people I love. These past few years I have heard too often people who only learn to say I love you when it’s too late and they’re close to the end.
2018 will be the year that I will learn to take more time to spend with the people I love
How involved with the social/ charitable projects are the companies and the people on the top Forbes and Capital (The richest people in Romania) lists? I know companies who are extremely involved, contributing tens or hundreds of thousands of euro to social causes – Kaufland, Vodafone, C&A, Ikea, to name just a few, just as I know companies who are not yet aware of the possibility to redirect 20% of the profit tax to a social cause. Maybe that’s where we come in. We NGOs need to make it our duty to become more visible, to be more persuasive, to find more ways to show potential partners the benefits that our work has to both the beneficiaries of the social projects supported and to the company donating. A company’s staff can feel more invested when their
How does a day in your life look like?
I find it hard to define one single day – my days can be very different. Some days I’m busy with my training classes all day long and other days I am on camp surrounded by children, with a big smile on my face, while some days I’m in the office, with the entire team, answering emails or speaking with sponsors. There are also days when I don’t leave the house, searching for hours the right words for a speech I have to give and for which I never feel fully prepared. How important is family to you? I think family is important to all of us and it’s a shame that, nowadays it seems, we have less and less time available for our loved ones. I confess I would like us to spend more evenings at home. Unfortunately we spend our evenings more and more on the streets, shouting in the name of justice, than at home, whispering to our folks how much we love them. What is your favourite subject that you could speak non-stop for 24 hours? Regina Maria. Or MagiCAMP.
WILL THE REAL byron BAND PLEASE
STEP FORWARD BY OANA VASILIU
Romanian fans of alternative music are sure to have a soft spot for byron Band. Since 2006 the band has released five studio albums and two live DVDs. Equally comfortable with loud amps or acoustic, they recently played a gig in a salt mine (100m down), just to show they mean business. They’ve composed the soundtrack for an HBO series and they’ve played live as far afield as India. Last year they recorded a concert performed at the National Theater in Cluj, Transylvania, together with both a military marching band and a students’ choir. But who is byron? OZB talked with some of the band. GENERAL OVERVIEW Generally speaking, artists seeking total artistic freedom either self-produce or record for
independent record labels. How are things now in terms of freedom of expression for byron? Dan Byron: I really don’t know how things are with other bands and artists, I sometimes think we are pretty spoiled, for we followed our dream from the beginning and made no compromises; there were some record labels involved too, not all of them independent. I often say you need naivety and stubbornness to do this job, and I do mean it, but you also need a bit of luck, at least sometimes. Can we still talk about underground music nowadays taking into consideration that everything is currently visible online? Sergiu Mitrofan: Yes, because being underground doesn't mean being super unknown anymore. I guess the line between
Photo by Anya Dimitrov
underground and mainstream is a thin one, and a clear definition still eludes us. It's not necessarily a question of visibility, there are names out there with millions of Youtube plays and very few concerts/ticket buyers. Alternative rock is still, in many ways, a Cinderella genre, and I'm not sure any Romanian alternative band can really be considered as having crossed the mainstream threshold. Of course, there are many levels of the underground, like Dante's circles, and I'm happy to report that after 11 years of grind, at least we've got to deal with the superior demons :)
musical expertise, although I sometimes am too judgemental and make stupid assessments. Anyway, we’ll know for sure the value of contemporary albums in - let’s say - ten or twenty years. Now we are too involved. And to finally answer your question, my readers seem quite happy with my posts, they frequently fall in love with an album or another that I recommend. What’s the best thing social media brought to byron? A lot of friendships.
SOCIAL MEDIA NOWADAYS
Worldwide (I might say) Red Bull is the new school of rock. Have brand partnerships destroyed counterculture? Or are they all that’s keeping it alive? It depends on your perspective. Today, it’s close to impossible to organize a big, quality event, like a release concert, with no sponsorship (believe us, we’ve tried). So, one main challenge is finding brands that appeal to us, that we feel we have something in common with, and pitching them our ideas of how we might help each other. After all, we are a brand as well. The other challenge is persisting and not losing hope when it feels like all your proposals fall on deaf ears. It can be grinding, but the doors will open eventually. If you choose to be uncompromising in your values and you build a reciprocal relationship based on respect, it’s a win/win situation. In your opinion, regarding the Romanian market, are brands willing to invest in alternative music bands and gigs? Can you give some examples? There’s been a lot more openness in this direction lately, yes. Grolsch have been doing some great projects through their platform Experimentalist. Banca Transilvania and Pepsi both have their branded series of concerts where they promote underground/alternative acts. We developed several projects with HBO. It’s still seen as a
Now with the internet platforms and social media, it’s easy for you to get your music out there for people to listen to it. Is it better or worse for the alternative music genre? Why? SM: Access to music is much easier, and to an extent even recording an album is easier. The much harder part is not getting lost in the ocean of new music. It's also a pity that the album-oriented music is rapidly dying, alongside the CD. Music gets somewhat stripped in the process. The experience is different and, in my opinion, poorer. But we must keep up with the new paradigm if we are to survive. Dan Byron is constantly blogging as a form of communication with byron’s public. The latest post regards the newest albums on the market and kind-of-a-review. What’s the public’s feedback on giving opinions on someone else’s music? DB: In this era, it’s very hard to choose, you simply have too many options. I read some studies about music streaming listeners and most of them are often running in circles. We all need recommendations more than anything, this is why I decided to write about the latest albums that deserve attention. You can say my opinion is an “authorized” one because of my
BRANDS OVER MUSIC
“daring” thing to do, associating with the alternative scene, but thankfully things seem to be moving in the right direction. In recent years, talent shows like X Factor or *insert country name* Got Talent have emerged worldwide. Is this a form of music school in Romania or just a TV-show? SM: There is real talent on the shows, however I don't think it helps the contestants very much. After all, there are very few of them we hear of afterwards, especially given the huge coverage they get while on the show (everybody and their dog seems to be watching them). But there seems to be a huge gap between the persons who watch these shows and the actual concert-goers. So, I would say, just a TV show. And quite a fake Photo by one. Is radio still the key to success for musicians? DB: Radio is still important after all these years. For decades now, everybody has had a radio in their cars. Think of the rush hour in any big city on this planet and you’ll have the big picture. Let’s say radio is not the only key, but it certainly is a vital aspect. As I said earlier, we all need recommendations of what new music to listen to, and it’s a gap that radio does fill to an extent. byron You’ve been in some gigs outside Romania. What’s the feedback? How do the foreigners review your music, especially the Romanian songs? What about those foreigners who attend your gigs in Romania? DB: I guess the funniest of our experiences outside Romania was in Chennai, India. We understood quickly that if you want fame there
you need two ingredients – distorted guitar and flute. I don’t know about the Romanian songs, when we play abroad we reduce their number to one, maybe two, but I guarantee you, you can sing in any language you want, Martian even, it doesn’t matter there. Distorted guitar and flute is what they love. They didn’t let us leave the building without two, maybe three encores. How was the experience with the bilingual album, 30 Seconds of Fame? What was first? The Romanian or the English version? SM: The album was recorded in English, but then we were willing to experiment with a Romanian version, so we translated and adapted the lyrics. While the music and orchestration are the same, Avalon the two discs are quite different, to our amazement, just because the language is different. There is a very distinct vibe to Romanian, and I think it helps a lot to sing a song in the language in which it has been created. The connection is more intimate, it just fits better. Our magazine’s public is mostly international people. In few words, how can you describe the Romanian alternative music scene? DB: A variation of what you already know, not so spicy or bitter as the original, but still pumping life through your veins. What do you want me to say? I’m a part of it! :) What’s next for byron? What will 2018 bring for the band? SM: We'll be back with a new album, but this time we're going to release several singles first. We'll also try to play more gigs abroad, we are very interested in taking all this to the next level. It's very hard for a band from Eastern Europe, but we're willing to give it our best shot!
