Exhibition at MNAC 17.10.2019 – 12.01.2020 in cooperation with Zeppelin, Ideilagram

December 22, 1989 marked not only the fall of the Ceaușescu regime, but also the end of the megalomaniac communist project to demolish and then rebuild Romanian cities. Thirty years on, the collective memory of these destructions is fading away, while the aggression against the cities continues, even in an opposite paradigm – that of ultraliberal development.

Forgetting (sometimes voluntary) can intensify a revisionist discourse, which justifies those brutal demolitions by the need to “modernize”. The same discourse then programmatically applies to the destructions and excessive building we witness today.

Under these circumstances, we believe that nostalgic accounts or the display of archives and other records as such are no longer enough. Therefore, through the proposed project we intend to take a step forward towards a symbolic and analytical reenactment of an erased urban reality.

*Collage: Radu Manelici. Photo: Andrei Bîrsan, Ștefan Tuchilă

We concentrate the almost completely distructed Uranus neighborhood, the very place the occupied by Ceaușescu’s Palace (now the seat of the Parliament) and several other totalitarian buildings. But we also talk about the context, the general project and other brutal urban replacements, including recent ones in Bucharest.

*Ecoului Street in the 1980s. Photo: Andrei Bîrsan

The keyword is co-presence: overlaying today’s reality on the erased past reality. And this will be achieved not only for houses, churches, schools, streets and gardens, but also people and their stories. Using 3D and physical models and installations, we aim to symbolically bring back to life the demolished buildings into today’s world.

The main goal of our project goes beyond remembering and honoring those who suffered, resisted or documented this tragedy: it is also about promoting a more balanced and responsible urban development in the present.

URANUS NOW is a project about the living history and community spirit, about the sometimes invisible connections between periods of history that might appear radically different.

*Photo: Andrei Bîrsan

Contents and activities

1. We are conducting historical and architectural research, an online archive about the Uranus-Izvor area (broadly the area between Splaiul Independenței, Piața Constituției, Piața Regina Maria, Calea Rahovei, Strada Izvor).

The archive contains new historical images and plans, as well as summaries or excerpts from other researches, including conversations with former residents or witnesses of the events.
All the information will be presented as such, in a structured way, but we will provide interpretations of the data too. Among others, we are working on a 3D model of the area: a 3D two-layer model of the area, superimposing the reality pre-existing Ceaușescu’s intervention today’s cityscape.

The archive will be available free on the e-zeppelin platform.

2. An indoor exhibition was organized at the National Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibition presents a selection of the documentation described above, as well as film screenings, fragments of the demolished buildings, items kept by the residents, etc. One of the main elements in the exhibition is a two-layer physical model of the past reality superimposed on the present-day one.

*Photo: Vlad Dumitrescu


*Photo: Vlad Dumitrescu

*Photo: Vlad Dumitrescu

3. An outdoor exhibition consisted of a series of temporary installations mounted in the public space or on the property of some institutions in the area.

The installations are to be found in the public space until June 5th, 2020 and take form of 1:1 scale models made of light materials. They replicate fragments of the demolished constructions and were placed in the public space on the exact former locations of the buildings. They work as support for accessing information: archive images and plans, interviews with the residents etc.

*Photo: Vlad Dudu

4. The exhibition was accompanied by a round table and events for children (in partnership with De-a Arhitectura Association). Undergraduates of the Ion Mincu University of Architecture were involved in creating the digital archive, projects, and actual constructions.


*The archeology of the urban memory. A restored plan of the former neighbourhood superimposed over the current situation (detail). None of the old elements in the picture survived (the church, the streets, the houses).

Uranus Now. Exhibition, digital archive and public space installations

ORGANIZERS: Zeppelin, Ideilagram, Ordinul Arhitecţilor din România – OAR – Filiala

EXHIBITION: National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest – MNAC, 17.10.2019 – 12.01.2020

PARTNERS: MNAC Bucharest, The Romanian Academy, “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest

ONLINE ARCHIVE, PROJECT INFO (RO): e‑zeppelin.ro/uranus‑acum

Romanian Order of Architects through the Architectural Stamp Duty
The Administration of the National Cultural Fund—AFCN.

SPONSORS: Saint-Gobain Rigips, Valachorum


CONCEPT, CURATORS: Dorothee Hasnaș, Ștefan Ghenciulescu

DESIGN COORDINATION, CURATOR: Ilinca Păun-Constantinescu

URBAN AND ARCHITECTURAL RESEARCH, EXHIBITION CONCEPT, DESIGN: Dorothee Hasnaș, Ilinca Păun Constantinescu, Ștefan Ghenciulescu, Tudor Constantinescu, Gabriela Belcineanu, Iulia Păun, Alexandru Păun

HISTORIC, SOCIOLOGIC AN URBAN RESEARCH: Oana-Valentina Suciu, Iris Șerban, Irina Tulbure, Andrei-Răzvan Voinea, Mihai Burcea

INTERVIEWS: Oana-Valentina Suciu, Iris Șerban, Dorothee Hasnaș

COLLABORATORS INTERVIEWS: Silvia Schechter, Ioana Olaru, Anca Sandu, Andrei Bulearcă

EXPERTS: Hanna Derer, Peter Derer, Nicolae Lascu, Sorin Vasilescu

GRAPHIC DESIGN: Radu Manelici, Max Gruenwald (Faber Studio)

FILMS, EDITING: Alexandru Păun

RESEARCH COLLABORATION, PLANS RECONSTRUCTION, 3D MODEL: Ana Băbuș, Anca- Bardan, Bogdan Diaconu, Teo Neagu, Diana Necula, Octavian Dragoș Puiu, Andrei Subțirică, Anastasia David Limona, Andrei Badea

INHABITANTS, WITNESSES INTERVIEWED: Crenguța Roșu, Dinu Suciu, Liviu Tofan, Paul Drogeanu, Dan Perry, Iulian A., Horia Marinescu, Tudor Marinescu, Sorin Vasilescu, Peter Derer, Emanuel Tânjală, Rodica Scafeș, Dinu Bumbăcea, Cristian Preda, Dumitru Belu, Mircea Stroe, Nicolae Olaru, Alexandru Mexi, Cristian Zaharia, Musi Tudor Vespremeanu, Radu Stroe, Beatrice Jöger, George Calalb, Persida Bucur (Kipper), Ligia Livadă, Mariana Avanu-Bulei, Ozana Nicolau, Ecaterina Băndărău, Raluca Bibiri

NEW AND ARCHIVE PHOTOS: Andrei Bîrsan, Șerban Hasnaș, Alexandru Panaitescu, Dan
Perry, Ștefan Tuchilă, Sorin Vasilescu, Cristian Zaharia, Agerpress, arhivele locuitorilor
cartierului, alte arhive personale și instituționale/Archives of the dwellers, other personal and
institutional archives

INSTALLATION STRUCTURAL DESIGN: Adrian Brânzoiu, Ștefan Ruste & Ioana Avram
GYPSUM ORNAMENTS: Neta Popescu, Florin Ciobanu, Marian Ciobanu, Florin Stanciu, Ionică Florea

CONSTRUCTION TEAM: George Tănase, Daniel Dafina, Marian Dorobanțu, Iulian Galați, Ionuț Agache, Gabriel Cazan


Andrei Badea, Luana Ionașcu, Cristina Ginara, Anca Maria Păsărin, Lucia Spinoiu, Laura Dinu, Vladimir Nicula, Iulian Eremia, Mihnea Tudor, Iris Șerban, Antonia Panaitescu, Laura Paraschiv, Bogdan Rădulescu, Ioana Naniș, Andrada Oncescu, Nadia Oltea Constantinescu, Casian Cosma, Laura Paraschiv, Lorena Brează, Bianca Andreea Ivașcu, Ioana Manu

SPECIAL THANKS: Răzvan Theodorescu, Tomnița Florescu, Anca Oroveanu, Georgiana Ghenciulescu, Marius Andruh, Ștefan Bâlici, Laura Bursuc, Andu Păun, Ioan Erhan, Cristian Zaharia, Șerban + Marina Hasnaș, Ruxandra Dumitrescu, Alexandru Nicolae
Panaitescu, Monica Grecu, Gabriela Ghircoias, Irina Hasnaș, Sonia Irimescu, Alexandra Chiliman Juvara, Cristina Ionescu, Dragoș Marian, Ligia Marian, Cristi I. Popescu, Silviu Munteanu, Coca Stroe, Paul Buchert, Alex Mexi

The missed flight

Kloten airport. One of the places where I feel at home

December 31st, a few years ago, I’m about to fly back to Zürich where I was living at the time. Had booked it long in advance and was thus able to enjoy both a family Christmas in Bucharest – and a New Year’s Eve with friends there – and go skiing the morning after!

