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Thursday, 3 May 2018

The Mayor of Iasi, Romania, in Krakow

Dearest hearts,

There are many minorities living in Poland, many living in Krakow. The biggest minority are the Ukrainian people but there are many small groups of other locations, that live together as one. This year, very soon - in summertime, I will have lived for 7 years in Krakow. I am a Romanian expat blogger living in Krakow for a while now, creating roots with a couple of other hundred people from my country of origin. We are not the kind that come here to "pick strawberries or tomatoes", nor the kind that sweep the floor, do the cleaning or take care of elderly people (like people do mostly in Spain, Italy or even Israel). Don't get me wrong, those jobs are not demeaning or shameful, without people working on all levels society would not work. What I mean is that people that come to Poland don't do it for physical Labour, but rather it is a migration of brains and most of the people transfer to corporations here. Just like I did - I was working in Capgemini in Iasi, was offered a better job here, and I went for it! We always strive to better ourself and learn new things in the process. 
Living in Poland provides a better lifestyle than in Romania, and many of us believe that at least we are not afraid of what tomorrow will bring. Most of the politicians in Romania are corrupt and they are hungry for more and more power. As Emperor Palpatine (Star Wars reference, and I'm not even sorry!) would put it: "Unlimited Power!!!". It does not matter if you are stepping over other people, what matters is taking it all. I remember a story my mum used to say about the Jewish family that she lived next to when she was just a child. The Jewish family had a shop and they were selling things. They always said it was alright (even expected) to steal but one should always have a limit on how much. They would say that is why God left us with the index finger, to stop ourself of the border of the box/coffer/sack - so you could go only a few fingers down, not the whole hand up to the elbow (or more). Nowdays they just like to steal it all... that is why you hear of people going in the street and government changes. There are few who would like to make the world better, and there are idealists amongst us - one of them being the mayor of my city, the mayor of Iasi: Mihai Chirica.
The mayor of Iasi (Polish version: Jassy) - Mihai Chirica - is quite a dreamer, but more than that he managed to realise more than the previous mayors, for my hometown. He is finally the one who accesses the European Funds in order to make some changes. Poland, and especially Krakow - Warsaw have been tapping on those funds, making the cities better and better. Now Mihai Chirica just finished the documentation for the acquisition of electrical buses and new trams (not second hand ones that break at any moment). That will include 16 trams with a length of 26 meters, 25 electric buses 7-10 meter long, 20 electric buses 12 meter long. But why do I speak of that? Well... Mihai Chirica went to a European Congress of Local Authorities, that was held in Krakow - 25th to 27th of April. His business agenda included a talk of creating a fraternity between Krakow and Iasi - to be brother cities. I think that is a wonderful idea, seeing that we share history together and our culture and way of living is not that much different. Both Iasi and Krakow are the cultural hearts, the cultural capitals of Romania and Poland. Also, for a while, they were the capitals of the countries. So having Mihai Chirica here, initiating a collaboration in the academical domain, but also cultural and science domain, being very interested as well on Krakow's (Poland's) model of accessing European Funds... it is a lovely and refreshing step forward. Seeing someone care enough to make a move and make a change, to talk to the people on a 1-on-1 basis. On the 27th of April, on his free afternoon in Krakow, without agenda, he choose to visit the St. Mary Basilica (Polish: Kosciol Mariacki).
  
The meeting was setup with the help of the President of the Polish-Romanian Society in Krakow - Ignat Timar - and our very own Romanian Catholic priest - Marius Bucevschi. Ignat is the one that keeps us all, Romanian people, united in one community and he is the one encouraging us to do more events that show the Romanian soul. With his help and the collaboration of the Public Library on Rajska 1 (That holds a "Romanian Corner" in the Multilingual Sector, 2nd floor, with over 600 books in Romanian language) we are able to create events on a regular basis on the special moments in our culture. We have workshops for the 1st of March - to make the Martisor - we have workshops for Easter - to paint eggs (Polish: #pisanki ) and we have ocassional gatherings with Romanian authorities (last fall we had the Romanian Minister of Defence dropping by). Of course the Rajska Public Library also allows us to have a room for voting purposes (already voted here a couple of times, even for Presidency). In Krakow we don't have a Consulate and the only Embassy is the one in Warsaw so  we feel privileged to have this option instead of travelling to and fro'. 
The meeting with the mayor of Iasi, Mihai Chirica, was on the 27th of April, afternoon. He came along with someone from the Romanian Embassy (so sorry I did not catch the name) and was a tiny bit late (not the quarter of the hour, fashionable, but earlier) to the 5 PM meeting with our Romanian priest - Marius Bucevschi. He invited the Mayor to come see the beautiful Basilica and do a small tour. He was kind enough to show the Mayor some of the most important spots and also invite him, at the end of the tour, to the chapel where we gather for the ceremony in Romanian language every 2 weeks. There was of course the exchange of gifts and words of gratitude, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that the Mayor had a bit more free time on his hence. Father Marius was kind enough to provide us with room to gather and I can swear I don't know where 2 hours passed talking between us - Mihai Chirica, Ignat Timar, Marius Bucevschi, the representant from the Embassy and a group of Romanian people living in Krakow (about 12 of us).
***
We talked seriously, occasionally joked, and the Mayor told us the plans of fraternity between Krakow and Iasi. He told us that in the next 2 years in Iasi he wants to modernise the Public Transport, to get new buses and trams, to get displays with the hour and time of departure - and stick to that, introduce electronic tickets and the abonament for all lines for about 80-90 lei (that's around 20 euros). He also told us that he entered negotiations with LOT Polish Airlines to see the option of making a Iasi-Warsaw or even Iasi-Krakow connection (I am praying for that one!). He also realised how long it takes to get here... only by car to the border with Romania (Oradea) it would take 15 hours. Going by plane you need to switch at least 2 planes - the best connection is Krakow-Vienna-Iasi with Austrian Airlines but that ain't cheap at all. The Mayor of Iasi has high hopes for the city and wants to invest more in the cultural side, to revive the true/authentic Romanian spirit. I believe he is an idealist and that he is a dreamer - it takes more than a flower for spring to come - but the changes he is trying to make are real and visible and good. I wish Mihai Chirica all the best in his endeavour - May God bless you and give you straight and shield you from enemy hands!
     
Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Romania & Poland