The Year of the Butterfly and Positive Affirmations BY ANCA DONIĹžAN BOTEZ I was just listening to Steve Nobel audio Affirmations for 2018 and he was saying this year is the Year of the Butterfly. What does this mean? It means a lot of people will start to awaken to their spiritual call and embrace the path of spiritual grow. Steve was also talking about a three year cycle that started in 2016 with the "Year of the Caterpillar", followed by 2017, the "Year of the Cocoon" and this cycle will end with the "Year of the Butterfly". In terms of energy, vibration and collective consciousness, in 2016 a lot of people on Earth started their awakening process though gradual growth. On the other side, 2017 was a steady year without major shifts, preparing us for 2018, a year that will bring major changes in our lives in terms of relationships, career wise and self-development. Like many of you I am also part of this cycle, as I started my spiritual Journey in 2016 with a past life regression that confirmed my origins and I was able to connect with Soul Resources and gifts from previous lives. From a business woman perspective driven by my analytical mind, I never envisioned this Spiritual Path for myself. Letting go of who I thought I am was definitely my biggest challenge last year. I realized that my old system of beliefs was limiting my possibilities and I could not feel nor see that all things are possible. My question to you is: do you know who you truly are or do you limit yourself by who you think you are? Practically, this year a lot of us are starting to open our Heart Consciousness to these endless possibilities and opportunities, it is just a personal choice if we live IN or OUTSIDE the box. How exactly do we approach this? We start to shift our behaviour and our way of thinking from a paradigm controlled by our analytical minds to a new paradigm focused on balance, self-centering and heart opening. When we live only in the Mind Consciousness, we question everything, because the mind always needs a logical explanation. This is how the brain is wired, that's all. We are all connected on a daily basis to the Mind Matrix:
we question our children when they get a grade that we are not happy with: Why did you get a B in the Math Test? we question the husband or the wife when our expectations are not met: Why did you not pay the electricity bill on time? Why did you not take the garbage out? we question ourselves and our self-worth: Why do I feel this job or this love relationship does not fulfill me anymore? What tools should we use then to make a change, to stop this questioning and create a positive outcome? DAILY AFFIRMATIONS! Affirmations are very powerful because they change our conscious and unconscious mind, creating space for these new possibilities we were talking about. Your affirmations should have a specific intent and should be filtered though your own system of values and believes. I always recommend to my clients to say the affirmations at least twice and in front of the mirror to add visual validation when speaking the words. Yours my sound like this: Iâ€™m a present, I live fully in this moment, right now (Mindfulness Affirmations) I open myself to new possibilities and new opportunities in my personal and professional life (Growth Affirmations) I love myself and I accept myself just the way I am. I am complete. (Self-Esteem Affirmations) I communicate openly with my partner and we address conflict with respect and empathy (Relationship Affirmations) Each cell in my body is healed, I feel better and better each day (Health Affirmations) If you struggle with creating your own affirmations and with accountability, contact me, I am here on the path of service to you. So OUT with the old patterns and believes that keep us in the paradigm of fear and separation and IN with the true, with new possibilities unfolding this year in a new paradigm of unity, love, light and collective consciousness. Happy New Year and have a blessed Year of the Butterfly!
Anca Botez is a U.S. certified NLP trainer, interested in personal and business training, founder of mameinafaceri.ro project 33
LOW CARBON BY DOUGLAS WILLIAMS Greenitiative is an environmental educational NGO based in Mogoşoaia, just to the north of Bucharest and it aims to instil in people, young and old, a sense of the importance of living more sustainably. It was established in 2007 with the spectacular new, dedicated eco-training centre opening in the spring of 2016. Since then more than 2,000 people have visited this building which, in itself, is an exercise in how things can and should be done - PV solar panels plus roof garden, composting, rain collection, ultimately efficient turf insulation etc.
was the biggest and the most pressing. “I’d always been doing things like cleaning parks, helping out at orphanages etc. but as I began to discover more and more about Climate Change through reading and films such as Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’, I began to realise that this was the biggy, we need to do something and soon and there’s simply no escaping this one,” explains Ienculescu-Popovici. And so she created her Greeniniative NGO as a way of “trying to encourage a more sustainable approach across our communities and society.”
The key driving force behind this initiative is Felicia Ienculescu-Popovici a committed environmentalist who, in November, won 3rd place in the European Federation of Agencies and Regions for Energy and the Environment’s prestigious Roger Leron Award. This award was for her tireless work in raising awareness about renewable and sustainable energy amongst the Romanian public.
A key difference between Ienculescu-Popovici’s approach and that of many others working in the area of Climate Change is that she is unremittingly and unnervingly positive. “We work hard to ensure the message we are putting across doesn’t scare those people we are working with. It’s absolutely crucial that we grasp the enormity of the challenge that we face but at the same time, we mustn’t be scared and we at Greenitiative ensure we engage using fun techniques to explain just what needs to be done and how it can be done.” She continues, warming to her subject: “Yes Climate Change is a threat, and a grave one at that, but it’s also
Ienculescu-Popovici’s story of public service begins way back at school, where she was always trying to find causes to help, but by 2003 she had began to realise that, of all the many issues facing humanity, Climate Change
an opportunity, a very big one. There’s lots to do, that needs to be done. Lots of work, lots of jobs that have to be created to lessen Climate Change and to moderate the effects that are coming.” Ienculescu-Popovici’s optimism comes from her own personal story and she uses this whether she is teaching about sustainability, Climate Change, biodiversity loss and waste recycling or upcycling. “I’m a city person, we lived near the national stadium in a small apartment and now look at us - we live out here in a unique, specially designed eco-house in a small village in the country. If we can make these big changes then the changes that are needed to limit Climate Change across society can also be made. People can change, mankind has been continually changing throughout history, things that seemed unchangeable - slavery, women’s rights, even smoking - big changes can be made, it’s just a question of will.” Greenitiative has created a whole school curriculum that is being used across the country in over 700 schools. This involves a heap of superb resources - digital textbooks that are all free. Educators just register on the Greenitiative website greenmogo.ro
or the Green Schools Platform website www.scoliverzi.ro. Starting this month, these resources will be available in English too, in a new collaboration of WWF Romania, British Council and Greenitiative. In addition schools and universities visit the centre in Mogoşoaia (www.greenmogo.ro. Facebook: Centrul Green Mogo) where the building itself is used as a learning tool. Often these groups combine a visit to the centre with a visit to the fabulous Mogoşoaia Palace just down the road, to make a fun and interesting day out for students. Some learn about green building techniques, some learn about upcycling still others learn about biodiversity loss. Sustainability, waste management, energy efficiency, intelligent homes, composting - all are taught and discussed. The ramifications of Climate Change - mass migrations, food shortages, civil unrest all are covered at Greenitiative, but everything has an end goal: “We want to make sustainability at the centre of everything we do and we want to encourage as many people as possible to do the same. It should be embedded in who we are and at every level and we want to move as quickly as we can towards a low-carbon economy,” says Ienculescu-Popovici.
NEW YEAR DISSOLUTIONS– WHAT’S ON YOUR LIST? BY ARABELLA MCINTYRE-BROWN Hands up everyone who gave up on New Year Resolutions (NYR) having failed for too many years to keep any for more than a few days in January… Not just me, then. Judging from unprintable comments I had back on Facebook, we’re not the only ones whose resolve dissolves within the first week or so. (NB another one for the list. Facebook consumption: down .) Greg Helm lives much of his life in the Transylvanian wilderness, guiding high-maintenance travellers through the uncharted bits of the Carpathians. He isn’t fazed by anything that Murphy’s Law can deliver, and is a master of the contingency plan. But he is scathing about NYR. “Mine survive for about 15 mins of New Year’s Day. The last one I made, about 12 years ago, was to stop smoking.” He laughs, with a shrug, as though the problem had now almost vanished. “I only smoke about 20 a day.” He has a laugh like a file on a rusty lock. “Resolutions are ridiculous. People set themselves up for disappointment by aiming too high and putting themselves under pressure.” Anne Taylor, a South African living in Braşov, is more sensible than most. She sets goals, but allows herself latitude and doesn’t throw out the whole resolution list because she’s failed to achieve everything. “I set myself the same task every year: to look after myself better. Exercise more, read more, eat better, be more responsive to people, reach out further… Next year I turn 65, so I’ve got a crazy one this year
– to be the sexiest granny ever.” Good goal, but how, specifically? “Walk more, have a sunnier disposition, do my nails, be a touch more fashion-conscious.” You see? Anne is not setting the bar too high. Although as she’s working to set up Romania’s first-ever culinary academy offering degree courses in world-class culinary management, I don’t know when she finds time even to do her nails. “The only important thing on my list, really, is to have more fun,” she says. “Life unfolds itself, so I stay open to all opportunities. If I do whatever makes me happy, that’s enough.” 2018, for Iranian-born Pedram Goudarzi, is all about his work ambitions. Pedram arrived in Romania on 1st January 1991, when he was 24, so he has been here for more than half his life, through good times and bad. This next year he is determined to make a breakthrough in his plans to set up a farm in Alba Iulia for permaculture, and a Shiraz vineyard. Fundraising and training are his priorities; if he gets a chance to travel – his great passion in life – then the trip will have some connection to his ambitions. What percentage of NYR include kicking addictions (booze, fags, Facebook, sugar, sex, gambling, chocolate, tweets) and getting fit? I should think 98%, at least in the industrialised, sedentary world. The words “exercise” and “diet” are two of the most coma-inducing words in any language for people who can’t be arsed to do either. (Yes, that’s me too.)
Charlie Crocker, CEO of the British-Romanian Chamber of Commerce, holds his hand up to this. His job is fatal to NYR, of course, as it involves so much networking and socialising (eating, drinking). “My waistline is two or three inches bigger than it was since taking this job,” he says. “I have sacrificed my girth for British industry.” In fact, he says, he’s strong-willed about sticking to his resolutions. “I’m pretty good at losing weight and getting fitter until I get ill or injured, then I lose the habit and fall back into bad ways.” So Charlie’s NYR list is topped by a resolution to stick to his resolutions. “No alcohol in January; buy a bicycle; keep my bike somewhere safe.” He used to park his bike outside his house: it was stolen last year. “I was cycling 40 km a week, and that was the key to my keeping fit.” Another task familiar to quite a few expats and immigrants is at the top of Mark Redman’s NYR list. “The one resolution I consistently make, but always fail dismally at achieving, is to stop embarrassing myself in this wonderful, awe inspiring – and at times profoundly frustrating – country and learn more Romanian. I have enough Romanian to get myself into trouble, but far from enough to get myself out of it!” Mark, a free-range rural development enthusiast and expert, suffers
Don’t let your resolve dissolve
from the Romanian tendency to speak excellent English – his Romanian wife Raluca and son Matei are both bilingual, so the Redman home in Braşov is an English-speaking enclave; his international colleagues and clients also tend to be fluent anglophones. It’s tough being a native English speaker… One solution to the NYR self-sabotage is offered by Norman Frankel, Sibiu-based chairman of iCyber-Security. He has dumped the personal list of resolutions in favour of a family forecast and goal-setting. “Every New Year’s Eve we have a family meeting about the following year. With the children, we review the past year and set out what we’d like to achieve individually and together during the year to come. This includes looking at the children’s savings (which they always enjoy) and then they set some financial goals for the next 12 months. I then write all this up and store it till the next New Year to see how we did with our list.” On Norman’s list for 2018 is: “Finally writing the book that I’ve had inside me for nearly 20 years – I’ve promised myself to get it written in time for my 50th birthday.” We must ask him, this time next year, where we can buy his book.
