May 26th, 2008

thoughts at a quarter to five in the morning

It was heartwarming to get to talk with people who I care a lot about, and who quite obviously care a lot about me, even if those conversations were much too brief. Maybe the best way to think about them is that we get to see each other long enough to remind each other that we miss each other and will make more of an effort to spend time together. At least seeing each other annually reminds us of how we dropped out of each other's lives and that we want that not to happen.

It does also remind me that I don't, and probably never will, have enough time to spend with the people I connect with.

It is comforting, as various friends observed, to be able to come back to the house. And to know that it's here, and that it goes on not only physically but as a living community. It gives our lives roots which we often need and lack.

One problem with reunion, I think, is that often one sees it through a haze of sleep-deprivation. Nonetheless, it does seem that my "inside voice" is still a pleasant one. Unfortunately, it means I've forgotten all the really good quotes from the last three days.

Now that I've found my phone it's probably worthwhile to get back into bed and sleep, particularly since I have a room here tonight. But maybe I'll go downstairs and eat a muffin first.
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A few views of Bucharest.

Bucharest has a terrible reputation. The always irreverent In Your Pocket guide to Bucharest says that "a cheeky but clever wag [they] know" once described it as "A shit hole, but my kind of shit hole."

People warn you of the packs of wild dogs said to roam the streets, and that the old dictator Ceauşescu had many square miles of the historic center of the city flattened to make way for his grandiose building scheme.

Well, it must have improved markedly in the eight years the In Your Pocket guys have been publishing their guide, because I rather liked the place. It won't win any huge awards yet, but it's got character.

Before the First World War, Bucharest was nicknamed "Little Paris", both for its architecture--many of its historic buildings were built during the late 19th century in the French style--and for its nightlife and cultural pretensions. They even built an Arcul de Triumf after the war, although this is now covered in scaffolding.

Arcul de Triumf, before the scaffolding went up.

I stayed a couple of blocks behind the Cercul Militar Naţional:

Cercul Militar Naţional

The Athenaeum is another building from the same period:

Ateneul Roman

It's on a street named after Benjamin Franklin. The street signs in the historic center are all in the Parisian style.

The nearest metro stop was over by Piaţa Universităţii (University Square). I walked past the university every day.

University of Bucharest

I'll post about the uglier bits of town separately.