Category Archives: VISITING THOUGHTS

Masterchef Romania, new jury

According to Pagina de media, ProTv has announced  the new Masterchef jury. I was a juror myself  for two seasons and I enjoyed it. I commend their choice and each member of the new jury. Samuel Le Torrillec is a very talented chef, with a strong contribution to the creation of modern Romanian cuisine. Liviu Popescu has built a solid and impressive business having  cooking at its core. That alone should suffice when it comes to his credentials in judging a dish. My friend Razvan Exarhu has learned about cooking the hard way, in his own bistro. We’ve cooked together, we’ve eaten together and we’ve reviewed together so many dishes, that I can rest assured about the show’s future. Regarding the comments on how much of a celebrity  chef one  should be in order to be part of a cooking contest jury, be it for amateur cooks, like Masterchef, or  for professional chefs, you should take into account that, at international level, the show’s format is not limited to a jury panel made up exclusively of professional chefs, it also includes restaurateurs  ( see Joe Bastianich),  foodies, cookbook  authors, various gastronomy professionals. Even the famed Michelin guide, which awards the stars sought after by countless restaurateurs and professional chefs alike, is put together on the basis of judgment imparted by  several people, of whom only  handful are chefs. Therefore, when in the kitchen, we should pay attention to our pots and pans; while on the couch, we should focus more on not chocking on popcorn while enjoying (or not) a TV show. Godspeed, Masterchef!

They don’t teach us in school, but it wouldn’t hurt if they did

I didn’t enjoy a single school day in the timespan between the age of 6 and 26. Twenty years of hardships, sometimes bearable, sometimes bearing the guise of attacks on freedom, conscience, personality, intelligence. It happened that I had few teachers I genuinely liked, whether I was good or average at their subject. My rapport with them was based  on their knowledge of  life and how to cure the  arrogance and ignorance I  was displaying in those days when I was no longer the introvert  they couldn’t pull many words from, without me being aware of all the aforementioned  “qualities” . To give you an idea of the sort of child I was, on my first school day, when I was six, I could already read. When I was seven, I had read more books than any of my classmates,  and by the time I was eight, I had read more books than all my classmates together. I think the only  one who came in close and even surpassed me on occasion ( without competing against each other) was my cousin Lucian, who was my classmate and who is very smart and an avid reader.

For reasons irrelevant now, reading books has always been a part of my life. It was my favorite pastime into my twenties and it still gives me joy. I realized I knew things, I was aware I knew more than my colleagues. I was too pure at heat back then to boast about it, and I had been well educated at home, based on ancient sayings (Self-praise is no recommendation etc.), but that didn’t change the fact that I was bored to death and I felt like I was being held back . The school was not good at it, neither was it curious, its main goal being the levelling of minds and personalities. My interest in school dropped to zero, while my thirst for knowledge was fuelled by random, and mostly meaningless readings, whereas I found myself at a loss on several occasions. I graduated year after year , sometimes at the top of the class, fearing my  parents or  out  of shame, which is in about the same range.

Watching the family’s children and those of my acquaintances, I have realized that, although many have changed, the system keeps on teaching people fear and shame, instead of courage, serenity and the freedom to change the perspective for a better understanding of the world. If someone had taught us how to read textbooks, we would have learned what too few people know, namely that this planet is populated by billions of worlds which can co-exist in harmony, effortlessly. For the time being, we only know the effort it takes to be something , without knowing how to effortlessly just be. Don’t think for a minute that I point the finger at the  Romanian school; it’s the same all over the world, which accounts partially for the history’s troubles we’re living to the full and which will become history tomorrow. Actually, I am not laying the blame on anyone, I am just speaking my mind as to what I would have liked to be taught in school.

