Tuesday, July 12, 2016

this needs to stop

dear people of the office world,
this needs to stop.

asking 'how are you' immediately after (or even instead of!) saying 'hi' is just not cool and needs to stop. nobody is comfortable with it, not even those masters of small talk, who pretend that they are.

nobody is genuinely interested in how their colleagues are and nobody can claim to feel okay after an exchange along the lines of 'good-and-yourself-good-good (forced smile)' while exiting an elevator with 7 other people. how do you carry on with your day after this meaningless, fake interaction?
eastern europeans have accommodated this largely american / british-driven trend by talking about how they really are, most of the time in a very strict sense and thus resulting in lengthy oversharing sprees about one's migraine, food poisoning, antihistamine side-effects, or kids getting chickenpox. it's beautiful, but unnecessary.

the frenchies turned 'ca va' into 'hi', which makes things significantly less embarrassing. 'ca va?' 'ca va'. end of story. kisses and hugs are optional, and only if you're about to have wine.

the rest just keep feeling awkward. ironically so, because all of this comes from the fear of awkward silences, but it results in nothing else but more awkwardness. please stop doing it.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

flat stories

i don't think about anything else, i don't talk about anything else, i don't do anything else but looking for a new flat. i've got everybody around me tired, mad, bored, terrified about calling, running around, talking to nice and not so nice people. it's insane.

and it's getting even more so insane as i didn't expect it to take so long to find a new flat. i'm looking for the simplest things, and yet they're nowehere to be found. whenever a nice flat is up on the advertising websites, the landlord/their agent doesn't pick up, wants to charge me a ridiculous amount of money, or is just a moronic little nazi, who doesn't even want to hear about renting the flat to a non-speaker-of-hungarian-stupid-foreigner.

so i developed an undercover strategy. i'm sending them all sms in hungarian translated with google translate. most of the advertisers spot me anyway, and reply in english, with 'milyen nyelven beszel?', 'honnan jott?', or just never reply. in most of the cases, they never reply.

but that's okay still, because some of them do reply or call me back after all. to date, i have sent 54 sms to 54 different phone numbers, not counting the replies to replies to replies and emails. so i think i'm doing well, or at least i reached the level of amusement, having overcome that of stress and frustration.

i believe there are nice people out there trying their own luck with google translate.

"sorry flat was issued"
"hello ana our meeting is not more current"
"call me the hungarian translaitor person and talk a details! by csaba"
"i am lake balaton until sunday call me monday am 9 oclock"

part of my undercover strategy is also reading between the lines. as there are nice people and not so nice people, you have to try to figure it all out even before contacting them. nice people don't write dry, parametrical descriptions of their flats. they add some inside info like "if you like the city, but also like to rest, this is the perfect choice for you". dry, parametrical descriptions of flats belong to agents. they're business people so it makes sense. in a way, because catchy lines should theoretically attract more calls, but whatever. the not so nice people use caps lock and exclamation signs. lots of them and as often as possible. they tend to turn their ads into a list of restrictions rather than an attempt at describing their flat. no dogs, no cats, no other possible pets, no single people, no people with babies, no girls, no boys, no students, no parties, no smoking. it's depressing.

but most of all, my strategy is inclusive. i have asked a bunch of friends to become call operators, exposing them to these people's own stories and problems and reasons they couldn't reply to my sms.

"i've broken my leg yesterday, but i'll get my son to show you around. my son speaks english"
"we're out of town until saturday, but we have a nice neighbour to open the door for you"
"i'm renovating this flat for a while now, trust me i'm really fed up with the whole thing"
"actually the flat belongs to my sister, but she's working in the u.s. now, you know"

mom said i would find something good this week and i trust her.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Monday, December 12, 2011


вот наконец-то дура Анна
узнала правду о себе
но eй сначало нужно было
резать себе ногти

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Migrants as Entrepreneurs: The Lively Neighbourhoods of Józsefváros

Colourful and vibrant, the 8th District of Budapest is home to the most concentrated immigrant communities from the capital city. The first migrants to enter Hungary and come here were the Chinese, who arrived in the years following the collapse of the communist regime.

Together with the Arabs, who started settling in the neighbourhood a decade later, the Chinese constitute nowadays the most numerous migrant populations in the district. As several Vietnamese and Turkish small businesses are also important parts of the picture, the infamous 8 ker. shows signs of developing an image of a groovy cosmopolitan village – an attraction for tourists, and a study object for sociologists. But this perception is not shared unanimously by native Hungarians, who live in the district: due to poverty and controversial public policies in the area, stigma against immigrants and socially vulnerable groups (Roma, homeless) is flourishing.