So I’m at the airport and check in 3 hours prior to the flight! Small luggage – checked. I’m sitting in the duty free area, reading and listening to the announces. The little Omega watch that once belonged to great grandma is slowly ticking the passing time away. 2,5 hours to go, 2 hours, one and a half, one hour: Nothing about Zürich or a Swiss flight. Half an hour to go, I go to the boarding area to inquire about the whereabouts of my flight.

Aaaand there it says, “GATE CLOSED”. One person is still at the counter, I rush towards them, “Hey, where is everybody?

“You are Miss Hasnas.” – Yes.

“We have just unloaded your luggage.” – What?! Please, don’t, I have to be there tonight! There’s still 30′ till flight time, how could you?!”

“We-ell, miss, there was hardly anyone on this flight, so we closed a bit early. But we announced it on the speakers several times.”
And then I see it. My watch is 8 minutes slow! The speakers in my duty free area were probably broken. The… “Please, the plane did not take off yet, I can see it from here, the door’s open – you have to get me on that plane, sir!”

“Nothing I can do now. It’s the last day of the year, ma’am.”
“But I have to be there tonight…”

I burst into tears. The ground staff kindly invites me to book another plane!! No refund for the early take off!
The flight takes off without me. Desperate to get on a plane, I call dad.


Dad walks with me from one counter to the next. Any combination we can use to get me to Zürich tonight?

In the end, it’s Air France, 850€, through Munich. I get there with a tremendous headache, but on time, after 14 hours on the road. Could almost have flown to Mexico in the meantime. The headache makes me skip the New Year’s Eve party. The mere thought of champagne…The next morning we leave for the mountains.

I could have flown to Mexico for that amount of money. It was the only time I flew on a plane with more crew than people on board. And I still feel ashamed when I think of it to this day.

Trauma (RO)

Cand ma gandesc inapoi la nasterea lui Luca si zilele acelea de noiembrie petrecute in spitalul Bucur, ma cuprinde o tristete uriasa – si un fel de greata dezarmanta. Au trecut 4 luni de atunci si imi fac curaj sa scriu, ca sa trec odata peste episodul asta.

Pregatiri. Tensiune.

Cu doctorita mea preferata, in care am incredere si care ma stie de cand aveam 17 ani, am stabilit tot ce se putea stabili dinainte: am convenit ca as vrea sa nasc natural (la cat sport fac, n-ar trebui sa fie o problema), am pus in calendar termenele de consultatie, ecografiile fetale morfologice, analize de sange.

Mi-a recomandat cursul de puericultura.

Urmatorul punct – unde sa nasc? Am fost impreuna, ca viitori parinti, si ne-am uitat la o clinica privata. Apoi la maternitatea de stat. Diferenta in costuri: minim 2’000€. Ca impresie, maternitatea Bucur parea serioasa, avea un aer heavy-duty, nu mult mai ponosita decat clinica privata, exceptie facand sala de asteptare de la parter. In rest, poate pentru ca era o duminica dupa-amiaza linistita, totul parea in ordine. Asta m-a convins: doctorita “mea” e de acolo, va fi in largul ei cu personalul, maternitatea e aproape de noi si Andrei va putea merge usor acasa, fara sa traverseze orasul petrecand ore in sir in trafic. In fond, nu in calitatea brioselor din cafeneaua spitalului se masoara calitatea serviciilor acestuia, nu? Iar daca e sa iasa cu complicatii, in final tot la spital ajungi. Sa mergem pe siguranta, deci.

Cred ca am mers cu bicicleta pana in luna a 5a. Vara a trecut fara mare bataie de cap, am mers la inot pana in ultima saptamana dinainte de nastere, am facut regulat yoga prenatala, ca sa ma mentin in forma si sa ma pregatesc pe cat posibil. Mi-am vazut prietenii, am facut lucruri frumoase impreuna, m-am obisnuit treptat cu corpul asta nou, mare si umflat, apoi cu miscarile bebelusului. Pe la jumatea sarcinii, specialistul in ecografie fetala care fusese atat de dragut cu noi a murit. Una din ecografii, precum si testul Harmony (de sange, pentru a detecta Down-Syndrome, fara amniocenteza) l-am facut in Germania, unde toata excursia pana acolo plus consultatia plus inca cateva zile de sejur au costat mai putin decat cei 1’000€, cat ar fi costat testul[1] aici.

Mi-am luat vitaminele, am citit literatura, am pus intrebarile la curs, am capatat raspunsurile, am asteptat ziua cea mare. In ultimele saptamani, zilele parca se tarau. Stiam deja ca va fi baietel, ca va fi mare, ca se va naste probabil la inceput de noiembrie sau chiar sfarsit de octombrie. Priveam inainte cu incredere, parca ma imprietenisem cu graviditatea asta, chiar daca la inceput imi picase greu. 

Vine saptamana 40 si odata cu ea niste migrene teribile, plus tensiune ridicata. Colul lung si inchis ca-n prima zi, mult asteptatele contractii ioc, asa ca stabilim impreuna cu doamna doctor un termen limita: daca nu se intampla nimic pana joi, 2.11., cezariana. M-am intristat putin, parca “nu reusisem” ceva ce le iese atâtor alte femei, dar nu e cazul sa faci pe eroina cand risti sanatatea fatului cu tensiunea. In fond, si eu m-am nascut prin cezariana – si mama nu e o bleaga.

Inca un drum pe la camera de garda cu 2 zile inainte, tot din cauza de tensiune si migrene – parca imi pulsa un ochi de durere – si concluzia e clara. Joi, 2.11, la 6 dimineata, ne prezentam la cezariana.

In seara dinainte am lucrat pana dupa 10, eram agitata, sa termin la timp o evaluare si sa ma distrag putin, daca tot nu pot dormi. Motanul casei mi-a simtit si el starea, tot dadea tarcoale mesei aiurea. Nici nu le-am mai spus alor mei, ca sa nu se agite si ei. Am convenit ca Andrei ii suna de cum intru in operatie.

Ziua cea mare. Joi. Zambetul.

Am plecat spre spital la 5.30 dimineata, pe intuneric, cu fluturi in stomac: azi o sa-mi vad bebelusul! Da, o sa “ma taie”, dar o sa vad bebelusul, pana la urma au mai trecut atatea alte femei prin asta! Aveam totul la noi: geanta cu hainele mele, geanta mica cu haine si scutece pentru el, un bax de sticle de apa de jumatate de litru, cum s-a cerut. Sperasem pana in ultima clipa ca poate se rupe apa sau se misca ceva, dar copilul misca din ce in ce mai putin. Am aflat ulterior ca nu mai avea loc sa se miste, fiind atat de mare. Si ca nu ar fi iesit nicicum “pe jos”, cum nu iesisem nici eu, nici bunicul si fratii lui, decat cu mari complicatii, in cazul lor.