Internet Idiot

If there is any of you out there who feels the internet is no longer the poppy field of 7-8 years ago, when you couldn’t wait for an “ on to off” meeting to see eye  to eye with other internauts, drop a comment to this post. If any of you feels that the internet is full of idiots who have ruined  it, leave a comment here. Mind you, everybody   feels the same, the “idiots”, especially the “idiots”, included.  I am aware of the psychological explanations and consequences of this tsunami of ignorance to the extent one learns about it from internet research, well documented research, unlike those carried out by British scientists.  I know them partially due to my wasting  way too much time  and energy either hating  the “idiots”, or trying to convince them that there’s more to life, that not everything is fishy, or catastrophic, that… It’s taken  me a few years of hackles  and of frustrations to take life for what it is, to take people for exactly who they are  and accept  you cannot change anyone. All you can do is to speak yourself politely, to be understanding, to be patient, to avoid conflict, to keep away from hogwash, not to lie down with dogs, not to retaliate. In reality, the only thing you defend when you fight with someone over the internet is your own ego whispering into your ear that you have a reputation to protect. Which is totally irrelevant for your life in particular and for Life in general. It was a hard lesson, but I’ve learned that I can choose  not to retaliate. It’s been incredibly difficult, but I’ve learned to pay attention and to understand what it means for me to feel offended or assaulted. Once I got it, it became completely irrelevant. Do I have  “clouds”  casting shadows on my online life?  Yes, for sure, but now I know they will pass ne  by. I let them pass me by, I have no reason whatsoever to keep my head clouded. I choose  light. I choose to shed light, instead of waiting for validation. No lamp has any expectation whatsoever from the room it lights up. Do you want to be the lamp in your life?

Light yourself  up and wait   for nothing in return. Ask not why people are mean, why some are full of hatred and others troll just for the sake of it, why do they jump at someone’s throat like a pack of wolves. You can learn all about it in books, but knowing the answer won’t help. would have been cool if this post had been sponsored by Ikea, but it isn’t.

Omran of Aleppo

“Sometimes it can be like this too, daddy”, my two-year old son Vladimir sometimes tells me when he tries to explain things, but he doesn’t have enough vocabulary for it. If I were to put into words the images below, I’d have to call it quits and admit I’m lost for words. But I know perfectly well what to do so that this kind of images is never to be seen again: to look at them like you’d look at yourself. Yes, to them, to all the others. But how to do it, when we’re so different, aren’t we? How to look at a Syrian child, who barely escaped death, like you’d look at yourself, when you can’t even look at your child, when he or she is screaming for an  hour for no apparent reason. When you get the urge to break your neighbor’s fingers, the same one who is drilling holes upstairs, on Sunday at noon. When you hate the guts of the guy who’s just cut in front of you and you’d run him or her over, when…

We’re so sensitive to the point that we’ve become insensitive. Omran of Aleppo, I see thee.

Hypocrite or ignoramus?

I remembered recently a joke from my childhood:

“Question:  How to call it right, nuclear or nucular?

Answer:  Call what?”

Drawing a parallel, the question “how to call it, ignoramus or hypocrite” with the answer “Call what?” requires a sequel: how to call  a person who only yesterday was cursing the  athletes representing Romania at the Olympics, and who is now flying the banner of national pride shouting  “ Romania is a champion in fencing/tennis/ whatever/  our heroes!”. Athletes in general and Olympians in particular are not a nation’s heroes; they can be at most their own heroes. They are well aware of the fact that they are nothing but gladiators at the mercy of a wavering and mad audience, incapable of true empathy and devoid of compassion.  Nevertheless, even if they carry this weight on their shoulders- for one cannot deem support the audience’s  victory cheers and the booing  when defeated- these athletes fight tooth  and nail, with all their might, giving up time from their life. Sometimes they win, sometimes they don’t. I love them regardless, perhaps because I know what it’s like to be knocked-out in a game you set out to win. While I have some understanding for Romanian sports officials (I do not approve of them) when they hold press conferences to vituperate against the athletes they have sent to Rio (smearing others to mask one’s own stench is symptomatic), for you, couch potatoes out there, who are quick to pass judgement, what’s your excuse?

Holiday to Crete

Kokkini Hani, ten kilometers (or so) away from the Kazantsakis airport in Heraklion. Last night, dozens of planes flew above the beach, one every two minutes. The rhythm has slowed down a bit today; now there’s a landing every five minutes. Unheard of airlines bring hundreds of tourists and leave them in this shabby airport by the sea. The porters here are among the most hardworking I have ever met since I started travelling by plane. Mind you, they are not very well paid, the same way those who work in resorts, hotels and taverns are not very well paid either. And yet, they are polite, respectful and quite professional. They rejoice when they receive tips, but they earn them with a smile on their face and with a sort of shyness I’ve never encountered so far. I will not write anything else about the Cretan holidays; the things I mentioned above caught my eye and I felt like sharing them with you.

