Focsani - days 4-5

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May 26th 2010
Published: May 29th 2010
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The baton that is your humble commentator was passed along to Ana and her husband Sorin for the second part of my visit here.

She is a very Type A, as befits the manager of the Foreign Language Library here. She used the donation of books that I sent to create the special section. They have finally (more or less) finished cataloging them and have counted 10000 volumes so far. They got a building and have filled four rooms with them. To stand there and look around and see that all of these books came from St. Louis and passed through my hands is a bit humbling.

I once again met the director of the library as a whole and we discussed politics, social conditions, books and more. One of the unique aspects of law they deal with is that they receive donations of books from the public - far more than they can absorb - and yet are forbidden by law from having book sales such as are common in the States. They also have the problems of the local political traditions that can be very frustrating for the citizens and for those working in public institutions.

Their lives are affected by who is in charge of ministries and councils and these can change on a moments notice. And they heads are not simply figureheads. When they change they sweep out the staff and install theri own, creating not only "normal" choas, but changes in programs that are implemented immediately, not in the next cycle. There are several notable things my hosts were complaining about. Locally there is a new gas station that was built and is operating in direct conflict to local safety and zoning codes. There is the project of rebuilding the local town square that was suspended because of the weather, but 'everyone' seems to know that the real problem was that local politicians demanded the arcitect make changes that used lesser quality materials/techniques and gave them the money saved.

More general conflicts are the stories that local highway construction is ten times the costs of German autobahns and of significantly lesser quality. And the massive government-funded church-building campaign is nothing less than a jobs program for construction workers and the over-abundance of priests. The finished churchs are thought to be job sites for priests that do nothing more than break up the other parishes and spread the fixed number of church-goers into smaller group, actually harming communities of believers rather than strengthening them.

In a town such as this people always run into acquaintances on the street and we ran into people Ana knew often. A number of them are volunteers at the Foreign Language library, which is designed to be a second home. A met quite a charming girl there and was chatting her up nicely when it became apparent that one of the guys in the group was her boyfriend. YIKES!

I'm very much of a catch-as-catch-can guy who is happy to take what comes and deal with it. This means I get to a museum and see something if it falls into the course of the day and if it doesn't, I don't. A. likes to be very organized and plan things out step by step and doesn't like things to change without warning. Someone like me can be very frustrating to her.

I had called a friend in Barlad and she told me all about her husband and the in-laws living with her and how her 3 year old son kept her so busy, but nevertheless invited me for a visit I planned a day trip there and arrived with only the long-sleeved shirt I've been using as a jacket. She asked where my baggage was and I told her from what she said I had planned to be there only a few hours so as not to be in her hair. She was disappointed, as she had planned a few days together. In view of this I called A. and told her I'd be spending the night.


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