Like and don’t like about Romanians

A comment piece in reaction to the hate and love against Romania published in the British press, published in Romanian on contributors.ro

If you believe The Daily Mail, all Romanians are benefit frauds, pickpockets and secret millionaires of a specific minority and Romania is a country of mud-huts, sick horses, starving dogs and gated palaces of gold-plated window-frames and weather-cocks, built on the theft from hardworking British families.

But if you believe the The Guardian, all Romanians are gorgeous students destined to be UN Secretary General or Apple CEO and their country is an unspoilt paradise of rolling hills, organic farmers and playful bears.

However the truth is Romanians are just people are like people everywhere. They are great and they suck.

At the risk of attracting contempt for being prejudiced and simplistic, here is what I like and don’t like about Romanians.

LIKE

Openness: As a journalist in Romania, you call someone up, and they will talk to you. Even if they hate you and you hate them. Everyone wants to talk. Everyone has an opinion. In the UK, people will put the phone down on you. In Romania, people answer the phone even when they speaking at a podium in a conference or while they are giving birth. They rarely say anything of much significance, but they sure are friendly. One problem is that politicians talk too much. They spend all day talking to reporters and all evening talking on chat shows. Don’t these Ministers have jobs? Don’t these people have sex? As a journalist, I can’t believe I am giving this advice to Romanian politicians, but please, please, please stop talking to journalists.

DON’T LIKE

Sexism: Why is it that when Romanian men walk into a crowded room, they shake all the hands of the other men, but avoid physical contact with the women? Do they see the women when they enter the room? Are these men woman-blind? If a woman in the public eye takes time on her appearance, she is labelled a “whore”, but if she chooses not to, she is a “tramp”. Men are judged on what they say, women on how they look – it’s pathetic. Most Romanian women I speak to hate Feminism. But this country need Feminism like it needs working traffic lights and free and fair elections.

LIKE

Grudge-free. I have friends and family in the UK whom I have not spoken to for ten years over a small argument some drunken evening, the reason for which I cannot remember. But here in Romania, you can have a shout at your friends, girlfriend, boyfriend and colleagues, with a preposterous level of personal abuse and the next day, no one cares. The past is a joke. No one holds a grudge.

DON’T LIKE

Deadlines: Why can’t Romanians stick to deadlines?  When I edited a magazine in Romania, we set three deadlines for receiving material back from interviewees – in chronological order – the deadline we asked for, the deadline we hoped for and, finally, the deadline we expected. There’s a reason it’s called a deadline. It’s about to expire.

LIKE

Ingenuity: Give a German a lighter, he will see a piece of plastic, a barrel, a flint and a small amount of petrol. Give a Russian a lighter, he will see a bunch of ingredients that can help him get high. Give a Romanian a lighter and he can take it apart and reconstruct it into a generator that heats a small farm.

DON’T LIKE

Victims: In Romania, everyone suffers, but no one is guilty. The Prime Minister speaks of being a victim of the President, the President a victim of the Prime Minister. Everyone else in Romania believes they are a victim of the fact that the President and the Prime Minister can’t agree who is the victim and who is the culprit.

LIKE

Enterprising. Romanians want to know how to succeed. They have a list of ten steps to achieve success. They stick to them. Fulfil them. Where there is a strict framework for delivery, they work brilliantly. Not like the English, who are always trying to think outside of the box. This is fine. But most of the time, the box is there for a reason. Up against an ambitious Romanian, no one has a chance.

DON’T LIKE

Too enterprising: Everyone wants to be a boss, but no one wants to collaborate. On the upside, you have a nation of entrepreneurs. Everyone has a small business. But because they find it hard to work subordinate to other people, few make money and when they continue to not make money, they don’t close their business. They let it live on in a coma. Romanians are great at starting a business, not so good at running one.

LIKE

Honesty: A Romanian female friend in Southampton told me: ‘What is it with Englishmen? They tell me they love me and two weeks later, they leave me.’ ‘It’s because they are only after sex,’ I said. ‘No,’ she answered, ‘they tell me they love me after sex. But still they leave me. Doesn’t love mean anything to them?’ Romanians are honest with their feelings. They take feelings seriously. The British will show their true feelings when they are drunk and steal them back when sober. The Brits tend to be straight in business, but unscrupulous with emotions. It’s the reverse for Romanians.

DON’T LIKE

Sick: Whenever I tell a Romanian that I have a cold, their first response is “Why?” Why am I sick? I am sick because I am sick. No, they imply, there must be a reason for your sickness. You must have done something wrong. Worn the wrong clothes. Touched the wrong person. Eaten the wrong food. You are guilty of illness.

LIKE

Positive. This may sound strange to Romanians, but since coming here, I have found people are always positive. If you suggest starting a new venture, they will says yes to collaborating (I am aware this contradicts a previous statement). The venture may be popular, admired and innovative, the only downside being – it probably won’t make money. Nevertheless, people have an uncynical attitude to building a modern nation. Romania is the country that likes to say yes.

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About scstefan1

Melbourne
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