Short on Chisinau
I know that I should probably have written a lot more about Chisinau, Moldova and life here. But it is so difficult. Besides statistics and facts, I only have my own impressions and I do not think that they are sufficiently reliable yet to make statements about this country. One of the worst things I know is people who have to categorize others, and say that “Oh, French are like this, and Italians are like this…” or “yes, but that is so typical Muslims”, or “yes but you know how men are…”, or “but you are a women and you women always do like this and this…” And I do not want to do this with people here. I think you will just have to be content with smaller pieces from here and there, and try to form your own picture. I am sure that I will be able to provide you with more generalizations with time. But for now, the only thing I can say is that my first impression, that Moldovans in general are really nice and like to enjoy life, still stands. And Chisinau has become beautiful with summer. The city is green and very much alive with lots of outdoor restaurants, cafes and bars, and people are spending a lot of time in the parks. In many ways, I recognize the Swedes in the Moldovans and one thing is that people here also seem to live up a lot in the summer; they become more outgoing and social. So even though I had a very nice time here when I came and I have really enjoyed Chisinau this past winter, things are just getting better and better!
If you are interested in what Chisinau looks like, check out this video:
And here is a quite funny Moldovan short movie, with my friend and neighbour Lars in the role as the sleazy doctor.
And some other small glimpses of life in Chisinau:
Everyone here knows everyone more or less, and you bump into people you know all the time in the city. Sunday, I had lunch with some friends, then we went to an temporary Salvador Dali exhibition and after that to a park to read in the sun and in the evening, we went out for a drink at an outdoor café (yes, life is very hard here for us foreigners…), and during this time, I bumped in to eight persons that I know, both locals and foreigners. I also tend to know the same people though different groups of friends, especially with regards to my acquaintances that are from Moldova. So it is very small!
Many girls here walk hand in hand even when they are in their twenties. Someone told me that this is not a Moldovan tradition, it is just a trend right now, but it still is quite sweet I think.
However, if you are a girl, you are not supposed to shake hands when you meet someone. This is changing little by little as especially the younger generation is going abroad, but it still happens to me now and then and it makes me feel terribly small and degraded. Especially when I come with an all men + me team and the men we meet (the Government in Moldova is still dominated by men) shake hands with everyone except me. Fortunately this is more an exception than a rule and I am learning to take the initiative, and to stand out more among my more senior colleagues and not look like the intern…
One by one, Chisinau’s many fountains that have been empty throughout the winter are being filled with water. One of my colleagues told me that you can see how well the capital’s economy is going by the number of fountains that have water in them. Fortunately, most fountains that I pass in my everyday life here have now been filled with water during the past couple of weeks, but some are still empty.
People in Chisinau are very found of the flowers of the season. Perhaps because the rural areas have been so dominating in Moldova (very few people that I know are actually from Chisinau – most of them come from villages) and people miss being able to go out and pick flowers. So in every other corner, there is an old lady or sometimes a man selling small bouquets of windflowers, daisies and others for a few lei. And when put in a glass on my kitchen table, they do bring in a scent of nature and of my childhood as I too used to pick these flowers as a kid.
There are a lot of stray dogs here in the city and they are really funny to watch because they really blend in. They really seem to have their own parallel world at the same time as they are quite involved with the human activities that are going on. They have their routines; I see more or less the same dogs when I walk to work in the morning. Some of them are hanging out outside stores, waiting for deliveries of fresh food, whereas other have their favourite cafes or restaurants where they wait around, hoping for leftovers. Sometimes, you can see them playing together in groups in the parks, and other times they are just strolling around town, and even using the crosswalks to cross the major streets. It reminds me a bit of a Disney movie, where animals are the main characters.
More to come…