Lost in translation

I have this sad feeling that at the moment I have no language that I can call my own. I am losing my Romanian and my English is far from perfect especially when I am tired or grumpy or dizzy or whatever. Because yes, there are days when I simply can’t express myself in a neat English without any reason whatsoever.

As for Romanian, the matter is even more upsetting because it is my mother tongue. I don’t have many Romanian friends in London, I only get to talk Romanian with my sister. And you know what? I can hardly make a sentence in Romanian, without sneaking some English words in it.

They say that when you have two languages, you have two souls. I like to think of this as a metaphor for the ability of making room for as many cultures as we encounter next to our own. It is a special feeling indeed and despite the sadness I feel when I cannot make a proper sentence in Romanian, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

To make matters even more complicated, my boyfriend is French. We communicate in English and sometimes, when it gets intense, I find myself exhausted with speaking in English. A row is not a proper row if not in your mother tongue.

What about you? How does having a second language make you feel?

I am reading The Londoner so that you don’t have to

As a humble Romanian moved to the amazing city of London, where else to find inspiration for a true London life if not from a true Londoner? Because I read Rosie’s religiously, drooling over her top model like pictures, envying her for everything she eats and does not the mention her killer body, the result of the bestest genes there are, I have decided to summarize her entries for you every now and then, in case you would rather not read them yourself for the risk of dying of envy, naturally (see what I did there?). It will be hard work, considering she posts EVERY SINGLE DAY or the fans go mad (she said so in her Daily Mail interview and I have absolutely no reason whatsoever to doubt her).

Here is the recap for this week:

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The Londoner’s last post was on the 12th of August, eleven days ago. I have no idea what she has been up to these days, she must be working hard for the blog, I am sure. I am so sorry she blocked me on her Instagram and I can’t keep up with her adventures anymore. Darn it.

The story of my blue nails

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I am what one might call selfish. Everything is about me and I use all my energy and resources for my own well being. As a child, my parents always treated me like I didn’t matter and to this day my greatest fear is not to matter in my everyday life.

It is not easy living like this, always trying not to cross the thin line to being self absorbed,  constantly reminding myself that not everything is about me and that is fine that not everything is about me.

I am that selfish that I am not sure I can fit a baby in my life. A baby means I will never ever come first again and I will stop being the center of my own universe. I am not sure I could cope with that and the only other alternative would be for me to be a bad mum which is unacceptable.

So you can imagine in what a small, cosy and hedonistic bubble I live. Sleeping through the night and coffee in bed are routine, cooking and cleaning are optional, snoozing in parks, reading a book a day or sitting down in a restaurant drinking wine in the afternoon are not rare occurrences and napping when my days are not busy is a privilege to die for, in my opinion.

There was little to contaminate my bubble with bits of cruel reality for a long time. But then I started working as an interpreter, mostly in mental health cases. Which means almost every day I hear stories of lives interrupted by traumas of different degrees.

My thoughts are always the same: 1) I am not alone; 2) They will make it too, just like I did; 3) Thank you for the reminder that life is not a straight line.

I am trying to make room in my bubble for the stories I hear everyday. I don’t let them overwhelm me, I just need to revisit them every now and then, turn my attention to other people’s sorrow and practice gratitude for being in a better place now.

Earlier this summer I spent a couple of days working in a hospital for teenagers. A bunch of 15 year old girls, all victims of some kind of abuse, living their lives in that hospital,  dealing with trauma when all they should have been dealing with was the all over the place hormones. Some had empty eyes, some wouldn’t crack the tiniest smile, some were not even present in spirit.

On my last day there it happened that they were allowed to paint their nails. I joined them at a sudden impulse (my nails don’t like nail varnish) and I chose a blue colour, which is so not like me.

I kept that blue varnish on my nails for about two weeks, all chipped and ugly, and every time I looked at my nails I would feel sad, blue sad for each and every teenager in this world that has their world tinted by adults or other teenagers.

I could say my bubble is a bit more spacious now.

10 reasons why London is amazing even if you are NOT a millionaire

A while back there were some pictures trending the internet, pretty much implying that London is only nice and fun if you are rich.

I beg to differ. I am not rich and I was even less rich when I first moved here. While I can’t do everything I would like to do (seeing Cumberbatch on stage, for instance), I am very much enjoying all the things I get to do here, perfectly aware that anyway, it is much more than I could do in Romania, ever.

Therefore I invite you to see the glass half full and maybe convince you to try to make the best out of your stay in London.

Half of London’s surface is public green spaces.

Wherever you are, you will find a patch of grass nearby to take a walk, collect your thoughts and relax that mind of yours, stressed out by the upcoming rent. Or practice yoga/mindfulness, read a book, do your homework, do home office (ahem!) or, weather permitting, work on your tan (don’t hurry up to buy a bikini, it won’t happen often, five times a year, best case scenario.

 

Richmond Park

Richmond Park

Hampstead Heath Park

Hampstead Heath Park

 

You won’t mind the rain anymore.