The Business Plan
If, at the beginning, the new-comers rented property from Hungarians in order to pursue their commercial activities, an increasing number of immigrants in the eighth district become owners of estate hosting shops, barbers, travel agencies, and gyors büfés. That is, commerce is going pretty well in Józsefváros: a Chinese trader from Népszinház Street, who settled in Budapest in 1994, believes that business opportunities in the neighbourhood are great and thus called for two of his siblings to follow him to Budapest. He used to work in the Four Tigers market, but he managed to collect money to open his own shops. Still, the market is the place where he gets his goods from, and he says it is easier for a Chinese to bargain there. He handles basic Hungarian, watches local TV and thinks that ‘the important is what happens here’ (in Hungary, a/n). Another entrepreneur, a Vietnamese owning a travel agency in Orczy Square, gave up a good job opportunity in Germany offered to him after finishing studies, because he found business in Budapest to be ‘more challenging’. Nonetheless, he constantly needs the help of his fiancée, who is also from Vietnam and who came to Budapest in 1993, because unlike him, she speaks Hungarian and can deal with official documentation.

The Labour Market
For some businesses, though, the work is not so successful. A Syrian mechanic, who arrived in Hungary in 2000 and later married a Hungarian woman, had to invest in a second shop just because one store ‘was not enough to make a living’ for his family. He says it is even unnecessary for him to stay at work all day, because there are too few customers: they can call him at the number he wrote on the door, as he lives close to the shop. This technical supply store was opened in addition to a ‘100 Forint’ he bought immediately after he settled in Népszinház Street. A hairdresser from Egypt, who came to Hungary as a refugee at the age of 20, managed to get employed in a fodrász in Orczy Square only with the help of his Arab acquaintances from the neighbourhood, and after going through three temporary jobs. He dreams of opening his own salon, but realizes that he needs more money and has to learn better Hungarian: the shop where he works now is rented by an elder Egyptian man from a Hungarian-speaking Vietnamese.

The willingness and abilities to integrate within a host society tend to be generalized in terms of the migrants’ origins: Chinese people are usually believed to master a decent level of Hungarian, Arabs – the best, while the Black are regarded as the most closed, obscure communities. After all, it is obviously a matter of personalities. Although he doesn’t speak Hungarian well, the Syrian mechanic says he has more Hungarian friends than Arabs; moreover, his children have Hungarian classmates only. On the other hand, he claims that unlike in Syria, in Hungary people can be aggressive and shout at each other with ugly words. His wife and kids are Muslim, too: they follow Syrian traditions and cook mainly Arab food. The Chinese merchant considers himself Hungarian and he would like to be perceived as such by Hungarians, as well; the Vietnamese businessman believes he is half Hungarian and half Vietnamese: ‘I live in Europe for a long time, so I would think that my heart is Vietnamese, but my head is something different.. In Vietnam we think about democracy and many other things differently than in Europe’. He plans to apply for Hungarian citizenship when he learns the language. The Egyptian young man has been well-received by his wife’s family; he finds Hungarians ‘very nice’, but he keeps his Orthodox religion and regrets that he doesn’t have time to practice it as he had in his motherland. Everybody in our story seems to be in good relationships with native Hungarians, with the exception of an old fellow who always quarrels with his Syrian neighbour: ‘Go your country! What you doing here?’ – ‘Very like communist this man’, thinks the mechanic.

The District
‘If you live here for a long time, then it is even safe’, laughs a Hungarian shop manager from Népszinház Street. He was born and used to live in the district, but moved to Kispest, because of the very poor public safety in the area: Roma youth steal a lot. The man is also very upset that many Chinese and Vietnamese traders don’t pay appropriately the taxes and sell counterfeit products, which damages his business. On the other hand, he isn’t bothered by the Arabs, who have ‘normal prices’: ‘We can compete with each other. He sells cheaper, I try to sell cheaper too’. The most recent change that he observed in Józsefváros is the significant increase in the number of Black people, and what makes him suspicious of them is that nobody seems to know from what do they live. A tailor in the same street is slightly more positive: she says the district became safer and more interesting in the past two decades due to immigrants’ commercial activities unfolding here. Even the Roma changed their behaviour, thanks to the omnipresence of security cameras. But the woman agrees that the Black persons are the most worrisome: she believes they come to Budapest in order to marry Hungarian girls and put a hold on EU citizenship. Other than that, she is convinced that the bad reputation of the district should be ascribed to poverty and homeless shelters, not to the migrants. The older generation of Hungarians appears to be less open-minded, though: a couple of jewellers in Népszinház Street, who have been owning for a long time a watch shop, are outraged by the turmoil caused by immigrants and homeless. They feel hurt that the state is helping them so little after a lifetime of work in Hungary, while migrants have so many benefits. The spouses find Chinese very dirty, and they cannot explain themselves how come that they find jobs when so many Hungarians are unemployed. So, they admit that migrants actually work hard and they respect them, in this sense. Nonetheless, they argue that Hungarian culture should ‘be forced into immigrants somehow’. In their opinion, the Chinese market and the shelters for homeless (e.g. in Dankó Street) have harmed the district to a great extent, but they still like it and because they are old, they don’t plan to move away: ‘Én magyarnak érzem magam és ő is, nem semmiképpen nem hagynám el a hazámat, én tősgyökeres budapesti vagyok!’

