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‘Tis the season of goodwill 02/01/2017

Posted by allthingsro in Uncategorized.
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As it is – or was – the season of goodwill and good cheer, I’ve donated to dexonline.ro. DEX is quite simply the committed Romanian learner’s best friend and a beautiful resource. Although I wouldn’t dare to claim that I’ve been very committed to expanding my Romanian vocabulary over the past year, I still love DEX. And I’d even argue that it beats Duden hands down, even though this is the kind of thing that the Germans are supposed to be good at. For one thing, entering a search query takes you directly and quickly to the results page (nul points to Duden there). The definitions are also usually more helpful than Duden, and DEX generally lets you jump directly from the noun form, for instance, to the related infinitive (which Duden doesn’t). In some cases, the definitions on DEX are enriched with examples from literature.

All in all, a big thumbs up to DEX – I’m sure I’ll be back, and I hope I’ll be able to donate more generously in future.

My new identity by Google AdWords 19/12/2016

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Ever had that feeling that you don’t know who you are, what you’re doing or where your life is heading? Luckily Google AdWords is here to help.

Google AdWords can’t solve my many existential problems, but at least it can tell me what to buy next. And apparently, what I need to do next is send money to my family in Romania.

To explain: I’m a freelance translator, so I spend a lot of time online looking at a lot of random stuff, most of which is work-related. If I translate a marketing text about coffee, I’m haunted by images of coffee machines everywhere I search for a week.

Last week I took a 15-minute and checked out a few pages on cinemagia.ro, the go-to Romanian-language site for film news. Google AdWords then decided I must be a Romanian living abroad who is missing my family back home and really wants to send them some money. What’s next? forbes-2016-12-14


Romanian exports 26/09/2016

Posted by allthingsro in music, Uncategorized.
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You don’t need to go to Romania to experience Romanian culture. Thanks to the Romanian diaspora, Romanian music comes to you if you live in Offenbach, near Frankfurt in Germany.
I spotted this poster for manele star Sorinel Pustiu in the centre of Frankfurt while I was wandering through my old haunts in Frankfurt. I lived in the German financial metropolis for about six weeks, but it would be more accurate to say that I lived in Little Romania. Frankfurt is now a building site, and the Turkish café downstairs is now a shisha bar, but some things don’t change. There’s still a tiny off-licence round the corner where you can pull up a pew and have a brew if that’s what takes your fancy, and Offenbach is still a destination for Romanian cultural exports.sorinel_pustiu_in_offenbach-001

Manele before manele was born 01/02/2016

Posted by allthingsro in music, Uncategorized.
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I’ve stumbled across an intellectual discussion on the evolution of manele. To Romanian ears, that last sentence might sound like a full-on contradiction. Ask a Romanian what manele is, and they may well answer “gypsy music”.

Not so. Manele or maneaua is music made by gypsies to exploit Romanians. To which it should be added: music made by gypsies to exploit Romanians with the lowest possible investment of lyrics, talent, instruments and production values. You have to listen to it to understand how bad it is – and how much fun it is. And not really understanding the lyrics is not a significant obstacle.

The high-brow discussion highlights what it calls “proto-manele” where the genre began to evolve from state-sanctioned folk music in the 1980s into today’s manele. It highlights Magdalena by Nicolae Răceanu on YouTube as a crucial turning point.

Compare this to Răceanu’s La Constanţa-n cazino, which features all the typical manele low production values (and dance moves). I have the eerie feeling that I’ve heard the backing track before, and I’m now convinced it’s the same or similar to Cânt mereu by Liviu Pustiu, as featured on Manelomania Vol. 1 around 2002. Which would only confirm my point about minimum investment for maximum returns.

My online brand 19/01/2016

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I have noticed, perhaps belatedly, that another blogger is using a tagline rather similar to my own. The blog in question is kingofromania.com, billed as “All things Romania”. Given the ease with which our taglines might be confused, I think it is time for me to set out my brand identity for All Things Romanian.

Firstly, my brand is about, well, all things Romanian. My brand values explained

More than a test drive 10/01/2016

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To paraphrase Iggy Azalea, you’ve got to work out whether a Romanian male is worth more than a test drive. To wit, Andrei from Episode 1 of Salvati Iubirea (Save love), a drama probably best described as a scripted reality TV show or simply badly acted and narrated.

