Friday, June 22, 2012

The Fanged Descendant

Eastern Europe

Harvard educated Dan is from Romania but works for prominent politicians in Washington D.C. We’ve worked together in the Philippines in 2010 for a candidate in the presidential election. As the campaign went full throttle all over the country, we watched a newsflash featuring a pregnant woman allegedly blood-sucked dry by a mananaggal (a witch with bat-like wings and flies with only its upper body). Laughter erupted at this amusing break in the barrage of political campaigning. I said, “Dan, do you have witches and monster stories like these in your country? “ He was obviously taken aback at my query. He said, Are you serious? Haven’t you heard about Count Dracula? I replied, “Yes of course, so?” He said, “Well, Dracula was Romanian!”

Romanians are among the friendliest and most hospitable people on earth with an innate sense of humor. They speak a Latin-based language called Romanian, a phonetic language, so words are pronounced as they are spelled. For a bit of trivia, Romanian is the second language spoken in Microsoft, because the company is full with Romanian IT specialists.

Central Romania encompasses Transylvania – home of Dracula! But it's also a place with unique architectural treasures, such as castles, fortified churches and centuries-old houses. Fringed by the peaks of the Carpathian Mountains is the medieval city of Brasov, located just three hours north of Bucharest. Its famous landmark is the Black Church which got its nickname after the Great Fire of 1689 blackened its walls. A designated European Capital of Culture is Sibiu. It has colorful houses on cobblestone streets, bounded by imposing city walls and defense towers overlooking a river. And located just a half-hour drive at the foothills of the Cindrel Mountains is Marginimea Sibiului - a string of 18 ancient villages!

Romania was a kingdom in 1881 then a republic in 1947. This was when Nicolae Ceausescu headed the Ministry of Agriculture, then Deputy Minister of the Armed Forces. He rose in the Politburo so fast until he became General secretary in 1965 and consolidated power in 1967 by becoming President of the State Council. His condemnation of Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia earns him praise but he soon became a dictator obsessed with megalomaniac building projects and eventually overthrown by a national uprising in 1989. When he left office, he almost drained the country’s finances.

I told Dan, “I’m sorry man, our finances just can’t keep everybody for the duration of the campaign.” He said, “Oh no worries and good luck, and I missed my coffin.” I said, What? My coffin. I slept in it. He grinned and attempted to bite my neck! It was a joke that kept me thinking - He did have sharp and longer than usual incisor teeth, and he smelled differently, and the suits he wore were old fashioned, more like 15th century fashion. And he did say he came from Transylvania! Could he be a descendant of the Count?
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