You know, the supposed ‘culture shock bell-curve’ is a bunch off ca-ca. Some weeks it feels more like the ‘culture shock perfect storm’. I’ve suffered another overpowering wave of pessimism recently. Some of you may have noticed that I have a streaky love-hate relationship with my second home and I’ve been in dire need of a little love this week, culminating in having read this article this morning: Clashes mark Romanian gay pride.
Now I’m fully aware that you can easily find anti-gay, anti-everything crackpots in any country you go to, but seeing this article only adds to the stuff I hear all the time on the streets. There is a dispiritingly large sub-section in this country that goes all obtuse (in my opinion), even on the most minor issues. Gays, gypsies, Hungarians, hygiene…
In regards to the gay thing, the crazy thing is, Romanians are some of the most same-sex tactile people I’ve ever seen. Women are all over each other – hugging, kissing, hot oil wrestling (I wish) – and men aren’t much better. I realize that hand-holding and hair caressing is a far cry from, oh say, dildo play, but it’s just amazing how such otherwise warm people can still be harbouring such wide-spread anti-social venom.
Another thing that has my pants in a bunch is the continued, staggering corruption, some of which is plainly jeopardizing Romania’s entry into the EU. There’s been a large scale crackdown on government corruption, where they’ve been on a witch hunt of sorts, though perfectly legitimate, parading out guys who have questionable financial dealings and putting them on trial in front of the whole country to appease EU observers. But so far they haven’t gone after the people outside of politics that are bringing the country down. The people who pocket all the foreign aid and investment that is supposed to go into agricultural development and social welfare. This disappearing money is just as problematic and damaging as the corrupt politicians, but so far these guys have enjoyed immunity. Who do you have to screw to get some good old fashion justice around here?
Furthermore, the continued ill-intentioned hiring practices of private businesses is tweaking me again. Every person I talk to has stories about hiring bosses asking for bribes, months of wages at times, just to get a moderate, entry-level job. Others still view their candidate pool as their own dating service, where employment depends entirely on the candidate’s willingness to ‘escort’ the boss to parties and clubs and even travelling aboard. I just spoke to someone on Friday who’s dream is to be a police officer, to make a difference and help clean up that particular gutter of corruption, but, ironically, she can’t afford the massive bribe required to get into the academy. Instead she works at a pastry shop. It’s ludicrous.
The thinly veiled practice of hiring one’s nephew or friend’s daughter over qualified candidates is part of the reason civic bureaucracy and projects are all buggered. When you hire your 10th-grade drop-out son-in-law to run the books on the city’s electric utility or design traffic light systems at busy intersections, over proper accountants or engineers, don’t look surprised when the billing system fails for three consecutive months or the intersection turns into a cluster-f*ck of grid-lock and fender-benders. And again, in the end, its all the regular people who suffer from this self-serving, every-man-for-himself attitude.
Where is the sense of national unity and progress? Where’s the ethics? Where’s the effing fear of god in these god-fearing assholes?? Open your bibles; I’m confident that somewhere near the passage ‘man will not suck another man’s pee-pee’ it says something about ‘man will not personally profit to the detriment of dozens (or millions) of his countrymen’.
Drum out these hypocrites and let’s get serious about progress. The clock is ticking.