Building cultural bridges


This coming of age story begins like no other fairy tale: there were once two blond little warrior boys who were brought by their family in a foreign land, in order to subdue it! And so our story unveils…

At the time our saga begins, the first little warrior was only nine – but he could already speak two languages. He was witty and loved books and adventure and music, had already travelled distance seas as well as conquered high peaks. He feared not the hair-raising fury of the highway dragons, nor did he dread the long waiting hours of airport check in.

Dark, damp and impenetrable castles held no secrets to him and neither did the entangled maze of the English language – though he had been born and raised in Romania. He was no royalty but he treated his mother like a princess; thus one may say he was a noble man of noble character.

But this time a strange world had come to life, and our little hero had to embrace the harsh new reality that this foreign land has brought about: school, town, habits and language – all was new, intimidating and menacing.

He knew no fear though – so he draw out his sword, shield and his dictionary and started to learn. Many difficulties were ahead. The dim forces of the terrible Prince Derdiedas were after him, armed to their teeth with the fearsome arrows of the Dativ and forged in the Vergangenheit steel… Here came the accents and dialects, unbeknownst to most, but insidious and dreaded…

The battle was long and weary. Days became weeks – and then months, and even years. Our hero is now twelve – and though he has yet to fully master the language, still he has tamed it to a point where they are no longer adversaries. The clash will continue, but with no hostility. They respect each other as worthy opponents – and realize they can each take something away from each other.

Perhaps it is not a story of an extraordinary boy – but a boy like many other little heroes who came into a foreign country and adapted to a different reality. Let us encourage them, stand by them and acknowledge their extraordinary resilience ins spite of their frailty.

To build or not to build…our future

If there’s a time when I thought the world is mine for the taken, a time when dreams came true and friends were closer than family, a time when I was able to fly and a time I also crawled – that time was high school.

There is this one thought that has been bothering me recently: do we still have any imagination left? Or are we just some practical, work-absorbed, hands-on professionals, with little time for ourselves, let alone for the family? Is there any moment in our busy, genuinely critical career-focused lives that we stop and fantasise about little things such as a rain drop or a sun set or a cat purring? Or is it that the only thought that crossed our mind recently is the ever-raising gasoline prices?

Let me confront you then – think of the future! Imagine a world where kids can learn about being free, about culture, music and history, about tolerance and happiness – all wrapped in a God-fearing environment. Imagine a school where your kids are safe from insults and humiliation, unstrained from tons of useless facts, dates and theorems – but rather able to distinctively recognise good from evil, ugly from valuable and appreciate art in sharp contrast of the market value of things.

Such school may very well not exist yet – but the EduFort foundation strives to build it. It can be found in Arad – my hometown. In Romania – my homeland. And if you believe you want to help – by any means – you can do it here. Or – just as important – you can pray for this school. And for Romania!

Continue reading To build or not to build…our future

Building a Personal Brand and Other Valuable Coaching Pearls (1)

To be in line with the current hashtag generation – one needs to stay fresh, ahead of the game and ever present in the astonishingly intricate puzzle of visual information. Thus I am here to help you create and maintain your own tremendously impressive personal brand – absolutely free of charge* unlike some other profit-hungry couches out there!

If you want to succeed in your career and enjoy the empowering sentiment of your own personal brand – follow these simple steps and blame only yourself if by any chance you do not prevail! Follow these accessible 7 steps (the first of seven lessons) – and you too will accomplish… something… Or not!

1 Who you are doesn’t actually matter! This you must well keep in mind. Personal branding is not about yourself, what you like, who you actually are and what is it that makes you special. It is about what people need to see and about what others like to consume. So you like poetry, you want to save the whales and you believe in Brian Boitano? That is nice indeed – but nobody cares! It’s named personal because it deals with persons! Persons don’t like you, don’t enjoy your success and don’t think you are any better – they like themselves!

2 Your personal beliefs and ideas should be kept to an enclosed, trusted circled – formed by you and your dear ones. Everything you might think you want to distribute out in the virtual world should bring attention over what was already said, discussed, shared, liked and commented. You want to restrain from new and untested – if it already went viral once, you can rest assured it has all the potential to stir attention again and again.