La camera de garda, o muiere plictisita si prost dispusa a latrat la mine ca ce vin la ora asta. Asa mi s-a spus, pentru a pregati totul pana in ora 9, cand voi naste. Dupa vreo 45 de minute in care nu s-a intamplat nimic, dar Andrei a trebuit sa astepte pe hol, a venit o doctorita tanara, care era de garda. A completat plictisit-draguta formularul, in timp ce muierea plictisita se slugarnicea pe langa ea, incercand sa o entuziasmeze pentru niste barfe. Vream apa, aveam frisoane, Andrei statea degeaba pe cealalta parte a usii, in hol, aici nu se mai intampla nimic, in afara de latratul ocazional al asistentei catre mine. Mi-a scris cu un marker gros codul pe cardul de sanatate, fara sa intrebe. Ma intrebam cine s-o crede femeia asta, incat sa se poarte asa necioplit. Poate a avut o garda grea, dar eu m-am purtat frumos si nu e cazul sa latre asa la mine.

Dupa inca o ora, m-au trimis intr-o camaruta pe hol sa ma schimb. Aveam pregatita o camasa mare cu nasturi, care insa parea deodata foarte scurta si parca ma lasa despuiata pentru drumurile acelea interminabile pe holuri, pe langa portar si alti oameni asteptand. Andrei venea dupa mine, carand geanta – unde trebuia pusa, nu stiam ce trebuie facut, intrebam. “O sa aflati la timpul potrivit”, latra cineva.

Raza de soare: vine doamna doctor, calda si zambitoare. Ma duce intr-un salon in care alta femeie, mare si blanda, asteapta sa nasca in fine. De ieri are contractii si tare si-ar dori sa fie operata si sa ii lege doctorul trompele, ca e de la tara, mai are 3 copii mari din alta casatorie, chiar nu mai poate face acum inca unul. Poate gaseste un doctor intelegator?

Dupa jumatate de ora, pasul urmator: merg in alta camera, e monitorizata sarcina, se pare ca totusi am niste contractii inegale, vagi. 2 asistente dragute glumesc pe seama aparatelor, dna doctor imi explica ce urmeaza ca procedura. Se pregateste sala de operatii.

Vine momentul. Ii spun lui Andrei la telefon ca acum intru in sala, el ma intreaba daca are oare timp sa duca un pisoi abandonat la veterinar, eu ii spun ca nu stiu, dar sa fie acolo cand ies, el urmeaza sa ii sune pe ai mei.

La usa salii, pun telefonul in sacosa, nu stiu ce sa fac cu sacosa, dar e ok, din sala vine muzica si o atmosfera proaspata, aici o sa nasc, ce alegere buna, curand voi cunoaste in fine bebelusul pe care il car in mine de atata timp.

Iese o infirmiera cu o lama si-un castronas in mana si intreaba daca sunt rasa jos. Da, epilata chiar. “Sa vad daca e bine”. Vede, e ok, nu spune nimic, pleaca. Intru in sala, lumina verde, muzica buna, echipa zambitoare, sunt vreo 7 femei.

Vine anestezista, se prezinta, imi explica cum va face rahianestezia, socoteste dozajul – mai mult, ca e atletica. Ma intinde pe masa, imi pune sonda, totul e comfortably numb.

In jur se aude conversatia in surdina a echipei, muzica buna, nu miroase a nimic special. Prima mea operatie!

Incepem, ma gandesc. Ma uitam in tavan si la lumina, stiam de la prietene cam cum ar trebui sa fie, asteptam sa simt ceva, fizic sau emotional. Dureaza; aud mormaieli ca trebuie mai mult. Ma intreb daca fac totul bine. Ce as putea sa fac? La un moment dat, am simtit cum mi se misca bazinul de colo-colo, atat de tare au trebuit sa traga. Mai trece ceva timp, in care visam cum o sa ma joc in fine cu bebelusul, cand ajungem acasa, dupa toate astea – si gata: mi-l aduce deodata si mi-l arata: ochi de chinez, bebelusul rade, nu plange, ce ma bucur, e de-al meu! Apoi il duce de acolo.

Dupa operatie

Vin brancardierii, ma duc in salon la reanimare, ma muta cu patura pe alt pat. O sa inceapa sa doara curand, zice cineva. Eu viteaza in continuare, mi se pune branula, ce o fi in ea?

Peste o ora e adusa urmatoarea cezariana. Cineva mi-aduce si geanta, cu telefonul, vorbesc cu Andrei, “ti-a adus bebelusul?nu inca, nu prea stiu ce sa spun. Suntem trei intr-un salon minuscul. Aveam sa constat ca e unul bun: in alt salon sunt cate 5 sau mai multe. Dar sunt peste 28 de grade in camera. Geamul trebuie sa ramana inchis, sa nu se faca curent. Caldura nu se poate regla.

Ziua trece incet, sunt semi-amortita. Precis diseara voi vedea bebelusul.

Seara insa e prea tarziu, nu mai aduce nimeni bebelusii la usa neonatologiei de la etaj sa ni-i arate. Nici pe Luca. Macar i l-au aratat lui Andrei, care mi-a trimis poza lui pe telefon. Spre seara ne dezmeticim incet, toate lauzele, apoi vine doza de medicamente in branula. Dorm. Sunt lauza. Corpul se simte strain. Maine e ziua cea mare in care voi tine in brate bebelusul.

E noaptea in care dorm cel mai bine din toate ce au urmat in spital, probabil increzatoare si imbuibata cu diverse substante.

Ziua 2. Vineri. Urina.

Ma dezmeticesc dimineata devreme, cred ca e 6. Se aprinde lumina, foiesc infirmiere si asistente, eu nu stiu sa le deosebesc. Azi vad bebelusul, in fine! Cum o arata?

Celelalte tipe din salon sunt ok, una are unghii lungi si false, a nascut cu o zi inaintea mea, cealalta e miniona si vlaguita. Prima e imbracata in negru si roz, cealalta in vernil. Parca si ochii lor sunt tot asa. Peste doua ore vine o infirmiera, sa ne ajute sa ne imbracam, mobilizam. E atat de cald incat simpla idee sa ma imbrac in ceva care o sa se lipeasca de mine ca la tropice mi se pare respingatoare. Ceva mi se prelinge intre picioare, dar pare sa fie “monitorizat”, deci sub control. Toata lumea are sonda, ca nu putem merge inca la toaleta. Stiam ca te refaci mai greu dupa cezariana, iar asta e parte din refacere. Sa ne mobilizam. Asistenta spune, “daca va mobilizati, in 2 ore va dam bebelusul.”

Intr-o camasa bleu-gri-gugustiuc, pornesc pe hol ca un soldatel cuminte, cu punga de urina in mana, tinandu-ma de pereti intai, apoi incet-incet pana la capatul holului, pare ca am mers pana la Predeal pe jos si ma intreb daca mai am energie sa ma intorc. Se cam invarte totul cu mine, dar – in 2 ore imi da bebelusul in brate daca ma mobilizez. Constat ca burta mea e cam la fel de mare ca pe cand era copilul inauntru. O sa mai dureze ceva…

Ma intorc si ma las incet pe pat. 2 ore. Parca ma jeneaza sonda.

Povestea se tot repeta pana seara: treptat-treptat ma descurc mai bine, merg din ce in ce mai repede, urc si 2-3 trepte, ca sa arat ca pot. Nimeni nu-mi spune ca de fapt nu mai sunt locuri azi in rezerve si oricum ar ramane sa ma mut abia maine. Cand vad bebelusul? Asteptati, va mobilizati…Ce o fi facand Luca in timpul asta? Doarme probabil. Cum o fi el? Dorm si eu. Timpul se taraste.

