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Romania: The land of the lost gentleman

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By Naughtie-McCourtie Rebecca

Romania is the land of the lost gentleman! OH, and the Polish were right to have arrested me…

One thing at a time though… first thing is first… Romania!

Just when I was starting to think that the allusive figure known as ‘the gentleman’ was nothing more than a mythological creature, I met the modern day Romanian man… or should I say men! Real men! Men that you only ever read about in fairytales… men that fit the bill as being masculine, manly, well-mannered and down right dapper! Man as a man should be! Devoid of the fact that I generally like my men brown and hairy, and certainly the average Romanian man fits this bill, it is the disposition of the general male populous in Romania that strikes me as being classically romantic. Ladies, Romania is where it is AT!

I believe the modern-day Western male is going through a drastic feminization process, whereby gender etiquette of the past is being exchanged for male cosmetics, fashion (tight and low-cut fashion), hair-obsession paraphernalia and basically anything and everything that was once purely associated with being ‘feminine’.

I can only assume that the historically recent (and continual) fight for gender equality in the West has resulted in the ‘male’ coming up confused about his place in society. This has seemingly started a revolution against the traditionally defined the roles of men and women. If women want equality then it would appear we must sacrifice chivalry. Women actively participating in the public realm has killed the gentleman and given birth to the modern-day dandy.

How does this play towards equality, though when statistics still indicate that women do the majority of domestic work in a household? Essentially, men are abdicating from their role as ‘masculine protector/provider’, however women are not only retaining their role as ‘caregiver’,but also assuming that of ‘protector/ provider’.

Women are bringing home the bacon and cooking it… and also doing all the washing up afterwards. How is this fair? When woman works, cooks, cleans and looks after you, one would think you could open the bloody door for her! Rarely in the West does this occur.

I have lived in Australia, New Zealand and England and traveled extensively throughout Continental Europe, and let me tell you, chivalry is a rarity. To highlight this trend, I have an example whereby on one occasion I was waiting at a bus stop in the rain (in a country I will not name). When the bus pulled up I was almost bowled over by the young man waiting with me. Evidently eager to get out of the rain and save his heavily gelled locks from the wrath of the rain-drop, I was literally shoved to the side in his desperation.

Should he have given way to me out of traditionalism? Was the saving of my hair more important than his? As a woman that faces every day social expectations as to the way I should aesthetically appear in order to get the ideological ‘attractive’ tick of approval, would I be judged more harshly with hair looking like a wet dog? Or is the modern-day male also subject to this social scrutiny?

If so, has the game of chivalry turned into a game of ‘survival of the fittest’, whereby men and women are equally judged by their appearance? Are we competing against each other for the title of beauty queen? These are the questions that now arise in the modern-day Western world. Perhaps when the men are also gazing into the mirror and asking: ‘who is the fairest of them all?’ chivalry cannot exist. It would be like asking one tennis player to keep one hand behind their back, while the other has use of both. It wouldn’t be fair! Dog-eat-dog world appears to be the new norm!

Mind you, life is a comparative measure, and I by no means wish to suggest that ALL men in the West are manner-less, there are worse things that women could be subjected to. I did have an Egyptian boyfriend once, he was ok on the manners front, but then again he compensated with some pretty dogmatic and degrading cultural expectations that I was just NOT willing to conform to. I would rather have a door slammed in my face as opposed to a d*ck up my arse any day! At least with chivalry or lack thereof in the West, a woman can save herself! So maybe the answer is accepting change in light of a comparison to that which has not changed and probably never will.

Back to Romania, when I came here I was expecting something similar to my initial expectations of Poland. I was expecting sadness, gloominess, coldness, depression, and just like Poland, I was pleasantly surprised. I arrived on a very hot and sunny day to happiness, brightness and all-round pleasantness. The country is amazing! Despite their less than fantastic economic situation, everyone seems happy. Everyone I came across was smiling and as mentioned above, the manners these people have are overwhelmingly classic and dapper in their demeanor.

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Bucharest is like a pinball machine, with its night lighted criss-cross of narrow old alleyways and its outer new city curved streets that encapsulate the grid of the old town. I felt like a pinball buzzing up, down and across the streets lined with trendy cafes, bars and boutiques.

Everything is set within the rustically old and ornate buildings that serve as whispers to the beauty of the past. The elaborate stone awnings and artistically crooked weather worn doorways are a reminder of the word sublime. Bucharest is certainly a place where the past meets the present in the most stylish and fashionable way. I have literally spent my days in this city winding myself around the uneven stone-slabbed streets. Forget the dandy-esque notion of cute Continental European cobblestone alleyways, this city is bold, masculine and handsome in its exterior.

Whoever defined Paris as the ‘IT’ city had clearly never been to Bucharest. These people actually smile, are friendly and exhibit a genuine modesty and appreciation for your tourism. It’s a city where young women are clearly participating in the work force, but young men are still holding the doors open. From the taxi driver who carried my bags to the entrance of the hotel, to the countless men who have stopped in their steps to allow me through a door first… right down to the young teenage lad who waited and held the door open for me in a shop… the men here are getting it right! Classic chivalry still reigns the day!