3 Believe in the rule of 3! Start defining and outlining 3 little defects and 3 huge qualities. Tipp: remember, nobody is flawless, one can find even amongst saints some defects! So don’t worry if you are simply weird, hate people in the morning and hate people and hate mornings – important is that you are out of the closet and talk about it!

4 Good things happen to those who really really think about goods thigs. But you must think about it a lot! You must invoke all the forces of good things, appeal to the Mighty Conjuration of Really Good things – and read the horoscope daily! And if the regular horoscope says it’s going to be bad – do not give up! Read the Chinese or Mayan horoscope – at least one of them must bring positivity!

5 Reading however should be discarded. With the exception of well consecrated authors specialised in the prosperity of the spirit, emulation of self-esteem and glorification of super-soft, extra-creamy, velvety fluffy skills. And say yes to podcasts about waterfalls, rainbows, strong & serene leaders (in sharp contrast to malicious managers) and general well-being of the aura!

6 Perpetuating the idea that real life can be abruptly unfair and sometimes even intensely bitter must not – under no circumstances – be the focus of your work. Rather focus on more realistic aspects of life: planets cheer for your, asteroids are sending out benevolent rays of security and generally speaking many delightful and precious gems are waiting to be found by those astute minds that can get in touch with their better, inner, improved self.

7 Coach it up! Look up some exquisite references about resilience and the benefits of working from home and embracing the social distancing. Use an active font, make it look like wise by adding the statue of Caesar the Salad-Emperor and post it! People will benefit from it – drink from your distinguished flow of wisdom and fill themselves with constructive dreams and categorical science.

*If you read until here – you must know that your account has been charged with 0.05 €/word. By closing this page – you accept to further sponsor me with a coffee and breakfast at my chosen time and restaurant. You are a valued customer – and your opinion matters – so please hit like and share! You can unsubscribe whenever – but I’d rather you didn’t!


The 13 lessons of pandemics

So here we are – more than a year since our lives have been irremediably trashed through this overly commented and ever present crisis. What have we learnt so far? Do we see ourselves anywhere else in the next 5 years? Are we enriched with experience or just demoralized, tired, spiteful and hopeless? How many more overnight changes of rules and regulation can we put up with?

As a man involved in operations and project management – I know the deep frustrations, the grievance and irritation that every new program generates. The gap between theory and practice usually opens up from a variety of reasons such as (a) not all variables had been considered; (b) putting into practice meant bypassing the original plan; (c) the theoretical elements started off from improper assumptions; (d) execution was unfitting (e) the human factor… etc. However – in business most of the times we alter the plan if we see no results. Would it be completely implausible to ask of a revision on the current attempts since the result is bringing little (if any ) results?

But anyways, here are 13 lessons I’ve learnt so far, and would love to pass on:

1. Nothing changed. Absolutely nothing. We’re the same beings – mean and cold. Well – our wardrobe did change though.

2. Wearing masks helped a lot! Especially the mask manufacturing companies and distributors.

3. Not trusting the vaccine will not stop anyone in trying to get back to the pathetic past (or normal as it is advertised).

4. Hope is not a state of mind – hope is a series of well-directed, meaningful actions. And it’s dead by the way.

5. Books really do make up for friends. And give better advice. And most of the times smell better.

6. We still hate our neighbour. And his barking pet. And his new car.

7. There is no way to predict how bad modern prophets suck at predictions.

8. It used to be weird going to a real-life meeting wearing only pyjamas and a coffee mug. Now it’s standard requirement.

9. Getting e-advice on how to get fit or how to fix your plumbing is just as useful as a drinking a cup of green tea after having two double cheeseburgers with medium fries.

10. Working from home works. But it has little to do with work. Or feeling at home.

11. Bad plan will always beat no plan – but still, it seems the today’s world plan is to utterly fail. And be proud of it.

12. If you are still searching for a career here is my advice: Study today so you can become a psychiatrist tomorrow! All other jobs will be stolen by robots and farmers!

13. Social distancing is a really thick, feebleminded concept – invented by sad, narrow-minded people with bad taste in clothes. There – I said it!

14. – brings bad luck, we’ll just skip this one. #believe_in_13

15. Throwing fancy captions such as empathy, love, support, hanging-on, compassion and care will not help if not backed up by real measures.