Cand intreb o femeie in halat cu o fata de nevastuica, “cand pot vedea bebelusul?”, imi raspunde, “cand va fi cazul”.
“Dar asistenta a spus ca peste 2 ore, daca ma mobilizez…”
“Infirmiera, vrei sa spui!! Asistenta sunt doar eu!” latra ea la mine cu o privire de parca i-am insultat neamul intreg. Nu mai spun nimic si astept.
Andrei trece sa ma vada; ai mei toti vor sa stie cum e bebelusul. La mine se instaureaza incet un sentiment de jena, de vinovatie. Nu l-am vazut nici pana acum decat in poza de pe telefon, la care ma tot uit incercand sa ghicesc ceva. Trimit poza tuturor. “Cand sa te vizitam?” intreaba ei. Nu stiu… Stai intai sa primesc odata copilul in brate.

Se lasa noaptea, se schimba personalul iar. Iar intreb, iar nimic. Maine, spune o asistenta voinica si hotarata. Dorm. Maine in fine tin in brate bebelusul nascut ieri… 

In toiul noptii vine garda: se aprinde brusc lumina, intra o doctorita slaba cu buze stranse, un doctor inalt si grizonat, urmati de un cârd de asistente si infirmiere foarte atente la ei. Ajung la mine si dezbat ce e de facut: de atata miscare, mi s-a colorat usor urina din punga sondei. Asistenta voinica si draguta asteapta verdictul: daca sa ma curete cu betadina sau apa oxigenata, pentru a se vedea ce e cu sonda. Cinci capete dezbat privind la mine intre picioare la 3 dimineata. Eu intreb cand o sa vad bebelusul.

Asistenta da in fine cu apa oxigenata, dar trece putin mai tare peste o labie si eu tresar. “Ce te smiorcai?!” latra doctorita. Raman uimita de asemenea ton. Tocmai eu, care am marsaluit toata dupa-masa pe hol, indiferent cat durea, ca sa vad bebelusul “peste 2 ore” care s-au lungit iar pana maine? “Am tresarit, atata tot.” Doctorita imi tine o lunga pledoarie despre cum a nascut ea 2 copii si nu s-a smiorcait niciodata.

Intre timp, imi schimba sonda pe viu, tragand si punand apoi una noua – de ce alta? Cand puteam sa ma duc intre timp la toaleta bine-mersi. Probabil de suparare, o infige atat de tare, incat ma raneste de-a binelea. Mai mult sange in urina. Monitorizam. Incep sa nu ma simt bine, dar ma agat de amintirea zâmbetului din sala de operatie. Bebelusul meu.

A treia zi. Sambata. Sânge.

Ma chinui sa dorm, ma simt vinovata si neputincioasa, ma trezesc, acelasi ritual. Cand pot sa vad in fine copilul? Rand pe rand, fetele din salon sunt mutate in rezerve, raman singura, sunt aduse “cezariene” noi. Asistenta draguta mi-aduce o cafea.

Trece tata, care se amuza povestind cum i-a reparat o unealta portarului si a fost lasat sa intre fara mari intrebari. Desi e weekend, deci program de vizitare de la 10 dimineata la 8 seara. Tata a adus ceva bun de mancare de la mama. Ma chinui sa nu fac o fata disperata, pentru ca azi ar fi fost ziua in care as fi putut primi vizite in rezerva, cu bebelusul alaturi. Ii spun ca as vrea sa iau copilul in brate. Imi spune ca sigur e ok, mai e un pic, cine stie ce motive au sa ma tina asa, o fi mai sigur. Pleaca si – iar se tarasc orele.

Dupa masa vine Andrei. Am urcat cu el si fara el la etaj de atatea ori, acolo, unde dupa o usa de sticla sunt bebelusii. Insa nu prea aveam cui sa cerem nimic. Au trecut 48 de ore de la operatie deja. Odata am cerut hotarati sa-l alaptez, dar ne-a intrebat asistenta de acolo in ce rezerva sunt si nu am stiut sa spun. S-a prins ca sunt inca la reanimare si a zis “Va credeti la privat aici sau cum? Nu aveti voie sa alaptati daca mai sunteti inca la terapie intensiva. Cine stie ce medicamente aveti in corp. Nu riscam.” Desi sunasem intre timp pe doctorita mea buna si draguta, care a spus ca nu e contraindicata alaptarea, dar…pe tura asta nimeni nu-si asuma raspunderea!

“Sa bei multa apa, ca sa se curete urina mai repede” ma sfatuieste asistenta draguta si voinica.

Incep sa beau apa, sticla dupa sticla dau gata, urina e tot rozalie. Doctorul de garda spune ca nu e inca bine, mai incearca. Hai, ca azi iti dam bebelusul. Mai capat o punga de ser in branula. Ca premiu, imi scot in fine sonda! 

Acum situatia trebuie monitorizata atent si mi se spune sa beau mai multa apa, ca sa se curete urina, si sa merg din ora in ora la toaleta. Unde tre’ sa fac intr-o sticla, pazita de o infirmiera stahanovista care ma observa atent, ca sa nu fac vreo traznaie, in timp ce fumeaza pe geam. Nu exista capac de WC, sticla ramane dupa usa sau uneori trebuie le-o arat asistentelor, care se poarta de parca as fi facut ceva gresit. Imi spun ca “uite cata incredere avem in tine, faci singura la WC”.

La anul fac 40 de ani. Am fost in Haiti si in India, am vazut mizerie destula si m-am descurcat, nu e un capat de tara, ma descurc si acum, vreau la bebelusul meu, fac orice. S-o fi intamplat ceva cu el si asta e doar teatru, ca sa il repare intre timp? Cand pot sa-l vad in fine? Ajunsesem sa intreb pe oricine.

Geamul de la WC e deschis mereu, pentru ca aici se fumeaza ca la liceu. E frig si pute si ma chinui cu sticla. Cineva spune ca era mai dura doamna doctor de azi noapte, pentru ca a pierdut pe unul din copii. Dar eu nu am nici o vina. Ce o face Luca acum? Au inceput sa mi se umfle sanii din ce in ce mai rau, cand stateam in pat, laptele curgea prin tesatura. Colostrul, ce ni s-a spus la curs ca e cel mai important. La toaleta ma intalnesc cu fetele care erau inainte in salonul meu, abia se tin pe picioare. “De ce nu ti-au dat inca bebelusul? Esti mult mai bine ca noi.” Nu ma lasa nici sa-l vad, mi-au dat lacrimile. Cati bani le-ati dat voi ca sa va dea in fine bebelusii in rezerva? Imi raman cuvintele in gat. Ies pe hol.

Din cand in cand vorbesc cu ai mei, incerc sa le dau impresia ca totul e ok. Sa nu sufere si mama. Dar probabil ma simte. Nu stiu pe cine sa intreb ce sa fac ca sa ies odata din situatia asta. O asistenta (infirmiera?) care fumeaza la WC rezemandu-se pe o matura imi spune, “hai, mai incearca, acum avem rezerva libera, e goala, te asteapta numai pe tine – dar nu e dupa mine”.

Incerc! Incerc! Beau sticla dupa sticla, sunt 5 litri de apa deja si 1,5l de ser au curs prin branula. Imi explodeaza sanii in curand, creierii, totul, imi vine sa ma asez pe jos in WC, in sange si-n urina, mizeria umana e mai rea decat orice.

Cand se uita la mine, asistenta spune, “nu mai face asa o fata, ca sperii colegele de salon, de ce sa sufere si ele? Ce-ai? Te pomenesti ca ai facut depresie post-natala!
Vreau sa-mi vad bebelusul, au trecut trei zile deja de cand am nascut!”
“Toate la vremea lor, nu e dupa tine, toti avem bunavointa, nu vezi?” 

