Tuesday 7 April 2015

Bucharest: Other impressions

Fashioned for victims
For the wrap on my visit to Bucharest. A few of the things I observed or noticed that might not mean anything significant.
The first few shop windows I passed by on my walks did not have price tags on the wares displayed, it got me wondering if there was a haggling activity in these shops. Again, in such seemingly nice shops, the by word might be, you can't afford if you have to ask the price.
Then as I strolled down the avenue with non-operational fountains from the Palace of the Parliament on Bulevardul Unirii, to the right was a shop called Fashion Victim.
A strange name to call a high-fashion shop, until I noticed the price tags and realised, if you paid that much for this fashion, you probably will feel a victim as you stepped out of the shop. I later saw shops with reasonable price tags.
The novelty of plastic currency notes, with transparent windows shaped in the form of instruments of vocation or of professions of people depicted on the notes. No women, but musical instruments, paintbrushes, birds for ornithology and nature and books featured on the Romanian Leu or Lei in the plural (RON).
The cross they bore
Much as I never really expected an old communist state to have very religious people, the many churches on Calea Victoriei gave another impression besides the fact that I did see people going in as worshippers.
However, what struck me was the number of people who crossed themselves as they passed by the front of the church and were not going in. At least from my Anglican traditions, I thought you only crossed yourself in church and usually facing the altar.
Sitting alone
At Cismigiu Gardens, it was the park benches that caught my eye. Usually the bench could sit four, though on a fine day, people could easily take up the whole bench, however, single-seater park benches were a new one on me.
It was like introducing a sense of private space in a public recreation area, the deck chair mentality applied to the park bench. Whether this is the case in the many parks around Bucharest, I cannot say.
For an audience apart
Most of the historic buildings, monuments or parks have signs with English translations. In fact, I could not help but notice that a building was put on sale with just an English sign, as if it was intended for non-Romanian prospectors – one can only wonder.
However, these signs always attracted my curiosity and I took pictures of some of them that described the history, the architecture and some other fine detail. There are quite a few modern-day buildings on the sites of what used to be monasteries, I wonder why.
Architecture of compulsion
However, at Piața Unirii (Union Square), I thought they had gone too far, whilst now it is the centre of town with gardens and fountains that will work in the summertime, this place used to be the site of a hospital. Yet, sometimes, it is not clear what is in the mind of town planners, especially in the Nicolae Ceaușescu years. This was first conceived in 1986.
Suffice it to say, according to the Wikipedia piece about Anca Petrescu, the chief architect of the Palace of the Parliament - She was involved in many of the 1970s and 1980s so-called era of "systematization" redevelopment projects for Bucharest, which included the relocation of residents for the demolishing of old and poor neighbourhoods, and replacing them with modern buildings with all the necessities under one roof. [Museum of Conflict]
Now, did I not see an aspect of what we might call Totalitarian Architecture somewhere else? Yes, Welthauptstadt Germania. Anca Petrescu was the Albert Speer of Romania.
I guess that is it.

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