Somehow we get into the topic of what American students expect Romania would be like prior to us reading and being told about it. We mention that we knew the Gypsies (Romas) are from this country. A few students get extremely upset by this statement, because they believe they shed a negative light as to who and what Romanian people are like. They detail the terrible actions they are notorious for, such as hurting, killing, stealing, begging, destroying, etc. This list goes on and on. Because it is acceptable cultural norms for the Romas to live outside, and to be a thief as a profession, most Romanians view them with disgust and profound hate. Leo mentions that Madonna came to Bucharest to give a performance in 2009. Before beginning the concert she told her crowd that there is too much discrimination against the Romas – this made her sad – and further called for equal treatment and equal rights. She was booed after her statement.
I try to rationalize, and say that it is not so much that people should dislike the Romas, but should dislike those who do not care for morals and values. I also, much dislike those who hurt, kill, steal, beg, and destroy; though I do not take this sentiment to any particular race. When most of the Romas are known to do this, it becomes difficult for a nation, or even for Europe to be able to accept a good apple when the batch is full of rotten ones.
Because most all of the UAH students are female, we decide that yesterday’s trip was not enough to satiate the hunger for shopping. We decide to go back, this time, without a guide. We distinctly remember Eugen telling us that the 105 bus will also take us there. Five minutes into the trip we determine the group is heading in the opposite direction. Then a few Bucharest citizens on the bus discuss the different routes to get us back. Eventually we settle on taking a taxi to avoid further confusion. A woman from the bus helps get us the right person who hopefully won’t overcharge us. He determines he will do the job for 30 Lei, and gets his pal and coworker to take the others. During the drive, the two taxi drivers stop the middle of traffic and are arguing. They speak something to the tune that although they are friends, the other driver doesn’t know the way and thinks our driver is crazy. We get there safely, after having a conversation on how he’s a Roma and he does his work to help his grandchildren have a good life. Once we arrive, we wait for the second group. Later, we find out that their driver abandoned them streets away from the shopping center, and our driver rescued them.
A notable store is Simon’s; their items for sale include housewares by Versace, and high couture furnishings of the like with the extremely inflated prices to go with it. One of the employees lived in Miami for awhile, and speaks flawless English. Our group wanders into a pet shop and attempts to pet the adorable puppies, but are stopped and told that it is not allowed. I find this highly odd, seeing that y people like to know how the animal bonds with humans prior to purchase. A tea store catches my attention. I want to purchase a beautiful teacup, but because the employees are rude and it is 90 Lei, I cannot justify buying it. Clothing prices are much higher than anticipated. I was told prior to the trip that it would be expensive, but didn’t realize the magnitude of how much! Most of the blouses, at an average, are sold for 100 Lei (approx. $35). As a purchaser of $10-15 shirts in the States, shopping for clothes in Romania is out of the question.
We end the night by having dinner at an Italian restaurant at the shopping center while the other group decided to go to the Old Town area. Emily Belknap and I order the lasagna Bolognese while Carly and Ami Graham enjoy a chicken Caesar salad. Our waiter did not speak English, but we try our best to communicate with him like a game of Charades. I brought the Romanian book to use; we flip through it to try to find the phrase for “I am sorry”, but strangely, it is not in the book. The best that we can muster is “excuse me.” Dinner is followed by a shared dessert, a creamy espresso and ice cream concoction that make the evening trip worthwhile.