Interviews used to illustrate the lives of labour immigrants in Józsefváros have been kindly provided by Boglárka Szalai of TÁRKI Social Research Institute. The image is courtesy of REORIENT - Migrating Architectures.
The article is part of 'Migrants in the Spotlight' Programme, developed by IOM Budapest.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

primarul gunoier

de patru ani de când nu mai locuiesc în chișinău, mă întorc în vacanțe, ca să găsesc un oraș mizerabil, urât și înecăcios. am văzut orașe mai mari și mai mici decât chișinău, nu de fiecare dată mai bogate, dar întotdeauna mai curate.

acum că am învățat suficient de multe despre „how should municipalities deliver quality services to their constituency in order to get re-voted in office”*, nu mai sunt doar un cetățean supărat. toată smiorcăiala legată de comuniștii buclucași, care l-au împiedicat pe primarul tânăr și bine intenționat să reformeze instituțiile municipale, nu mă mai mulțumește.

de aceea, vreau un primar care, dincolo de a pronunța și ortografia corect cuvinte ca:
- democrație
- drepturile omului
- responsabilitate
- transparență
- eficiență etc. etc.
să poată organiza.. colectarea gunoiului și curățirea străzilor. restul mă interesează considerabil mai puțin. vreau un primar gunoier.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Draft of Project Proposal

dragă chișinău,

nu mi-e deloc dor de tine, pentru că aici e totuși mai răcoare, apa din lac este potabilă, berea este ieftină și sănătoasă. but there I am, still working for you.


Denumirea proiectului

1. Web Development & Graphic Design: Sandu Cojocari, Ion Dodi, Dumitru Belous, Eugen Bâbâlici.
2. Business Advising: Sergiu Cibotaru, Ion Dodi, Eugen Bâbâlici.
3. Social Development & Integration: Irina Breahnă, Adriana Pânzaru.
4. Visionary: Ana Gurău.

Conținutul propunerii de proiect:
1. Filosofia și obiectivele proiectului
2. Descrierea problemei
3. Soluții. www.pasageri.md: prezentare, modalitate de utilizare, avantaje.
4. Posibilități de dezvoltare și integrare a proiectului.

p.s.: efectele speciale urmează.

Monday, July 05, 2010

how's your research going?

în continuarea studiului de caz pentru teza de licenţă, m-am bucurat să aflu recent de iniţiativa unor prieteni din Chişinău de a organiza Social Innovation Camp, pentru care am înaintat ideea unui proiect web 2.0.

sunt multe lucruri care mă deranjează la acest oraş, şi n-aş vrea să ţin la el doar pentru că îmi place să cred că e "al meu". pentru SI Camp, am încercat să aleg o singură problemă, dar aceasta s-a dovedit a fi plurivalentă, necesitând, prin urmare, un set întreg de soluţii.

mobilitatea este unul dintre elementele vitale pentru un oraș; în chișinău, totul pare să adoarmă după ora 23:00 - nu mai circulă decât taxiuri și autoturisme particulare. eu trebuie, de cele mai multe ori, să am grijă să plec acasă înainte de această oră, din simplu motiv că nu am chef să cheltui pe taxi. acest efort mă frustrează și mă obosește.

cred, de aceea, că transportul public de noapte ar fi o soluție și, deși mi s-a reproșat că lumea de prin cluburi va continua să comande taxi, eu aș merge bucuroasă acasă cu troleul și sunt convinsă că mulți ar face la fel. after all, sunt banii de o băutură în plus on a friday night :)

care e, în general, problema noastră cu troleele și autobuzele? faptul că se mișcă greu? nu neapărat. maxitaxi-urile opresc la orice pas, enervează pe toată lumea și produc o mulțime de accidente.

faptul că „put”? no way! vara în microbuze - a no go. în plus, troleele și autobuzele sunt incomparabil mai spațioase.

m-am gândit că, de fapt, ceea ce nu ne place la trolee și autobuze, e că trebuie să le așteptăm mai mult. de ce? logic, sunt mai puține, circulă mai rar (respectiv, poluează mai puțin, both chemically and phonically).

pentru că moldova este una dintre țările cu cel mai rapid internet din europa (ceea ce demonstrează popularitatea acestuia), un proiect IT ar rezolva cel puțin un aspect al problemei (odată ce introducerea troleelor de noapte ține exclusiv de competența APL). mai exact, este vorba de o hartă interactivă a chișinăului și a rețelelor de transport public, pe care utilizatorul să poată vizualiza poziția mijlocului de transport în timp real, precum și orarele de circulație ale autobuzelor și ale troleelor.

platforma poate fi, în mod evident, dezvoltată, pentru a oferi și alte informații orășenilor. ideea rămâne însă de a-i motiva pe aceștia să utilizeze transportul public și de a le creea mai multe posibilități de mobilitate.

SI Camp poate să-mi ofere oportunitatea de a anima acest proiect.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

the veins of which have broken me down

vara e frumoasă numai noaptea, iar clujul e cel mai frumos vara.

senină și tristă, îmi voi fi băut și-acest pahar, și-apoi mă voi fi cărat de-aici.

te-am locuit suficient, totuși. te cunosc prea bine și tocmai de-asta mă voi întoarce, implorând căldură.

cred c-am fost un orășean responsabil. pups!