vvpontaWhen my friends asked me what to bring me from Romania I told them that I want a book, written by Dan Lungu. He was born in the same city as myself and over the years I liked to follow him in his literal adventure. His latest book is called “The girl who used to play as God” and it describes the life of a girl whose mother left in Italy in order to bring more money in the family. And in the book the thoughts of the woman are written, how she – a kindergarten teacher – left in Italy in order to take care of old people. She was saying that it is unfair how it depends so much on your nationality to have a decent life, and how she was asked if she was able to read, write or if she ever eaten oranges. And this kind of stories, even they are in a book, are so true… People tend to judge others based on their nationality and some news from papers or television. But not everybody is the same and I think a lot of years will take us, as humanity, to understand that each person is different and we shouldn’t judge so easy.

I am, usually, a judging person and I try hard not to judge so easy. I think that first impressions count and, by time, this kind of thinking didn’t prove me wrong. But I am trying not to judge based on the nationality, because most of the images you received are from one point of view, of somebody else. It is a hard and time consuming process, and it is harder when you are not a “pro choice” person (it’s either one way or another, never both). When I was in Romania I used to judge hard everyone around me: if they used to listen different music, if they wouldn’t read, if they were noisy.

I remember that in a previous job I was working with Germans. I used to talk daily with one colleague about small things and he asked me one day if in Romania we have the right to speak and say everything we want. And I was so surprised, because Romania is a democracy… but he told me that in the German press some articles were written about Romanians and the situation back home… I didn’t knew how to react, but I told him that’s not true and we are mostly OK. And that was my feeling then. And my experience in Romania wasn’t bad, but I am not the person who thinks about the future and I tend to live more in the past than the present.

But if my situation back home was OK, it doesn’t mean I didn’t knew the situation around me. Teachers and doctors with small income, but politicians with extra payments. The system in Romania is bureaucrat, so each time I had to get a paper or to resolve something it was hell on earth. And usually a lot of people are working in the system, even if those position shouldn’t exist. For example, when I wanted to make my passport I had to pay 2 taxes: one for the passport itself and one for the release service. I was able to pay the first tax, which was 10 times higher, but when I wanted to pay the second one I had to find a specific location because I didn’t had the domicile in Bucharest. So in Romania it doesn’t matter if you are Romanian, you must go to specific locations to work with the system. And when I went to pay the following steps were done: first say to one employee what you want, the woman talked with another one, she called me to her and told me to go to another woman to pay the tax. And the second woman walked to the last one in order to give her my invoice. How stupid is this? 3 people just for some paper… when you should be able to pay online or directly to some machine inside. And don’t think that the release service meant that somebody comes to give you your passport, NO – you must go and stay in line for some hours. And if this would be all. In the last 2 years in Romania I activated as a kind of freelancer and I had a lot of problems because of the system – especially when I closed my contracts.

At work, in smoking breaks or beers, we used to complain about how the things are going. Each time I met with somebody the same topics were discussed over and over again. Each way you turned you heard a complain regarding how things are done. And when you were looking more in depth to the people around you, you realized that, even you knew how many money you payed each month to the state, more and more people were having a harder life. And now… now I read Romanian press daily and I see how politicians are arrested for their corrupted actions. Sometimes I feel joy because of this, they should all be in jail and all their money should be taken by the state. The problem is that the PM (V.V. Ponta) and his political party have the majority and they change the law however they want. And nobody replies, no opposition, no president. It makes me feel sad, because in November I was on the streets because I was sure that the PM shouldn’t be president… and now, all my hopes are on the river. 

I hope Romania will get better. I hope that someday people will be just as happy as others. That a hardworking man from Romania will value as much as a hardworking man from other EU country. That the value and price of work in Romania will be in line with other countries. And sometimes I think that nobody wants to be a sacrifice generation, that the young generation (me included) prefers to do something else than involve in changing how all works. Maybe this is the reason each day, when I read the Romanian press, I get more and more afraid. Because my family is there and I would like to know that my parents, their friends and neighbors feel that somebody respects the fact that for more than 35 years worked and contributed to the system – in order for me and other kids to go to school, to have access to medicine and so on. Because the young generation exists because of the elders, which contributed many years for us. And, when I was home, I was contributing for the younger kids. Being in Netherlands I understood something: it is important to pay taxes, it is important to declare your income and in this way to support elders, kids and people that aren’t able to support themselves. When I was in Romania I was getting more and more angrier, because I was paying a lot of taxes, but no result from it – and also because I knew a lot of people that preferred not to do anything instead of working. I know that the system is corrupted, but what happens with the citizens it’s not normal either. If nobody fights, if nobody pays, if nobody says NO, then the system will go as it is.

Who are we waiting for?