Bucharest and I, we broke up.

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Lovers may come and go, but there’s nothing like the love of an entire city.

For some of us, Bucharest has been a game changer. My friends were able to find careers, romance and generally a purpose here and, to me even, the city was an end in itself. I never derived any long term benefit from my time in the capital but with everything seemingly so spontaneous, Bucharest kept me hooked on a high frequency of unforeseeable events for years. Never mind drugs, the Bucharest experience was the real deal – and what a ride it was! His charm was so invasive, that I recently began considering a life here, the stable kind, with a job, routine and apartment. If England didn’t want me, I thought, I could always seek refuge in the arms of my Bucharest, right? From a distance, whilst contemplating at my desk on that God forsaken island they call the United Kingdom, it would all soon fall into place.

Until today.

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Bucharest makes me feel bad for being alone. He nags me when I sit by myself at a table. He sends people to look at me weirdly and tightens the air around me, so that I can’t have any peace. And it’s getting ridiculous. I used to be a big admirer of the judgmental culture he fosters over the land, thinking that it builds character. The fact that I would spend an hour prepping myself to get out of the house became a dear ritual, along with placing the highest expectations on my public appearances. With all the time, patience and eagerness that I had as a student, the standards were acceptable so long as he gave me the hit. However, it has become subtly obvious that I no longer have the energy to play with Bucharest as I did, by his rules. Not only that, but even he doesn’t seem up for the game these days.

Unlike the old times, Bucharest now barely delivers on his promises. He took away the hit. He gives me bright lights and cafes, wild clubs and nights to remember, but today he showed me that it’s nothing more than the magic of anticipation he’s been working on me all along. Too much build-up for not enough substance, which I settled for so long as I could afford to loosely allocate my time. Now, the blind spots have become too costly. I can’t overlook the hours I spend in taxis going from A to B, so much so that I can’t even stand the manner of time as it passes. To quote a classic, ‘time had lost its patience’ and, with that, I lost my patience with Bucharest fair and square. For 8 years’ worth of escalating episodes, today, he let my expectations down gently, in one message. He said ‘I’m sorry, darling, I can’t make it anymore’ and so, my dear Bucharest, if that’s how it’s going to be, then I’m out and on my way to London. Ne-om vedea cand ne-om vedea.

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Travel Advice From My Parents That Probably Kept Me Alive All these Years

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PhotoGrid_1411915240366Since leaving the country for the first time on my own when I was 19, planning my travels has never been easier thanks to the alertness of my parents. Whoever was raised in an Eastern European family is probably familiar with the analysis of any destination that’s outside the EU or the United States. I’m not sure why our parents are so distressed (they might be watching too much TV) but it’s sure as hell hilarious hearing them explain their ‘don’t go there’ clauses. Behold:

‘Don’t go to Africa because of ebola and pirates and terrorism and tribes and being sold into slavery.’

‘Don’t go to Australia because of spiders and snakes and every other animal on that island that exists to kill you.’

‘Don’t go to Japan because of earthquakes.’

‘Don’t go to China. It’s… too far away.’

‘Don’t go to South Korea because it’s too close to North Korea.’

‘Don’t go to Cuba because you’ll be flagged by the United States, which means no Green Card and so what have we been raising you for?’

‘Wherever the plot from the movie Taken was located – don’t go there.’

‘Serbia? As in not-Kosovo? You’ve caught me off guard, I don’t know anything about the place. But until further notice, don’t go there.’

‘Ok, go to Russia, but if you get kidnapped, make sure they keep you within the country. The place is big enough as it is and we’d appreciate if the search for you were as narrow as possible.’

‘Don’t go east of Romania. Go west of Romania but not west enough that it becomes east. You’re not fooling anybody. Oh, except for Latin America – you’re not allowed there because of cartels and drugs.’

Understood?