Thursday, March 06, 2008

Mama You've Been on My Mind

Seeing Bourdain's recent Romania show made me look back on my trip there exactly three years ago today. On a short break from tour in Europe, I flew to Bucharest to visit friends who were residing there on a 3-year post for the American gov't. I knew this was my one opportunity to visit a country that isn't exactly on the top of my all-time essential places to go to in my lifetime.

But Eastern Europe conjured up a magical, mysterious and darkly romantic visual for me. I was thinking more of a classical antiquity, medieval and Byzantine feeling rather than Cold War imagery here. I mean, I was going to get to go Dracula's Castle. How cool was that?

A beautiful and tragic mix of decrepit old and shining new, it felt like Prague 13 years ago.. on the cusp of a major commercial, economic, tourist and cultural boom. I felt like I was at a tiny gig watching a brilliant band right before they broke and you knew that the next time, it wouldn't be as intimate, raw or brilliant. Yes that's what it felt like.

***

Descending into the freezing unknown. I was broken down from touring, dead tired from days of sleeplessness but the extreme cold excited me as to what was to come. First stop, Dracula's Castle!



After a flight, then a taxi, then a train, then finally a local bus to Bran where Dracula's Castle resides.



Perhaps I was wrong about Dracula (I can be you know, it's rare but it happens). Tourism was definitely in full effect with this tacky banner. Watch Tony's episode on Dracula's Castle. Deftly funny and depressing. It's a total sham! I've been played like a fool!



Who cares that Dracula never lived here? There's proof that he at least visited it once. Always in denial, one visit from the "Vlad the Impaler" justified MY visit. It's what I had imagined. So gorgeous. I remember taking the deepest freshest breaths of air.



With Bryan, one of the nicest hosts and friends one is ever so lucky to have.



Moi.



My friends posing in front of Romania's national (yet reliable) Dacia automobile and the Communist block cement building where we rented an apt for a day. Lovely isn't it?



I love this photograph. Back in Bucharest, also known as the "Paris of the East," or "Micul Paris," in the Old Center. You know how I LOVE Paris. Dude, I will go to every "Little Paris" that exists in this world.



I don't even want to show you the new parts of Bucharest or Ceau┼čescu's tacky tyrannical parts. I just love the old parts, the parts that seem like they will fall apart any second but won't. Those are the best parts.



I like to obsess on the cold and this was the coldest place I've ever been in my life. NY in the dead of winter seems like summer to this place. I still loved it though.



My hosts, Nam & Bryan with their dog, Devi, whom they adopted when they first moved to Bucharest. This is where Nam first introduced me to Yoga Nidra. Their next post begins this fall in Chennai, India! I guess I'll be going there sometime in the next few years as I've been fortunate enough to visit them at their every assigned post.