By Douglas Williams
Since 2010, and barring Obama and Macron’s wins, most elections, most places have been something of a disappointment, to me at least. These disappointments ranged from the desolation of the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum to the dismay at the Brazilian fascist Bolsonaro’s recent triumph. Then through the disbelief at the US’s decision to appoint an incoherent, misogynist, racist bully as their commander-in-chief. There was, of course, the Brexit debacle in the UK, again face meets hand, and numerous others but last month, here in Romania, it was different and it was sweet.
People came out and voted in healthy numbers – turnout was better than expected at almost 50% and the best in many years. The vote was overwhelmingly pro-European and coincidently the very next day the long hand of the law finally caught up with a certain kingpin who is now languishing in jail. That night Piata Victoriei was packed with people celebrating, not protesting. A page has been turned, a new chapter begun in the long and often dramatic history of this nation. Time, I might humbly suggest, for the good people of Romania to take a deep breath and let it all sink in.
Something that struck me upon arrival, and I’ve heard this comment from other foreigners here, is how negative Romanians can be about their country. Any credit Romanians give their country is given grudgingly and swiftly tempered by a negative. I remember being driven around Bucharest in taxis, just fresh back from the mountains at Sinaia, astonished at the beauty, in sublime weather, for a very reasonable fare, loads going on, gorgeous people everywhere and the driver genuinely astonished that anyone should want to come to his country. “This country no good, we want to go your country,” was a common comment. This saddened me then and it saddens me still, I’ve never come across such inverse-nationalism and this was a large part of my motivation for starting OZB – to celebrate Romania and Romanians.
Something else I’ve noticed: there does seem to be a preponderance of “therapists” and “psychologists” here and I would respectfully suggest that it might be time for Romanians to come together for some form of collective therapy – you guys have been through a lot, you really have. This could help with finding a bit more kindness and patience with one another, produce more smiles (why the long faces!), encourage some TLC to yourselves and to your environs – time to tidy and the Old Town would be a good place to start – and perhaps time to more wholeheartedly celebrate who you are and what you are becoming. Celebrate your beautiful, beguiling country and the bright future that surely now lies ahead. And a delegation is needed to go out and about into the world to shout about this and if you’re in the position to appoint one you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those in any doubt as to the beauty of this country flick forward a few pages and see for yourself – places, people, things going on, food, drink, stuff. Let’s begin a long celebration that welcomes the long overdue turning of the page. Hai Romania!
O zi buna