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Connections #3

13 Nov 2008 / 3 Comments / in Journeys

I’m only passing through Bucharest, spending a couple of hours at most, but on the overnight train from Budapest I get to know a small part of Romania.

Rodika is a doctor, in her forties, tiny with dark hair and a pinkish manicure. She grew up in Transylvannia which she assures me is not culturally part of Hungary, despite historic links. ‘There are some people who feel strongly Hungarian,’ she admits in French. I’m pleased to be back with a Romance language.

She’s been in Budapest visiting a childhood friend. They grew up in the same village, ‘She, she is Hungarian. And she lives in Budapest now. But Transylvannia is not Hungarian, no matter what some people say.’

We settle back onto her lower bunk as the train travels through the darkened plains of Europe. I ask her about Romania; is it thriving, do the young people stay there? ‘No,’ she tells me ‘Even my son, he left this morning for Germany. He wants to study architecture but he’s never shown any interest in buildings before. But how can I say no to what he wants?’

‘It was different under Communism.¬† I was never a Communist, but everybody had a place in the world. It’s not like that now, you need to be rich.’

She stops twisting her fingers together and brings out some cakes, baked by her old friend in Budapest. They’ve been laid on a fluted cardboard tray and carefully double-wrapped in paper.

We share them between us and they’re almond and plum and delicious.

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3 Responses to Connections #3

  1. Rosie Alcock says:

    Those cakes sound rather good. I taught a Hungarian lady and a Romanian lady in Canada as private students, they were beginner in learning English but I learned about the problems living there and why they both came to Canada through marriage. Ladies of the hair, one was bald and the other had a wiry short crop.

  2. Sarah Eustance says:

    Ladies of the hair? That’s hilarious. What were the problems they talked about?

  3. Rosie Alcock says:

    Well, Sanda had married purely to escape Romania and had had to leave her teenage daughter behind. Her new husband was a failure for her but I was a bit cynical about this because he was dying of cancer and seemed perfectly fond of the bald Sanda. Apparently he had lied about his wealth and was up to the eyeballs in credit card debt, owned a few houses but his ex wife had made sure her children from that marriage would receive them in his will. Sanda was very indignant about this. She had a strong aura of gold digger but then I have no idea how bad things were for her in Romania to agree to marry a complete stranger in a new country. Eva had been in a relationship with Nick, a Canadian Hungarian for years by long distance but had only recently come to Canada. Under Sanda’s tutelage she learned to demand that Nick marry her and I was honoured to attend their wedding. I met them both at the immigrant help centre I volunteered at and they persuaded me to teach them privately. In the end I did it for free as they were both so destitute and learning English was vital for them to get a handle on a new life in Canada. Dumbledore adored them.

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