Laptele picura prin camasa, pe picior, urina e tot rozalie. Ma gandesc sa o diluez cu apa, daca tot ma banuiesc nebunele astea.

Andrei vine disperat: paznicul de la poarta i-a spus ca nu poate intra la mine, ca “duamna e pe masa de operatie”. (De fapt, nenorocitul voia bani de o cafea! Dar nu stia cum sa ii ceara altfel.)

Dupa ce-mi povesteste asta, Andrei incepe sa ma intrebe daca poate nu facem destul, poate nu cer raspicat ce vreau. Trebuia sa intreb mai devreme doctorita.  Ferm! Trebuia sa treaca peste mine si sa o sune el. Am intrebat, am cerut! Dar nu destul de raspicat, spune el. Prea tarziu, ma gandesc eu.

Ti-au pus prost branula, se sparge vena in curand, uite.” Asistenta muta branula pe mana cealalta, mormaind despre incapabilii care lucreaza aici. Cata apa mai beau? Ce fac cu laptele asta? Cand imi dati bebelusul?

Seara la zece si ceva, cand nu ma mai asteptam, trece o prietena buna cu consortul, spontan. Nu stiu cum face, dar o lasa la etaj la Luca! Ma vede disperata si aranjeaza cu asistenta mare, care vorbeste cu asistenta de sus si mi-aduc bebelusul, infasurat intr-un scutec urias ca intr-o fata de perna. Se fac poze, imi vine sa plang de fericire. E prima oara ca il iau in brate pe Luca!

Exista speranta, maine sigur ma muta in rezerva si mi-l dau. In fine!

Mai e o noapte, parca cu moralul mai sus, incerc sa amusin daca s-a pastrat putin miros de bebelus pe camasa, ma uit la poza pana mi se impaienjenesc ochii.

Adorm in fine.

Ziua 4. Duminica. Lapte.

Azi nu se fac externari! De asta nu se elibereaza rezerve si de asta nu ma mut nici azi! Cand am aflat asta, m-a apucat o disperare profunda si grea. E nedrept, nu mai pot sta decat pe spate de atata lapte, un etaj deasupra mea, unde nu am voie, copilul meu e hranit cu biberonul si eu nici nu am voie sa-l tin in brate.

La cele doua lauze din salon vin pe rand doi popi si o matroana voinica, se aseaza toti pe rand direct la mine pe pat, fara halate si fara sa-ntrebe. Popii vin dupa slujba, precis s-au frecat de ei vreo 200 de oameni deja, iar asta e o sectie de terapie intensiva! Cu sange si lichide la vedere. Geamul ramane inchis, sunt 30 de grade, vreau macar sa ma dezbrac.

Trece doctorita mea, cauta o solutie, trebuie sa mai am un pic de rabdare, ma apuca plansul, vreau sa scap odata, incep sa ma intreb daca sunt intr-un cosmar si de fapt nu am nascut inca. Incerc pentru a nu stiu cata oara sa citesc un pasaj din memoriile lui Hadrian, dar vad ca nu mai pot descifra randurile. Plang in surdina cu fata la perete, ca sa ma lase odata in pace infirmierele cu observatiile lor cretine despre cum supar colegele de salon cu purtarea mea ciudata, depresiva. Learned helplessness. Tot nu am voie la Luca! Desi acum nu mai e nici urina, nici nimica!! Cer sa-l alaptez si mi se spune, “sa vedem. Nu stim daca putem prelua aceasta raspundere, daca Dvs. sunteti inca la reanimare…”

Fac o criza de furie, care se schimba in bocit, anunt familia ca nu vreau sa vad pe absolut nimeni pana nu iau copilul in brate. Stau cu fata la perete si bazai in gol. Cand o sa se termine in fine? Intr-unul din randurile cand ma duc sus sa cersesc copilul, aflu ca a facut icter, deci oricum l-ar tine sub lampa UV, deci e mai bine pentru mine sa mai astept…

Ma scutur si mai incerc odata. Pana la urma aflu ca mi-l vor da la alaptat! La 3 ore odata sa urc la etaj sa ii dau lapte. Insa sanii mei nu mai fac fata, s-au infundat caile mamare, engorgement, trebuie pompe si masaj si moase iscusite ca sa-si dea drumul.

Trece doctorita mea si  face in fine posibil sa fiu mutata intr-un salon. Insa e ingrijorata de cum ma vede, se mira de povestea cu sonda, vede vena sparta si bratul umflat si decide sa nu stau singura, asa ca ma muta intr-un salon cu alta tipa. Frigider! Mai putin de 30 de grade! Aer! Unde e Luca?

Asa intalnesc o moasa draguta care ma ajuta tare  careia ii povestesc pasul meu, cu toate complicatiile. Dupa 8.5 ore de masat si tras de sani cu 2 moase si consortul, (“de ce nu te mulgi singura, ar fi mai usor!”), cu lapte tasnind pe perna si cearsaf, curgand pe jos, umpland pahare care ajung la chiuveta, in fine situatia e cat de cat restabilita, laptele curge, cu mari dureri, la vale iar.

Ma duc in salonul de alaptat, mai devreme decat celelalte mamici, pentru ca trebuie sa stau intai cate 20 de minute la mulgatoarea electrica, “sa dea drumul la sani, ca-s angorjati si bebe nu poate trage”.

Acolo sunt niste femei care se stiu bine intre ele si pompeaza o cantitate plina intr-un sfert de ora intr-un recipient. Apoi dau laptele la ghiseu si pleaca, fiind inlocuite de cele care alapteaza bebelusii, pe care-i primesc de la acelasi ghiseu. Intr-un rand, primele s-au luat de mine ca vin si-mi pun sortul de alaptat pe piele, nu peste haine. Ca e neigienic si sa-mi fie rusine de nenorocita. Raman cu gura cascata de atata ura, dar tot nu inteleg nimic.

Aveam sa aflu ca ele sunt mamele bebelusilor de la terapie intensiva, prematuri si cu probleme. Toate, fara exceptie, sunt fumatoare inraite, care pleaca de la muls repede la o tigara in fata spitalului, in strada.

Aceste femei vin mereu la si jumatate, apoi la ora intreaga vin cele care alapteaza. Cea mai draguta e o roma de 16 ani, cu un copil mic si cuminte, cu ochi mari si care bea cel mai bine. Cea mai trista e…femeia care era miercuri in salon. A nascut abia sambata, natural! Dupa 3 zile de contractii tot nu se dilatase mai mult de 9 si pana la urma a reusit asa. Bebelusul ei e singurul mai mare decat Luca, are 4.6 kg si e asa obosit in urma travaliului incat nu poate suge. Femeia se mulge disperata si pune in biberon, in timp ce copilul ii atarna moale in jos pe genunchi, dormind mereu.

Luca e ca o omida cuminte, infasat pana la gat, abia crapa ochii noptile, dar bea bine. Parca nu ma pricep deloc, uneori ma intreb daca oare il tin bine, cu coloana  in ax cand alaptez sau e cu capul rasucit la spate, ca o bufnita?

Ma simt ca un animal neajutorat si ii vorbesc copilului, ca sa ma linistesc si ca sa bea mai bine. “De ce ii spuneti “piticule”, ca doar e urias?” intreaba Prunareasa de langa mine. “E de doua ori cat al meu…”. “Pai daca l-am facut tarziu, e mare, na.” Vad ca incep sa-mi revin incet, daca mai incape si loc de glume.

Ziua 5. Luni. Hârtie.

Ziua urmatoare e luni. Dupa alaptarea de ora 6 si 9, sunt mult mai increzatoare: azi se fac externari! 

Luca e livrat in rezerva pe la 10, fara vreun avertisment. E asa mic si adormit si totusi e urias pentru un bebelus. Nu inteleg cum incapea in mine acum 5 zile. Cica a facut torticolis, tocmai pentru ca nu mai incapea bine si statea inghesuit.