I remember when living in Romania I used to stay indoors when raining. I would cancel all that could be cancelled and stayed inside.  I can’t do this in London because I will never get anything done. But anyway, rain in London is not as bad as I expected. It doesn’t happen everyday like one might think and it is usually a mild drizzle.

Greenwich Park in the rain

Greenwich Park in the rain

 

 

You get in shape, free of charge. 

If you are on a tight budget and common transport is a luxury, you will cycle. You can thank Boris and the TfL later for that tight body of yours and for that lovely glow on your face. If you are one of the lucky ones that can afford public transport, I am telling you, you will still exercise greatly. Bus and train rides are very good core exercises and changing lines is pretty much walking very fast/running/climbing (steps) etc.

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You have no choice but to talk to people.

Bus, tube, streets, even your home is full of people. Yes, your home, you heard that right. If you are lucky enough, you won’t have to share the bathroom with more than two people. Good luck with that. Bright side: you will always have company if you feel like it. Or even if you don’t feel like it. More than often you will have to lift your head from your screen to say hi or sorry or thank you. I think that’s good for you.

Random tube ride

Random tube ride

You will read more.

Books, Metro, The Evening Standard etc. Commuting takes a big chunk out of your free time and you don’t want it wasted. So you will read. And reading is sexy.

Tips for cheap reading: 1) Download Kindle on your smarthphone and buy ebooks. The classics are free on Amazon, by the way. 2) Buy books from charity shops. One or two quids for a book is pretty much a bargain. 3) I am big fan of Audible. I pay 8 pounds a month which allows me to buy an audio book per month. It’s more than enough for me as I don’t commute much (I know, I am privileged, don’t hate me).

Books display in a charity shop

Books display in a charity shop

FREE MUSEUMS.

I can’t stress this enough. London’s most beautiful museums are free and awesomely organised. After a couple of hours walk in any of them, few more neurons will be born in your brain. Isn’t that awesome?

Installation at Saatchi Gallery

Installation at Saatchi Gallery

Maritime Museum

Maritime Museum

All kinds of food in one city.

You can’t take this for granted. It is well known that immigrants feel closer to their homes through food. Hence the culinary very yummy diversity in London. Immigration makes the world a more interesting place, ain’t that right?

Sushi

Sushi

Enchiladas and kelbasa

Enchiladas and kelbasa

You will feel rich when travelling abroad.

The pound is strong outside London. In most of Europe, parts of Asia, Central and South America you will feel like a king. For example, I laughed hard when they charged us 25 euro for lunch for two plus drinks in Tenerife earlier this year.

You will become aware of the SUN.

Have you seen how things unfold on a sunny day in London? Basically, the humans take over the green half of London’s surface. They lay down and simply soak up the sun. It is a beautiful image. I don’t believe in God but if there is a God, Sun should be God. IT is the only one that can stop the Londoners rushing up and down the streets,IT is that mighty. (A sunny day might also last a couple of hours so drop everything and go soak it up when it’s up. You never know when you’ll have another chance).

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Sunny day in Paddington Park

Sunny day in Paddington Park

You get to call HOME the most amazing city in the world.

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Romania, European Union, 2015: Seven Men Raped Girl. Punishment: House Arrest

INTRODUCTION

I am breaking the usual pattern of this blog to share with you one of the most outrageous things happening in Romania at the moment, in front of the closed eyes of the Romanian justice system. While I am no journalist, I spent a few days reading as many articles as I could, gathering data in order to put the story together as accurate and as exhaustive as possible. Also because I am not a journalist, my personal opinions will be all over the text but please, don’t let them bias you. Try to ignore them and form your own.

The reason I took the time to research and write about this in English is because I strongly believe it is a story that needs to be heard by as many people as possible. The more the exposure, the bigger the pressure for justice to be made. Please do help me share it, spread the word about it.

THE STORY 

It was the evening of N ovember 10,  2014. Raluca, 18, was waiting for the 6.30 pm bus to take her home to her village, Muntenii de Sus, located 5   km away from Vaslui, where she is going to high school. On that particular evening she had finished school one hour earlier than usual, therefore she was early for the bus. She decided to spend her waiting time sitting on a bench in the park nearby.

At one point, Silviu  Burada, 21, passed by. He lives in Văleni, which is right next to Muntenii de Sus, Raluca’s village. They’d known each other for quite a while, so when Silviu Burada offered to give Raluca a ride home, she accepted.

Silviu Burada was accompanied by another friend, Paul Burlacu, 28. Raluca was not suspicious at all until the point when they reached her village, Muntenii de Sus, but S.B. didn’t stop the car. When she became inquisitive, S.B. motivated his action by claiming he would drop by Paul Burlacu first, in Văleni, the next village, then he will return to Muntenii de Sus to drop her.

But this never happened. What actually happened was that S.B. stopped the car on an empty field near Văleni, where he called few more people: Silviu Avădanei, 22, Petrică Boloboceanu, 23, Ionuț Boicu, 21, Rotaru Alin, 18.

S.B. was the one that undressed Raluca against her will and the first to rape her. His friends took turns in raping her in all possible ways. She was begging each of them to save her but none of them had mercy.