Expand your resolutions for 2018: • Make your goals modest. Physical: swim, garden, dance • Don’t pile on the pressure. (alone or in company), yoga, • Start small: you can always riding (horses) raise the bar once you’ve got Spiritual: 5 mins meditation, 20 into the habit. • To achieve your mins watching clouds; ponder a goals, do things you enjoy. paradox • Set single goals for specific Creative: sing, write sonnets, days through the year. • Make draw with your left hand, invent resolutions that are also treats. Mental: learn anything, do a • Make at least one resolution a singular challenge to do in the Be a clown for ten minutes and puzzle a day, talk to a 4-year old Grateful: Don’t just give money, first week of January, before inject a bit of joy into the day. give time. Volunteer, visit, teach you give up on the New Year. Cathartic: clear out your life – • If you have a list of 20 NYRs cupboard, drawers, relationships and stick to one, have a party! • If you break a Social: join an eccentric group, have picnics, NYR, don’t give up completely: just re-start quickly find different people and keep at it. • Make them fun! Innovative: experiment, try, try again, fail, • Get a NYR buddy and keep each other going; fail better, discover start a RAK (Resolution Arse-Kickers) club.
THE AMOEBA GAME I stood at the stove holding a wooden spoon in my right hand, listening to butter sputtering against the splattered circle of an egg. Perhaps it was the flapping of the egg’s wavy edges against the steel pan, or the amorphousness of its innards outside the carriage of its brown shell— I remembered an odd game I played in Brownies. The amoeba game. In the front yard of the scout cabin, one girl at a time would become an amoeba and lead the rest. We didn’t know what amoebas were, only that they weren’t human or animal, and moved like a thousand blind legs treading through molasses. So it was that our heads and arms became legs and feet, undulating wayward into dusk. Swaying our shoulders left to right, we’d giggle through mouths we weren’t supposed to have, pretending we had no eyes and didn’t know where we came from or where we were going.
Tara Skurtu Poems from The Amoeba Game (Eyewear Publishing, 2017, London)
On THE AMOEBA GAME: The earned, liberated laughter of survival and foreboding; a high-voltage mind thinking in images; candid grief; an irreverence that rises above convention to a true, untamed intuition of the sacred; love, with all its penalties and joys. With these qualities, the engaging poems of Tara Skurtu’s The Amoeba Game offer a vision of our familiar world transformed by possibility. The title poem is a compact, funny parable of imagination engaging the unknown, and happy to encounter the unknowable. — Robert Pinsky
SKURTU, ROMANIA Dad hears there’s a town in Romania where almost everyone is a Skurtu, and I think about Jo-Ann Fabric. The aisles of zippers, mismatched bolts of cloth that frenzied my eyes electric— and on all of these, a zebra-striped sticker with the letters SKU. Skurtu supplies. If this town exists, I imagine it’s full of dads teaching their children to draw shapes: circle, square, slibeedoo. A town with balls—like Dad, when a cop pulled him over for no apparent reason, looked at his license and said, Step out of the car, Mr. Skrewtoo . Looking that cop in the eye, Dad said, That’s not how you pronounce it. My name is Mr. SkrewYou . In that one-family town, no one loses a name. Unlike Mr. Freid, whose grandfather, at Ellis Island, spoke the only English words he knew but couldn’t spell. I am afreid . And fear, with a foreign accent, renamed him.
Oh, What Fun BY MIKE ORMSBY Our first New Year in these glorious mountains. Tonight’s the night, although a bitter wind is howling around our cosy home, the temperature has plummeted to minus 15ºC, and snow lies knee-deep in the narrow lane outside. All things considered, we should probably stay home and pop a few corks, just the two of us. But, instead, at 8 p.m., we pull on woolly sweaters, salopettes, heavy boots, warm coats, hats, scarves, and thermal mittens. We grab our hiking poles, force open the front door, and strike out for the centre of the village. Because that’s where the action will be. It’s hard going, though. Heads down, we thrust our poles left and right, inching our way up hill and down dale. Snow sucks at our feet and the relentless wind seems bent on our submission. I feel as if we’re off to explore the Antarctic. At our current rate, we’ll reach our humble destination in about forty minutes. On the other pole, perhaps we won’t reach it all. My wife Angela taps my arm. “Mike, we must be mad!” The wind snatches my reply. Angela cups an ear. What? I point with my hiking pole. Car coming, behind you. Bright beams from headlights flood the lane. Fir trees alongside glimmer in the glow, laden with snow. We seem to be trudging through a giant Christmas card. As the car trundles past, blurry faces stare at us from steamy windows. The driver beeps twice. Perhaps it means, See you at the ball! Perhaps it means, Are you bonkers? We wave mittened hands, plant our poles, and press on. Scott or what. A huge horse trots out of the swirling snowflakes with a red rosette on its bridle for protection against The Evil Eye, whatever that means. The horse is tugging a wooden sled. A familiar figure - our neighbour Liviu - sits upfront holding the reins. He nods hello as the sled purrs past us. A middle-aged man and woman
huddle behind him. They’re wearing matching jackets with fur-trimmed hoods. A thick woollen blanket is draped over their knees. Tourists, probably. “That’s the way to travel,” Angela says, and we trudge on. We arrive at the village hall around 9 p.m. Traditional muzică populară pumps out at deafening volume: high-pitched saxophone, bouncing bass, and a male vocalist with a keening voice. He sounds a bit sad. A lot sad, in fact, because his pretty little chicken has run off. Or so he sings, over and over. We tread carefully up ice-encrusted steps and through a knot of chatting teenagers. The lads wear the traditional village uniform of short black leather jacket, skinny stonewashed jeans, and white hi-top trainers. The girls wear skimpy dresses, high heels, and lots of make up. All these youngsters seem happy to hang around outside the hall, shooting the breeze as if on summer vacation. Born and raised here, they’re accustomed to freezing weather and have experienced far worse, no doubt. Their happy banter subsides as we shuffle towards the entrance, dusted with snow like two Inuit hunters just back from the frozen wilderness. Someone giggles but not me. I have lockjaw and a stalactite of snot hanging from my Rudolphian nose. We squeeze into the tiny lobby packed with men buying beer and mulled wine from a table. Those at the back reach over those in front and drinks get spilled. But the mood is friendly and apologies swift. No one is lookin’ for friggin’ trouble, pal , and we slip unscathed into the hall… This is an extract from Mike Ormsby's book 'Never Mind the Vampires, Here's Transylvania'. Mike is the author of bestseller 'Never Mind the Balkans, Here's Romania.' Literary critics dubbed him 'The British Caragiale’.
Give Culture its Due BY IRINA BUDRINA Over the past few years our exposure to other cultures has increased enormously be it in business or in our personal lives. Many people leave their homes to go on a voyage of discovery and learn about other cultures that subsequently affect their own original cultural identity. Thus, the logical question of where and how do cultures meet? This is the central question of my book, “Multiculturalism: United in Diversity. A Romanian Perspective”, published last month. Having lived in Romania for 14 years I took this country as my main “battlefield” to demonstrate how different cultures deal with Romanian people in a variety of different situations. What does the management culture look like here and what about the specifics of negotiations and time management? Is it necessary to conduct cultural due diligence before buying a business in Romania? What about the “Women in business” phenomenon and gender issues for different cultures living here in Romania? Business networking and cultural behavior patterns? National culture and corporate culture, are they united in diversity? All these questions as well as many others are covered in my book “Multiculturalism: United in Diversity. A Romanian Perspective”. Culture and cultural differences have a greater influence on business effectiveness than we think and it is important for companies to develop the Cultural Intelligence (CQ)
of their employees – both for locals and for those coming from abroad. Why? Because Intercultural Communication (IC) can be a “battlefield” where doubts and misunderstandings arise because parties from different cultural backgrounds have different views and expectations of what should and shouldn’t happen. The response one gets may be different from the one that is expected and make the other party’s intentions uncertain. If a cross-cultural environment is to be constructive and fruitful, both parties must bring their cultural intelligence (CQ) into play. Cross-cultural management and cultural due diligence is the next step in this process. But first – let’s start with ourselves with our own self identity! Let’s learn who we are! Let’s start with our own core cultural values and personal national identity. The situation for Intercultural Communications between Romanian culture and cultures from all over the world is described in 33 chapters and they are neither positive nor negative. They are taken from real life and are unique in this sense. These cases can be used to learn more about Romanian culture, can be studied as examples for students attending business schools or used for cross-cultural and cultural adaptation trainings. The book is written in English as the initial target group was - and still is – foreigners coming to Romania to work. The next stage is to publish this book in Romanian.