Daca ne da voie…am putea merge chiar azi acasa. Indraznesc sa sper. Asa aflu ca avem ca avem neonatoloaga, cine e, aflu ca a intrebat din prima zi “unde e mama acestui bebelus?” si i s-ar fi raspuns mereu ca “dna Hasnas e prea slabita ca sa se dea jos din pat”! Nu primeste bani. Am uitat de anestezista.

Ce multe s-au intamplat zilele astea, parca n-o sa mai fiu niciodata aceeasi. O sa raman cu aminitirea ca m-a frant sistemul in cel mai nepasator mod. Ca n-am stiut sa ma descurc mai bine, ca am fost o fraiera de buna credinta, care a luat de bun ce spunea fiecare troala. N-am stiut poate cui si cat sa dau si am incurcat algoritmul, de aceea a dat cu virgula… Am facut in schimb tot ce mi s-a cerut. Ce naiva.

Cand vine Andrei, ii spun, “luam copilul si fugim!”. Totusi sa facem actele, spune el. Se duce la toate instantele necesare, de unde ma suna sa ma intrebe despre numele facultatii absolvite (doamna care completeaza formularul nu crede ca asa se cheama facultatea din Karlsruhe) si despre religie (doamna nu poate scrie “ateu”, ca doar esti botezat!) si vine inapoi cu o poveste complicata: cand era acolo in birou, au dat buzna peste el bodyguarzi care puneau presiune pe doamna incredula sa completeze un certificat de nastere pentru un tata minor, care a facut copil cu o majora si acum nu poate semna actele. Pentru ca e minor si parintii sunt la munca in Spania. Bodyguarzi!  

Avem actele, avem copilul, ne luam ramas bun de la colega de rezerva si fugim.

Afara ma mai uit odata la spitalul de cosmar. E langa Colectiv. Fugim acasa, sunt franta.

Acasa ma uit la pachetelele pregatite cu atata drag si generozitate de mama pentru asistente. Cafea, ciocolate fine. Imi frange sufletul. Nici nu am apucat sa ne gandim la asta. Ar fi iesit lucrurile altfel? Troalele se purtasera rau, indiferent ce le dadeam.

Incep sa despachetez hainele, vreau sa desfac tot ce-mi aminteste de acele zile, spal cateva haine pe care nici nu le purtasem, arunc tot ce pot. Numai cand vad ceva ce-mi aminteste de spital ma apuca greata. Vad urme ale vietii mele dinainte de aceaste zile si-mi dau lacrimile, necontrolat. Ce iluzie e totul!

Copilul insa doarme linistit. Nu avem nici cea mai vaga idee cum trebuie schimbat un scutec sau imbracata omida. Motanul se uita ingrijorat la faptura care din cand in cand tresare in somn.

Ma simt de parca m-am dus pana la piata sa iau paine si m-am intors cu un lansator de rachete acasa. Fara instructiuni de folosire, si toate rachetele-s armate, gata sa explodeze. Dar suntem in fine acasa.

Mai tarziu m-au ajutat: moasa-consultant de lactatie, motivul pentru care am si azi lapte. Doctorita buna si draguta, cu care inca nu am putut vorbi despre ce s-a intamplat. Mama si tata, care au trecut pe la noi practici si pusi pe fapte, nu intrebari. Var-mea, in prima zi cand a trebuit sa plece Andrei de acasa. Cuplul genial care ma ajutase cu testul. Prietenele care au nascut inaintea mea. Si incet lucrurile au intrat in normal.

Insa cand ma gandesc ca pentru a face inca un copil, ar trebui sa mai trec odata prin asta, mi se face frig. Si greata.

[1] Testul, care e important pentru femei trecute de 35 de ani, costa in jur de 300€ in Germania, in Romania insa se pare ca o firma are monopol asupra procedurii si decide face pretul.

Déjà vu

Déjà vu (deɪʒɑː ˈvuː) in French, literally, already seen
a: the illusion of remembering scenes and events when experienced for the first time
b: a feeling that one has seen or heard something before

The frosty sound to go with it here.

Walking through Predeal, the mountain resort where we went skiing when I was 7 years old, I find so many things have changed. The old sloped streets, once so familiar, are now lined with new villas, built mostly in a cheap nouveau riche style, so obvious for impressing and not for comfort. Nauseating amounts of money were buried in some disastrous designs. Their roofs are droopy with huge icicles, as if the people who built them were incapable of realizing the importance of proper drainage. Among the follies there still lie some abandoned old hotels I used to know rather well, a building that looked like a traditional inn, but also a newly built datcha-like thing with little onion tops, and a handful of raw concrete hulks stopped in the construction process, lying around gaped at the sky like stranded whale skeletons.

I prefer the old chalets with dark wooden walls and colourful shutters that still look so cosy. Back in his early days, father had come here so often to ski and party with friends or family that he can still recall stories about almost every house on the long, arched Balcescu Street. Many of them were abandoned now, one could see no trace of footsteps in the snow, neither coming through the garden gate nor going up the stairs to the entrance door.
Some shutters were loose and windows open here, paint was flaking off there; one looked as if a fire had raged through the roof. Most of them still had lace curtains in the windows! A friendly orange dog came out of one that had red borders painted around the white window frames and doors. The gate leaves were missing from their hinges. After a while, a whole dog pack followed: 5 of them went out into the street, looking busy. And then there was this villa with the three-partitioned windows and green shutters with a cute little pattern. The entrance canopy looked intact, but one door was ajar. A window in the top floor was open, too. There were -6°C outside. A faded metal plate was still advertising for a soft drink no one under 30 has ever heard of. In a corner, the name, Vila Banta, was still visible, painted in black letters on golden background, adorned with the logo of the national tourism agency.

 Tourism had started in this area in 1852, when Predeal became border town between Romania and the Austro-Hungarian Empire/ Transylvania. A railroad built in 1874 was meant to bring the young monarchy closer to the empire; soon a station followed. In 1900, the first skiers arrived: some came from Brasov, but most arrived from Bucharest. It is said the ones who could afford skiing in Switzerland came here to practice. Three years later, the first contest took place: every year, new slopes and routes were made accessible, for downhill as well as cross-country skiing. In 1925 Predeal counted little more than 1500 inhabitants. Mainly built in the 1920es and 30es by the wealthier families of Bucharest, who spent their summers by the lake in Snagov and their winters skiing in Predeal, these chalets had seen Christmases and New Year’s Eves until their owners had been chased away by the communists after 1946. Then, nomenclature had made itself comfortable for the many winters to come, hardly ever fixing any tile or faucet in all those years.

In the 1960es there had been grand parties here. The new aristocrats, the apparatchiks, had spent their Christmases here. The same ones who preached against the bourgeoisie and religion and praised equality and the working class were having feasts here where they would stuff themselves with what the others did not dare to dream about.

Every day on my random walks I’d suddenly find myself passing this house again and again, wondering what its rooms looked like, with their wooden floors and wooden beds, mattresses and lace curtains rotting away inside as the seasons passed. People had fallen asleep in those beds, dead tired after a day on the slopes and half a partied night. Why this particular one, I couldn’t tell.

Had this house been nationalized in 1947 and the family that once owned it never told their children about it, in order to protect them? Or were there no heirs, but only a very old and weary man, who had reclaimed it in 1998, but couldn’t afford it anymore, now that he got it back after 18 years of trials?

One of these villas is falling apart, because its owner is a 93 year old who’s too weary to come and see what’s left of his beloved winter cottage of his youth, Rândunica.
Maybe he’s too tired to visit the decaying monument of his memories. The young German girl he once kissed in the room upstairs had married someone else, sold all her jewellery and tried to flee the country in the 50es. They got caught and sent to labour camps, where she died 6 years later in Miercurea Ciuc. Another wintertime love he had once brought here had started dating an officer who was involved in “housing redistribution” –  now proud owner of a handful of houses all over the city – and a few wrinkles more. His wife had died of cancer 15 years ago. What use was it, looking back?