When they put her in the car she hoped it would be the end of it and that they would drop her somewhere from where she could go home. But the beasts had other plans. They drove to another empty field and one more friend, Ioan Surleac, 20, was invited to join the party. Raluca was raped all over again by the seven men.

At one point she managed to get hold of her mobile phone and dialed the first number in her phone book. She only managed to scream for help before her mobile phone was snatched away.

Her scream for help was nevertheless heard by the person that was called and he alerted mutual friends, who then alerted the parents.

Raluca was raped for three hours straight by the seven men. She passed out several times and the rapists brought her back to conscience each time by pouring alcohol on her. Her passing out never made them stop, just threaten her to stop faking she was sick or she would be beaten. During these three hours there were 60 missed calls on Raluca’s mobile phone, from the worried parents, friends and colleagues.

The seven rapists only stopped when they had enough. They then put her in the car and dropped her home, warning her not to tell a soul or she would be in trouble.

She did tell her parents though and they took her to the police and to the hospital.

You might think that this is where the story ends, with the criminals being arrested and punished accordingly, like in any civilised country, part of the European Union even, in the year of god 2015, when robots are streaming life from Mars and so on.

Well, not exactly. The seven men were taken into custody, indeed. On April 9, 2015, the judge GEORGIANA MOLDOVAN placed into house arrest  three of the criminals, the ones that admitted to be guilty. Shortly after, the other four, who claimed they had the girl’s consent, were also placed into house arrest by another judge, VIOREL MUNTEANU. The motivation was that it is discriminatory to apply different treatment for the same crime and that NONE of the seven men represented a danger for the society. 

In the meantime, Silviu Burada’s mother, Dorina Burada, started a Facebook page where she was asking people to come and share dirt about Raluca, in an attempt to prove that Raluca was slutty anyway, and that her son doesn’t deserve to go to prison for “ten minutes of pleasure”. What’s worse is that the local people are indeed backing up the gang of the seven men. For them, the girl is guilty because she had sex with other men before, she accepted to get in the car with seven men and so on and so forth. A team of journalists went to the village to ask for locals’ opinions and their statements are amazingly ignorant and sexist. My two cents for them: even a prostitute can be raped. It doesn’t matter how much sex someone has on daily basis and with how many people. If you do not have that someone’s consent, you are raping her.

There is a lot to say about the two judges, GEORGIANA MOLDOVAN and VIOREL MUNTEANU. They have been, obviously, bought. Romania is a country where everything has a price, from a driver’s licence to someone’s life. Romania is the country where politicians are paid peanuts yet they have fabulous fortunes. Romania is the country where a huge number of senators, ministers and mayors are under investigation or under arrest, while still being senators, ministers and mayors.

The proof the two judges have been bought lies in the very fact they both changed jobs and towns. While VIOREL MUNTEANU was promoted, GEORGIANA MOLDOVAN took a different path and she is now a teacher for court clerks and jurists.

THE FOLLOW-UP

Source: Adevarul.ro

Source: Adevarul.ro

The local press kept writing on this matter and the articles were mostly prompted not by the faulty justice (quite common in Romania) but by the cocky behaviour of the rapists when waiting for the hearings. Always smiling and acting confident, swearing at the journalists, even threatening them to run them over with their cars.

This inconsistency between the crime and the behaviour was what attracted the national mass media attention. Articles in the national press started to flow and more people learned about the horrible rape.

On July 20, Adevarul started a national campaign, “Dreptate pentru fata violată din Vaslui” (Justice for the raped girl in Vaslui) to raise awarness.

As a result, people started showing support through Facebook and the president and the prim minister were requested to react. Facebook’s platform is used to organise a street protest against the decision to place the seven criminals in house arrest.

What is more important is that previous victims are coming forward and we are utterly disgusted to discover how many girls were raped and their rapists were not punished or they were lightly punished.

Also, a very popular talk show, that in their blind chase for audience disclosed Raluca’s identity, might be fined or even cancelled. I wish for the latter, that show is insensitive and filthy.

I do hope all this noise is not for nothing.

I want the bastards to rot in jail, where they belong, I want the two judges to be held responsible, severely fined and punished, fired with an interdiction to ever work in any field related to justice and made to pay a hell  lot of money to Raluca.

I want judges to learn a lesson and think twice when selling verdicts.

I want victims not to let themselves intimidated and find the power to come forward.

I want the families of the victims to give all their support and persuade the victims come forward.

I want the media to put this kind of pressure on all wrong doings because this is what media is for.

I want people to back up with the media and use their voice until they are heard.

I know that even if all this is done, wrong will not always be corrected but at least we can show we are awake and we can stand for one another if the case. We can attempt to show that Romania is OURS not THEIRS.

But most of all I wish with all my heart for Raluca to be able to find her strength and slowly overcome this. It will be a long, painful process, I am sure of it. Healing your soul takes a lot of time and energy.

But, Raluca, this rape doesn’t define you or who you will become. Stay strong. You are above this.