Excerpt from: “Multiculturalism - United in Diversity - A Romanian Perspective”
Cultural diversity in business Culture and cultural differences have a greater influence on business effectiveness than we think and it is therefore important for companies to develop the Cultural Intelligence (CQ) of their employees and develop the system of Cross-Cultural Capital Management. As organizations become more global, mergers and strategic alliances become more common, developing the skills to get the best from different cultures become a necessity rather than an option.
Boom-time? BY COLIN LOVERING I am now in my ninth happy year of living in Romania since coming out of 18 years in the corporate world to set up a business advisory and training consultancy focused on simply helping organizations and individuals be more successful. I am also Chairman of The British Romanian Chamber of Commerce (BRCC) as well as a Senior Tutor with the Institute of Sales Management (ISM), a British institution now healthily supporting sales professionalism here in Romania.
visit here as either a tourist or prospective business. Visitors to Romania are generally very pleasantly surprised and they can quickly see the advantages that this country possesses.
Recently I embarked on an exciting new direction in my career by joining the successful Real estate giant Avison Young in Romania as Senior Vice-President with particular focus on enabling organisations to choose offices and industrial complexes for what they actually do in terms of productivity, employee retention, image etc as well as what they are.
A father of two great sons (Dan & Matt) and a very proud Grandfather to Freddie, I have settled very well here in Bucharest with my partner Corina although, being a country boy from Herefordshire, England, I do enjoy getting into the amazing Romanian countryside and culture whenever possible.
The diversity of spoken languages, the work ethic, low overheads, favourable tax system etc. are all a business magnet in today’s competitive global markets yet the sustainability of this enormous differentiating asset is the one key challenge for business and government alike.
In my business training, I often teach about the 6 key ‘pestle model’ areas of non-control that every business should be aware of, plan for and act upon. These are Political, Economical, Social, Technological, Legal and finally Environmental. These, sometimes uncontrollable external influences and decisions can deeply damage or, indeed, enhance an organization’s or country’s prosperity as witnessed here in Romania in both a positive and negative way such as technological advances on one side and legislative business contraception on the other.
On the business side of things I am, of course, constantly and actively encouraging inward foreign investment into the country as well as supporting local businesses here to grow and prosper in what is, a very promising yet challenging time for Romania.
This pestle model of strategic thinking should be part of every organisation’s regular proactive thoughts and brainstorming process each week and I will be sharing lots of other business tips and ideas over the coming months but, in the meantime, you can write to me on any business matter or dilemma and I will come back to you as part of the OZB business clinic. Send your questions or observations to: firstname.lastname@example.org
I think it’s fair to say that the expectation is always overwhelmed by the reality when people
Wishing everyone a very prosperous year ahead for your business or individual careers!
SO, IS BUSINESS REALLY BOOMING IN ROMANIA?
Colin Lovering is senior vice-president of Avison Young Romania and Chairman of the British Romanian Chamber of Commerce.
SILVER SCREEN ROMÂNESC
BY GILES ELDRIDGE So, your idea of going to the cinema, the pictures, the flicks or to catch a movie is to go to a mall and see the latest whatever from Hollywood; wealthy people with enormous apartments in New York fall in love, argue then get married or a man with a gun empties a cartridge into another man with a differing ethnic origin in the name of freedom or some ‘cute’ animated robots trip over each other and squeak and…well you know the kind of thing. Now, I am not here to criticise any of this, it’s all good fun, however I should point out that here in Bucharest, there is an alternative, both in terms of film theatres and films themselves.
NOUVELLE VAGUE Although some cinemas such as Scala , the magnificent 750 seater Patria and the Cinema Studio on Magheru were closed in 2016, for
safety reasons, as a response to the Colectiv club fire tragedy, there are still some very good independent film houses in the city. Here are a few of them: Cinema PRO at Universitate is a prime alternative to the malls, often showing mainstream Hollywood within a big screen, good sound, high quality theatre. Cinema Eforie and Union are both places associated with the Arhiva Naţională de Filme and thus often show a fabulous range of films from the archive alongside new Romanian and international films, very often with English subtitles. At the French Institute on Blvd. Dacia there is the Elvire Popesco cinema, a contemporary, medium sized space, it shows European films, with Romanian and sometimes English subtitles. The Cinema at Muzeul Ţăranului is situated behind the museum itself and it also stages open air projections during the summer. Finally, Glendale Studio , another good independent cinema presenting mainstream films near Grădina Botanică. At any
one time there seems to always be some kind of film festival or other taking place in Bucharest, usually based at some of the aforementioned cinemas and sometimes associated with the more active international cultural outposts such as The Goethe Institute, The Czech Centre and The Cervantes or French Institute. There is the festival that features a selection of films previously shown at Cannes and there are the European film and the International Experimental film festivals, the short film festival and Anim’est , the one that features animation. But really the list goes on…Polish, Kazakh, Jewish, One World Romania , which shows political documentaries, an International Dance film festival, Fashion film festival and so on.
known for mocking communism and replacing realism with a new surreal or farcical poetic. Yet another possible point of reference might be the Danish film revolution, Dogme 95 . This was a manifesto type of movement proposing ‘a vow of chastity’ that included shooting scenes in sequence, not using additional props or extra lighting etc. While what happened in Romania was rather different to these examples there are some similarities with all three movements in terms of a definite change of attitude and to foregrounding things like real time scenes and points of tension alongside domestic normality, often losing the added musical soundtrack and working with what one might call a zeitgeist of the turn of the new century ethic - big subjects observed in a microcosm. This kind of collective filmic sea change always attracts international interest and this is the bigger picture aspect of the Romanian New Wave . Now the whole cinematic world knows about Romanian film, a hitherto rather overseen aspect of Romanian art and culture.
Anyway, my point is that there are cinematic alternatives to the malls and the subject I really want to talk about is what has become known as the New Wave in Romanian film making. There is, naturally, a healthy Romanian film history from Pintilie to Daneliuc but what has DISTINCTIVE happened ATMOSPHERE more recently is an Like other things internationally of this nature recognised the New Wave phenomenon. is a thing that Now 16 years seemed to have old, depending formed by itself on where without an initial one says it all meeting of minds started, this or committee New Wave is meeting. But, not so new once Cristi anymore Puiu had set but the style the ball rolling, Autopotretul unei fete cuminţi (Self-portrait of a dutiful daughter) Ana Lungu, 2015 that it has other directors established started to follow or modify their style accordingly. seems to continue to dominate alongside other After his debut, Puiu followed up with Moartea contemporary Romanian Cinema. The phrase/ Domnului Lăzărescu ( The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu ) name New Wave comes, of course, from the in 2005 which brought the first real international French Nouvelle Vague of the late 50s when a attention, winning the jury prize in the Un Certain number of directors moved dramatically away Regard section at Cannes that year. Two years from the straightforward narrative and ethos later saw 4 luni, 3 săptămâni și 2 zile (4 Months, dominated by Hollywood and synthesised 3 weeks and 2 days) by Cristian Mungiu take the certain American movie elements with Italian Palme d’Or, Cannes in 2007. Forget the Oscars, style Neo-realism, albeit in a very intellectually all real filmmakers want the Palme d’Or, it doesn’t reflexive French way. Another reference is the simply put you on the map for that year, you are Czech New Wave, taking place during the 60s, the map. This set up a sort of rivalry between
the two directors but really I think it should be dark humour or casual and approachable verité seen as a team effort paving the way for the style cinematography. movement to go forward with a subtle range of social subjects and new ways of using the I take the position that the source of the river wealth of historical and cultural references is well upstream, in 2001, with Cristi Puiu’s available. In any event, the Romanian New first feature, Marfa și banii ( Stuff and Dough ) a Wave continues to this day with around 10 or measured account of youths getting into more so directors making films that have a distinctive trouble than they are aware of, delivering Romanian style. Commentators keep saying ‘medicine’ to Bucharest from Constanţa. The that the wave cast includes a must break, rather young but it carries Dragoș Bucur on regardless, and other although, true actors who to say that will go on maybe some to feature in are starting to many other go in individual New Wave directions, films. Whilst there are still the narrative more younger and morality directors aspects are Marţi după Crăciun (Tuesday after Christmas) Radu Muntean, 2010 emerging that ever present it follow what is is the formal now an established New Wave look and feel. structure and atmosphere that is the departure from previous Romanian film. It is a road movie without the glamour but this is a strong point. RELENTLESS EVERYDAYNESS It takes the genre and gives us something recognisable. We almost feel implicated in the So what are these films like? Actually a little scenes and this is a common trait that you will hard to describe but see in subsequent I’ll give a couple of New Wave films. examples and I will The story develops suggest a number slowly but tension of films not so much grows and a feeling as a top 10 but of menace follows rather to illustrate to the end without the range. The main completely erupting. characteristics found The malevolent in such films are aspect contrasts astute character with the depiction studies developed of domesticity. through everyday Indeed relentless scenarios taking the everydayness form, for example, continues and of a simple domestic we leave the film Câini, (Dogs) Bogdan Mirică, 2016 scene in a kitchen or ending knowing that a conversation in a car. the story isn’t over for The main theme may be a difficult situation that the now initiated youth. needs to be resolved and/or a moral dilemma. In addition, all share the vital aspect of creating So, what would be a good first film to see? distinctive atmospheres. It is an aesthetic that I would say Călin Peter Netzer’s 2013 film could be thought of as theatre in a cinematic Poziţia Copilului ( Child’s Pose ). It covers a lot of space, seeing what it is possible to explore contemporary issues of particular pertinence to within the confines of clearly delineated Romania. If you have lived here a while you will parameters. Other aspects might include some recognise them, if you are new to Romania then
Când se lasă seara peste București sau metabolism (When evening falls on Bucharest or metabolism) Corneliu Porumboiu, 2013
it is a good introduction. A serious car accident has happened and the driver’s mother is at hand to use all in her influential power to get him off the hook. We see various characters hanging onto their habitual way of being whilst pushing others to change. Family tension, denial and eventually, limited reconciliation ensues. This film progresses at a good pace, is very well written and has memorable performances from Luminiţa Gheorghiu and Bogdan Dumitrache. The pace and rhythm recommend it as a sound starting point.