The Ordeal of Modern Times

There comes a time in our life when we have to go through an important coming-of age process; a cornerstone of capital importance, a turning point that separates men from boys and girls from ladies, an event that brings both happiness and horror, smiles and tears, rage and success. This important, once in a lifetime event, is called dieting. Unless you were granted a wish by a golden fish to gulp on burgers and coke whilst maintain a diva silhouette, diet is the one certain event you will encounter throughout lifetime! There are several ways to approach the diet, innumerable options, incredibly varied opportunities! I have tried them all – and gloriously failed in each and every one! But still – my failures have made me more of a connoisseur that anyone else, so I would love to share my wisdom and experience.

Like many a beginners, my first step was visit a nutritionist. Oh – how I loathe them! Their superior look, their paternal tone, their cultivated manners, their neat offices, their condescending behaviour and their slim bodies… Measuring me, making me feel guilty for eating anything else than sand and tree bark, blaming the chocolate industry, making fun of bread, potatoes and donuts… Utterly despising anything that is even remotely tasty, totally opposing the holy P trinity (pork/pasta/pizza); finding an abjection in each and every one of my little culinary habits oh! you eat processed meat – do you? You will die of coronary disease! Eating deep fried? You will die of coronary disease! Eating cakes? Eating cheese? Coronary! Eating? YOU WILL DIE! Whenever I visited one it turned out I could not shake the deep feeling of culpability, and the more I tried to behave like a good man – the more I dived into the silent, criminal behaviour of guilt-eating a biscuit – which in turn exacerbated my feeling of shame – which required another therapy session – which…

So I had to turn to another reliable source – and that is the Internet. This comes in many variated shapes, colours and apps. You can choose a personalised offer – which will consider your age, height, zodiac sign, weight, eyes, pet, location, gender, political view, favourite rock star and favourite car. Starting from there it will tell you what and where to eat, drink, pray, sing and smell; and what would be better for you in order to improve your life, feel good about yourself, live freely and independently – and obviously lose weight. After I filled in all the questionnaire – it turned out I needed to gain 16 more kilograms, I should do something about my age, I should adopt a penguin and I needed 3 months by myself, in an igloo, eating raw fish and discover my inner wolf. Also – it seems I was born in the wrong era; apparently I am more of a Medieval person.

Clearly – that was not the way to go, so I gave in to sports. That sounded like something I could easily do: basically, one can eat as much as he wishes, provided it offsets the calories intake with some intense burning of the said calories. It was supposed to do a lot of good for the physical and mental health, it improved my stamina and it would make shirts look really great on my greek, sculptural body. So I started running – every evening. When I say every evening, I mean about 3 evenings within one month, and that was it. I realised running was not really for me – and although I had already been taken calories enough to supply me three marathons, one small sprint and 17 trips around the Earth circumference, I needed something that would define me better. But, after briefly starting and immediately abandoning Zumba, biking, ping-pong, shark-swimming, Pilates, triathlon, boxing, chess and Prenatal Yoga – sports were permanently discarded.

So I asked myself – is there no one else on this planet that could give me an advice? Someone who had been already through the diet hell and came out victorious? And so, my next obvious step was to ask a friend. Officially, my biggest mistake with this approach was that I asked too many friends at once. The advice I got only demoralized me more. For some people a diet of exclusively fish skin, carrots, chicken feathers, rucola seeds and palm leaves worked. Others recommended to dissociate: you eat on your first day the meat, the next day the salad and the third day the fork. There were those who recommended a simple, yet effective approach: cut on the serving sizes! Used to have a whole ham for breakfast – now you should only have one green pea! Used to eat a whole chocolate – you can lick the wrapping! A whole pizza? You guessed it – one olive! And lastly – there are those friends who have a long list of the only things you can eat, and that list usually starts with almond milk, banana bread and cashew nuts, contains papaya and a drop of rainbow and inevitably end with Zucchini, Zebra and Lemon Zest!

And from here to the intermittent fasting it was just one small logical step. Now this one is just as tricky as it sounds – basically you cut off on one meal, and eat during a time window of 6-8 hours. To give you a simple example, you can start your day at 07h00 am, you go through the morning without breakfast, you have your first meal @ 12h00 pm – and your last by 18h30 pm. During the rest of the time you are fasting! Although it sounds very much obtainable, the fact of the matter is that I was deeply deceived! During the time window you are actually allowed to eat – you have to eat small portions of healthy substances! You cannot simply stuff yourself, so as to survive the other long hours of undernourishment! What you can do is eat a balanced mix of fat free, gluten free, lactose free, alcohol free, sugar free, beta-carotene free, stress free, uranium free, caffeine free steak coming from cows that are raised on the high plains of mount Tibet with a side dish of essential oils.

