Across Romania » Posts in 'Târgu Mureş' category

Pro Europa and a Sleeping River

Ilona seems to know everybody in this town so we get a date with Smaranda Enache who is a local politician for Liga Pro Europa. Amongst other things her party is active in establishing intercultural dialogue among the ethnic groups. We only have an hour with her but each of her sentences opens a new story. Its about the hope for democracy after 1989. The founding of the party at this very early stage. Her endless fights against visible and invisible frontiers, both in policy and in society as a whole. Its all about building up mutual trust, confidence, tolerance, citizenship. The urgent need for decentralising Romania. Transsylvania is a multicultural region. Can this regional identity help bridging the ethnic gaps?

In the afternoon we start to look for the river. Mureş. A canal seems to be a good point to start. We follow. Passing the railway tracks, small houses, the hippodrom. The river still hides behind its banks. There it is. But it seems to have no flow.

Arriving in Târgu Mureş

Again a sunny autumn day when we arrive in the middle of Transsylvania at noon. How do you explain a cab driver that the street you are looking for is named after a Romanian poet if nobody speaks each other’s language? At least we know now that Eugene Ionesco does not have a street in Târgu Mureş. But Mihai Eminescu has. So now we know two Romanian writers and many non-poet streets in Târgu Mureş.

Ilona receives us in her home for elderly people in Eminescu 28 and we are invited to stay, not forever but at least for two nights. So we enter her world of paintings and elderly people. And plants. Who is watering the 200 plant pots in this house?

A first afternoon talk with Ilona. It’s the Hungarian perspective we get to now first. Jumping through Transsylvanian, Romanian and personal history. Suppression against Hungarians during Communism. Transsylvania is a multicultural region. The clash between Romanians and ethnic Hungarians on the 19th of March 1990. Loosing trust. And today? Ilona is spreading seeds among the poorest.

We spend the next hours with a protestant priest, Lorincz Istvan. Walking around with Lorincz is a great pleasure, its like arriving at the heart of town. Going up to the fortification and we stumble into the choir practice at the old Gothic church. They sing Psalm 1 for us. A Hungarian flag next to the organ is confusing. There seems to be a lot of history still to be written.

It is impossible to separate policy from public space in this town. Different cultural symbols are coming together - Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox churches, Hungarian and Romanian heroes, poets, mayors, an historical urban fabric mixed with socialist urbanism. All cultures left their traces. A city is meant to embrace them all. But how do the people perceive it? Is there a unifying identity beyond?

We return back to our cosy beds in the home for elderly people and sleep between 200 flower pots.

Our next Destination: Târgu Mureş