At any event the very best way to get an introduction to some of these films online is to visit Cinepub.ro. This is a free archive with a range of Romanian films and includes some of the films that I have mentioned plus many, many more. They have English subtitles and there is a good selection of feature films, shorts and animation.
The following are some other suggestions from a much larger catalogue covering a wide variety of themes yet sharing New Wave aesthetics. There is film about film, murder mystery, coming of age, border issues, bribery, adultery and semantics:
Când se lasă seara peste București sau metabolism (When evening falls on Bucharest or metabolism) Corneliu Porumboiu, 2013 Aurora , Cristi Puiu, 2010 Poliţist, Adjectiv (Police, Adjective) Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009, jury prize, Un Certain Regard, Cannes 2009 Marţi după Crăciun (Tuesday after Christmas) Radu Muntean, 2010 Autopotretul unei fete cuminţi (Self-portrait of a dutiful daughter) Ana Lungu, 2015 Bacalaureat (Graduation) Cristian Mungiu, 2016 Câini, (Dogs) Bogdan Mirică, 2016
Aurora, Cristi Puiu, 2010
Saxon Fairytale Escape BY STEPHEN MCGRATH A full moon hangs over the 12 th-century citadel of Sighişoara which is white with December snow. As several tourists stroll across the town square between the restaurant bars, the silhouette of the 65m tall medieval clock tower looks like the backdrop to a murder mystery or the setting of a Grimm fairytale. This is Sighişoara caught off-guard and candid on a regular weeknight in the dead of winter. It’s an enchanting place known predominantly as the birthplace of Vlad Ţepeş, the real-life inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. That fact alone mostly serves as a useful but kitsch marketing tool that has paved the way for lots of Dracula-themed tourist tat but Sighişoara, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has a lot more than that going for it, and you can do it all in a couple of days. Sighişoara is a treasure trove of history and the place booms with tourists each summer. However, on this rather quiet winter’s night, as I stumble down one of its cobbled snow-covered side streets, it becomes clear that this is a place best experienced in winter. It can make for a perfect two-night getaway. Not only is Sighişoara steeped in history, it also
boasts a multitude of cosy haunts, serving local food and beverages, which just about covers all bases of what makes a winter getaway worthwhile. Sitting in Alte Post, a large restaurant with equally large stonewall cellars at the foot of the citadel, I opt for a true winter meal: a plate of lamb pastrami served with mămăligă and a side dishes of pickles. The lamb is hearty and warming and pays homage to Romania’s heritage as a nation of shepherds. Washing it down with a small jug of house red (decent and cheap at just 15 lei for half a litre) is recommended. It’s hard to tell whether it’s the setting, the peasant-style grub or the locally-made wine that is most responsible for making me feel as though the medieval period here never ended. However, the strong wifi connection confirms that we are indeed in the 21 st Century. From Alte Post there are various routes you can take to the top of the citadel and, while walking the typical route passed the old torture chamber and through the bottom of the clock tower is a must, simply walking through the narrow cobbled streets can be equally charming. Sighişoara is
one of few inhabited fortified cities in Europe and it is worth passing by the colourful citadel homes to get a sense of this. When you arrive at the top there are myriad places to rest up to fend off the winter chill.
four-poster beds. Casa Cositorarului also has an impressive, large tea room which offers a decent array of home-made cakes. It is also a nice spot for a bottle of wine; better still that the rooms are in close proximity.
The Medieval Cafe, a place that is hard-to-miss due to its inviting (and highly decorated) facade, has a small but decent selection of winter beers. (Transylvania has few local beers that are noteworthy, but here they’ve made up the shortfall with some impressive imports). The dark smoked German beer (5% abv) is a personal favourite, but the punchy Italian red ale offers more of a kick at 7% abv. All of the food here is passable but the
Right next to the guesthouse is the ‘Scholars’ Stairs’ which leads to the evangelical Church on the Hill. It was dedicated to St. Nicolas and constructed over several centuries starting in 1345; it is a great example of the religious architecture of the early Saxon settlers — ethnic Germans brought to Transylvania from the 12th-14th centuries by the Hungarian Kingdom to protect the region and develop it economically. If your knees and lungs are in good shape then scaling the 175 steps is a must, and you can enjoy wandering around the church’s adjacent (and scenic) Saxon cemetery. Like all cities of the dead it tells a story of is own, in this case the ethnic heritage of the Saxons.
traditional cheese pie can make for a great beer snack. Staying in Sighişoara is generally inexpensive: a decent room in the citadel will cost you as little as 23 euro per night; eating out is also cheap and so a short getaway for two is unlikely to break the bank. A great place to stay is Casa Cositorarului, a boutique guesthouse at the top of the citadel that costs around 28.5 euro per night. The rooms are charming and intimate and some even have
Transylvania is home to many cities that warrant a weekend trip, but the close proximity of everything in Sighişoara makes for a perfect getaway during the cold winter months — and it is arguably the region’s most picturesque city, especially when it snows.
TIPS FROM THE TOP
Chef Franz Conde is Executive Chef at the Athénée Palace Hilton following nine years at Hilton Amsterdam. In the Netherlands he developed and launched the menu and the concept of Roberto's Amsterdam restaurant and his cookbook "Roberto's Pura Cucina Italiana" was published. Here, for OZB, Chef Franz explains how to make Stinco d'Agnello della Valle d'Itria:
STINCO D'AGNELLO DELLA VALLE D'ITRIA A cold January makes us hungry. It is the month for big appetites and rich food, for soups and stews. Winter also makes us want to connect and appreciate the landscape around us in a bare and fundamental way. It is for this reason that I would like to share with you the recipe for Stinco d'agnello della Valle d'Itria, a dish from the winter menu of Roberto's that captures both the essence of winter, and the sense of "terroir" or that spirit of belonging to a particular geography. This lamb recipe is from the southern Italian region of Apulia, a region that may not yet have achieved complete industrialization (somehow like Romania), however, its valleys and undulating plateaus produce a wealth of wheat, figs, grapes, olives, almonds and tomatoes, exactly as they did in the Middle Ages. If Italian cuisine is sustained by the
quality of its produce, then the cuisine from Apulia thrives on it! Let's get immersed a little into the technical concerns regarding stewing and braising. Tender cuts (those that lack connective tissue like fillet steak or sirloin) are suitable for faster cooking (like grilling) and can be served rare or pink, however those cuts with connective tissue (shoulder or lower legs) need to be cooked longer in order to soften up the collagen. Lamb shanks are a prime example of these cuts and need to be cooked in a moist environment be it wine or water, or both. Furthermore, there are differences between stewing and braising. While stewing we add a larger amount of liquid than when we braise. The end result of braised meat is a supremely concentrated "sugo" or "jus” that deliciously combine the flavors of meat, vegetables, wine,
herbs and spices added during the cooking process. Our stinco d'agnello is served with winter vegetables and some white beans, and a little spinach, although Apulians would serve it with some wild winter cabbage or turnip tops (cima di rapa).
B Originally from Venezuela Chef Franz Conde’s professional development was helped greatly by gastronomic giants such as Patrick Dwyer and Armando Scannone, who he had the privilege of working with.
PREPARATION TIME: 30 minutes QUANTITY: 4 people INGREDIENTS: • 4 lamb shanks • 2 onions, cut in half • 2 carrots, peeled and left whole • 1 head of garlic, sliced in half • 2 ribs of celery • 8 stems of parsley • 60 ml of olive oil • 1 bottle of full bodied red wine. Feteasca Neagră, for example • 2 cups of cooked white beans • 1/2 kg. of green winter cabbage, like cavolo nero, kale, Savoy cabbage, boerenkool, or similar • salt and black pepper 52
• On a roasting pan, place the lamb shanks, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, parsley stems. • Season with some salt and pour the olive oil over. • Roast in the oven at 175° for about 20 minutes, until the meat and vegetables are light golden. • Pour in the bottle of wine and add some water until the lamb is half covered with the liquid. • Cover loosely with aluminum foil and braise at 150° for about 3 hours, or until the lamb is completely tender. • Make sure to check on the liquid every 30 minutes or so. Add water as needed to keep the lamb partially covered, turning the shanks every time you top the liquid up to the right level. • Once the lamb is tender, remove the aluminum foil and continue baking to reduce the liquid to a "sugo", glazing the shanks constantly to ensure that they don’t become dry and to intensify the taste of the meat with the cooking liquid. • Adjust for salt and pepper. • Serve on a deep plate, together with some white beans and sautéed winter cabbage. • Drink a deep, full-bodied red wine with this dish.
Sinaia: the Scenery’s Great, but the Food’s Dire BY DOUGLAS WILLIAMS
One of the best things about Bucharest is the proximity of Sinaia, a mere 90 minute drive/ train from the capital. Sinaia just about has it all, mountains, forests, trekking, mountain biking, skiing, of course, and a plethora of accommodation options but when it comes to eating the mountain escape is something of a gastronomic desert.