So I discarded that – and examined the vegan diet. Now what I like about it is that it does not sugar coats it in a fancy name – you know right from the start it’s going to be awful. Apparently sometimes in our history, before our ancestors discovered the blessings of barbecue, mankind would have only eaten roots, vegetables, pine cones and kale. So the vegan diet is actually a call for the original man, an invitation to go back to health, a robust option to this overcooked life of ours, an extraordinary benefit, an immensely rich possibility of choice! If you are the type of guy who previously were into fish – now you can resort to algae! From cow – to grass; from chicken – to corn; from pork… hmmm…actually there is little option here; in any case a vegan can practically save all the money previously spent on food, and grow his own shitake tree, kohlrabi tree, wasabi tree or any other type of tree for that matter. It is thus distinctly clear that I stepped on the vegan train with great expectation and impatient satisfaction – and managed to live a clean, vegan life for about an hour and a fourteen minutes before I utterly collapsed.

However, to finish in a happy tone, the counterpart of the veganism is the keto diet. This is a type of diet I particularly enjoyed as it emphasis our body requirement of healthy fats. I know you have never heard that fat can be heathy – and in fact neither had I, but these precious hidden gems lie invisible to our humble eyes in foods such as grilled meat, pork chops, avocado, chia seeds, pastrami, chorizo and artichokes. Although this apparent keto heaven has a colossal potential and incalculable varieties – it does exclude chocolate, jam and peanut butter and any other types of sweets for that matter, considering that an ice-cream is not fat enough to be included in the healthy fats hall of fame. It also refuses the right of a French fry to be ranged amongst the foods worth to accompany a steak as a side dish – hence I had to entirely reconsider the benefits of the keto altogether.

My search is not over yet, and the search for the perfect diet has barely begun! Join me, whilst we go up and down this carousel called diet – with only one imminent ending – the beach body!

The Imperfection Behind the Perfect CV

I came to wonder how would a Curriculum Vitae look like if we were perfectly honest about the hesitant steps in our career ladder. How many pages would we fill if we spoke about our failures? When we list our achievements – would they be outrun by the breakdown catalogue? Why look at our strong points – they are but a few compared to the long agenda of things we have yet to learn, things we are bad at and skills we will never learn. This is not about how CV’s should look like – but how my CV would look like if I were to review my shortcomings.

Name: Bogdan Miron (but I like to be called Bogdi)

Age: I don’t feel old in spirit, but my body seems somehow to disagree.

Weight: Let’s not talk about it, shall we?

IT Competencies: I am a SAPient man, that brings his own tools to the Office. I am a man of my Word and Excel at many levels. I go straight to the PowerPoint, and use no Oracle to learn about the future.

Foreign Languages: I can get fairly angry in more than just one language.

Skills: I am compelled to say I am a people’s person, with high emotional sensitivity, great at networking and exceptionally open minded. In reality I am very picky when choosing friends; I find it funny calling people names and I rather have a quiet coffee with myself than socialize.

Nationality: I’d like to say Citizen of the world. I hear it’s a big thing now. With a Romanian twist, obviously!

Civil status: happily married; got two lovely (yet mischievous) boys.

Hobbies: never sure if or why this was supposed to be here. But I definitely like to do fun stuff with the family. And to blog.

Education: not much really. I spent the first years of school not understanding why I was there. In high-school I did not know how to learn nor what I really want from life. When I got to Uni I mostly did not want to learn anymore, and still did not know what I want to do with my future self. I did read though – a lot. Did not help me prepare for any profession, but made me a dreamer in the least practical way. I guess I can say I was not a bad student – and I genuinely liked my major. But I did suffer of a bottomless sense of inadequacy, caused both by the young age and also by a specific fear that I will not be forever a student and one day I would have to get a job.