The customer isn’t always right, but he would like to be

My obsessions are few, but sound. The newest one dates two years back and is aimed at the relationship between the service provider and the customer, with both ends active. I’m a service provider, but most often I’m a customer. In both roles I went through frustrations, more or less annoying, from which I learned a very important thing: the customer isn’t always right, but he’d like to be. This is a very costly attitude since, in reality, it’s far more important to fix your problem than to be right. As a provider, I went through a few situations where I felt like telling the customer that he’s an… that he’s wrong. I never did it for a clear reason: unsatisfied people are actually unhappy people, so unhappy that their dissatisfaction is as genuine as it gets, no matter how imaginary it may seem to those around. And unhappiness cannot be defeated by negativity, but to tell a man who wants to be right that he is not, this extends a conflict from which nobody has anything to gain. This doesn’t mean that you should bow your head when your customer has unreasonable requests or disproportionate reactions. It’s worth more being firm, clear-cut, even polite because sarcasm is not for everybody. And do not forget that people who give other people a hard time they themselves lead a hard life. Of course, you are responsible for it, but you don’t have to become it.

On self esteem

Books, entire libraries were written on how to increase and maintain self esteem. `Self esteem` is nothing but a slightly pretentious name for EGO, a construct of the mind, which serves us only temporarily, including from life’s practical perspective. However, self esteem proves to be a volatile investment, seeing the countless factors contributing to its increase or decrease in value. Not to mention that between having a good opinion and having a bad opinion on oneself makes no difference from the Truth’s point of view, both consuming time and energy taken from other activities, some really important for the life we have been given. The thoughts which are fed constantly do that, and our opinion about ourselves is not a fact, it’s a thought we try hard to feed with arguments. The lack of self esteem provides freedom. You can be yourself in any situation, effortlessly, without the effort of being whoever your self esteem says you should be in that situation. If you have no investments to protect, your blood pressure won’t rise every time the stock market has good or bad days.

The attack in Nice

Neither Allah, nor Christ, or anything which brings light on Humanity does not bear responsibility for what happened the other night in Nice. The same ignorance, blind faith in the illusion that we are all so different that there’s no room under the sun for us all. Sometimes, the alarm clock is not enough to get us up from a deep sleep, sometimes we need some shaking. It may seem brutal when it happens, but the result is waking up. We wonder when the reign of terror will end, but we also enjoy feeding the nightmare. We buy principles and concepts, we give freedom in return. We feed our minds with horror images, but we want to be happy. We love by comparison and we hate everything which seems foreign, without ever thinking that ‘outside’ and ‘inside’ are in the same place, we can’t love one without the other, you can’t harm one without harming the other. If you want to better understand what I just said, look at the way you love, then think about the way you got angry the last time. What is it like?

Uber is not for me

If you don’t have anything nice to say about something, better keep quiet. On the other hand, if an idea haunts you for a few days in a row, it may be because it wants to be expressed. So here we go: my wife uses Uber every day. Sometimes she takes me along, other times I have no choice but to use this means of transportation. I already had enough experiences to make a short review. I did and it came out negative. The big con was that all my back-and-forths lose any trace of privacy. My going about town leave traces saved in a data base. Of course, the same goes for my mobile phone, but I really don’t feel like giving out my coming and going to anybody. Besides that, I noticed too many similarities between some of the Uber drivers and, let’s say, the Pelican drivers. Meaning, toothpicks in the corner of the mouth, peevishness on the subject of the location, `hey there, how’s the kitchen going’, etc. The human factor tends to level out the different business philosophies behind the various transport services. It’s very possible that the future belongs to car sharing services such as Pony (you take the car from point A, leave it at point B, for a reasonable cost and with no interaction with a car rental service), which doesn’t seem so bad, besides the fact that you moving around is as visible. We are witnessing the dawn of a new age of control and we find it entertaining, that is if we see it. I think I used way too many words before I got to this, but I still don’t like Uber.