ACCOMMODATION When it comes to beds to lay your head in Sinaia there would appear to be about 20 possibilities per person visiting such is the over capacity in the town. Most of that capacity
is taken care of by vast, monolithic, faceless hotels that are not to my taste but there are plenty of alternatives. This is far from an exhaustive guide, but a brief look at a few options: The Bastion is down the track from the ever delightful Peleş Castle and offers solid, if style-less, accommodation amid deeply peaceful surroundings and still not far from the town. The Camelia is an old villa not far from the monastery - more shortly - and well positioned for accessing the northern end of the town. It is a comfortable place, great breakfast and has an immensely practical family suite. The Regal is further back up the hill halfway to the ski slopes and it offers high
quality, super comfortable accommodation in a certain style. Though far from the main drag, it’s close to one of the better eateries Restaurant Regales which, despite the similarity of the name, is entirely unconnected. Way down the bottom and at the very northernmost tip of Sinaia is probably the town’s best hotel - the Hotel Boutique Belvedere. This has very comfortable rooms - again in a certain style - with a pool and sauna in the basement and a genuinely haute cuisine restaurant with service to match. Far from the main drag and not cheap. Finally there is the Arizto a superbly restored villa just up the hill from the bigger roundabout, that offers sumptuously comfortable rooms, attentive though not intrusive service and a great breakfast.
THINGS TO DO Just a couple of suggestions for things to do there are many others of course including skiing, serious trekking, quad bike riding etc etc. but for those of a less adventurous disposition the monastery is a must see. Sit and soak up some of the peace and harmony present in abundance in this incontrovertibly spiritual place. Secondly, and significantly more active, would be the walk back down into town from the 1400m point. Take the Telecabina Sinaia up to the 1400m point. Get out and walk down the road down a half kilometre and then - eyes peeled for the red and white flags - dive down into the beautiful forest. The trail is well marked but it is steep in places and good boots are required. Through snowy winter months the bear worry is less. The walk back down into Sinaia can be completed in 2 hours but it can also be combined with a spot of lunch around Peleş Castle, a visit to the castle and, continuing down the valley, to the aforementioned monastery - thus making a pleasant half day outing.
EATING All that mountain air can induce quite the appetite! Ok, where to start? Up around the castle is definitely best - the Carol Gastro Bierhaus and La Tunuri are good. Along the main drag you’ll find purely functional grub and sometimes not even that. Again not an exhaustive review but bottom of the heap is probably Restaurant Carpati Sinaia which, call me a glutton for punishment, I’ve tried twice. Atmosphere and service are equally glum and the food is pedestrian at best. Across the road the Irish House does do food, the wait staff might smile, depending on which one, the food is edible and it doesn’t take too long, but that’s about as good as we can say. Along the road there’s the Rocky Mountain, a steak place, I did try many moons ago. Perhaps it’s improved. Across the road there’s the Ramayana Cafe which does have a good atmosphere, red velvet and exotic mood music, and their cocktails are remarkably good. Service is again surly though and the approximation of Indian food dismal, err Youtube! Back across the road and Old Nick is like a pub you’d find in a bad neighbourhood of a provincial British town and it’s every bit as unwelcoming. So the unlikely winner of OZB’s best dinner in Sinaia is Jad Sticks, a Chinese restaurant where the service was slick and the food not half bad! I’ve not tried La Cerdac which overlooks the roundabout but I suspect it’s decent given by how full it always appears, the live music turned me off.
SHARE TOGETHER BY DOUGLAS WILLIAMS
Pâine şi Vin is one of those rare places that impresses on every level and it’s a celebration of Romania and three of the things that this country can do best: bread and wine - as the name suggests - and interior decor. PsV has a huge range of Romanian wines from all across this country (as well as Moldova) along with an array of breads and cheeses and assorted other delicious eats. The simple and clean decor with exuberantly bright wood and tiles appears at first glance to be Skando-chic but is actually 100% românesc. Huge bell-shaped porcelain light shades hang down, there’s a cavernous oven, the better for making aforementioned bread, a long bar that becomes a high table, neat little tables with cute, plain wooden chairs, an upstairs area, open vents cross the ceiling along with wooden beams and there’s a liberal sprinkling of cute, little decorative flourishes - very modern and very agreeable. The ambiance is casual and confident as is the service. This is a great place to come to expand your understanding of this nation’s viniculture. There are an assortment of wines from each of these regions: Dobrogea, Muntenia, Transylvania, Oltenia, Maramureş, Banat, Moldova and from the Republic of Moldova and all are available by
the glass or by the bottle. Prices per glass range from 17 lei to 49 lei, staff are on hand and knowledgeable. There are all kinds of breads from the very simple to the very complicated. There are gorgeous platters with cheeses, hams, fruits and nuts, seriously Italian pizzas and breads from Mexico, Belgium, Bengal and Scandinavia. As with the wine the emphasis here is on local produce. You could very easily go to Pâine şi Vin yourself and park yourself at the bar and enjoy the wine, the food and the ambience, but as the Împarte Împreună slogan associated with PsV implies - share together - this place is for enjoying in company - the food is designed to be shared and it’s best that way. The only criticism I have is that some of the big reds are a little on the cold side. This is easily remedied, but necessary for the full complexity and wondrousness of their flavours to emerge. Find PsV a five minute walk west from Universitate Metro on Str. Actor Ion Brezoianu 4. See painesivin.ro or visit their Facebook page for more information.
CHANGING THE WORLD ONE SMILE AT A TIME BY DOUGLAS WILLIAMS Howard Dell divides his time between Bucharest, Hollywood and Victoria, Canada. The Canadian with the winning smile is hard to pigeonhole but currently, when here in Romania, he works as an athletics coach (with National 100m Champion Andreea Grecu), a Cardiac Treatment Specialist with External Enhanced Counter-pulsation (EECP) and a Wayflex Exercise Trainer (the training programme which replaces TRX). He’s also an educator, substitute teaching in high-school. Howard has been, and is still to varying degrees, a professional athlete, a musician, a life coach, a speaker and an actor recently playing alongside Steven Segal in the crime thriller “Absolution” and “Cartels” with Luke Goss. He started his acting career in 1992 appearing in the comedy series “A Different World” (alongside Halle Berry), “That Seventies Show” and most recognizably “The Young and Restless,” playing Detective Troy Hawkins
for three years. An Olympian Bobsledder, a professional American football player, a top decathlete, he has presented a TED Talk, he’s a sports-nutrition expert... Dell’s story goes on and on but it very nearly ended in 2009. Back then, in his mid 40s, Dell was diagnosed with not just one but two rare liver diseases that he was not expected to survive. In rapidly deteriorating health, Dell travelled the world determined to beat the diseases. Finally, in a very poor way, he arrived at Hoag Hospital, Newport, Ca., emergency room. 18 days later he awoke at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles with a new liver and, as it has since transpired, a new lease of life. He is now, naturally, a big proponent of the Transplant Games, which, he believes, is a very important way to communicate to the world that organ recipients can still lead normal lives. He sees
the Games as “a way to give people a goal to work towards while recuperating and a great opportunity to promote Organ Donor Awareness. It’s especially important for kids to know that they can still be athletic after transplantation.” Dell competes for the United States to honour his transplant donor family. He is a 12 time gold medalist and 5 time world record holder at the World Transplant games in athletics. Here in Romania one of Dell’s plans is to open a cardiac treatment clinic which can dramatically help anything to do with heart disease using EECP therapy. This therapy was developed at Harvard University and can be found at the finest hospitals in the world
treating all heart related diseases: high blood pressure - angina, myocardial infarction, ischemic heart disease etc. This requires state of the art equipment, already brought here to Romania by Dell from the US. His biggest passions, lately, have been coaching high performance athletes in athletics, wanting to take Romania’s sprint programme to the highest level. He has coached two of Romania’s National Champions in sprints and heptathlon. He also loves teaching and distributing the latest dynamic fitness product called Wayflex Multi Functional Trainer. Wayflex replaces the redundant TRX device and takes suspension training to a new level. See: www.wayflex.ro
OZB spoke briefly with Dell while he was in LA on his latest film venture... 1. Where are you originally from and what did you set out to do/be in life? I’m from Belleville Ontario, Canada and I set out to be a professional American football player, a professional basketball player, an Olympian and an actor and singer… 2. What brought you to Romania? The opportunities to continue my acting, coaching and medical pursuits. Romania is growing and I wanted to grow with it. 3. What do you do here? Coaching athletics with National Champion Andreea
Grecu, Cardiac Treatment Specialist with EECP ( External Enhanced Counter Pulsation) and Wayflex Exercise Trainer which replaces TRX. 4. What do like most about Romania and what least? The most, its talent and potential in every aspect of life, sport, business, growth and friendship. The least: the non realization of just how much potential the Romanians have as a people. The negativity about their own country. Everyone wants to leave and go to US. I really think here is the place to be. Change takes time and every little bit counts.
These are Dell’s top tips for fitness: Discipline: you have to have the ability, or acquire the ability to set a goal and go after it. Consistency: you have to acquire the ability to stay on course, stick with your plan. Dedication: you have to be able to avoid distractions and temptations that take you off course. Commitment: you have to have commitment. Train smarter not harder.
HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR SKI BOOTS BY DAN CONSTANTINESCU
Whether you are a first timer or you’ve reached a high level of technical expertise in skiing, there is one problem we all have in common: how to choose the best equipment. Whether it's socks, thermal underwear, ski suits, ski boots, skis, sticks, helmets, or any of the other accessories, all have to be chosen with great care so that we can best enjoy this sport. A few years ago I was glad when a student of mine decided to give up on rental equipment and buy her own. I decided to help her and we met at the winter equipment store. After 15 minutes of technical explanations and arguments about the kind of equipment she needed, the lady turned to the seller and asked, "Do you have pink skis and boots?" In order to become a good skier you do not want to do that. If you are a beginner you must first decide on the style you want to practice: alpine skiing, ski touring, telemark, cross-country, etc. because the ski boot types differ greatly from one style to another. In this article I will discuss alpine skiing boots and about how to choose the correct pair for you. From the beginning it's important to understand that the ski boots are the most important part of the skier's equipment, they are basically the interface between the body and the skis, they provide the energy transfer between them, while supporting and protecting your feet, ankles, and lower legs. They also affect the comfort more than any other part of your ski equipment and if they are well chosen, they can be the skier’s best friends. Choosing ski boots is not really straightforward because you
must pay attention to a range of details: height, weight, foot shape and size, the training level, the style, the terrain and the snow conditions, and, of course, comfort and budget. But when we are talking about budget, quality and performance don’t come cheap. A few general words about the boots’ components - the outside layer, made of beautiful painted shiny plastic is the shell and on it are the buckles and the straps that hold your boots closed and determine how tight they are. Also the ski boots can come with various adjustment systems, cuff alignments, buckles adjustments, spoilers etc. Inside the plastic carcass is the liner, a soft layer directly connected to your foot and, depending on the thickness and the material, will tell you how responsive, comfortable and warm the boots are. Under the liner is the footbed, a platform to supports the foot precisely on the contours and provides comfort and power transmission to the skis. The first thing you must do is evaluate yourself as a skier in the most realistic terms. In my opinion there are five categories of skiers: Initiate, beginner, intermediate, advanced and experts. Here is where we meet the “Flex”, a coefficient indicating to us the stiffness of the ski boots required - basically how hard you can flex your ankle while wearing the boot. This “flex” has a scale from 50 to 140+, from soft to very stiff. “By the books” for the first two categories of skiers, the boots need to be softer, with a lower flex 50-80, while the intermediate skiers can have a
medium flex 80-100 and advanced goes for 100-130. Racers need to go for tougher boots, with thinner lines and strong shells with flex starting from 130 to 170+. As women tend to be smaller than men they require boots with a flex up to 20 less than those values previously indicated. The women’s legs are shaped differently to men’s legs with a greater variation in size and that’s why women specific boots take these differences into consideration and the materials used are softer and the liners warmer. There is a sizing system specific to ski boots called Mondopoint and helps you to find the right size. It is very simple to determine your mondopoint because it’s the length of your foot in centimetres and most shops have a foot measuring device. It goes up in half sizes (26, 26.5, 27, 27.5, 28 etc.) and always you need to round down, meaning if you foot is 27.6 cm long your mondopoint is 27. The difference between the whole size and the half size it is not the length of the foot but it is about the width of the foot. If you have the mondopoint size 26 and a narrow foot, you’ll stay on 26, but if you have a wider foot, you will get a 26.5. I have personally always chosen the size on my boots one size lower because, in time, they tend to become larger (but this depends on the individual foot anatomy and it is another story). Using a device to measure your foot does not guarantee the size of boot you need, it is just a guide, because another very important thing you need to consider is the shape of your foot.
Most of the manufacturers make boots that are suited for most common foot shapes. In order to find the perfect size and form you need to try on a few different ski boots. The height, the weight and the physical condition are also three very important factors you have to be aware of when you go seeking your new boots. For example, a person who is short and light doesn’t put as much leverage on a ski boot and a high flex will limit the natural movement of his or her body during the movement. An athletic person will prefer a moderate flexing boot or even a higher one so they can count on it. The terrain, type of snow and speed you’ll go at play a role in your choosing your boots. They are pretty much related to your ski technique level, so you need to pay attention to it. The freestyle and big mountain skiers should choose softer boots because variable snow conditions and very steep terrain demand a bit more cuff movement. High speeds on an iced smooth surface require techniques that involves tip pressure, so a stiffer boot is needed so that the skis respond instantly. The above mentioned are a few generalities because if we take all the factors that we need to consider, choosing ski boots can be a never ending story and we risk losing the ski season. Ski boots are a highly personal piece of equipment. Their performance, comfort, and warmth depend mostly on fit, your needs and personal taste, that’s why choosing the ski boots can be an involved process, but if you are successful your satisfaction will be great.
LET THE SKI BOOTS BE THE FIRST PART OF THE EQUIPMENT YOU GO TO BUY. YOU CAN ADJUST THE REST OF THE EQUIPMENT AFTER THEM... PINK IS OVERRATED. • WHEN YOU GO FOR YOUR BOOTS, CLEAR YOUR SCHEDULE, IT MIGHT TAKE SOME TIME. GO SKI BOOT SHOPPING IN THE AFTERNOON OR LATER, WHILE WEARING A THIN PAIR OF SOCKS SO YOU WON’T GET BOOTS THAT ARE TOO SMALL. • REMOVE THE LINERS, PUT YOUR FEET INSIDE THE SHELLS, STAND UP, MOVE YOUR FEET FORWARD INSIDE, YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE MORE THAN TWO FINGERS BETWEEN THE HEELS AND THE BACK OF THE SHELL. • SKI BOOTS ARE MEANT TO BE SNUG, THAT MEANS YOU SHOULD NOT BE ABLE TO LIFT 60 YOUR HEEL EASILY OR HAVE LATERAL MOVEMENT INSIDE.
DON’T BUY YOUR BOOTS FROM THE INTERNET UNLESS YOU TRIED THEM IN THE STORE AND YOU ARE 200% SURE THEY FIT PERFECTLY.
ALWAYS USE CLEAN AND DRY SOCKS SO YOU CAN KEEP THEM IN A GOOD SHAPE LONGER.
PUT THEM ON A DRYER AFTER YOU USE THEM OR TAKE OUT THE LINERS AND DRY THEM SEPARATELY.
IF YOU ARE THE ATHLETIC TYPE, UNLESS YOU WANT TO SPEND AN ETERNITY AT BEGINNERS LEVEL, GET YOURSELF STRONG SKI BOOTS THAT CAN HELP YOU LATER IN YOUR JOURNEY UP TO THE HIGHER LEVELS.
LET’S GET RESIDENTIAL BY VIOLETTA TUDORACHE - owner of Bliss Imobiliare www.bliss-residences.ro serving the international community since 2006. These are her top 11 tips for members of the international community seeking to rent in Bucharest. Don’t be surprised by the asking amounts for rents. Bucharest is a European capital with high housing demand and low-quality supply. It’s a competitive market and you are competing with multinationals and diplomats with substantial budgets. Work with a reliable real estate agent. Seek recommendations Don’t believe what you from your friends and see or find on the internet. colleagues already Many of the properties are present in Bucharest. long gone or at artificially low prices. Your agent Note down your top five will advise you on the requirements, agree them available listings. with your family. Location, compound/stand alone, size, pool, fourth bedroom etc. Once you have seen Traffic can be disaster so some properties, list inform yourself well about your down your top three. daily commute before you sign. Quality houses go fast, especially in the busy May/June/ Once you have shortlisted your July period, you need properties try to visit them as to decide quickly. often as you possibly can and Chances are if you at completely different times like the house, so of day. Some places have bad will the many other traffic conditions, awkward families who are entrances, some places are in viewing the property. continuous shadow etc.
Bear in mind that you are renting and, as an expat, you are probably renting for 24-36 months so it doesn’t have to be your absolute dream house, be prepared to compromise. It’s a bit like a puzzle with many parts. Be clear about deal breakers - proximity to busy road - and make sure these are not overlooked or forgotten when you come across some highly appealing feature - gorgeous “claw-foot” tub for example. Be clear at the outset about pets should this apply. We have seen many prospective tenants upset to discover that the landlord simply will not budge on his or her “no pets” policy.
Always ask about the additional expenses connected to the property you like - compound fees can add a chunk to the overall cost.
Take out a personal liability insurance policy to hedge against overzealous landlords trying to sting you for “wear and tear” at the end of your contract.
Always insist on a contract. This specifically applies to the lower end of the market. Some landlords would like to rent without contract as they can avoid taxes, but it leaves the tenant exposed and you are complicit to tax evasion and money laundering.
This past year we have seen demand increase by between a fifth and a quarter while quality supply has tightened up. Newer supply comes with quality and modern houses, but with lesser garden and without amenities like swimming pools. Good properties go very fast, but the market has a glut of poorer quality rental properties with many owners adopting an unrealistic, emotional attachment to their properties rather than viewing them purely as a business. They are sometimes too demanding when it comes to contracts, not prepared to negotiate on price even if it means the property remaining empty, whilst at the same time they are reluctant to renovate beyond the superficial. Be aware that the bulk of the properties in the most attractive positions were built before 2010 and not with the highest quality in mind. The bulk of our expat clients are looking around the north Bucharest area - Pipera and Baneasa primarily, with the Herastrau, Dorobanti, Kiseleff, Primaverii area as alternatives for the clients looking to be nearer to the centre - because of their proximity to the international schools. Our clients tend to be in the 2,000 euro-4,000 euro per month budget. For them the choice is often between a well-appointed villa with garden and pool but an older building with associated problems or a much younger place but with small garden and often no pool. For this reason, with these older properties, it’s important to ensure a break clause in the contract usually for after the first 12 months. Some of the big villas with pools and gardens are upwards of 15 years old with many of these continuously rented and with only cosmetic renovations carried out between leases. Problems only occur after the tenant has moved in. We will be looking at other elements of real estate on the 61 pages of OZB over this year.
