Really just hanging out

One of the things I find really strange about Bucuresti is the big number of people who are just "hanging out" on the streets. Every time I'm walking around I see at least a few people around on the streets who are just there, doing nothing. And they don't look like they are waiting for someone in particular either...

The ones I am thinking about look a little "shady", but I don't think they are actually:
* working with anything
* beggars
* robbers (at least they can't all be :p)
* prostitutes
* drugdealers

So who are they then? What are they doing? What's their story? Any ideas? Feel free to post in the comments...


Why the "why?"

If you ask them a simple question, a LOT of Romanians have a tendency to add a "why?" to the end of their answers.

Like this:
- Hey Cristina, long time no see! How have you been?
- I've been OK. Why?

- So is that your friend?
- Yes. Why?

- Did you walk all the way here?
- No, I took a taxi. Why?

My friend Sinziana has this theory:
* Romanians ask "Why?" to find out the true meaning of the question - that there might be something more to the question than what was asked. Or that conversations often start with questions that are very general or open, and the "Why?" after an answer is a reflex, a normal way to continue the conversation.

This could imply that Romanians are actually not used to simple questions which are just that, they might be more used to all questions having a hidden meaning behind them. On the other hand it can also just mean that it's a normal way to converse, and the "Why?" is merely a vehicle.

Iulia, another friend, said this:
* This is just how Romanians are. Germans have a way of being (cold), and Romanians just have this way of speaking, it's in the culture. In Romania, most of the time, a question is more than just a question. "Why?" is both a way to find out the real intention of the question, and also it can be a way to talk out more about the subject.

Myself, I have a small theory that these verbal mechanisms (questions with hidden meanings and "Why?") might be an effect of communism, where the lack of free speech probably had people wanting to find out the true intentions of questions. And before 1989 you had to be a bit careful about what you said, because in Ceau┼čescu's Romania the country was full of informants that would turn you in if you said something "dangerous".

So this must have had a huge psychological effect on people then. And those people are the parents of today's young people, so even young people now have been influenced by their parents and are probably carrying around fragments of a pre-1989 mindset. And thus "Why?" is still being used.

Just a thought. :)


Hey, where's my change?

Often, when I go to KFC to buy a 5 piece chicken strip meal (which costs 9.90 RON), I give the cashier a 10 RON note and after a few seconds of hope, I realize that I'm not going to get my 10 bani coin back (bani are like cents). Why does this happen?

Hmm, I have no idea but this is a strange fact about Romania - they often don't give you back correct change. It's not always a loss to you either - give or take 10 to 20 bani above or below the actual price of the item, vendors often think it's just easier to "not worry about it".

But ... hey wait.. how do you say in Romanian, "I'm worried about it"? :(


Attack of the foreigners

If I had a RON for everytime I've been asked "So, why Romania?", I'd basically still be a poor westerner living in Romania, but at least it would help pay for the ever increasing prices in this beautifully strange country.

Many times accompanied with a subtly accusitive smile, this question "Why Romania?" always leaves me with one basic feeling -- the feeling that I need to provide a good answer. So the real question is - what's the right answer? Why are all these foreigners here? What do they want? And will they leave? :)

Well, the quick answer to this question is "why not Romania?" Besides, it's a beautiful country filled with an intelligent and proud people, working hard and pushing Romania forward in new ways. Yes, there are negative aspects of Romania - as there are in all countries -but in the end, what I see is an honest and loving people that are slowly but surely trying to change Romania for the better.