Early Career: I thought companies will fight over which one should hire me; instead I started off working in a production plant. Not particularly heavy work, and it did bring a nice pay check. I got it then – to be hired, enthusiasm and a college degree are not everything. Employers also look for a stupid thing called experience. Felt frustrated – what are they, dense? They don’t know I just graduated? How on earth would I have any experience?

It took about one and a half years to get my first white collar job, a nice company in the Automotive sector; I was working in the logistics department – material procurement. Soon, I came to realize that I had chosen the wrong major. Let me rephrase that – nothing I learnt in school applied. Or was even remotely useful. I had to learn new things – things I never even thought about. One of the most hair-raising things was a modern artefact called Excel. Yess – I was 23 and I knew nothing of it, except it existed. Oh – but what a magical tool that turned out to be! It pivoted and looked things up and conditional formatted and it would concatenate and sum and if and indexed and matched… oh my God – I didn’t understand anything! Macros, formulas, columns and rows – all charging at poor little, inexperienced me… And if that was not enough – I learnt about an exotic thing called ERP that ran on MRP and we had to do it ASAP because of the JIT production SOP, and guys in Engineering were afraid because they lacked APQP which apparently was even more important that the PPAP but not quite as vital as the PFMEA… wait, what – this did not made any sense! Oh, the early days…

Later stage of career: But episodes (both good and bad) kept adding up – and I started to gain experience. I went through a number of different companies, different positions, different parts of the country. The first few months after being upgraded to the leader of the Logistics department made me realise just how insecure I actually was. Not about the job or my skills – but insecure about my recent position. Sometimes it felt as if all my traits are just flaws, that I cannot take the right decision and I will never be able to lead properly or solve any problem in a sensible manner – and generally it felt that all I did was nothing short of puerile and irrelevant. It was quite a difficult road, full of bruises. Looking back I realize it helped me grow and become a better professional – but there were moments when I detested it so bad I wished I would give up and resign. I mostly feared taking crucial (decisive) decisions. But you learn fast – it is painful, it is not the part one likes about the job, there are decisions you want to procrastinate for ever (and two weeks after) – but you learn.

Current career: doing what I learnt and loved in the past +15yrs. You lose a little bit of passion but gain patience along the way; you gain a few grey hairs but you are more sensitive and wise. Not me – generally speaking. I still have a lot to learn, many mistakes to make, many to remake… I feel that strict timeframes are pressuring me less then they used to, but time passes somehow faster.

Where do I see myself in the next 5 years? I honestly hope I win the lottery, without actually playing it. If that does not work out – an honest job would do, preferably in a quiet place – I would love to try out food sector! If you over-cook a burger – at least you get to eat it! And I might just burn a few on purpose!

The Classical Fear of Being Scared

I remember as a child I was always terrified about one phrase mom used to say. The phrase was short We’ll talk when we get home but it almost never involved talking, and sometimes I didn’t even had to wait to get home. I was also scared of horror flicks – there was this show Twin Peaks that absolutely petrified me. And dare I even mention needles and doctors or dentist? Obviously – as we grow up we tend to be appalled of more refined things and situation. A good-old fashioned butt-kick does not look so bad compared to the freight I get when I look at the ghostly bills, blood-sucking debts and monstrous Monday mornings. But still – what does scare us nowadays? Here’s what really scares me:

To start with I am really scared of whatever starts with the letter M. Money, mnegative people, mhands washing, motivational speeches, mzero money, my mwife’s memory, mwaiting in lines, mgeopolitical issues, mtraffic, mideology (especially if it smells like msocialism or mneo-nazism), masks, mgoogle&mgates, mystical mistrust of mice, men* in generally (yeah – they really creep me out sometimes), mpseudo medicine and mpseudo science, mvegan food, media and mfake news, mairplane& mstockechange crushes, mreality shows, mbanks & minsurance companies, mosquitoes, maths, minternet, m5G, mretail discounts, mcar mechanics and last on the list (but by far not last as meaning) – the mighty mcovid!

