A wistful understandably distressed yet self-readjusting population in 1993 Bucharest greeted my arrival here. Romanians were still accustoming following a half century of cumulative, protracted economic and social troubles. In the 90s the future was cloudy (understandably) but so too was the present (worrisome). No surprise that most were fretful, cautious, too.
That then seems to me, indeed to most, so very more distant than the two decades we all have witnessed and lived through. Over this time, all boats, so to say, have risen both with the all-encompassing incoming tide and the now so very widely experienced betterments and enrichments to our individual lives.
Privileged to have been present virtually at the creation of modern Romania, I’ve been eyewitness to an extraordinary growth in available choices and the concomitant growth in individual capacities to enjoy all the developing choices on our nuanced palettes.
What concerns me is that so much of the country does not share in Bucharest’s evolution, indeed notwithstanding the many elegant cars, world class restaurants and several hundred Ron individual concert tickets, 300 Ron brunches and myriad numbers of Romanian tourist travelers to Paris, Barcelona or even New York, many others make do (eek by) with monthly wages of 2,000 Ron. Considering living costs, one would fairly say they have to be living absent meaningful savings and from pay day to pay day.
And what about life in villages that line the provincial portions of the country and where a hotel costs 40 Ron per night, a 20 minute spa-treatment goes for 2 Ron; breakfast roll the same. Imagine the wages there?
I worry about the growing disparity, the wealth gap between big city college graduates and those who have so little to fall back on, save (except for) the impressive family support that is here and fortunately nearly always so. Of course this wealth gap and material inequality is not endemic to this country alone. Guess for example what the divide between a wealthy American and his secretary might be? How more worrisome that inequality of wealth and assets in Russia, another example? But what is more to my point is how irrelevant the comparative, how real the absolute. What concerns is that there is so little “wiggle – room”, flexibility and resilience, among the less privileged here- little in a way of a safety net.
Here the percentage economic growth is among the highest in Europe. But remember it is so because of where we have come from and remember too that along with substantial gains for some, it may be and likely was a destructive development as this gap widened.
Maybe overall, settle simply on how our Bucharest, even greater Romania as a whole has advanced. It is easy to draw parallels with western capitals as here our lifestyles have evolved into their same milieu. I was formerly critical of the go slow privatizations and advances in the economy but that approach worked and increasingly too, foreign investors and local entrepreneurs were over time efficacious and so thrived and bloomed and much of that at least in many areas did trickle down to very many.