The variable sky

A moment lived in Romania by Barry Martin Kenna, a traveller from Ireland

You could have written on the back of a postage stamp what I knew about Romania and most of what I knew was stereotype. A short five day excursion to the heart of eastern Europe brought my friend and I to Bucharest.

It was one of those trips where everything seem to fall into place. Staying in an apartment in the middle of the capital we spent the first day like good tourists doing the walking tour. Whilst familiarising ourselves with our surroundings, we learned of Vlad Tepes or Vlad the Impaler as he was ‘affectionately’ known the muse for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. We met two Israeli girls on the tour also, one confessed that her nickname was The Terminator for reasons still unknown. Dracula and The Terminator on our first day, we we’re off to a great start. The night progressed and we abandoned ourselves to the revelry of the drink and great fun was had by all.

The following day we heard tell of a festival that was taking place called the Rokolectiv, with the opening event taking place in Ceausescu’s Palace, the largest municipal building in the world, so we were told. The building is impressive of course, but there is something sad about it once you know the historical events which gave life to it. We entered the queue and I began to people watch and I must admit at this point that the Romanians are a beautiful people; everywhere you looked you felt as if you were privy to a fashion shoot or a movie scene. We stepped into shot and the night unfurled full of incident.

It is the next day which I recall most fondly. Slightly worse for ware we made our way to the next event of the festival, a music event, in an old warehouse on the outskirts of the centre. The music was a mix of electro, traditional and international music, something to cater for all tastes. At the back of the warehouse there were some rooms designated for art installations. It was here we met the Daniel, Ligia and Aleksandra. From a short discussion we realised that Daniel was a movie director of note that my friend knew of, Ligia was an Artistic Director and Aleksandra was a singer. A singer, “I must hear her sing” I thought, my friend instantly on the same page told them I was a traditional singer in Ireland, a white lie, but I could carry a note. They said there was a park nearby and we could go have drink and maybe sing a song.

I said I would start and sang Peggy Gordan a Scottish traditional song which seem to go down well, not only with our new friends but passers by who stopped to listen. When Aleksandra started to sing everything around seem to fall silent, she sang a local traditional song Trece-un nouraș pe sus (Little cloud passing by). Her voice would shame a nightingale and any aftereffects from the previous night dissipated with every note. The next song she serenaded us with unknown to her at the time was one of my favourites, Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat. It is hard to describe the feeling that experience had on me but as Aleksandra told to me later ‘I’ve always been amazed by coincidences, and bowed to the way they can restore my faith in people, in singing, in how connected we all actually are’. I couldn’t agree more.

Cer Variabil

In the variable sky we see life unfold.
Clouds, lights and waves of energy;
The untold influence on what we see.

Were I to be a wiser man,
Less subjugated,
More educated,
Would I know why we see what we see.

To say I do not fear death would be a lie,
I love life,
I love the variable sky.

credit photo: Barry Martin Kenna