In the evening, I called grandma and told her about my walks through Predeal. Oh, yes, your grandfather had worked hard at refurbishing these houses, back in the day, some 46 villas for the you-know-who’s. In the 60es, you weren’t even born. I remember it well, even the drapery samples, the greens and yellows. I’m sure there are some furniture sketches still to be found, neatly archived somewhere among his bookshelves.

In the summer of ’84 my grandparents and I visited Predeal, staying at hotel Rozmarin. From that balcony in the second floor my grandfather had taught me how to pinch cherry stones over the heads of unsuspecting pedestrians on the alley in front of the hotel. The Rozmarin shines with a cheesy, blue-lit spa sign now.

Every day we’d take the Polistoaca, a trail in the woods by the creek, were he built little dams out of gravel, which changed the watercourse. There he’d teach me how to make paper boats that would sail downstream. On our way back, we had walked past that cottage. Once we saw somebody come out and bark at us, why had we stopped there. Grandfather started a conversation, getting them to let him in eventually.

Those green shutters. I had been there before.

Today some of the houses are for sale. For instance, Vila Panseluta (the ‘Pansy’) is up for sale by the state protocol administration on the internet for 230’000€: “Villa Predeal, 13 rooms, 9 bathrooms…”  



A writer lived here once.

Once there was a house standing over here and people living in it. Laughter was heard and there was the swish of dresses and steps scurrying over the stairs; someone would open a window and call the children to the table, in winter it smelled of log fire and in summer of stew. They were all thrown out into the street one spring day without prior notice and scattered away.

The next inhabitants moved into the house. They were many, glum and more savage. These new people wore boots and didn’t draw the entrance door nicely behind themselves anymore: slamming would latch it shut anyways. Strangers to one another and leery, they’d share the bathroom and the kitchen. The eggs and the flour were only for some and did not suffice for all. The house seemed to have more locks and latches now than ever before. A small dog in the yard, some chickens behind the house, and by the end of the summer the cabbage barrel was overturned, so the neighbors would get its smell floating in the air for three days. Crossing old Costache’s yard, rats would pay visits to the hen-coop. They’d quickly steal something from there and run back past the fir tree on their scrawny little feet. Like the new man, they didn’t seem to draw doors closed after themselves anymore: they didn’t need to.

As times changed, these inhabitants disappeared as well. New owners put guards at the gate, so nobody would trespass. They raised the fence higher. Behind it, the house could no longer see into the street. But it didn’t play any role now, all the new owners cared about was its land. The empty house grew more and more sad. Sometimes, a poor man would come hide and sleep upstairs on a mattress, guarded by a shaggy dog. Pigeons had started to nest in the attic.

One night, while everybody was busy with their Christmas baking, the house was set alight. Although you could smell the smoke through the closed windows of the police station on the corner, the firemen took their time to get there and only arrived the next morning… They hosed so much water on the house that its roof came crashing down, taking with it the floor were there once were the children’s rooms and the master bedroom, and bringing it one floor down to the large living room where the Ionescus lived until the 1977 earthquake.

The following winter, people came with machines and razed down what was left. In spring, ashamed, plants struggled to cover the remnants of the house: first a few timid weeds gathered, then the foul smelling ailanthus came with his sisters, the acacias. Together they slowly crawled over the charred pile. Now they’re all hiding behind an even higher fence. Everything is defined by its fence in these times.

The House

Once upon a time, I passed this house on a central street in Bucharest with my grandma. It must have been around 1986 and we were on our way to visit grandma’s friend, Olga, who lived in the old town.

The house was one-storeyed, with several rooms aligning in an L-shape on the corner of a busy street with a narrow pavement. The street windows started at a low height, as if its residents were leaning on the passersby’ shoulders from inside their rooms. A crest placed between two windows adorned the main facade.

In the back, a derelict garden with a cherry tree and some junk gathered in the corners showed that several inhabitants shared the space and that they were probably not living well together.

‘There used to be a piano in the round room once’ grandma suddenly uttered, without any introduction.

‘How would you know? You were in the house once?’

‘They used to play the piano in the room on the left, when you walked in, sometimes when they had guests. Then they danced through the rooms, through the large double doors, from one room to the next…It was a long time ago. Now different people live here.’

Then I forgot all about it. Years passed, the regime pretended to change and brought along decade long trials for recuperation and ownership. Grandma was getting old and tired, but decided to fight for the house that once belonged to her aunt who had run away and never returned.

So we got the house, but only partially. In the middle section, according to law no. 112, an old inhabitant was allowed to go on staying there, without paying any rent, occupying the bathroom and living room. In order to go from the kitchen area in the back of the house to the front rooms, one had to pass through the garden. Just before the old guy died, he brought in his daughter, an alcoholic who kept living there for a few years, still without paying rent to anyone, neither to the state, nor to us. That was not according to the law, but every trial phase she was supported by a rich investor who wanted to build a hotel over a few lots there and had planned the entrance to the parking garage on the place of our house.

By now all our funds were depleted by the trials and maintenance costs and we had but one solution for dealing with the house, besides selling it: let someone live in it for the effort of taking care of it, fixing its leaking roof and draughty windows. So, a young couple moved into the non-linked rooms. They had to cross the garden to go to the loo in the back every time, even in wintertime.

More years passed. One day, the tenants called and told us there was a strange odour coming from under the drunkard’s door. The woman had passed away days ago, without anybody checking on her.

Police came, the forensics came, the neighbours came, but nobody wanted to be the one to open the door. Mom had to do it in the end, like so many other things that nobody else wants to do.

A few days passed by and suddenly some unknown relatives of the deceased showed up and claimed the tile stoves. Dad chased them away.

By the time the couple moved out, their daughter had already started school. Their living there had saved the house from being burned down: on several occasions, especially on public holidays, someone had put fire to the house from three different sides.

Now the house looked battered, but was finally ours to use. After some more renovations, I lived and exhibited in it for a few months, and then it was rented out.

On some mornings I wake up under the impression I’m still living there, in the old house that always welcomed guests so generously. 


The song to go with it

cha·os, noun: complete disorder and confusion. Disorder, disarray, disorganization, confusion, mayhem, bedlam, pandemonium, havoc, turmoil, tumult, commotion, disruption, upheaval, uproar, maelstrom.

In physics: behaviour so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions. The formless matter supposed to have existed before the creation of the universe.

Bucharest, 1945: Life goes on in a more orderly fashion again, day after day unfurling more or less neatly among the ruins.

One day, out of the blue, while he was waiting at the traffic light on his way home, a guy walked up to him and pointed a gun at his chest, telling him to get out and leave the car. His car. The one he had ordered from the US, after all those years of hard work.
When it finally arrived, everybody had tiptoed around it for days. The elegant silvery coupé with the red upholstery, where she’d lean her lovely head on, tired after a ball. The hatch in the back, where the kids would squeal with joy when he’d take them on a day trip to wherever, the…

All those days in winter he’d driven his family up the mountains, all those summer afternoons to the hills and beaches…Then this guy had just climbed behind the wheel and driven away, his dirty hands clutching that wheel he used to stroke! Now he’s walking aimlessly in the streets, a vague idea he should go home and tell her that…the car was gone. A guy in a uniform had asked for it and he…he had pointed his gun at you.

He hated the war, it was finally over – and now everything just got a whole lot worse.

The Caretaker

The team, with dad on the leftThe winter of 1985/6 was one of the coldest here – much like this one. Temperatures would fall considerably below -18°C outside and quaver around 12°C inside, thanks to the state imposed austerity programme. 

