Wide Awake in Wonderland

We’re only dancing on this earth for a short while

Stylist to the Gypsies October 10, 2008

So every country has its class system. Sometimes it’s overt (take for example, India), and sometimes you have to read between the lines. A few nights ago, I was talking to a man from Malmo, Sweden (I’ve actually met three people from Malmo in the last week…and they’ve all been delightful, but that really has nothing to do with my point). Anyway, Rob was telling me that a lot of the Swedes go to Norway to work because the pay is so much higher. And then he added, with a particular glance in my direction, “We’re the Mexicans.” Touche.

For better or worse, where America has its huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the Balkans have the gypsies. In the various warnings I received to minimize my time in Bucharest (if not avoid it altogether), I was told in hushed tones, “It’s a town of 2 million people…and 500,000 of them are gypsies!!!!!!”

They stand out a little without even trying as they have a darker complexion than many of the Romanians and Bulgarians. This probably poses a challenge to any tourists with a St. Tropez tan.

However, it”s not all brown skin and black hair. What makes the gypsies notable is their fashion sensibility. If you ever wondered what happened to the hideous clothing of the seventies…look no further than Romania. Essentially, think about the ugliest couch you ever saw. And then imagine the polyester afghan your threw in the dumpster after the aunt that made it finally died. Throw in some fluorescent colors, bad mattresses, and maybe six or seven competing floral patterns. Don’t forget to use a large plastic bag as a suitcase! Now your gypsy look is complete.

So I started wondering, WHY ARE THEY DRESSING THIS WAY!? If you knew your blond hair and all-denim outfit made you the target of racism and prejudice, wouldn’t you maybe consider some black slacks or perhaps a subtle pair of khakis with a turtleneck? Would you still slip into the acid wash jacket with the same cavalier swagger?

And that’s how it happens that I find myself walking down the street behind a couple women looking like a 1972 flea market. and it dawns on me: THEY NEED ME. And if things don’t work out with my would-be illustrious and award-winning writing career, I’m thinking there could be a niche market as a  Gypsy  personal stylist? I could be their Coco Chanel. My mission would be to teach the value of flourescent floral patterns as an ACCENT. Sure a hot pink paisley head scarf is kicky, but maybe it would be better tied around the neck of your dog? Just a suggestion. No need to pull a knife. Maybe sleep on it?

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Oh for crying out loud October 8, 2008

I suppose I can just sleep when I’m dead. Good morning from Romania, where last night I got MAYBE two hours. Infernal snoring (more like choking with respect to the guy in the bunk above me), kept me awake and semi-livid through the night.

Thus, I was more or less fully conscious (as much as I can be on that little sleep) when my alarm went off super early this morning. I changed out of my pajamas and into my clothes under the blankets. Then I got up and drug my stuff out into the hall.

As I was cinching everything down, I glanced at my watch and wondered why I woke myself up so early, as I had done most of my packing the night before. However, it gave me some time to make some tea in the kitchen and play with the calico kitten that materialized out of nowhere (or that perhaps I hallucinated?)

I made some toast and looked at my watch again. It was now 5:55 am. The girl at the hostel said I needed a cab by 6:10 or 6:15 in order to make my 6:41 train to Bucharest. She had said to come wake her at 6:00 and she’d call one for me.

I decided to eat my toast and then go rouse her. As I crept into the room, she said something I didn’t quite understand. “Excuse me?” I asked. “It’s too late,” she repeated. “You missed it.”

I glanced at my watch. “It’s 6:02. The train is at 6:41.” I smiled at her.

She showed me her cell phone, “It’s 6:27. It’s too late. You missed it.”

So, that’s the long way of telling you that my watch managed to stop for the first time in 10 weeks, and for only 25 minutes. Nonetheless, long enough to cause me to miss the stupid train.

Who knows? Maybe that train is due to be overtaken by a band of gypsies (they sure do hate and fear them here) or hit by a meteor or just really, really late?

So, now instead of an hour and 15 minute ‘layover’ in Bucharest, I’ll have a three minute stopover. Sounds stressful. And considering all these trains are always late, kind of unlikely.

However, this little snafu did allow me to enjoy the company of a fellow hosteler I’ll call Stinky. If Stinky’s parents knew he’d grow up to be a 50-something man wearing only silk boxers and eating toast slathered in margarine on a Thursday morning in a hostel kitchen, all the while emitting an odor so foul that his table mate (me) couldn’t dream of eating, well, they might have just thrown in the towel and named him Stinky. Or maybe given him to the gypsies? We’ll never know.

Wish me luck, as I try to figure out how to get myself to Sofia…

http://www.europealacarte.co.uk/blog/2008/10/06/europe-travel-blog-carnival-6-october-2008/