Also I have a visceral fear of trust. It is a scary thing this trust – it makes you feel safe, secure; but in reality it’s a vicious monster, ready to rip you apart and devour you. You left your trust unattended, think you can put your faith in it; you believe it will not deceive you – but slam! it pops out from beneath a smile or under an apparently helping hand and it can utterly put you on your knees, leave you with no confidence in good deeds – and terribly fearing of putting your trust in someone else again. Trust can wear many disguises – and you can lose it one by one – be it in institution, organisation, neighbours or even in your local butcher. But obviously – nothing is scarier than I might be a disappointment, and make people (family/friends/colleagues) lose their trust in me… That is what makes me feel uneasy…

Besides, I fear the humans when they say you should believe in yourself. I am inclined to be afraid of this statement – not only because by myself it is quite difficult to achieve something; but I fear it because it is the ultimate remark of solitude. In an environment where we are slowly beginning to praise the immense benefits of distancing from one another, believing in yourself is synonym with a lone gunman cry, a call for avoiding social interaction – and immerse in our own praise and glorification. It’s seldom that we hear believe in friendship and loyalty – act for the better good of many individuals – surround yourself with kind, generous people! Oh – but what we hear is you are your best version of yourself, you can achieve everything, you can do it, you can lead and you make a change… With all these people that are such perfect specimen of mankind – we should live in a world full of powerful leaders in a top-notch self-achieving top-performing hi-quality bordered community, where every member is strictly isolated but overly self-sufficient.

Numbers also bring panic. I used to be a good friends of numbers, and even paired attention to the small ones – although I liked the thousands and tens of thousands. My life tends to be inexorably linked to numbers and their worth – the car is 20k, the apartment is 100k, distance to work is 3 km (aaa negligible), gas is 1.002 /l (what? that much?), working hours are 8 h/day and 5 days/wk (still?), distance to the Sun is 1504645068840 million mile, I need to eat 7000 calories/day to keep fit… But slowly numbers start to give me a serious fright. Adding up minutes after minutes and days after days – you end up adding years – and all of a sudden I find myself old! And I heard age should just be a number – but I tend to be afraid of this number!

This may come as a surprise, but I fear fruit. Any kind of fruit – not just a specific one. I deeply believe their plan is to conquer the world – and they actually succeed. Think about it – human race is their slave! Fruit are devious – they make us labour for them in the heat of the day, they make us care for them in lovely little orchards, they make us fight their battles against fungi and pests, they make us clean their leaves in autumn and trim their hair in spring, they make us feed them when they are hungry and quench their thirst when they need water, they make us carefully pick them (we don’t want to drop them by any cost!) and arrange them cautiously on their thrones, they make us pay for them enormous prices – while they sit and look at us from the height of the supermarket shelves. They are so deeply rooted into our minds – that even on winters we miss them so much that we have to have them close in jams or cans… We tend to worship fruit – not realizing that they have become our master – surrounding us from every corner of life – fruit cake, fruit ice-cream, fruit flavoured dish-washing detergent, fruit patterned clothes, fruity shaped toys – because they raise their slaves from kindergarten, don’t they?! Can’t you see what they are doing to us? And they make us think we owe them – but oh, how wrong we are! Fear, FEAR the fruit I tell you

Do you fear all these? (If not you should – especially the fruit!) It is only reasonable that we live our lives governed by fear – it is the one trait that keeps humanity going! What would have happened if we did not fear our fellow humans? Would we have ever developed nuclear weapons and sophisticated means of torture – were we not driven by fear? Fear it is the one thing that moves our civilization – featuring such a wide and overwhelming display of shapes and emotions… Let us benefit from and embrace the fear around us – let us fear going out of our homes and visiting our friends and relatives – let us fear social interaction. Why living in a boring and safe environment, when we can panic instead? Show no courage, allow no bravery and you will experience no failure. That is the true ladder to experiencing and spreading your inner fear. And don’t worry, there is no mask for that, you can seed fear from the safety of social distancing.

The things I wish I knew before I started learning German

If you are just like me – starting to learn German and come from a Latin country, you probably found it difficult. Puzzling. Unearthly. Straightforward hard. I know what you mean – I am there. Been learning it for over a year – and the ride is bumpy. But I am here to help, so enjoy my tips, to smoothen the process.

German articles are evil. Der, die, das are little pesky demons – they pop out of nowhere and screw up your otherwise beautiful pronounciation. They are malicious and sinister, slipery and incomprehensible to the romanian mind. Really, don’t do it like I did; whenever you learn a noun – incorporate the right article straight from the begining.

German cases were only invented to make you look like a fool. You will never get it right. You will learn consciously that aus, bei and mit are always in the Dativ, and still an Akkusative ending will somehow stick to your object or pronoun. Exercise! Mnemonic advice are good, but nothing beats practice.

