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Diary of a red passport - Chapter 1

Diary of a red passport - Chapter 1

Article based on an interview with Selim Naji from LC Zurich
Author: Katarina Ivosevic

“It is a big and beautiful world.

Most of us live and die in the same corner where we were born and never get to see any of it.

I don’t want to be most of us.”

Oberyn Martell, Game of Thrones

And finally, I have time. I’ve heard stories from a friend of mine almost a year ago about this city situated in the South of the Romania in the Romanian Plain. It has prospered as a regional trading center despite an earthquake in 1790, a plague in 1795 and a Turkish assault in 1802 during which it was burned. Immediately, I knew, I have to see this phoenix-like town called Craiova.

Okay, let’s check it again - I’m going to Milano with train, they said it’ll be around 4 hours ride and then off to the plane to Craiova and the same tour back. I’m not so pleased with this plane taking off at 7 am but luckily for me, I’ll have a company for this 10 day trip. Funny, I just saw a picture of a not-so-used-word on a Facebook:

Vorfreude(n): the joyful, intense anticipation that comes from imagining future pleasures

Yes, I feel exactly like that. I can’t stop thinking about the people I’ll meet and all the exciting things that’ll happen.

How amazing is this? This guy, whom we’ve never meet before, has picked us up from the airport, hosted for 2 nights and his mother is cooking us traditional dinner? I think it can’t get better than this! Oh, I see what’s the catch here. We were welcomed the traditional Romanian way, with salt and homemade bread and this table full of food plus, his mother expected that we eat everything. I think I’ll have to free myself of my belt and throw it away.

Fortunately for me, the next day wasn’t all about the food. They took us to the Nicolae Romanescu Park. Of course, it’s considered to be the largest natural park in eastern Europe when it has an area of around 23 acres (9.3 ha) and the area of the lake within the park is about 10 acres (4 ha). It has been like, I don’t know, maybe 12 days since we left that place and I wouldn’t mind spending whole this time there. I see myself walking through the Charmed Castle, well the ruins of the castle near the Suspended Bridge. When we were sitting by the like I actually thought about the idea that I could put a lock on that bridge someday, like all other couples did. I’ve noticed that people here are really neighborly and welcoming. They make home-made products, like visinata, which is made from sour cherries and it’s equally delicious if made with other fruits like strawberries, blackberries or any sweet fruit. But you wouldn’t know this if you don’t share with your neighbor since there are no two same visinatas. That night we had mititei (or mici), Romanian dish of grilled ground meat rolls made from a mixture of beef, lamb and pork with spices and zacusca, vegetable spread popular among the Balkans students living in the dorms. What a way to finish the day like this but dancing with a friend!

All of us on this trip are students so we made a day for visiting the Faculty of Automation, Computers and Electronics. We walked around this old building opened in 1965 and talked about what we’re studying, what are we interested in and ended up wandering through the Craiova’s Old Town. Locals told us that buildings are actually pretty new and restored and all I was thinking about was how glad I am that they decided to make them look old. It gives them a certain historical charm, even with those nice graffitis. This area has plenty of pubs, bars and wedding shops. After a day of putting foot in front of a foot, we remain the rest of the night in one of the pubs, playing cards with new friends.

I was trying not to think about this day, our last night with all of us here. So many memories, stories about little but meaningful adventures. After amazingly sweet beginning we had, how much opposite would our goodbye be? Well, it turned out it was sweetened. With our last dinner in Craiova, in students dormitory, we made new traveling plans with new friends, over polenta and sarmale and like honey coliva.

When the same guy who picked us at the airport 10 days ago was driving us to the place it all started, I realised how much I’ve changed. They say traveling do that to a soul but you never know until it happens to you. I got used to Romanian fast driving skill, old buildings and affectionate spirit which I’m gonna carry with me. And it is true, I do think to myself, what a wonderful world!