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Teo and the Gypsies 11/11/2012

Posted by allthingsro in quirks.
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Teo was a teacher I met while I was a teaching assistant in Onesti. On a school trip to Iasi, we saw a Gypsy girl with her mother and father. “Doesn’t she look pretty?” we exclaimed, as she hopped after her parents, the tiers on her white and pink spotted dress bouncing.
Another time, Teo arrived prior to a Sunday morning shopping trip much worse for wear. “The Gypsies playing at the bar wouldn’t let me leave! They just kept playing and telling me to dance,” she explained as she sipped coffee.
We filled in together for another teacher with the seventh grade. After class I remarked, “Why is that boy so much taller than the others?” “The Gypsy boy? He re-sat the first year of school three times. But then he was in my class, and I was so good with him, he made it.” Teo wasn’t like the other teachers: “Doing nothing in class and then full power in private lessons.”
One day a Gypsy woman came to her after class. She wanted Teo’s help to fill in an application for social security. “You know better than me.” Teo was bemused.
It’s hard not to pick up negative attitudes towards Gypsies. I already know what I’ll tell Delphi about my flight to Bucharest this year: “At passport control in Bucharest, we were behind these Roma women. And of course one of them didn’t have her passport or her identity card, she just pulled this photocopy out of her bag…” But Teo gave me hope. She saw Roma as different, but she wasn’t hostile towards them.
Teo taught private lessons and, like so many young teachers, she wanted to get out of teaching, so she was studying finance part-time. “My salary is the same as the woman who sweeps the street.” She wanted a job in a bank and a VW Tiguan. I wonder if she made it.


Onesti. Or welcome to small-town Romania 10/01/2010

Posted by allthingsro in places.
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Oneşti is a pleasant, medium-sized town in Bacău County in eastern Romania. A new town built in the 1960s-1970s on the site of a village with the same name, it is a local commercial and administrative centre and the birthplace of the Olympic gymnast Nadia Comăneci. It is situated in the Trotuş valley and a cross that lights up by night overlooks the town from a surrounding hill.

There are perhaps three reasons why you may choose to visit it:

1) You’re in need of supplies. If you are a backpacker, camper or traveller and on a longer trip around Moldavia1 and on a tight budget, the message is simple: do as the locals do and head for the huge Metro supermarket on the outskirts of Bacău2. The same applies if you’re looking for hard-to-find items. The shops in Oneşti stock a limited range of over-priced goods. Example: in 2005, Dolce & Gabbana clothes were on sale in the mall, but there was only one shop selling tampons (the local supermarket Penny Market, ladies) and this is in town with a population of around 50,000. And if that doesn’t put you off, you better check the use-by dates.

If you can’t reach consumer heaven in Metro, your best bet is probably the main food market on Str. Tinereţului. Close by, you’ll also find a second market, allegedly mostly staffed by Moldovans, where you can buy clothes, bathroom products and manele cassettes.

One tip for gourmands: there is a coffee shop on Str. Mărăşeşti where the service may be surly but the chocolate-coated cherries are perhaps among the finest. To find it, head down Str. Mărăşeşti in the direction of Penny Market and you should see it on the left-hand side.

2) You’re in need of a party. If the thought of a night out in the chaos of Bucharest or Constanţa is too much for you, then Onesti may be just the thing. The House of Culture (Casa de Cultură a Sindicatelor) frequently has live music and is also the venue for one of the local discos, Baby Star (sometimes known as Bebi Star) which offers a blend of international and Romanian pop, R’n’B and manele. For the more culturally minded, the library (biblioteca municipală “Radu Rosetti”) hosts regular events, including jazz evenings and French theatre. Other events include TiAmo children’s music festival.

3) You’re looking to start a business or recruit new employees. Oneşti has good road connections to major Romanian cities. Currently employment opportunities are limited, so many Oneşteni work abroad. Local website Onesti Online offers the ideal platform for marketing, whether you need to find local suppliers or advertise your business.

Need a place to stay?

On the outskirts of Oneşti, you’ll find a small selection of bed-and-breakfast establishments. If you ask a local for directions to a hotel, you’ll probably be directed to Hotel Trotus or the hotel as it is known in the town. Hotel Trotuş is a huge communist-era building that dominates the whole main boulevard. Centrally located, it’s ideal if you might be staggering out of the Baby Star disco. Local prostitutes prefer Hotel Sport on Bulevardul Republicii,
but don’t let that put you off. Slightly further from the centre, it’s a modern establishment offering well-furnished rooms with very decent bathrooms by Romanian standards.

1 The larger, historical region that Bacău County belongs to is called Moldavia and its unofficial capital is Iaşi. Confusion between the region Moldavia and the ex-Soviet Republic of Moldova results. For clarity, Romanians often refer to the Republic of Moldova as

2 Romania is divided into judete or counties. In most cases, the name of the county is the same as its administrative capital.