German sentences are little pieces of puzzle that are only coined to subdue foreigners. When a German speaks he will twist 197475,11 interminable words in such a way to secretly place the verb at the end of the phrase – and leave you look for an elucidation that will never come. Really, die satzstruktur may be baffling, but don’t be afraid to ask people to repeat. They will do it eagerly – happy to help you understand, and they will cut it into shorter, simpler phrases.

German verbs are only to be used in their present form. Or sometimes in the future form. Never, mind you NEVER, should you speak about past events – because the German Präteritum only exists to bring violence to this already sad world of grammar. There is no known way to the human mind that you will ever be able to make it down that road. Learn the basic rules, and don’t be afraid to use the present perfect. It’s definitely easier – and comes in handy for beginners.

German adverbs come from a secret, klingonian-like language. The roots have long been forgotten, but the adverbs still mischievously found their way through everyday language. Plotzlich, trotzdem, irgendwo or demuzfolge (I am not making this up!) are all old fossils of the pre-Babel language, used by our forefather in ancient times, when cavemen fought mammoths and Daimler was forging the first Mercedes wheel! Well… maybe not quite; but they do sound funny.

German adjective are useless. The German language is an efficient, sharp, straigt-to-the-point, effective and striaghtforward tool. Adjectives only exists to fill dictionaries. Noone needs adjectives – groß and klein are the only adjectives used – and they are exclusively exploited for the description of the differences between two different cars.

Last, but definitely not least – German numerals… Oh, the numerals… There was a time the French way of saying quatre-vingt dix huit (98) sounded pretentious and unnecessary long – but they are amateurs, I’ll say that! The Germans will twirl with tens and use the unit first (such as funfundzwanzig for 25) – clearly for the only conceivable reason to make me look like a fool whenever I’m in a shop and I ask for price. And if that was not enough – the manner they thought numbers would become easier to the common folk is by cross-breeding them all up in one word – so you end up breaking every single bone in your tongue when pronouncing the simple 244 – zweihundertvierundvierzig!

I am not giving up, obviously. I will keep on practicing and learning. And to be honest I must admit I expected it would be even harder. It’s definitely not impossible, and I’ve grown to like it. Ich schaffe es!

The 1st Year

Today marks exactly one year since I embarked on my expat journey: packed some stuff, took the family and moved to Austria. Thus it is only right that I make a list of the pros and cons – Austria vs Romania. Several topics, two goalposts. Who will win the battle? Who will rank better on my non-objective scale? WHO is really aware?!?

1-Food. When it comes to food – Austria is mediocre at best. Coming from a blessed country as ours, where we still enjoy buying fresh ingredients with full, rich taste – it’s not easy to settle with the poor variety of Austrian dishes. Romania 1 – Austria 0!

2-Infrastructure. Austria enjoys quite some nice roads – ranging from highways or high-alpine roads and over to national or local one-way lanes – all in good shape, clean, vignette quite cheap… everything that Romania hasn’t got. Romania 1 – Astria 1!

3-Driving. With such great roads one might believe that you can savour driving through such beautiful a country – and this is true to quite an extent. However, Austrian drivers are dilletants, most of them have yet to discover the usage of the signal lights; they speed in or outside town if they know there is no camera, can’t figure out the purpose of a roundabout and cannot take over anything bigger than a bike… Much like Romanian drivers! The difference here lies in the details however – you can hardly hear the horn; and definitely no swearing or middle fingers. Romania 1 – Austria 2!

4-Education. Schooling in Austria is not only affordable – but also made quite entertaining for the kids. A foreigner can easily fit in classes where they can learn german – no need to look for an expensive international institution. Schools itselves are neat – and subjects are slightly more applied than the Romania curriculum – with emphasis on sports!Romania 1 – Austria 3!

5-State administration. Though it’s starting to look like a lost fight – I am happy to say that the Austrian state employees are not really that far from the Romanian ones. Same bored faces and sour grins. However there are quite a fair number of documents you can submit online, which is not valid for Romania. And by the way – they say Austria is a beurocratic country – but let me tell you: they are amateurs! They should come to Romania, that’ll teach them beaurocracy! Anyways, Romania 1 – Austria 4!

