Friday, January 09, 2009

RANDOM ROMANIAN MOMENT: PART I - CONQUORING THE TRAMVAI

Jon Hogg, my good friend in Texas, has inspired me once again. He has a weekly post on the experiences he and his wife had while living in Timisoara, Romania (and being our almost-neighbors, I might add). So I thought that I'd throw a weekly Romanian memory into the mix.

RANDOM ROMANIAN MOMENT: PART I

Where to begin! We've been saturated with experiences here.... a few days after moving to Romania, I decided we needed some independence. No more waiting on people to take us places or to find the grocery store. I had gone from a world that I could maneuver (almost blindfolded) to one where I could not function beyond my trusty (and leather-covered ...another story) front door.

I told Lisa that I was going out on Monday and I was determined to find something out there. I have a masters degree so I assumed (watch that word) I could somehow ride a tram. So, I went to the tramvai stop up the street and just watched people. It was snowy and extremely cold, particularly for a boy from the South. There were several important pieces of information missing for me. How do you buy a ticket? What do you call a ticket? What do you do with it once you buy it? Which tram to get on? Where does it goes? How do I get home? Maybe it was just me, but these seemed like important issues to resolve when you can only say "yes, no, right, left."

I found a used ticket on the sidewalk, looked it over and saw a price (good) and the Romanian word for ticket (bilet - very good). I went to the kiosk and held it out and gestured an amount with my fingers (universal number system) and some cash and waited. I'd been warned that the reaction from the clerk could be anything from sympathy (the pitiful foreigner) to yelling (same reason, probably). I think it went well becuase there are no scars.

I got on tram 4 because I knew one thing about it. It was there. Little did I know that day tram 4 would evolve into our lifeline in the future. It pulled out and the adventure began.... how do you validate the ticket? What would happen if I didn't? Does someone want to see it? So, I watched again. I watched other people get on and do nothing. Some got on and punched the ticket in a little orange slot. So, I went that route. Funny, everyone else was very sure of where they were going, what was awaiting them, and when they'd get there. My biggest thought, "How will I know I've reached the end of the line?"

We rambled through the city and I was a little caught up in sightseeing the snowy views of our new home. We'd stop, people would depart and others would climb aboard. Old ladies would wait on seats and school kids filled it with laughter and bookbags. We wound through downtown and the towards a southern suburb I previously didn't know existed. After seeing a massive "Tide" detergent factory (who knew??) and several crumbling factories, we went suddenly to the edge of town where only a cemetary stood, and everyone got off. Unsure, I hesitated. The driver turned, yelled something at me and pointed rather abruptly towards the door. I assumed that was my sign.

Everyone else, due to actually having a destination, scattered I all directions. For me it was like, "Where am I?" I waited at the platform and the tram moved on and then circled around and headed back towards me. When it stopped again, the doors opened and I got on with a few folks who'd suddenly showed up. Do I punch a new ticket? I did, just to be sure. Will it take me home? It did, thankfully.

My horizons were broadened, wider that a teenager with his first set of wheels. Iknew I could conquor Timisoara!

2 comments:

Jon Hogg said...

Thanks for the props! Glad you are posting your stories. Can't wait to share them together, face-to-face and laugh until we cry.

todd long said...

....boy, can I do some laughing with you!