There be Light
BY ROB BOUSIE Light into Europe is a British-Romanian charity founded by Stan Platt in 1986 with the aim of providing medical and humanitarian relief to Eastern Europe. We first started working in Romania in 1990 most notably establishing Romania’s air ambulance service with over 5,000 flight hours before handing it over to SMURD in 2003. Following this, the charity decided to focus its efforts upon supporting what was analysed to be a relatively unsupported group, blind and deaf people in Romania. There are around 98,000 blind people (IAPB Vision Atlas) and 40,000 deaf people who could benefit from our services. Since this point, staff and volunteers for Light into Europe have worked tirelessly to set up support programmes, not to gain sympathy for those living with a visual or hearing impairment but with the aim of enabling and empowering our beneficiaries to live independently. This has included producing big print and tactile text books, which over 600 students have benefitted from in the past 3 years alone allowing them to read and learn in school, weekly sessions of creative education in the Schools for the deaf in Bucharest; encouraging life skills and communication through non-conventional education as well as teaching and developing courses teaching Romanian Sign Language, with over 700 people trained. Our flagship project and the one many will know Light into Europe for is our Guide Dogs for the Blind Romania programme. In 2010 our 1st Guide Dog, Chloe completed her training and was matched with Gabi Nicolescu, a visually impaired man living in Bucharest. Since this point, with support from all around Europe including Guide Dog charities in the UK, Ireland and Sweden we now have 13 working Guide Dogs and Assistance dogs giving independence to blind people all around Romania as well as 15 dogs and puppies at different stages of training. It takes between 2 to 2 and a half years to train a working
Guide Dog, which is the culmination of many people’s work. We are thankful to all the volunteer puppy walkers who look after our dogs each day during the first year and a half of their life, caring for them and taking them out to experience as many sights and sounds as possible to ensure they are calm and relaxed in any situation when they begin work. Following this, the dogs then come to our centre each day for training with our 2 Guide Dog trainers Anca and Severian who teach them to be fully working Guide Dogs; avoiding obstacles like the many cars on Bucharest’s pavements, finding where to cross the road, and making the blind person aware of steps up and down.
Alexandra who lives in Bucharest suffers from a rare hereditary ophthalmic disease resulting in restricted sight has been together with Guide Dog Bonnie since May 2016. Alexandra works as a special education teacher at the School for the Blind. She travels there each day guided by Bonnie walking to the bus stop, taking a trolleybus followed by a 10 minute walk to the school. Alexandra has very good spacial awareness but Bonnie aids her to avoid obstacles navigate traffic and find the correct routes to where she wants to go in a busy crowded city like Bucharest! She is someone I am happy to call a good friend and enjoys speaking a mix of French, Romanian and English languages! It’s worth pointing out that the guide dogs also help a blind person to enjoy social inclusion, empowerment, trust and, of course, companionship. All our services are free of charge to the beneficiaries, as even if someone is working they often receive a small salary. This means that Light into Europe works hard to support our work through kind donations and by raising funds through our 4 main fundraising events throughout the year. Our Scottish themed Caledonian Ball (Nov), Burns Supper (Jan/ Feb), St George’s Day (April) and Bonfire Night party (November) are attended by around 1,000 people each year and help us to raise funds to support the work year round! So please come along and join us at one of our fundraising events, they are great fun and you will certainly get to meet some of our dogs and beneficiaries!
If you are interested in supporting us either financially or by volunteering, I would love to hear from you. We always need people to be able to call on to look after our dogs, either long term or short term as we never know when one of our dogs will need a new volunteer, we are also planning to breed a new generation of puppies soon! If you would like to donate, we estimate it costs around €3000 per year to train and support each dog, so if you would like to contribute towards this, every little helps! You can find our bank details on our website www. lightintoeurope.org.uk/Page/ Services#donate . If your company is interested in supporting us, we would love to hear from you and even arrange a visit to your office with one of our dogs in training to tell you about the project in person! If you are interested, you can email me personally on email@example.com. Finally, for daily news and updates, you can follow us on Facebook @ lightintoeuropecharity or on Instagram @romanianguidedogs
THE RIDDLE OF ROMANIAN-CURRICULUM SCHOOLS BY SIMON PARKER In the UK, approximately 50% of students entering Oxford and Cambridge are from private schools. For Romania, a nation that has more students entering these prestigious universities than the USA and India combined, it’s under 5% and nearly all of these were from one Romanian-curriculum school, International Computer High School of Bucharest (ICHB). The difference can partially be explained by the much lower percentage of students in Romania who attend private schools: 4.5% compared to just over 9% in the UK, but it doesn’t explain why so few students from international curriculum schools, those studying for A levels and the International Baccalaureate Diploma, get into Oxbridge. One of the largest and most expensive international schools hasn’t seen a student enter either universities for over five years whereas Saint Sava National College in Bucharest annually sees an average of six students progressing on to them. One reason for this, I’m sure, is that many parents of academically gifted students, who can easily afford to send their children to private schools, are well aware of these figures and send their offspring, who can pass Year 8 entrance exams, to state schools such as Sf Sava, Lazar, Mihai Viteazul and Tudor Vianu. This in turn deprives the international schools of some highly academically able students. It might also be argued that Romanian international schools lack the experience, systems and procedures to successful identify and support potential Oxbridge applicants: something which even many UK state schools and VI form colleges do as a component of their “gifted and talented” policies. So what are Romanian-curriculum doing right? The selective nature of the Romanian education system obviously plays a huge part. Students entering the four schools I mentioned above, plus the top schools in each of Romania’s 41
counties, have to pass the demanding “Evaluarea Naţională” when they are aged 14-15. The best schools have the highest entry requirements, and combined with ability-based streaming within the schools themselves, allow their teachers to teach their subject at a higher level than those in lower ranked institutions. As I’ve said in previous articles in this publication, the Olympiad system of academic contests, allows students to push their understanding of a subject significantly beyond the boundaries of their syllabi. ICHB and many of the leading state schools have special Olympiad classes comprising entirely the very best students who are given extra tuition to compete in national and international contests. More controversially, the very didactic style of teaching in state schools, where students regularly have to come to the board at the front of the class (the dreaded “pop test”) for example, to write an equation for a grade in the, catalog – the official class mark book. Students are often given no warning of these tests which, arguably prepares them to “think on their feet” – one of key requirements for any Oxbridge interview. However, from two focus groups that I’ve run, it’s these very teaching methods that are fuelling the growth in private education in Romania. Many parents simply don’t want to put their children through the same generally unpleasant experience of studying over 15 separate subjects at high school in large classes with, at times, very indifferent teachers. Hopefully in the future parents will have more options available to them. As the international schools become more established in Romania, they should be able to give gifted students more opportunities to develop their talents while in state schools there are many teacher training initiatives that I hope will allow schools to humanise their classes while maintaining their academic rigor and therefore not, as we say in Britain “throw the baby out with the bathwater”.
Simon Parker is the director of Albion International Study, a Bucharest-based counselling organisation for UK university applications. 65
Out With the Old, in With the New
BY DEAN EDGAR Well by the the time you read this, you will probably be a few kilos heavier, having enjoyed the very best food and drink over the Christmas period, and maybe even looking forward to being back at work. I truly hope that you had a great time with friends and family. As I am writing this, the sun is shining, there is a slight chill in the air but no snow yet! This is the time of year when some of us decide to make New Year resolutions. The most popular seem to be going to the gym and/or staying off the booze for month. I don't often make them as they tend to last a couple of weeks at best. But this year I will make one and stick to it. A couple of years ago I had an accident and ended up dislocating and breaking my shoulder and having a plate fitted (treated in a state hospital, excellent treatment. See below). Two years later, after having the plate removed last April, my shoulder is still giving me grief, partly due to my laziness and not exercising it. So, as I am not getting any younger, this has to change. I will be exercising everyday. The Romanian State health service has many detractors, but having had two major operations here in the last 11 years, I am not one them.
The surgeon, the anaesthetist, the nurses and the porters were all incredible. The downside were the facilities, all of which had seen better days; the beds were not good, the food just about edible (food parcels are essential), wards were crowded and the post operative care was perfunctory at best. The one aspect that I didn't get involved in though, was “spaga”, the giving of bribes to get something done. All of my Romanian friends and colleagues kept telling me that I had to pay the surgeon €300, the anaesthetist €200 etc. etc. So there I was, wandering around the hospital, pockets loaded with cash, hunting down the men and women who treated me. Upon finding them, thanking them once again for their care and skill, I hand over an envelope. Not one of those professionals took my money. I know that it goes on, there are articles in the press sometimes. But I think that the practise is slowly but surely vanishing. Fortunately for me, I was a lucky one. I wish everyone a healthy and successful 2018, It will be another difficult time for Romania with more bizarre laws being issued from the ruling party. So I wish us all good luck and the strength to fight it and if you make any resolutions, I hope that you stick to them!
Insight, Culture, Lifestyle Magazine for the International Community in Bucharest and Romania