But our focus is not the quality of the televisual entertainment but Doina’s dilemma.

Doina is married to Radu, has a son, Matei, and a better-looking lover, Andrei. She has decided that Andrei is the love of her life and leaves Radu for him, taking Matei with her. More on bad TV and Romanian men

New year, new scam 02/01/2016

Posted by allthingsro in quirks, Uncategorized.
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Happy 2016. Some things change, some things stay the same. Sam cel Roman has reported on a new jaywalking scam in Bucharest. According to reports, policemen are stopping foreigners for jaywalking (which is illegal) and demanding extortionate on-the-spot fines (which is also not legal). For full details, check out his post on Eye On Romania, but quick summary: don’t pay fines on the street.

Rezervatia unicornilor – First impressions 23/08/2015

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It’s part three of the trilogy Sânge satanic (Satanic Blood) by Cristina Nemerovschi, and M. is weary. Weary of the commercialism and general crapness that is Romania. And, perhaps, weary of being “the most amazing being that has ever existed”.
To recap, M. introduces himself thus:

I listen to black metal; I’m an atheist; everybody thinks I’m a Satanist; I’m bisexual, a misanthropist, sometimes just a misogynist; I’m writing a book; I drink every day, and do drugs every week. How does that sound as the start of a CV?

But M. has a way out. He has a deal. Correction: M. has a F**kin’ Deal. A F**kin’ Deal that will take him to the far north of Europe to deal drugs and escape Romania.

He planned to use his sojourn in Scandinavia for self-reflection. To work out where he was going and who he was. But that was before his drinking and drugs buddy A. wanted to come too. And as an added bonus, Tara, the dominatrix from Pervertirea and now A.’s girlfriend, decided to join them.

A. didn’t make much of an impression on me in Sânge satanic. It’s in the second part of the trilogy that he comes into his own as the most heterosexual and the unlucky one in the M.’s crowd. He somehow always seems to end up being chased by stray dogs on the outskirts of Bucharest or abandoned at the side of the road due to a marijuana-induced attack of diarrhoea. He is invariably in good spirits and in the mood to party.

With A. and Tara along for the ride – with some illegal drugs stashed in vibrators for good measure – anything could happen. I’m only just starting Part 2, with the flight north and A. worrying about his bowel movements in polar night and worrying even more about the aforementioned stash of drugs. Already windows have been broken, a shoe collection vomited on, items disposed of from balconies, and not one but two women have been left on the floor unconscious or possibly no longer breathing.

In short, we’re in for a riot.

Rezervaţia unicornilor is published by Herg Benet.

Fish & chips does not equal sarmale 09/06/2015

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If a Romanian treats you to fish & chips, what do you owe them, in Romanian cuisine?

This is not a purely abstract question of food equations. A Romanian once served me fish & chips. When I reported this to another Romanian (I collect them), he said, “Well, I guess you owe him sarmale.”

To which I say, no way, José. Fish & chips does not equal sarmale. What is the Romanian equivalent of fish & chips

Under the Bridge 02/03/2015

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One of the things that surprised me about Romanians was how little interest they showed in their relatives who were working abroad to support them.

“He’s working in London? Whereabouts?”

“In London.”

This could be typically Romanian reticence, but I saw the same thing on Channel 4’s The Romanians Are Coming. Asked about where her husband was living in the UK, the lady from Lupeni replied with a smile: “He has a house, it’s nice.”

In reality, her husband was living under a bridge, cooking meals on a tiny camping stove and keeping his food in a plastic bag suspended from a hook to keep it away from the rats. He sent nearly all his wages from the car wash home, and he never told his family that he was living under a bridge.

His mother sensed something was wrong. “He has a secret. He avoids talking about his house. I don’t think it’s very nice,” she said as her eyes misted over.

In the UK, finding somewhere to live is no easy matter, especially in London. Alex, another character from The Romanians Are Coming, had a plan: he’d get a job and then he’d get a flat with his friends. In London, if you find a job, you can look for a room in a shared flat. And if your job is minimum wage, you can look for a shared room in a shared flat.