Dec 122009

Versiune în română

Believe it or not we used to celebrate Christmas during communism although not officially of course (for those who don’t know, the communists are atheists). Christmas came packaged with New Year Celebration and they were officially known as “The winter holidays”. We decorated the Christmas tree with whatever we were able to find and on December 24th, “Father Winter”, Santa Claus’ identical twin, arrived with presents. I remember when Father Winter (a colleague of my parents) came to bring me presents when I was about 5 years old. I was so nervous that I forgot the poem I was supposed to recite. However, he was nice and left me presents nonetheless. By and large I had a happy childhood during communism despite the lack of some basic needs. I realize now that it was thanks to my parents who tried to shelter me from life’s reality.

The picture above is from Romană Square. The next two are taken on Magheru Boulevard where the city hall reused some of last year’s decorations (cost cutting in the economic downturn I think). The last one is showing the University roundabout.

Nov 052009

Versiune în română

For today, a photograph from the Roman Square, (Piaţa Romană in Romanian) which I mentioned in the She Wolf post last week. The Roman Square is a major traffic intersection in downtown Bucharest. Set around 1900, the square has a circular shape and a big roundabout. Three major boulevards intersect here. What you see in the picture is the southeast corner. The square is served by a subway station and is a major transport hub for buses and taxis. The huge Coca Cola bottle pouring into a glass stuck to the side of the building has been there for more than two years (if I remember correctly). I took the picture at the beginning of September. It will be some time before we see a sky so blue again.

Oct 282009

Versiune în română

I guess most of you are familiar with the famous statue of the Capitoline Wolf, the symbol of the founding of Rome. The statue depicts the twin brothers Romulus and Remus suckling on a she wolf. The original sits in Museo Nuovo in the Palazzo dei Conservatori on Rome’s Campidoglio. There is still a debate going on regarding its attribution and dating. I can’t help the debate regarding the origin of Rome’s Capitoline Wolf, but I think I can tell you where Bucharest’s She Wolf (Lupoaica in Romanian) came from. This statue was a gift from the city of Rome given to Bucharest in 1906 with the occasion of the “General Exhibition of Romania” (also named “Jubilee National Exhibition”) which marked three events: 40 years since the crowning of King Carol I as the ruler of Romania, 25 years since the Proclamation of Independence by the Romanian Kingdom, and 1,800 years since the emperor Trajan’s colonization of Dacia (current day Romania) in 106. The exhibition, modelled after the World Fair that took place in Paris in 1900, was located in Carol I Park and was intended to show the progresses made by Romania in different areas: politics, culture etc. The statue was first displayed at the Roman Arenas in Carol Park. After this short moment of glory, the poor She Wolf was moved from one place to another, all around Bucharest. From the Roman Arenas the statue was taken to St. George Square (Piaţa Sfântul Gheorghe in Romanian) only to be relocated again on the Metropolitan Church Hill in 1931. While there, she was the reason of a little controversy because some inventive mind came up with the idea that the She Wolf has its back to the altar, being totally impolite in that regard. So in 1965 it was moved again to a little park in the Dorobanţi Square. Finally, in 1997 it was brought to its current location, a corner of the Roman Square (Piaţa Romană in Romanian) in downtown Bucharest. But the story doesn’t end here. To top it all off, the mayor of Bucharest announced a few months ago – among some protests – that he is thinking of moving it again by the end of the year, this time close to its original location in St. George Square. But so far the She Wolf still sits in the Roman Square, watching patiently the nightmarish traffic of Bucharest and probably staring at the huge Coca Cola bottle that’s been dominating the square for the last two years.