6-Public transportation. In Austria everything needs to be on time – and this is valid for trains and buses. They come on time, they leave on time. And they are clean, and have space for the buggy or your bike, the services are quite cheap – and annoyingly relyable. Romania 1 – Austria 5!

7-Internet. Well I do miss the prices and services from my homeland… Internet in Autria is expensive and inferior. You must pay a lot to get some decent-caliber Internet, and the worst is – even if you pay a lot more, there are technical limits of the service providers that simply cannot be overrun. Romania 2 – Austria 5!

8-Family activities. I cannot even begin to understand how Austria is so focused on family-friendly activities to have in the outdoors. You can do virtually everything – from trekking to hiking and biking and camping and running and climbing and canoeing and swimming and… and… Romania 2 – Austria 6!

9-Medical care. Having a small child I need to visit doctors and hospitals more than I would like to – so I have come across a number of situations. The Austrian health care is everything the Romanian is not – clean, friendly, extremly affordable, very organised, top-notch services and technology… The only thing they seem to lack though is professional employees. With some rare exceptions, the really good doctors were Romanians (ta-daam!). Yes – Romanian doctors in Austrian hospitals, met more than one – and this leads me to: Romania 3 – Austria 6!

10-Cost of living. Living in Austria is expensive – from products to services. Take clothes just as an example – if you are into sports and need to gear up, it would empty your monthly earnings in a glimpse. Sales season is however highly appreciated, and with a little bit of planning and patience you can find hi-quality brands at extremly low prices. The state finds it also reasonable to return part of your taxes if you have kids, and supports citizens in need. As a general rule – one does not necessary need higher education to enjoy a decent life in Austria. Romania 3 – Austria 7!

This would conclude the first leg – with a victory of Austria. Though I love Romania, I cannot say I made the wrong move. And I would definitely do it again.

The Big Answer to Impossible Questions

In the likely event that you were asking yourself deep, meaningful questions about the origin of the Univers and the meaning of life – but found no appropriate response – I am here with a practical guide to offer a relief.

The way we are going to do this is alternating Q and A’s. We shal begin our journey with a classic question, one that has been tormenting generations – and will puzzle many more to come:

Q: How come Luis Lane did not realize Clark Kent was actually Superman, just the variant with glasses and a different hair-do?

A: Because in fact Superman was shrewd and added a trick which he picked up on Krypton – he wore his underpants on the outside, thus rendering facial recognition impossible!

Q: Why is there evil on this Earth?

A: There is a great possibility that you are the cause of it, my friend. That which you call mean, evil, wicked, bad – call it whatever! if you can find in other beings or deeds other than yours – all whilst you are an unkind, unforgivul, insensitive person – or simply a selfish one – well, look further no more!

Q: Which came first – the chicken or the egg?

A: Yes indeed this one paradox is equally intriguing and old – but really very simple. In fact, first was Jamie Oliver! Only when you pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees you add the chicken. And you will then make your own pasta – just ad water, flour and eggs!

Q: Why am I always judged, overjudged, underjudged and misjudged by others?

A: There is no factual evidence of the precise ammount of judgemental thought a person actually displays. As human beings – we judge as a normal trait. We judge the shoes we’re wearing and the shoes they’re wearing. We judge the food, the coffee, the cars, the road quality, we judge our job – in fact we take it as a personal mission to judge as a job. So the real question is: why do you worry?

Q: Has the Covid crisis shown the solidarity and loving, harmonious consenus in people around the world?

A: Well, NOPE. No, it did not. The Covid crisis (whether exagerated or not) has yet again fully exhibited the main facet of human race. We are cold, hostile, irresponsible, filled with antagonism and hatred, desperately looking for alienation. In a world that is sinking and thinking only about how to make money – respect, love and support are just words. Actions are dictated by hostility, hatred and an acute hunger for immorality.

Q: Who is the greatest actor of all times?

A: Though there is no simple solution to this question, as everyone would have his/her own favourite (I love Jason Statham! Chuck Norris is the best! Leo di Caprio mary me!) – still I would provide an answer that is both satisfactory and fully conclusive: the best and greatest actor in the world is Paolo Villaggio.

I hope you enjoyed this first round. And remember – there are no stupid questions! But you could get a ton of dumb answers!