Bucharest

A strange place stuck midway between East and West, old and new.

In Bucharest you can still feel the grey atmosphere of the Communist regime, in the facades of the (only apparently abandoned) buildings and in the infrastructural works started enthusiastically and then abandoned prematurely. But at the same time it is alive and kicking. The young generation is pushing upward from the underground, despite a political reality which missed the goal of getting rid of the brakes of an unproductive regime mentality. They have energies, will, they handle the English language awesomely, they study and work and struggle, they rely on themselves only to succeed.
After joining the EU “family” the country’s perspectives about the future were suddenly lifted up, even though it still didn’t make the switch to the Euro currency. My sensation is they’ve had a great chance they only partially took advantage of.

One example.
Everybody smokes, even among the young generations. The battle against smoke has not yet been fought there, but there is time.
I was impressed tho by how priced cigarettes are compared to the general cost of life. So I asked: “why don’t you buy tobacco and roll up your own cigarettes? It is much cheaper”.
That’s how I found out that tobacco is even more expensive and that penalties for buying it on the black market are disproportionately strict.
Then I asked: “How comes tobacco is so expensive?”. The answer was almost expected. There is one only big monopolistic company producing tobacco “legally”. And it belongs to someone close (a daughter or relative) to one of the previous presidents.
I must confess, I didn’t cross check this information and, as an Italian, I am used to such stories, but it is a meaningful example of what is still lacking in this country.

 I spent full hours in the parks, seeking elderly faces with young eyes among the crooked people playing table games.
Parks belong to older generations. Young people took possess of the night, which is the hardest part for a photographer to portray, so, that part, I just tried to experience it.
Unfortunately my journey to Bucharest has been a short one, five days only. I know there is much more to say, there are stories to tell, there are Rom families living in tents few meters away from luxury hotels, there is an underground culture, there is a slowly growing economy, there are groups of homeless children no one wants to see. There is a complex reality demanding a thorough and pondered exploration.
An exploration I hope I will have the chance to grab one day.

 I still believe Romania is a promising project, a beautiful car, but even an excellent car will be way too slow with a bad driver.

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