2007 Bucharest Trip – Day 4

Barely slept last night — too much on my mind. Slow day. Mariana called and said that she will be here at 2pm.

I had a call this morning with Simona from (ovid.ro) and she gave me a short report on the kids. random old church in Bucharest[Last year, we signed Florin, Corina, and Gina up to a program run by OvidRom to get them in an after school program and to help Gina manage life.] Simona said that Florin is actually doing well, attends classes and passing. However, he has not attended the after school program.

Corina, on the other hand, is not attending classes and had a physical altercation with a teacher at her school. Yikes! They are very concerned about her. So, we will meet 10:30am tomorrow at the school and review the cases, and go over to Gina’s afterwards to see what we can do. They intend to put a “school mediation” program together for Florin and Corina, that tracks their attendance and tries to help. We also agreed that I will pay a stipend to the family, if and only if, the kids get good attendance and grades. We will also talk about getting Gina some social working help. I am really looking forward to this. The folks at OvidRom are fantastic!

Mariana arrived around 4pm. We went to see her “favorite house”, #7. The family was home and were a “Romanian family” (which means that they are not Gypsy or Roma). The husband, Victor, was extremely nice and felt like a very good person. His wife Elana, was from Transylvannia area and famous for being “good wives.” They had a 10 year old child, who was very cute and nice. They seemed out of place in this home–my American biases and stereotypes kicking in. The house was the nicest that I have seen in this area. The kitchen actually seemed like a kitchen (albeit the simplest, least expensive kitchen that any American has ever seen–please note that I am not intending to sound arrogant or superior here, it’s just hard to express the poor quality of EVERYTHING, even in this “nice” house). Man, it makes you appreciate how good we got it. Anyway, the house had a nice large bedroom, living room, bathroom, and extra bedroom. Then, go outside and there is a storage room, an open room, and one more bedroom (that had an old guy sitting in bed watching TV and a smell that almost made me weak in the knees. It was incredible, I really can’t say it was bad. Rather, it was a deep, scary smell that was unique to my senses. I literally stumbled from the smell. I still have no idea what it was. The guy. Wow.

Anyway, the family was extremely friendly and invited us to sit down and try the wife’s Romanian cinnamon bready thingy. It was very good. Then, they invited me to do the Romanian Easter tradition of two people taking a red, hard-boiled egg, one person says “Jesus is alive–goddamn, I had to say it!–the other person says “It’s really true”, and they they butt their two eggs together to see which cracks/crushes the end. I lost every egg battle–probably because I don’t think that Jesus lives–didn’t he die on the cross at Easter?, I’m like totatlly confused. Anyway, we had a very nice talk with the family, who invited our family to visit them when our kids come back to Romania. We checked out a couple of other houses that Mariana did not really believe in and then went to Gina’s house for a visit (as promised on Monday).

Gina, Elvis, Constantina, Patricia, Florin, and another sister were there, as well as a boyfriend of the nameless sister. I gave the Phoebe Bratz doll from Dewey to Ruxandra, who is turning out to be a very pretty young girl (reminds me a lot of Dewey). We sat in the back room and chatted, the usual stuff, and arranged to have the OvidRom social workers come over tomorrow at 11-ish. Florin promised to be there and Gina said that she will try to get Corina to show.

Mariana and I left after a nice visit and went back to my hotel. We sat and talked for almost an hour on our strategies.

A few minutes later, Edward Russell, an English real estate entrepeneur that I met on the Internet last year showed up for a beer. We walked to the Beer Wagon, an ancient cafe in the heart of Bucharest that is one of the most famous places in Bucharest. It looks like it must be three centuries old, serves great beer and food, and every 15 minutes traditional Romanian folk dancers come out amidst blaring music and parade around in folk clothes. To be honest, it’s quite corny. Ed pitched me on his Romanian Real Estate fund–an interesting play on VC funds that involves him buying and selling Romanian real estate froom “illerate peasants” at fantastic returns. He spoke a frenetic, Silicon Valley pace and was hard to follow. Ed is on his third marriage, a beautiful, young Romanian this time and appears to be having a good time in Bucharest.

Since I slept very little last night, I called it early…

random communist-style apt building
Random `communist-era’ apartment block in Bucharest — I predict that these will be gone in ten years.

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