I’m really busy these days translating my book in my native language, and I couldn’t stop laughing while writing. I decided to entertain you with few Romanian expressions and their meanings, to give you a glimpse of how funny the Romanian language can be! Cheers!
Trowing vapors at someone= to surprise someone
Throw your boogers in the beans= to screw up
Take you on a carpet ride or to carry someone with the rug = to cheat you
Your mustard jumped off = you lost your temper
To put your hand in the fire = to guarantee for something or that something is right
To fight with the windmills= to try something that doesn’t make sense
To not care if someone takes away the ox from your bike = to be unafraid
To cross something like the duck crosses the water = to jump into conclusions
I have a needle for your coat = I know exactly how to get back at you
Hello everyone! Remember I have told you I am writing a novel, about the life of my father and my experience as a child, living in communist Romania? I am in contact with a few publishers, but the novel is not in print yet. So, I decided to treat you with an excerpt……
John is my father and here is a short excerpt in which he recalls some of his young years….
John remembered the time during World War II. War meant little to children, and most of them didn’t even know or understand what was happening. As a small child, John did the same as the other kids around him. He continued to play hide and seek, hopscotch and all kinds of childhood games. He did not know who the Nazis, the Russians and all the others were. For him these names were faceless. For him, war was when there was no daddy.
But some memories sneak in and they can never be erased. And so were his memories of the Russian invasion and of what came afterwards. At that time Romania was under Nazi occupation and Hitler’s army was pillaging the country of its resources. The Nazis took control of oil wheels and they were helping themselves to the country’s food crops, causing food shortages for native Romanians. Then the Russian army invaded. The Russian soldiers were looting and burning homes, they were killing the men and raping the women.
The day when they arrived in their village his father’s brother was at their house. One of his legs was permanently injured in a hunting trip and that is why he was not on the front like his dad. He jumped off the back fence of the house with a gun, trying to organize other villagers against the invaders. Left on their own, John’s mom took him and his brother down in the cellar, where they had tens of wooden barrels. Some barrels were full of wine and others with tuica, a Romanian traditional drink made out of plums. There were some empty barrels too. They hid in one until the Red Army soldiers were gone. He remembered clutching on his beloved stuffed bunny. He also remembered the screams and the thunderstorm of machine guns outside. When they came out, John saw their dog crying. He was sitting next to the corpse of his father’s brother. The dog had an old man’s eyes.
But what John recalled the most was the time afterwards.
His father’s family was a remnant of the old nobility that once owned most of the land in the Kingdom of Romania. They still owned a lot of it, in fact in the present day, the village was seating on part of their land. Their household was like a small community, and everybody working there felt like extended family. There were few people working in the stables, others helped raise their farm animals, and others worked in the house. But WWII brought a lot of changes. Most of these workers were men, got drafted and they were gone. The house felt empty. John was grateful that the cook, a chubby woman that was giving him cookies in secret, did not leave. Her enthusiasm when making dough was utterly genuine and John had a lot of fun squandering flour and pretending to help. He also liked the carriage driver, an older man who during the war became some sort of domestic worker that helped with everything. These two people, his mom and brother, made him feel safe while the war was raging.
When the war was over, his father came back. John saw him from far away, walking on the village’s road in his military uniform. He screamed “Mom! Dad is coming!” and then he ran to him and jumped into his arms. His dad was well, not injured on the outside but after a while, John felt that something was wrong. He did not play with him and his brother anymore and he didn’t hug them like he used to. Instead, he stayed closed in his study room. When John would see the door open, he would go inside to find him absorbed, with dark circles under his eyes, writing on scraps of paper. John felt like someone hijacked his dad and put instead an odd soul. Then, from being completely reclusive, his dad started having meetings with his friends behind closed doors. John would still very rarely see him, and when he would come out, it was not as his dad was present. His mind was always preoccupied with something else.”
For some time, I have been thinking about some fundamental questions, such as the one of how did our societies became so polarized? Why are people so polarized when it comes to race, religion, why are people so polarized in general? I know that there are many reasons why, but I have recently come across a story that reveals disturbing facts.
I was listening to a New York Times podcast, that talked about the radicalization of a young man through YouTube videos. This was an aimless young man, in his 20s, who had a computer and spent a lot of time on YouTube. He became attracted by a far-right community, because he felt a sense of belonging. Besides the podcast, there is also an article in NYTimes about it. Here is the link for it if you want to read more about his story:
What struck me in this story was the evidence provided by a former YouTube employee, a French PhD, that explained how YouTube feeds you what to watch next….and next…and next. YouTube has an algorithm that controls what you can choose to watch next and based on your preferences (your history of watched videos) would suggest the same kind of videos. They say that this algorithm is responsible for 70% of the time spent online.
Now, not only YouTube, but many other platforms offer access to conspiracy theorists, extremists and all kinds of misinformation. Although YouTube and other platforms are outwardly liberal, they are still a place where all kinds of people that are arguing whatever they may, have reached large audiences.
What if you fall into one of those rabbit holes? I think it is an efficient method of brainwashing.
For YouTube and media alike, their business measures in time watched and in ratings. They would give you the same kind of material, because they assume that you like it and that you would keep roped for long by giving you information on the same subject, from the same kind of sources. For them, it’s all business. The more you watch, the more time you spend on their platforms, the more money they make. They’re not interested in providing a user with alternative narratives, with alternative points of view. For them, is not about the quality of information. It is all business.
But is it all business for people? No. Not so much. For us, real human beings, it’s our lives. We possess an incredible neuronal plasticity that allows us to be shaped by our experiences.
There are a lot of people out there, especially during this pandemic, who do not have wide social contacts and spend their time navigating the internet. If you involuntarily hammer your brain with the same, the same, you might not even realize that you are being misinformed, or that you start believing in who know what conspiracy theories.
I think the best we can do is at least be mindful of this possibility. Be more aware and judge through your own lens whatever information we are fed. I think it is important to stop taking the information we are fed at face value.
And, on another note, I have previously written a small article about how media controls the narratives. This is not new, in fact, media has been called the “fourth estate” because of its wide influence and its weight in steering one way or another the public affairs. Remember the Vietnam War and the photos of casualties and soldiers wounded? Did we see the same thing during the Iraq war and Persian Gulf conflict in the 90s and 2000s? No. We didn’t. Why? I’ll let you think for yourself and answer that question…..
The media controls what we see and hear. The media decides what we should hear and see. A lot of things that should be said have been effectively silenced.
I personally am trying hard not to be dumbed down by corporate biased news. It is hard. But I do seek information on things that are important to me and that are not talked in the media the way they should be because of low ratings ( i.e. climate crisis, community issues). I do seek alternative views on everything that I read and I do not believe everything is out there.