Moving onto Poland. While indulging in the delights of Bucharest, I started thinking about my whole Poland saga. I had spoken to a few people who told me that my story just didn’t seem right. I told them that I knew I wasn’t the only person who had been told everything was electronic… but alas there were certain people who were adamant that I had been misinformed.

So I double checked… I double checked and after some running around by the embassy, it was determined that I had, in fact been misinformed. I was shocked! It was so unlike Sweden to make a mistake! Their processes and procedures for just about EVERYTHING in life left no room for error- or so I thought. I guess mistakes are human nature though. It’s not the mistake that defines us, but rather how we resolve it.

In typically efficient Swedish fashion, my issue was resolved at the speed of administrative light. I emailed the Swedish embassy here in Romania, who subsequently communicated with the department of immigration in Sweden, who subsequently advised me to attend the embassy in Romania to rectify the problem and HAY-PRESTO! All this in 24-hours and my ID card issue was resolved.

So I guess this means I have to apologize to Poland. They were right… or kind of right. They were right to question my travelling without an ID card. I did have the visa; I just didn’t have the legal proof on me. So I was lucky, as lucky as could be that they did not deport me. Nonetheless, even though I admit I was in the wrong, I still think the Soviet style interrogation room with my daddy-doppelganger was a bit too much.

If the Maltese let me through their airport with a bottle opener knife in my hand luggage (giving me nothing more than a giggle when I pulled it out of my bag in horror, realizing I had forgotten to pack it in my check-in), then I think the Polish could have been a little less intense. Right is right and wrong is wrong. Role playing crazy Kremlin antics circa Stalin era does not assist an administrative process involving multiple languages. Nonetheless, contrary to my previous assertion that my visa was electronic and Poland should have known this, I stand corrected. So, I am sorry Poland for unknowingly not doing the right thing. Thank you for not deporting me.

Week one in Romania down! Week one with no vampire encounters. We’ll see what Transylvania brings… mwahahahahah!

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U.N. Chief Returns To Climate Talks To Hopefully Reach a Deal With Countries

One issue that has risen to the fore at the talks is the proposal by Poland for countries to back the idea of a "just transition" for workers in fossil fuel industries

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U.N. Climate Conference
In this Dec. 11, 2018 photo a participant in U.N. climate conference walks by a photo of a satellite in Katowice, Poland. VOA

The United Nations secretary-general flew back to global climate talks in Poland Wednesday to appeal to countries to reach an agreement, as some observers feared the meeting might end without a deal.

U.N. chief Antonio Guterres opened the talks last week, telling leaders to take the threat of global warming seriously and calling it “the most important issue we face.”

But as the two-week meeting shifted from the technical to political phase, with ministers taking over negotiations, campaign groups warned of the risks of failure in Katowice.

Harjeet Singh of ActionAid International said the main holdouts were the United States, Australia and Japan, while the European Union was “a mere spectator.”

U.N., Climate
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses during the opening of COP24 UN Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland, Dec. 3, 2018. VOA

“A new leadership must step up,” said Vanessa Perez-Cirera of the environmental group WWF. “We cannot afford to lose one of the twelve years we have remaining.”

She was referring to a recent scientific report by a U.N.-backed panel that suggested average global warming can only be halted at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) if urgent action is taken by 2030, including a dramatic reduction in use of fossil fuels.

Endorsing the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change became a crunch issue over the weekend, with the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait opposing the move.

Jean-Pascal Ypersele, a former deputy chair of the panel, said whether or not countries believe the conclusions of the report was irrelevant because the science was clear.

Fossil Fuels, Climate
Youth and indigenous groups protest against fossil fuels during US-hosted event at the UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland, Dec. 10, 2018, as the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference takes place in the city. VOA

“Nobody, even the so-called superpowers, can negotiate with the laws of physics,” he said.

Ypersele called for the 1.5-degree target — already mentioned in the 2015 Paris accord — to be recognized in the final text.

“It’s a question of survival for a large part of humanity, and many other species,” he said.

Poland, which is chairing the talks, was expected to circulate a condensed draft text Wednesday running to about 100 pages, down from about 300 at the start of the talks.

The Dec. 2-14 meeting is supposed to finalize the rules that signatories of the Paris accord need to follow when it comes to reporting their greenhouse gas emissions and efforts to reduce them.

Li Shuo, a climate expert at Greenpeace, warned that the current text was riddled with loopholes. “A Swiss cheese rulebook is unacceptable,” he said.

Pollution, Climate
Clouds of smoke over Europe’s largest lignite power plant in Belchatow, central Poland, on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. VOA

Poor countries also want assurances on financial support to tackle climate change.

A third objective of the talks is getting governments to make a firm commit to raising ambitions in the coming two years, albeit without any precise figures.

One issue that has risen to the fore at the talks is the proposal by Poland for countries to back the idea of a “just transition” for workers in fossil fuel industries facing closure from emissions-curbing measures.

Also Read: To Help Poor Countries Adapt To Global Warming, World Bank Doubles Its Funding

Germany’s environment minister, Svenja Schulze, told reporters that her country is committed to phasing out the use of coal, though the exact deadline has yet to be determined.

But in a nod to the recent protests in France over fuel prices, Schulze warned against governments forcing through measures, saying they would lose public support “faster than you can spell climate protection, and then people pull on yellow vests.” (VOA)