Architecture School of TM; Romania



Jan '05 - Jan '07

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    Too close

    By Oana S.
    Dec 18, '05 7:17 PM EST

    I remember only a few things from the period before December '89.
    I know my mom asked me once if I could stay in line for her, to buy meat. I stood there, amongst adults who where trying to get in front, for 3 hours. I didn't mind it and was very proud of helping my mom. These lines were a regular thing, people gathered hours before they opened the stores. It was the only chance to get some meat for example. And I also remember the lines of milk bottles people left on the street at 5 or 6 in the morning, in order to get some milk.

    In the 80's they used tickets that established a ratio of oil, butter(50g/person), meat (1/2 kg/person), sugar, eggs and other aliments per person / month. My mom just told me they were happy when I was born 'cause it also meant more tickets.

    But I was one of the lucky kids, as we always received sweets and toys from family friends who ran out of the country and lived in Germany. My parents always instructed me not to brag with what I got. I never missed something.

    We were living across the road from what we called in Romanian the ”˜shop': a store in which only foreigners where allowed to enter, where you could buy almost everything (sweets, coffee, and drinks) with foreign currency (people weren't allowed to posses foreign money). They had curtains on the windows so you couldn't see inside but we always peaked. In front of the ”˜shop' there always were nice cars and that attracted beggars. I remember once, but only once, with a bunch of other kids from the block, asking some foreigners for chewing gum. And we even got some. I'm not sure why I did it, I didn't lack any sweets, but I guess it was just fascinating in a way. And I also don't understand why chewing gum, but back then that was the highlight.

    Once we stopped on a road, outside the city. A foreign car drove by and we, my bro and I, as children, waved friendly (fascinated by any other cars then the one from the eastern block / when we saw one, we said this is mine - who said first, won). A hand from inside the car threw 2 oranges to us (while driving). It was humiliating but we took it with humor. I remember the eyes of my parents when such things happened. They where the image of a silent suffering, probably they would have thrown the oranges right back at the car, on the other hand they saw we were happy we had oranges.
    We got such fruits like bananas or oranges only on Christmas (if your parents knew someone who knew someone who etc ) and even so they were so green that mom put them between the clothes for another 2 weeks, in order to get eatable.

    We had to go on Saturdays to school ”˜til 12 o'clock. The cartoons started at 13 and I had to hurry home from the other end of the city to get so see the. Only half an hour, on weekends. The TV program during the week was mainly around 2 hours with the presidential couple. On Sat & Sun around 4 hours with what they called entertainment.

    In the summer of 1990, when it was allowed to travel to western countries, my whole family went on a trip to Germany to friends. Once, in a store I could chose between a talking doll and a Barbie house. No infantile proof of a future architect. I chose the chuky-girl.

    • 1 Comment

    • brian buchalski
      too close... christmas

      your story sounds much like a dickens tale. i suppose it's a shame that i can only relate via media imagery (or may i am just fortunate).

      bah humbug! ;)

      Dec 18, 05 8:34 pm

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