Citinerary is an international network of passionate citizens who share stories and meet visitors. An exchange of culture & lifestyle. This summer we regularly repost some of their specially selected articles on Amsterdam, Bucharest and Madrid. Today: correspondent Ioana writes about watching Bucharest transform during the post-communist era.
Bucharest is the only Eastern European city in the Citinerary network so far. And growing up in a post-revolution, post-communist era was something very different to the way kids grew up in the West.
We are the children of the Revolution. I, myself, was conceived in that late December of 1989. A great number of young people, all gathered under the same goal: to put an end to Communism, marched on the roads of Bucharest and other cities in Romania – and what’s interesting: those were our parents. They were the ones who wished to provide a better future for their kids.
(photo by Bucuresti Realist)
Communist blocks & Turbo Gum
I grew up in a communist block. And there were plenty of others in the neighbourhood. I can still recall the smell of cold and wet air when you entered one of those blocks, I can still remember vividly watching people beating their carpets to remove the dust in the courtyard. That seemed to be some sort of tradition.
I also remember my grandparents asking me to buy bread, and then, with the rest of the money I had left, I would buy Turbo Gum. Ask any Bucharest raised kid who grew up in the 90’s about that, and you’ll see what an emotional value that chewing-gum whose taste would only last for 2 minutes had!
(photo by Copilaria Anilor 80-90)
My parents were 23 and 25 when they had me. It was the start of their career, and hence, I spent most of my time with my grandparents. It was quite usual for people to get married right after or even during university, and it seemed like back then, deciding to make babies depended neither on their career plans, nor on the quality of life they would have.
Time to move on
We moved to a house when I was 10. I met my neighbours and was lucky enough for them to be the same age as I was. There was no thought of using phones to call each other. When we wanted to meet, we would go in front of their house and shout-out their name. Someone would always open the door for you.
I would gather all my friends and organize shows for our parents – and it’s hard to believe how much effort we were putting into designing a stage, rehearsing songs, poems and stand-up shows.
Of course, as we grew older those “street” activities changed, and the internet almost chained us to a chair inside. And then came university. I went to study abroad, and so did most of my friends. That’s when truly great opportunities arose for my generation and me: endless foreign university fairs, great scholarships and programs. And that was something very new in my country!
Yes, Bucharest did change!
And then, the real surprise – during the first year of university, because I had a really good low-cost connection, I was going back to Bucharest almost every month. And my, were things different! Every single time! Even the grey blocks were becoming more colourful.
I remember the last evening I spent in Bucharest before my university adventure, in a place called Arcade Café, in the Old Town. At that time, there were only a couple of cafes in that area, and no one ever thoughtthat would become the real city center and hub of fun. All the beautiful old buildings, ready to fall due to the lack of care during Ceausescu, were being rebuilt, and new cafes, pubs and clubs were opening, I would say, very subjectively and possibly slightly exaggerating, every week. But that’s what I thought.
(photos by Bucuresti Realist)
That’s when more and more tourists discovered the city. And what’s not to like? Cheap drinks, cheap taxis, great nightlife and friendly (and I would say humble) people.
And that’s how Bucharest and I grew up together.
– Ioana –