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March 1, 2021

Bucharest is kind of unique city, said Mircea Cartarescu

Author Mircea Cartarescu says in an interview with Agerpres as part of MY CITY BUCHAREST project that Bucharest for him is a paradoxical city, somehow out of time, kind of unique, ‘a bizarre blend of supermodern and dereliction’. “I identify myself with it, with this city’s good and bad, which, somehow, resemble me. In fact, those of us who are Bucharest-born feel this city in an utterly different way than those who came here at a later time in their life. For us, it (Bucharest) is organic. We grew up at the same time with it and we sort of feel the city in a way which, I think, not many who came here later do.”, he mentioned.
The author of ‘Orbitor’ (Blinding) novel speaks of his childhood and teenage years spent in a clean and very green city, as Bucharest was back in the 1960s-1970s, of the magical place around the State Circus, the buildings moved by sliding, Dambovita Mill that has been torn down or Vaporul lui Assan. “And, like all children, who are do-it-yourselfers, I too made my own world from what I found: from waste, debris, ruins, from things like that but also from things that were kind of magical to my mind, but very trivial and even sordid, which I used to run into at that time. I will never forget how half a street, half the Stefan cel Mare Road of that time was moved by being slid on rollers, when I was around 12 or 13. So, entire buildings, some 200 meters of buildings probably were put on rollers and moved 10 or 15 meters backwards. I will never forget that show in which people were still staying at the windows of their homes, at the ground floor there was Gostat (grocery store) as it was called then, where we did our food shopping, Alimentara (grocery store), a newspaper kiosk where I used to by my collections of science fiction literature a.s.o. And all these were merely being moved by sliding on rollers. It was like in a South American novel. We could not believe it. Later on, unfortunately, this technology was used to move the churches, a decade later, to hide them behind the blocks of flats, as you know.”
For Cartarescu, Bucharest is one of the most stressful cities in the world and one the residents of which should respect its nobleness and historical past more. “For me, Bucharest is not an evolving city. For me it’s sort of timeless. It’s unique in its kind, this mix – sort of clichéd, but true – of Orient and Occident. This resemblance sometimes with Paris, sometimes with Brussels, sometimes with, I don’t know, Cairo or Istanbul, all these things make it unique.
Moreover, it’s a strange mix of super-modern and ruin, decay, disregard. I’ve found this mix in Chicago, for instance, where old factories alternate with super-modern buildings. All these things are part of its formula. I wouldn’t want it to change; I don’t want Bucharest to become a city like New York or any other super-modern cities, like Berlin. No. Bucharest must be just like that in my mind, paradoxically. This very paradox is beautiful. I like to see both new and old in Bucharest; together, in a way. What I don’t like is – as they say – that it’s populated. A beautiful country, a pity it’s populated.
Bucharest is the home, but not always, of true natives, in the tradition of Caragiale [classic Romanian writer], “ Carcatescu concluded

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