Article in Republica in Romanian.
How is it possible that in a country that is looked upon with so much suspiciousness, I am met with so much hospitality and warmth ? I am talking about how well the Romanians are receiving guests and foreigners in their house and in their country and how well I feel when I am in Romania or amongst Romanians abroad.
If there is one trait that stands out for me, with regards to my meetings with Romanians, since 1985, it is the trait of hospitality. On the net circulated, some time ago, a picture of an old Romanian lady from the countryside. She was standing on the porch to her house. In her hands she had apples and was offering them. If a Romanian has two apples she or he will give one – or both – to a passer by, a guest a foreigner. That picture encapsulates the hospitality of the Romanians as I experience it.
I don’t know if it’s true if people who have little are the ones who offers to others the most ? During my 4,5 years of having one foot in Romania and one in Sweden that is what I have concluded. It is not scientifically proven, but my impression is that Romanians are always the ones who offers , without a doubt, a place to stay, a meal to eat, a chair to sit on, a smile on a rainy day and a joke when the going gets tough.
The Romanians are the ones who, when I ask to borrow a scale to weigh my suitcase before going to the airport , will give me, not only a scale to borrow, but also give me 10 meatballs to eat.
The Romanians are the ones who would ask a friend of a friend to drive in the middle of the night to pick me up from the Henri Coanda airport arriving from Sweden with a crazy arriving time, if they can’t be there themselves. Never let me take the bus to town.
The Romanians are the ones who would not offer me a small handfull of walnuts but will give me a whole bag of them. They offer in abundance. Always. Everybody.
The Romanians are the ones who would go to the market 5 times during the week, to pick up all my favourite food, make a package, go to the bus station at 3 o’clock in the middle of night to send it to me in Sweden. Imagine my happiness when I open the package in Helsingborg, Sweden, finding zacusca, hrean, onions, garlic, ROM chocolate, wine, dulceata de ardei iute, sausages and pufuleti.
When I was a teenager and wrote to my Romanian pen friend, he always sent me birthday gifts. This was during the late 1980s and I was always wondering where this hospitality and readiness to give comes from. It is so natural and so omnipresent when you are in Romania. Growing up amongst people who help each other creates a community that is of course helpful and kind .This is what the Romanians are to me, a helpful and kind community.
What if politicians would take care of their amazing population. That would be very powerful. I am thinking of a country, Romania, that could be self sustaining as to natural resources , climate , agriculture and hard working people who could build up this country.
Yeah, Romanian could be a huge WOW. All is there. Add mountains , Delta, seaside, wonderful traditions that have been kept, villages that can teach the rest of the world about what real sustainability is. Yes, I hope that Romania will rise to its full potential. I hope people will gather together and fight corruption.
What if the strength of the Romanian village, the power of community that exist there , through the traditions , could be transfered to create strong communities in a more urban settings and fight corruption.
What it is needed to ignite change ? A strong leader to pave the way ? Many grassroots movements coming together ? Courage to step up and say no, one by one, in every situation ?
Taken the setting , taken the day- to -day challenges that you meet when living in Romania, taken the recent history of Romania, I am even more blown away by the hospitality of its people. Taken the way that the Romanians are often met with suspiciousness when trying to make a better life abroad, yeah, the hospitality of the Romanians is a true sign of strength and beauty. A proof that no matter what challenges struck them, their hearts still beat for humanity.