Invariably, end of January the winter games between the state-owned enterprises would begin. The ski cups were initiated in 1952 and are still held today: ‘Cupa IPA’, ‘Drumarilor’ (Road Workers’ Cup), ‘Proiectantul’ (the Draftsman), ‘ALFA’.
Participating as a team on behalf of their factory, IMUC, the Chemical Equipment Installation Plant of Bucharest*, dad and his colleagues would get accommodation in Predeal and where exempt from work for the duration of the cups. So they’d take their kids and spouses along and we’d pack the cars full with everything necessary, from complete ski gear and food to sleeping bags, pans and gas burners. Unlike today, back then there was absolutely no guarantee that you could find a restaurant with food in the winter sport area – nor anywhere else, actually.

There wasn’t even a guarantee that you’d get where you wanted to, as Militia de circulatie would close the main roads in districts ‘affected by snow’ more or less randomly, cutting people off in the middle of their voyage on a Sunday (the only free day, as there was a 6 days workweek) and leaving them to wait for hours, sometimes days, in some valley (the Prahova Valley, usually), with no particular regards to the state of the roads or the weather forecast.

This time we had made it to Predeal rather easily: dad said it had probably been too cold for the militieni to come out.
The first evening, after getting a sandwich and brushing our teeth, us kids huddled together in a big bed under layers of sleeping bags that smelled like home and remotely of mothballs, while the parents tried to insulate windows and doors with some holey blankets they found in the villa.

The food we had brought along was placed between the windows: some bread and ham and raw eggs. Then the grownups gathered in the hall for a chat, a drink and cigarettes. While waxing the skis!

I think I was about 5 years old and the boy was 3 or 4. My parents had already said goodnight to me and now this lady would tell her kid a bedtime story. But he wouldn’t fall asleep, he wanted to play and maybe have another sandwich. His mom finished her story and tried lulling him to sleep – it just didn’t work.

After a while she lost her patience and I heard her say in a menacing tone:

‘Daca nu esti cuminte, sa stii ca te dau la administrator.’ – ‘If you don’t behave, I’ll give you to the caretaker.’ The boy whimpered and shut his eyes tightly.

Suddenly alarmed, I had to know: ‘What caretaker is that?’

‘Shht, it’s bedtime now. The one from our block.’

‘And he takes kids away? Where does he take them to?’

The boy winced again, pressing his eyes shut even tighter.

‘Yes, he takes kids away if they don’t behave. Now shush and go to sleep.’

‘But… but my parents never told my there was such a person as the caretaker. Where does he come from?’

‘Yes, there is. He lives downstairs in our block. He’ll take my son if he won’t behave. And you as well. He’ll take any kids who misbehave. Every block has one.‘

The kid pulled the blanket over his head whimpering ‘…the caretaker’.

 ‘… where does he takes kids to? For how long? And why would you let him do it? Would you open the door?
You don’t have a latch, is there nothing you could do?’

‘…Nobody knows’ where he takes them to, but they never return.’          

‘Does he take adults as well? Like my terrible teacher who hates kids? and the neighbour lady who swears all the time and her mean husband who drinks and yells every day?’

‘Go to sleep now!’

I just could not believe her. Agreed, I was not raised in a block of flats, maybe they have strange habits there, but still…
‘Look…I don’t think so. If there was any such man, my parents would have told me so. I mean, maybe there is, but he wouldn’t follow us to the mountains. How would he know where we are? I think nobody’s coming for us.’

There’s rustling under the blanket. Some hope: ‘No caretaker?…’

The lady gets up and walks away. Hisses from the door ‘Now, look what you’ve done, he was almost asleep! He needs his sleep; he’s smaller than you. You see how you get to sleep all by yourselves now. I won’t hear another sound of you!’ Door slams shut. Silence.

‘Hey, psst.’ – Whimpering.

‘Look, I don’t think there’s a caretaker who takes kids away. I tell you, all the afternoon naps I didn’t take and all the evenings I would not fall sleep – nobody came for me; I think we’re quite safe.’

‘Even if there was – I don’t think he’d follow us ‘til here… He’d get lost. And it’s way too cold; they must’ve shut down the traffic anyway. Come out.’

Muffled hopeful sound.
’Hey, c’mon, come out and let’s play.
She’s can’t be right, I’m telling you. My parents know better, believe me. There’s no such man as the caretaker.’’

Half a face comes out from under the blanket. ‘But she’s my mum. She knows stuff.’

‘Maybe, but she sure doesn’t know this one. ‘

In the morning a thermometer outside showed -26°C.

The eggs were cut in halves with an axe and placed face down in a pan on the burner in the hall.
We all gathered around to warm our hands and watch the orange rings in the yolk flow out of the shell, as it melted directly into the pan.
It was the funniest omelet I ever had.


The ski cups are still being held. The kid got married last year.
And I now know what a caretaker of a block of flats does. He does not take little kids away – but your precious time. Lots of it.
In return, he gives you frustration.


*IMUC/later TMUCB was established in 1960 and broken into pieces in the 90es. Some pieces survived till 2011. It mainly produced chemical and petrochemical machinery.

In his position as a design engineer there, dad drafted parts of refineries, a heavy water- and other plants, but also parts of a soap factory, and an over dimensioned rooster for a playground.



A blue devil passed by

A song to go with it here.

It is said that when a ship loses her captain, she’d fly blue flags.
Today, when a ship is flying the ‘Blue Peter’ in port, she’s actually calling its crew to embark for departure: 
‘All persons should report on board as the vessel is about to proceed to sea’.

Blue was first used for sadness in the 14th century, when Geoffrey Chaucer, inspired by a natural phenomenon* described the affair of Mars with Venus in the poem Complaint of Mars. In order to be with Venus, Mars has to slow down and follow all her instructions: he’s not to despise any other lovers, feel jealousy or be cruel ever again. When he complies and they finally get together, the Sun god, Phebus/Apollo, surprises them in bed. Venus flees, in order to avoid the confrontation with her husband. Mars won’t fight the Sun, so he sadly follows Venus, knowing they’ll never be together again and lamenting “with tears blue, and with a wounded heart.”

It is said that people in the 17th century believed that blue devils were responsible for their sadness.

Everybody knows the blues, the music African Americans gave us from the end of the 19th century.

And I’m sure you know that feeling.
Some part of you went missing. You still remember it so well, but it’s gone.
Now the memory’s haunting you and dwelling in it is bitter sweet.
So you don’t want to get out, not just yet. You’re just feeling blue**.
Blue is lonely. You’d want to sing or howl about it,
but do you really need a public for that?

Blues are for honest introverts.

* conjunction of Mars and Venus, April 12th, 1385
** not to be mistaken for the German ‘blau‘ = drunk.



Angst‘, noun: a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general. 

Angst is the word for fear in German, Dutch, and Danish. It comes from the same Indo-European root (meaning tight, constricted, painful) that gave us anguish, anxiety, and anger. (…)  Are you dissatisfied and worried in an introspective, overthinking German way? You’ve got angst‘ says linguist Arika Okrent.

Angst grew popular in the 1920s and wasn’t much used before that time.

It seems to be the most popular feeling these days. In different parts of the world, people walk around worrying about refugees, earthquakes, recession, the world leaders’ decisions, the returning of once extinct diseases – thanks, antivaxxers! – the disappearance of more species and habitats; overpopulation, pollution, corruption. They mistrust the same representatives they voted for, their next door neighbour, even their relatives’ intentions and also they fear we’re stuck in the poverty loop and spring’s never coming back to this part of the world.
2016 was hard on many of us.

I wish this New Year deceives my fears one by one and treats us with a load of nice surprises.
Until then, I wish for a comforting cover that will allow me to feel less for until it all gets sorted out.
And the song to go with it here.