Passepartout is all about documentaries and visual stuff I find worth seeing.

Movies That Matter Festival: Chuck Norris vs Communism and What I Remembered

The first film I remember watching – ever – was one in which the main character is a guy dressed in white. Somehow I believe it was Alain Delon but I’m not sure what makes me believe that. And what happens is that he dies in some sort of corrida arena, not killed by a bull but by someone, someone evil. I don’t remember most of the concrete details, as you can see. What I remember is the strong impact the scene had on me, it felt like something I had to think about and I did think about it for a while. I was probably 4 or 5, film ratings were non-existent back then and and my parents, like many Romanian parents at that time, were watching films in secret, illegally smuggled into the country.

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My happy five days trip back to Cluj

For the last five days I’ve been back to Cluj, in Romania, the city where I went to University and where now I travel for a course to learn about biography counseling (if curious about what this is, read here). I’ve been here at the end of February this year and wrote this after.

The course felt pretty intense this time, I had to wake up early and be in the course until the evening, but I also got some time to meet old friends, have lunch with my parents who traveled 500 km for that and explore something I didn’t even realize I miss: markets.

And I got gifts! So many gifts! I feel so spoiled and overwhelmed by all the love and care I felt. I have no photos of the gifts but they vary from a beautiful ring, to a pair of really pretty handmade gloves, to a traditional chicken shaped whistle to good tools for my drawings and a gorgeous skirt. I also treated myself to some books and those strawberries below.

I go back the The Netherlands tomorrow.

poza(15)Waking up with the love of a 7 kg cat.

poza(23)Learning about biography is an outside the box process.

poza(14)Tsuki the saved from a shelter dog.

poza(13)Flowers bought on the street for a friend.

poza(12)A place where I used to meet friends when I was a student.


poza(11)A fierce mom!

poza(16)A treat!

poza(20)The look of love. Heavy love.

poza(21)A flower from my parents garden that traveled 500 km to me.

poza(22)My mom and I.

The East and the West: My Geography of Time

If there is one thing now that’s very different from my life in Romania, that is the pace of life. I’ve never lived in Bucharest, so I don’t know how that is, but in Cluj the rhythm of life is slow and sweet and last weekend I realized I miss a bit of that.

I went back to Romania for a course I will be doing for the next two years, and on my way to the friend I was staying with, 10:30 in the night, I kept writing her to apologize I am arriving that late after visiting other friends… It was Sunday after all and she and her brother, both work full time during the week. But I arrived and the whole apartment was lively, like it was the middle of the day. I’m simply not used to that any more. Everyone was doing something while at the same time chatting, smoking and cooking! The stew they were making was ready around midnight. We went to bed at 1:30!

Both my body and my schedule do not allow such extravagances. Although I remember those… late nights, late mornings, working on something til 3, chatting, some sort of organic unfolding of time and activities.

The next day I woke up and I couldn’t tell whether it was early or late, whether it was weekend or the week had just started… I somehow knew the week had started but there was no sound or movement to confirm that, and my watch said 8 o’clock. Everyone took their time to get out of bed, make coffee, following that inner voice that says take it slowly. I love that calm, the feeling that time is elastic and it can be bended and twisted according to my inner clock. I think that’s the space where ideas and solutions jump in your mind, it’s the space for self knowledge and for observations.

Or maybe I’m just romanticizing.

All I know is that in Dutch terms my habits are still quite eccentric, but in Romanian terms I am a complete foreigner. My eccentricity consists in not having an agenda and planning everything weeks in advance. I deeply need spontaneity and unstructured time. I am also the last one to come in the office and I like to spend my breaks by myself reading or writing. BUT. I do wake up before 8 almost every day. I do plan as I go. And I need to be structured not because it’s in my nature to be so but because otherwise I won’t have enough space to write and read and organize the film screenings I organize. Otherwise I won’t have time to run. And to watch the pile of films I watch every week. It takes some structure to do that and have a full time job. To do all that I need to be in bed by 11. 12 during weekends. Maybe 1.  I need to know who’s coming and when.

In Romania, after a weekend of going here and there, and taking part in the course all day, and seeing friends and sleeping too little…I felt really tired. I missed my schedule but felt a bit nostalgic at the same time, because this life rhythm reminds me of old me and of home. I do know I could easily fit back in, cooking at midnight, writing at 3 AM, sleeping in the morning whether awake or not. Would that be sweet? I have no idea. Somehow, I kind of got used to the fresh and cold smell of early mornings, and to running in the park.

Small note: check Robert Levine’s really interesting book – A Geography of Time – on time and pace in different cultures.


The Romania I love: a photo series about the surprising and the charms I’ll miss

I’m leaving Romania today and going back to The Netherlands, and it’s also the last day of the year and the last 2014 post on Passepartout, and somehow it feels just right to show you these photos. Hajdu Tamas doesn’t only seem to be at the right place at the right time, he actually has an eye for everything I love in Romania – the bitter-sweet, the absurd, the sentimental and the everyday surprising with an Eastern flavor. I think the kind of things he photographs are everywhere here, if you pay attention. And for some reason that fails me, many people see this as a mark of inadequacy and not of something to embrace and enjoy.

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Sfantu Gheorghe: photos and stories from the Danube Delta

Some months ago I traveled to the Danube Delta, in Romania. I spent a week in Sfantu Gheorghe, a small and beautiful fisherman village at the very point where the Danube arm with the same name goes into the Black Sea. I went there to learn about the community and to write about them and about the Rewilding Europe and WWF Romania conservation initiative that is being implemented there. My article on this subject has been published in Guernica Magazine.

But I feel I haven’t told the whole story yet. And there is something magical about Sfantu Gheorghe that I feel people should go see and experience and enjoy. Something that is beautiful in itself, but incomplete without knowing just a bit more about the life, the past and traditions of this place.

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